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Your home’s exterior is the first impression to not only your personal tastes, but also how much you value your home. There are several areas on the outside of your house that can be revamped and replaced for more visual interest and improving curb appeal.

Areas to improve
There are many small ways to increase your home's curb appeal, says Michael Esh, manager at E&E Siding, LLC. “For example: new shutters, gutters and decorative gable vents. Adding metal roofing on a porch roof or a little bit of stone on the front of a house will significantly sharpen the look of your home,” he says.

For areas to improve, look to exterior roofing, siding and gutters, says James J. Panella, sales manager of New Jersey Gutter, LLC. “A roof, being one of the most prominent things you see, stains can detract from the look of the house drastically,” he says. “The algae that forms on the roof feeds on the limestone in the asphalt shingles. Once the roof is clean, the siding and gutters are next. Simple procedures like house washes and pressure washing achieve the best results for a very reasonable cost.”

Metal roofing is one option to avoid stains and add color to a home.

“Adding a metal roof accent over your front porch or bay window can add color and contrast to the front of your home. Metal roofing is available in 35 colors so one of them can certainly help accent your existing façade,” says Adam Parnes, vice president of marketing at Global Home Improvement. “The same concept goes for adding stone siding. Consider sprucing up your front entry way with a stacked stone to add elegance and style without breaking the bank,” he says.

The front door should not be overlooked, either.

“A front door is the first thing someone [sees] when looking at a home. It adds instant curb appeal and helps improve the efficiency of a house. Old doors leak a ton of energy,” says Matthew Sciacca, vice president of sales at New Jersey Siding and Window.

The area surrounding the doorway can also be jazzed up.

“A front portico is a great way to add style and function to your front entry way,” says Parnes. “When doing a portico, consider upgrading to some of the following exterior options: metal roofing, stone siding or Azek crown moulding. All these products offer lifetime warranties with virtually no maintenance,” he says.

Good tips
To start off right, do what makes the most sense. “Replace your windows and doors as soon as possible. The day you have windows installed—no matter what time of year—you start feeling the difference instantly,” says Sciacca. “When it comes to gutters and gutter protection, do your homework. A lot of products out there work just fine but there are a lot that do not keep out the leaves, twigs and gunk. Ice and snow are also a concern in our part of the country and some gutter systems can make ice worse.”

Esh says that adding new gutters to your home can help prevent gutter clogging, ice damming and other water-related issues.

Sciacca also says there are many siding choices available, so put up a product you like that also has curb appeal. “If you paint your living room blue and then sell the house, the buyer can paint a room no problem. You don’t want to choose a siding color that could potentially push a buyer away. Pick a product you like and will still fit years down the road,” he says.

“Freshening up the siding on a home can completely change the look of a home and also add great value when it comes to resale,” says Sciacca. “Siding is such a big project that many homebuyers would rather move into a home that has been updated properly.” That goes for windows as well, he says. “Many buyers want ‘move-in ready’ and are also tuned up to the better products that are out there. The cheap big box store window doesn’t cut it anymore.”

“When looking to replace your siding, it’s also a good time to consider adding some insulation or Low E Housewrap before the siding installation. A little bit of extra work at this costs over the next 20 years,” Esh says.

Trends to look out for
“The biggest trend is longevity and lack of maintenance, which is leading people away from traditional products such as asphalt roofing and vinyl siding and into composites such as metal roofing and fiber cement siding,” says Parnes. “When people update their roofing, siding or gutters, they want this time to be the last, so investing in better products with better life expectancy is key.”

Items that are energy efficient and maintenance free are trending, says Sciacca. With siding, you can increase efficiency with better insulation and home weatherproofing. Sciacca adds that triple-glass windows fulfill new Energy Star requirements for increased efficiency and should be the first choice in windows. “Our customers have benefited from an expertly engineered, high-performance product and will for many years to come, making a house warmer in the winter and keeping it cooler in the summertime,” he says.

“Cleaning the siding can be an easy job for a homeowner,” says Panella. “With extension poles and wands, they can stay very close to the ground. Landscaping and sidewalk cleanup are other weekend warrior tasks that normally take less than one day.”

In addition to installing a lot of James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding, Esh says he has been doing a lot of stucco remediation. “There is a correct way to install stucco, but unfortunately many of the stucco projects that have been installed in the past have not had the correct flashing around windows and hazard points resulting in many wood repairs on most of our stucco remediation projects,” he says. “If you have stucco on your home, we recommend getting your walls checked for moisture and mold. If neglected, these problems can result in major renovations down the road.”

Call the professionals
For some projects, only well-skilled professionals are needed. “Cleaning gutters and roofs should be left to the professionals,” says Panella. “Proper training for using a ladder is very important. Some simple steps most homeowners don’t know can make the work environment safer for them and everyone working with them.”

Sciacca feels that most of the “big stuff” around the house necessitates a professional’s input. “A professional being skilled at their specific trade can complete a project most times much quicker and with greater skill [than a layperson]. Need a top-quality product installed by a professional? Call a company that does that type of project every day,” he says.

Parnes says anything on your home's exterior is for the professional. “The most expensive product is that one that you have to do over. And [many products] require a proper install as to not void the manufacturer warranty. You may have a lifetime warranty, but if not installed properly your warranty is rendered useless,” he says.

What to know before meeting with professionals
Be as educated as possible before bringing in a professional. Know their years in business, BBB rating, get referrals from friends or neighbors and learn how many times your contractor has performed the service you want, says Panella. “Be cautious of one-sided blogs and other online rating companies that do not govern the posts [and] thoroughly read your contract prior to signing it. The contract is the most important thing between you and your contractor. The more you clarify it, the less likely chance you will have a problem,” he says.

Have a general idea of your goals and budget, and start putting together some project ideas, says Esh. “Always make sure your contractor is insured and has experience with working in your area,” he adds.

Narrow down some options for what you like so that it’s easy to get accurate, apples-for-apples quotes, advises Parnes. “You can look online, in magazines or simply walk up and down your neighborhood to discover the look and style that everyone can agree upon,” he says.

Know who is coming to your home and make sure they are properly insured, warns Sciacca. Also, a general contractor may have knowledge in a wide area but are not experts in any one, so find a company that is expert in what you want, he says. “One of the best tips I can offer any homeowner in the age of smartphones is when you see something you like, snap a photo of it. No matter what the project is it will make it so much easier to show what you want or don’t want.”

E & E Siding

Gap, Pa. | (717) 629-4950

Global Home Improvement
Feasterville, Pa. | (888) 234-2929 
(877) 711-9850 

New Jersey Gutter, LLC
Clinton Twp., N.J. | (888) NJ-GUTTER
(888) NJ-Gutter.com

New Jersey Siding & Window
Randolph, N.J. | (973) 895-1113

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 16, Issue 8 (February, 2016).
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