4 Driveway Materials That Aren’t Concrete or Asphalt

Today, there are a limitless number of driveway options available. However, it seems that concrete and asphalt driveways are the most common driveway materials in the majority of residential areas. This is because these materials are affordable and relatively easy to install. While concrete and asphalt are good options, there are many others on the market. Here are four driveway option ideas:

Brick Paver Driveways

driveway driveways contractor
Photo: The Spruce

Brick driveways give off a classical feel and are perfect for colonial, craftsman, and other architectural styles; however, they can be a beautiful addition to almost any home. Brick paver driveways are extremely durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions and frequent use. This driveway material is durable and should last at least 25 years.

Cobblestone Paver Driveways

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Photo: Unilock

Cobblestone paver driveways are notorious for their “Old World” appeal and are usually composed of granite. Cobblestone driveways may be one of the most expensive driveway options; however, a well-built cobblestone driveway can easily last over a century. One major advantage of cobblestone is that wear and tear will only accentuate the cobblestone’s character.

Macadam Driveways

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Photo: Pinterest

Macadam driveways, also referred to as “tar and chip” driveways consist of aggregate layers of stone and a binding agent. Unlike asphalt, macadam driveways are low maintenance since they don’t require a yearly sealing. In addition to being low maintenance, they are also affordable. Macadam is slightly cheaper than asphalt to install. Furthermore, macadam driveways can last around a decade and can provide good traction, even in the rain.

Concrete Paver Driveways

driveway driveways contractor
Photo: The Spruce

Concrete pavers is a very versatile driveway option since it is available in a variety of shapes, colors, styles, and patterns. Concrete paver driveways can last anywhere from 25 to 50 years. The biggest downfall of concrete is that it can stain easily; however, choosing pavers over large slabs is a huge advantage since you can easily replace individual pavers.

Qualities to Look for in Roofers for Your Home

After you have determined whether your roof is due for a replacement or a repair, perhaps the most difficult step is choosing a roofing contractor near you. When choosing between roofers in your area, there are a few major credentials that you need to look for.

Licensed and Insured

One of the first things that you should search for in a roofing company is checking whether they are fully licensed and insured. The contractor should have insurance that covers all employees and subcontractors. Feel free to request their business license and a copy of their insurance for any roofing contractor you are considering doing work on your home.

Knowledgable

It is important to choose a roofing contractor that is knowledgable in good roofing practices, installation, dealing with problem spots, and roof flashing details. In addition, it is helpful to choose a roofer that knows about different shingles, grades, colors, low slope roofing, and flat roofing materials. Perhaps, your roofing contractor can suggest something for your roof that you had not thought of previously.

Experience

While a roofer doesn’t necessarily need many years of experience to do a good job, it is beneficial to choose a contractor that has seen a variety of jobs. Experience is great in the event that you choose a not as common shingle material, or if your roof has interesting slopes, or any other factor. Then, your roofer of choice can share a time when they had previously worked with that material, or on another house similar to yours.

Testimonials

Speaking of experience, it is also a good idea to ask roofers for some testimonials, or feedback, from previous clients. This can help you get a better feel of what it is like to work with different roofers. It is also a good idea to reach out to neighbors, friends, and family when choosing a roofer to see who they would recommend to get the job done.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to look at reputable companies in your area. Checking for different roofers’ ratings can help you find out more about them from an unbiased source. Always be on the lookout for an “A+” rating by the Better Business Bureau when choosing between roofing contractors.

Benefits of Double Pane Windows

Due for a window replacement? If you are looking to maximize the energy efficiency in your home, it may be time to consider installing double pane windows.

double pane windows

Double pane, or dual pane, windows are windows with two panes of glass as opposed to single pane windows, which one have one pane of glass. In double pane windows, there is a small opening between the glass pane to allow for better, more efficient insulation.

Some double plane windows just have plain air sitting between the glass panes; however, the more energy efficient double pane windows have argon gas between the glass panes. Argon is chosen for double pane windows because it is inexpensive, non-toxic, and odorless. Double pane windows with argon gas offer better insulation because gas is heavier than air. Argon gas also helps to prevent frost from forming on the bottom of the window in cold weather.

Did you know that windows account for approximately 50% of your heating and cooling bills? This is why it is so important to have good quality windows installed in your home, specifically dual pane windows. Perhaps the biggest and most noticeable benefit of installing double pane windows is the increased energy savings. While single pane windows may cost less initially, dual pane windows will eventually save you money due to the increased energy savings. Some estimate that double pane windows can save 20%-30% on annual energy bills.

replacement windows richmond

Another benefit of dual pane windows is that it helps in noise reduction because of its insulating abilities. While it does not soundproof things completely, it does help to keep a quieter home. This is especially beneficial for those who live on a busy street or for those who work at home.

