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.
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
- 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
- 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.