Guide to Replacing Your Front Door

The front door, while often overlooked, plays a large role in your home’s curb appeal.  In addition, it can play a role in the perceived value of your home. If you are like most homeowners, your front door was inherited with your home. Oftentimes, this means that your front door may not reflect the architecture of the home or your personal style. Luckily, replacing your entry door is a relatively affordable way to update the exterior of your home.

craftsman style home with mahogany front door

What Are the Benefits?

There are several benefits in replacing the front door/entry door. These benefits can include:

  1. Increased energy efficiency. Replacing your front door can mean better energy efficiency. With technological advancements, new doors typically have better insulation properties, which allows them to hold heat in the winter and keep it out in the summer. It is important to be on the lookout for doors with Energy Star stickers!
  2. Improved curb appeal. Having a front door that complements your home can greatly improve your home’s aesthetic. When choosing a door, a few factors should be considered, including: your home’s architectural style, the color of your existing siding and shutters, and your personal taste.
  3. Better security. One of the most common ways intruders break in is through the front door. A new lock system means better home security. Also, newer doors are usually constructed in sections glued together, and are fused with updated lasers and adhesives; thus, a stronger door is designed to help keep you and your family safe.

Replacing the Front Door

So let’s say that you’re sold on changing out your front door and you’re now wondering, “what’s next?” Well, in some cases replacing a door simply means replacing the old door with the new. This is called a slab or blank. On the other hand, there are times when the old door framing has to be ripped out. This includes the door jambs and threshold.

Most doors sold today are pre-hung doors. Pre-hung doors hang on hinges within the new frame and often include some type of weatherstripping. They are the perfect option for cases where the old frame was bad/rotted or if you want to install a larger door and enlarge the opening.

traditional home with red double doors front door

Materials

There are several options for a front door as far as materials. These materials include:

Wood

Wood is the most common door material. Not only are wood doors beautiful, they are also versatile and are available in nearly any stain or paint color. In addition, they can be custom made to fit any size opening or be trimmed to fit a specific doorway. Wood doors are the material of choice for custom designs!

Unfortunately, wood doors has a tendency to warp after being exposed to the elements. Thanks to new technologies, newer wood door models have veneer skins over a wood core. This not only helps to prevent warping, it also helps to lower the cost. However, they should still be examined annually for signs of warping.

Fiberglass and Composite

Fiberglass and composite doors are both durable and maintenance-free. They are a great option since they can mimic the look and feel of a wood door, while being relatively affordable. In addition, fiberglass and composite doors are durable and can stand up to dings without getting dents. Since they are so durable, they are a great choice for harsh and humid climates. While fiberglass and composite doors are durable, energy-efficient, and versatile, they are pricier than other front door options.

Steel

Steel doors are often the most affordable option and are manufactured as part of a pre-hung system. They provide more insulation that wood doors, but typically less than fiberglass. Steel doors are prone to dents; however, most minor dents can be repaired with an auto-body repair kit. Also, if exposed to direct sunlight, steel doors can become hot to the touch. Steel doors are also prone to rust so they might not be the best choice for harsher climates. In addition, they cannot be painted so customizations are limited.

craftsman style custom home with front door with transom and side lights

Choosing Your New Door

Replacing the front door/entry door can lead to smoother operation, less maintenance, increased security, better energy efficiency, and improved curb appeal. In the end, the door you choose should reflect your personal style, as well as your home’s architecture. In addition, the color, style, and hardware chosen should make your home’s curb appeal more appealing. If you have any questions, we invite you to contact us.

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Guide to Adding a Sunroom Addition

Are you considering adding on a sunroom to your home? A sunroom is a great option for those hoping to enjoy the surrounding outdoor scenery while being sheltered from wind, bugs, rain, and cold weather. In addition, being exposed to natural sunlight can help prevent the “winter blues.”

 

 

Sunrooms are defined as glassed-in living spaces with access from the main home. They are an affordable way to add additional living space without the cost of hefty construction. As with any construction project, there are many factors to be taken into consideration when planning a sunroom. These include:

Main Function

First, it is important to assess how you primarily plan on using your sunroom addition. There are endless options which include, but are not limited to:

  • Dining Room
  • Family Room
  • Greenhouse
  • Home Office
  • Exercise Room
  • Playroom

 

Three Season vs. All Season Room

Do you want your sunroom to be a three season or an all season room? Three season rooms are typically enjoyed Spring – Fall, with the space seldom used during the Winter due to lack of insulation.

