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Making a House a Home Using Exterior Color

From This Old House

Homeowners have long used exterior color and accent details to refresh the style of a lived-in home or to make a new house their own, rightly reasoning that the exterior represents the individual or family living inside.

Color preferences tend to vary geographically, with deeper colors growing in popularity in the Midwest, for example. Within regions, the look and feel of different cities, towns, and streetscapes also influence color choices. No one says all the houses on the block have to look cookie-cutter similar, but it’s wise to consider regional and local color trends before adopting a new palette.

Architectural styles matter too. Take a look around your neighborhood. Craftsman bungalows, New Orleans shotguns, Victorian painted ladies, Cape Cods, Colonials—which style or styles dominate your area? How do you see color being used to reinforce the style of houses like yours?

The first choice, of course, is the color or colors—never more than two—for the siding. Next come the trim color and then a contrasting color for the doors and shutters. Three hues should do it, unless your house has an unusual number of architectural features, like those seen on some Victorian-era gems.

Luckily, your color choices won’t be confined to paint, as a number of building materials now come in a choice of colors. Exterior fiber cement siding and trim manufactured by James Hardie, for example, are available in 20 colors. The company uses a multicoat, baked-on application process called ColorPlus® Technology to create a vibrant, consistent finish.

So, how to choose that first important color? Designers often draw from the color wheel, teaming two or three analogous colors or colors found side by side on the wheel, such as orange and yellow. Another popular approach pairs complementary colors, which sit opposite each other on the wheel, like orange and blue, proving that “opposites” attract. When put together, they bring out the best in each other, making both colors look cleaner and brighter than if either were mixed with, say, a neutral gray or a different shade of the same hue. A neutral can be added to one of these pairings as long as it shares one of the undertones.

For some houses, especially those made with natural materials like stone, monochromatic schemes—two shades of green, for example—work best.

Whatever you decide, ColorPlus® siding has options to choose from. Curated by color professional Leslie Harrington, the palette is designed for easy mixing and matching, opening the door for pleasing, low-risk color schemes.

Beyond aesthetics, ColorPlus® Technology lasts up to two times longer than a new coat of paint and has better fade resistance and improved adhesion. The upshot: less need to repaint over time and thus lower maintenance.

From siding to all the little details, color can make a house a home. To learn more about the James Hardie siding and trim with ColorPlus® Technology, please visit here.

6 Ways to Prevent Weather Damage to Your Roof

From Consumer Reports

This week’s early snowfall in South Dakota and Canada is a reminder that the rest of us should get ready for what the Farmers’ Almanac predicts will be a rough winter. One of the most vulnerable parts of your house is the roof, which can sustain damage from wind, snow, ice, heavy rains, and fallen trees. Failing to make needed repairs is one reason a roof can fall prey to the elements. Here are some things you should do before the snow flies as well as the best roofing materials from Consumer Reports’ tests.

“Many types of severe weather can put added stress on roofs, from high-speed winds ripping off shingles, heavy debris and ice getting caught in gutters, to the weight of excess snow,” said Jim Gustin, Senior Property Specialist, Risk Control at Travelers Insurance. “As we gear up for fall, there’s no better time to inspect roofs for damage, make any necessary repairs and clean the gutters to help prevent some of the most common causes of damage that occur.”

Travelers recommends taking the following steps to ensure your roof is in good condition and to prevent potential damage:

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches so they won’t damage your home if they fall because of wind, ice, or snow.
  • Clear gutters and downspouts of debris. As the leaves fall, make sure they aren’t building up in the gutters.
  • Check for any roof damage. Pay attention to surface bubbles and areas with missing gravel on flat roofs, or missing or damaged shingles or tiles on sloped roofs.
  • Add extra insulation in the attic to guard against ice dams. When too much heat escapes, it can melt the ice and snow on the roof. When it refreezes, it can cause an ice dam, causing water to back up into your home.
  • Check the flashing on the roof to make sure it’s in good condition to help prevent water penetration.
  • If your roof needs replacing, consider impact-resistant roofing materials, especially if you live in a hail-prone area.
 

The best roofing materials from our tests

In Consumer Reports’ roofing tests, we pull and pound shingles for months to simulate the high winds, temperature extremes, hail, and falling branches that a roof is subject to. And we expose them to ultraviolet light to simulate the fading effects of sunlight. Here are the winners from our tests.

Owens Corning Berkshire Collection, $225 per 100 square feet, and CertainTeed Grand Manor, $325, are tied at the top of the roofing Ratings. Both were excellent in our strength and impact tests although the Owens Corning was a bit better than CertainTeed on the weathering test in which the shingles are subject to water spray, heat, and ultraviolet light. Both brands also made our list of CR Best Buys including Owens Corning Oakridge, $68, and CertainTeed Landmark, $70. Both did very well on the strength, impact, and weathering tests.

Shingles from Tamko and Atlas also made our list of top roofing picks. Keep in mind that some installers may push certain brands. But given the wide differences in overall quality that we found, we suggest that you insist on the roofing you want, even if you have to pay extra for a special order or hire a different installer. For more choices see our full roofing Ratings and recommendations.

Weather Window Tips

From Energy.gov

Windows can be one of your home’s most attractive features. Windows provide views, daylighting, ventilation, and heat from the sun in the winter. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill by letting heat out.

During the summer, your air conditioner must work harder to cool hot air from sunny windows. Install ENERGY STAR®-qualified windows and use curtains and shade to give your air conditioner and energy bill a break.

If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with double-pane windows with high-performance glass—low-e or spectrally selective coatings. In colder climates, select gas-filled windows with low-e coatings to reduce heat loss. In warmer climates, select windows with spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain.

If you decide not to replace your windows, consider following these tips to improve their performance.

COLD WEATHER WINDOW TIPS

Illustration shows how windows with low-e coatings reflect back part of your room's heat in the winter.

  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames to reduce drafts.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts; open them during the day to let in warming sunlight.
  • Install exterior or interior storm windows, which can reduce heat loss through the windows by approximately 10%-20%, depending on the type of window already installed in the home. They should have weatherstripping at all movable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints.
  • Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.

WARM WEATHER WINDOW TIPS

Illustration shows how windows with low-e coatings reflect back part of the summer sun.

  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.
  • Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.
  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS TIP

Installing high-performance windows will improve your home’s energy performance. While it may take many years for new windows to pay off in energy savings, the benefits of added comfort, improved aesthetics, and functionality can offset the cost.

SHOPPING TIPS FOR WINDOWS

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
  • Check with local utilities to see what rebates or other incentives are available for window replacement.
  • Choose high-performance windows that have at least two panes of glass and a low-e coating.
  • Choose a low U-factor for better insulation in colder climates; the U-factor is the rate at which a window, door, or skylight conducts non-solar heat flow.
  • Look for a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC)—this is a measure of solar radiation admitted through a window, door, or skylight. Low SHGCs reduce heat gain in warm climates.
  • Select windows with both low U-factors and low SHGCs to maximize energy savings in temperate climates with both cold and hot seasons.
  • Look for whole-unit U-factors and SHGCs, rather than center-of-glass (COG) U-factors and SHGCs. Whole-unit numbers more accurately reflect the energy performance of the entire product.
  • Have your windows installed by trained professionals according to manufacturer’s instructions; otherwise, your warranty may be void.

Consider windows with impact-resistant glass if you live along a coast or in areas with flying debris from storms.