For those who are due for a window replacement in the near future, we recommend double pane windows. They are available in many popular window styles, including casement, double-hung, and sliding and provide the most energy savings. Interested in a window replacement? Contact us today!

Composite Decking for Your Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor decks are a great way to add an entertainment area to your home. What many people do not know is that there are many available decking materials for you to choose from. The available materials include wood, plastic, aluminum, and composite. Composite decking is a great option because it is low maintenance, has an attractive appearance, and it is durable.

 

composite decking
Photo: Pinterest

Low Maintenance

One of the biggest benefits that comes with composite decking is that it does away with the burden of constant upkeep. Wood decks need to be re-stained, power washed, and sanded regularly to maintain their appearance. Composite decking doesn’t require re-staining or sanding.

Additionally, wood decks also require the addition of pesticides and metals during the pressure treating process. While this helps to prevent pests, it is bad for the environment and can be dangerous to children and animals as it deteriorates over time. Composite doesn’t require these harmful additives since it is naturally resistant to insects, mold, and decay.

 

Durability

Composite decking is comprised of waste wood, plastic, and other recycled materials. Since it combines wood with plastic, it lasts longer in the elements than wood decks. Wood decks are known to rot, mold, and splinter. On the other hand, composite decks don’t experience these problems. The only thing that you need to look for in composite decking is the occasional surface mold and discoloration. This can be easily taken care of with a household cleaner and a brush.

 

 

Appearance

Many homeowners choose to go with composite decking because of their consistent coloring. Since they are manufactured, each board will look identical to the next. On the other hand, wood decks are known to fade to a dusty gray after a few years if they are not properly maintained.

 

composite decking
Photo: Pinterest

Since composite decking is manufactured, it is constantly improving with advancements in technology and the manufacturing process. Although composite decks are a great option, they are a little more pricey than wood decks. However, a composite deck doesn’t require much maintenance – which means more time can be spent enjoying your outdoor living space with your family.

Benefits of a Vinyl Siding Replacement

As you may know, vinyl siding is one of the most popular siding options available. When vinyl siding first became available, it was meant to replace the then-popular aluminum siding. Early vinyl siding quickly earned a bad name for many homeowners since it had a tendency to crack and sag. However, that is simply not the case nowadays. If you choose to have a vinyl siding replacement for your home, you will see some of the biggest benefits associated with vinyl siding.

vinyl siding colors vinyl siding replacement
Custom Home by Balducci Builders, Inc.

Variety

Vinyl siding is no longer the cheap, plastic product of the past. Thanks to improving technologies, vinyl siding is now manufactured in a wide variety of styles, colors, and textures. Vinyl can even be manufactured to mimic the look of cedar shakes, ceramic tile, and more. In the past, vinyl was often only available in white or light-hued colors. With the progression of anti-fade technologies, vinyl siding is now available in endless colors – ranging from your darkest grays to your brightest whites!

Affordable

Perhaps the biggest reason why vinyl siding is so popular is because it is by far the most affordable house siding option available. In addition, the average lifespan on vinyl siding is about 50 years, which means that you will be getting your money’s worth. According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value report for 2017 (costvsvalue.com), a vinyl siding replacement will recoup an average of 76.4% of your investment. This proves that a vinyl siding replacement is a great investment for your home.

Durable

If you decide to have a vinyl siding replacement for your home, you will be lucky enough to witness the durability of vinyl siding. Vinyl siding is made to withstand the elements – from wind, to rain, to hail. It even has the ability to withstand high winds of more than 200 mph. Additionally, vinyl is resistant to moisture, meaning it is not likely to rust or corrode over time.

vinyl siding replacement

Simple Maintenance

A great thing about a vinyl siding replacement is that vinyl is virtually maintenance free. Vinyl siding will never need repainting, which is required for other types of siding. The only maintenance that is required for vinyl siding is an annual cleaning with mild soap and water, which means that the rest of the year leaves time to relax.

Easy to Install

Having a vinyl siding replacement done on your home is a relatively cheap and simple process. This is mainly because vinyl is a lightweight material. Vinyl siding can be installed over existing materials, making it a great retrofit option. As a bonus, since vinyl siding is simple to install it helps to cut down on labor costs.

© 2017 Hanley Wood Media Inc. Complete data from the Remodeling
2017 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at http://www.costvsvalue.com.

Slate Roofs: What You Should Know About Them

Origin of Slate Roofing

The first slate quarry in the United States opened in 1785 in Pennsylvania; however, it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that slate roofs saw more demand and popularity. This was largely due to an increasing population, advances in technology developed for quarrying, and the extension of the railroad. In addition, several slate quarries opened in Virginia, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Near the turn of the century, the United States slate roofing industry reached its all time high with over 200 slate quarries.