While sunrooms serve as additional living space, they may get too hot/cold in the heart of summer or winter. Typically, an all season room has some form of heating and cooling. This could be a space heater, electric fireplace, or another option. For the hot summer days in Virginia we recommend installing a mini-split system. To learn more about mini-split systems, please read this blog post.

 

Location and Size

When planning for a sunroom addition, it is important to consider where you want your new structure to be. Do you picture you new sunroom off of the back, or on either side of the house? Once the location has been decided, it is important to determine the amount of sunlight room will experience. In the event that your sunroom will experience direct sunlight you may want to consider window treatments or shades. In addition, don’t forget about any items in your landscaping that might affect your sunroom – is there a tree in the way that needs to be removed?

 

Overall, the size that you choose for your sunroom will be largely determined by the space that your yard allots and how you intend to use your sunroom.

 

Window Configuration

Sunrooms are typically comprised of single or double pane windows. Double pane windows are much more energy efficient and can help to save money on heating and cooling. There are many different types of double pane windows that can be installed in a sunroom addition. Some window types to choose from include:

  • Fixed Windows
  • Slider Windows
  • Casement Windows
  • Double-Hung Windows

Choosing the right windows for your home will depend on what functionality you would like from your windows and the style of the existing windows on your home.

 

Flooring

There are many types of flooring to choose from. These include:

  • Hardwood
  • Tile
  • Carpet
  • Laminate
  • Concrete
  • Linoleum

Each type of flooring has its own drawbacks and advantages, so it is important to pick the flooring that best fits your needs. For example, tile is a durable option that can retain heat; however, dark tiles can get hot after being exposed to the sun all day.

 

Sunrooms can be a great addition to nearly any home; after all, can even increase your home value when it comes time to sell. A sunroom is the perfect place to bring family together, from enjoying morning cups of coffee to observing the sunset at the end of the day. Your sunroom addition is sure to become the most popular room in your home. Wondering how to get started on the process? Contact Balducci Exteriors to set up a free in-home consultation.

How to Choose a Shingle Color

Choosing a Shingle Color

Did you know that your roof can account for up to 40% of your home’s exterior? This is why choosing the right shingle color can be challenging. After all, the color cannot be changed. You can expect to see the color you choose for the next 20-25 years, or when you are due for a roof replacement, so it is important to thoroughly do your research and choose a color that you enjoy.

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Since your roof accounts for a significant portion of your home’s exterior, you should consider other exterior elements of your home. Some factors that will determine which shingle color you should choose include the color of your shutters, the color of your brick or siding, and the color of your front door.

vinyl windows vs wood shingle color
Custom Home by Balducci Builders, Inc.

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Creating a Color Scheme

When choosing your shingle color, it is important to consider your home’s architectural style. Homes with a higher pitch or greater slope will have more of the roof showing from the street. This includes Colonial, Cape Cod, Cottage, and other styles. If your home has any special features, such as dormers or gables, you will want to choose a color that will draw the eye up to these points of interest.

It is also important to create the right amount of contrast between your shingle color and brick or siding. Without enough contrast, your home can appear bland and boring. Creating contrast can be achieved through combining light and dark colors, as well as combining complementary colors. The same also goes for patterns. If your home is busy, with multi-color brick, stone, or siding, then it is best to choose a simple shingle color. On the other hand, homes with vinyl siding in one color may benefit from having shingles with some variation.

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Consider Location

Another factor that will help you decide what shingle color you should choose is your geographic location. What is the weather like where you live? For those in a warmer climate, there is a possibility that lighter colored roofing shingles can possibly help keep the home’s interior cooler. According to a three year study, “on sunny days, the top ply of plywood roof sheathing under black shingles was 10˚F to 15°F (5˚C to 8˚C) warmer than that of identical white shingled roof chambers.” However, the black-shingled chambers were exposed to temperatures above 120˚F for longer periods of time than the white-shingled chambers. While the study does show that it is possible that black shingles might make your home warmer, it is likely your home’s insulation quality and ventilation that determines your home’s energy efficiency. Choosing to go with lighter or darker colored shingles in the hopes of making your home cooler or warmer is up to your discretion.