Slate saw a drop in demand around 1915 due to an an increase in competition from substitute materials, including asphalt shingles. These alternative materials then surpassed slate in popularity since they were  offered at a cheaper price. This is because they could be mass produced, more easily transported, and had a simpler installation than slate roofs. However, there has been a recent increase in popularity in slate roofs due to their obvious advantages over asphalt roofs.

slate roofs slate roofing companies roofing contractor
Photo: GAF TruSlate Onyx Black slate shingles

Slate vs. Asphalt Roofing

The biggest differences between asphalt and slate roofs is the price tag and the longevity. Asphalt shingles are one of the least expensive materials, while slate roofs tend to be one of the most expensive options. One of the biggest drawbacks of asphalt shingles is their short lifespan; asphalt shingles only last around 25 years. This is a small period of time compared to slate roof tiles, which last over twice as long. Some slate roofs can even last for over 2 centuries.

Benefits of Slate Roofing

Aside from their natural beauty, slate roofs are best known for their longevity and fire resistance. As we discussed, slate roofing tiles outlast asphalt roofs by a long shot. This is a major advantage, especially for those who plan to stay in their homes for some time. Additionally, slate roofs are available in a variety of colors including: gray, black, blue-gray, red, green, and purple.

slate roofs slate roofing roofing contractor
Slate Roofing Tiles

Since slate roofs are a huge investment for your home, it is worth it to perform regular maintenance and inspections on your roof. After all, regular maintenance is important to maintain the longevity of your slate roof. Maintenance includes cleaning out gutters and replacing broken tiles. Additionally, an overall inspection on your slate roof should be performed by an experienced professional approximately every 5 to 7 years.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of slate roofs is the installation. Slate shingles are extremely fragile and prone to breaking or cracking, which is why it is important to hire a professional with experience in slate roofing. Slate is a beautiful option for any home and has a natural beauty unlike any other roofing option.

Outdoor Living Ideas – Planning Your Outdoor Living Space in 3 Steps

Outdoor living spaces are a great way to add value to your home and create an inviting space for family and friends to come together. By creating an outdoor living space, many homeowners are able to create a space that would otherwise get used infrequently, or not at all. Some of our outdoor living ideas include:

outdoor living ideas contractor
Photo: Custom Home by Balducci Builders, Inc.

Outdoor Living Ideas – #1 – Define Separate Outdoor Living Areas

One of the best ways to create an outdoor living space is to define it through a structural element. This can include anything from a pergola, trellis, or fence. By including a structural element, it will inform guests that they are entering a new space that is separate from the rest of the home. While you want your outdoor space to be separated from the rest of your home, you do want your outdoor space to flow from the rest of your house. The best way to create a harmonious flow from the indoor and outdoor living spaces is to continue the same style of your indoor decor with the outdoor spaces.

Outdoor Living Ideas – #2 Create an Easy Entry Point to the Outdoor Living Space

A great way to mingle the indoor with the outdoor space is by including a way to easily access the two spaces. A simple doorway may do the trick; however, we believe that the larger the entryway, the better. The easier it is to access the two two spaces, the more seamless the transition. We recommend installing large French doors or ultra-wide sliding doors. If this is not feasible, it might be a good idea to include a couple of windows around the doorway to let in extra light and a clearer view to the outdoor living space. As a bonus of having a clearer view to the outside, you’ll want to spend more time in your outdoor space.

outdoor living ideas contractor
Photo: Screened Porch by Balducci Exteriors

Outdoor Living Ideas – #3 Define the Purpose of Each Area in the Outdoor Living Space

Once your outdoor living space is clear and defined, it is time to decide what areas will serve what purpose. Some of the most popular outdoor living ideas include outdoor kitchens, dining rooms, and living areas.  You may choose to include all of these options, or any combination of the three (depending on the size of your outdoor living space and your personal preferences). Some other ideas include zen gardens, basketball courts, and bocce ball. The possibilities are endless!

outdoor living ideas contractor
Photo: Custom Outdoor Kitchen by Balducci Builders, Inc.

Outdoor living spaces can be the perfect entertainment area for family and friends; however, planning an outdoor living space can be overwhelming. We hope that these outdoor living ideas will help you plan your home’s outdoor space. Of course, after your outdoor living space has been planned out, it is time to choose the finishing touches of the space. This includes items such as lighting, seating, appliances, and materials. If you have any further questions regarding outdoor living spaces, don’t hesitate to contact Balducci Exteriors.