Also, consider the colors around where you live. For example, the skies in the North are much more cool-toned than in the South. It is common to see home’s with gray and blue color schemes in the North, and red and brown colors in the South. This information can help to determine what color family you should choose.

Along with your geographic location, take a look at your specific neighborhood or area where you live. When choosing a shingle color, take a look at your neighbors. You don’t want your roof to stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, choose a shingle color that harmonizes well with the neighboring homes and landscape.

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Choosing the shingle color for your roof can be overwhelming; however, considering some factors such as your home’s architectural style, siding or brick color, shutter color, and geographic location can make the selection process a little easier.

Planning an Outdoor Kitchen (And Why You Need One)

For many people, outdoor kitchens are a far fetched dream. They exude luxury entertainment and can be as well equipped as any indoor kitchen. Adding an outdoor kitchen to your home has many benefits. In addition to providing an awesome entertainment space, an outdoor kitchen can increase your home value. Some other lesser known benefits of adding an outdoor kitchen include: cooking healthier recipes, saving money by eating out less, and keeping bad cooking smells out of your home.

outdoor kitchen

When planning an outdoor kitchen space, there are several things to keep in mind to create an efficient and inviting space. here are some tips to make the planning process a little less overwhelming:

Establish the Location

Often, the first step in planning your outdoor kitchen is to establish where you want the kitchen to be located. Typically, it is better to have your outdoor kitchen closer to your house if you plan on using some appliances in the main kitchen, or if you have a smaller yard size. This set up works well if you plan on using your outdoor kitchen for mainly grilling and will keep condiments and beverages inside. placing your outdoor kitchen close to the house makes preparing meals in the outdoor kitchen more convenient. However, if you want a more extravagant outdoor kitchen, placing it farther away from the home will serve the space better. This is also preferable if you have a larger yard size. Plus, this will help to keep fumes and smells outside of your home.

Choose Your Equipment

Choosing a grill for your outdoor kitchen can be overwhelming. After all, it is typically the focal point of any outdoor kitchen. Will you have natural gas or charcoal? How many guests do you plan on cooking for? Grills can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Practically speaking, you will want a grill that has at least 12,000 British thermal units per burner, ample cooking space, and a grill cover. Once you have the basics covered, feel free to add on any bells and whistles that you desire.

In addition to the grill, it is also important to determine any other appliances that you wish to include. This can include anything from a small refrigerator or prep sink, to a kegerator and pizza oven. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing appliances for your outdoor kitchen is their durability.

Planning the Layout and Materials

Just as any kitchen should have a good, working design and configuration between the appliances and prep areas, so should your outdoor kitchen. A good way to ensure the efficiency of an outdoor kitchen layout is by utilizing a working triangle. In a working triangle, it is important to leave enough space between each appliance to allow for ample prep and cooking space without feeling too claustrophobic. Going along with the working triangle, it is also important to allot for ample countertop space. It is recommended that you have at least 12 inches of work space on either side of the grill to set down plates and utensils as you’re cooking. In addition to a work space, you can configure your countertops to also serve as a serving and eating space.

The countertops and all other materials that you choose must be hardworking. After all, it will be exposed to whatever the weather brings – from bright sunlight to snowfall. Some durable and low maintenance materials include stainless steel and tile.

Plan for Lighting

Lighting is an essential part of any outdoor living space, especially for outdoor kitchens. Including lights in your outdoor kitchen area can allow you to enjoy your space long after dinner. The best way to effectively incorporate lighting into your outdoor kitchen is by including both task lighting and ambient lighting. This can be accomplished by installing a couple of lights over the grilling and food prep areas, as well as any dining areas. To set the mood, it is also a good idea to include some decorative lights, such as string lights, solar powered lights, candles, and even tiki torches.

outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are a great investment for those who love to invite family and friends over by adding additional entertaining space. Planning an outdoor kitchen can be overwhelming; however, it can be made a little more manageable if you plan its location, equipment, appliances, materials, and lighting ahead of time. Once your outdoor kitchen is complete, don’t forget to plan that long awaited barbecue with family and friends to enjoy your new space.

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

driveway driveways contractor
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

driveway driveways contractor
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.

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.