What is T1-11 Siding?

t11-sidingT1-11 siding is a wood based siding. This type of siding is available in either plywood or oriented strand board(OSB). The plywood costs a little more but is more durable than the OSB type of T1-11. The plywood version also gives you more finishing options. This is an important consideration when it comes to wood siding. Wood always needs to be finished in some way to help it withstand the elements. Oriented strand board is what is known as an engineered wood particle board. It is basically a mixture of resins, adhesives and wood flakes that are compressed down to form rigid wood-like boards.

T1-11 siding, being a wood based product, has the advantage of looking natural. It can give that rustic look and feel to a home, shed or barn that just can’t be duplicated with vinyl or composite siding. Wood siding is also generally cheaper than siding made from other materials.

The OSB variety of T1-11 must be painted to be properly finished. One of the advantages of the plywood variety is that it can be stained instead of painted, so it can retain that natural, beautiful wood look. T1-11 siding was most popular in the 60’s, 70’s, and into the 80’s when this natural wood look was the preeminent style.

Because it is either wood or made from wood in the case of the OSB material, T1-11 also has woods disadvantages. Wood is vulnerable to termites and other pests. The biggest disadvantage, however, is that wood has higher maintenance requirements to protect it from the elements and to prevent water damage. It needs to be finished either by staining or painting. If you choose to stain your plywood T1-11 siding, you need to re-apply it every three to five years. Priming and painting should last about ten to twelve years before needing to be redone.

One other advantage of T1-11 as a material is that wood is biodegradable. This siding would be considered a more Eco-friendly choice than just about anything else out there. Most of the finishes applied to it may not be environmentally friendly but at least the material itself is. The OSB form of T1-11 can be made from smaller, new growth trees of the type that are more common in tree farms rather than forests. This helps to mitigate the main environmental negative attributed to wood products of deforestation.

Having decided upon T1-11 siding, the main decision remaining would be whether to go with plywood or OSB. Oriented strand board is a little cheaper and the APA (The Engineered Wood Association) maintains that OSB and plywood are structural equals.

Plywood on the other hand, has a higher perceived value to most people who want their home siding redone. It actually looks like wood which makes the plywood variety dominant in the do-it-yourself market for wood siding. Some contractors have noticed a difference in how the two materials handle moisture. The plywood may temporarily swell up a bit after getting wet, but it dries quicker and tends to return to its original shape.

OSB takes longer to get wet, but it also takes longer to dry and can tend to swell up over time at the edges. OSB manufacturers try to handle this by applying a sealant to the edges of the siding, but this can be undone if the siding is cut on site when installing it on a particular home or shed. OSB is available in longer 16 foot high panels compared to the typical maximum of 8 to 10 feet for plywood which may be more convenient in certain instances.

Applying the siding to a home or other structure is no small job and all but the most experienced handymen should hire a professional to handle it for them. Properly installed and maintained T1-11 siding will provide a home with cost effective protection from the elements for many years to come. The environmental benefits of this natural material should cause many to consider this option when choosing the siding for their home.

James Hardie Building Products in 2015

james hardie productsWhen it comes to construction, James Hardie is a household name. But what are James Hardie building products, and what gives them their edge over the other competing lines?

The answer is pretty simple: James Hardie IS the name behind fiber-cement construction products.

About Fiber Cement Materials

Fiber cement composites are an ideal choice when it comes to exterior construction. One of the primary concerns for any homeowner is building affordably while ensuring that the home will stand the test of time. Many siding options have a difficult time finagling these two concepts, so homeowners may save in the beginning, but suffer maintenance costs in the long run.

James Hardie Fiber cement siding is:

  • Durable
  • Warp, Crack, Heat, Fade and Moisture resistant
  • Pest-resistant
  • Available in many color options
  • Customized to your home’s climate

For these reasons fiber cement siding is thought to be the lowest-maintenance siding option available. With properly installed fiber cement siding, you’ve eliminated many of the maintenance costs that vinyl, wood, or aluminum siding owners will suffer. These key fiber cement features are especially important for homeowners who live in harsh climates and whose homes are highly susceptible to elemental damage.

If this isn’t sufficiently reassuring, James Hardie building products are also backed by generous warranties. These warranties are only applicable to products that have been installed by certified James Hardie contractors. As with so many materials, the efficacy does depend on the quality of the installation.

The Product Line

  • Shingles
  • Lap Siding
  • Vertical Siding
  • Trim Boards

Their famous HardiePlank Lap Siding is the best-selling product in the United States. One of the amazing features of this fiber cement siding material is its versatility. This product comes in a variety of colors and textures that can imitate various other siding materials. It’s also reinforced by James Hardie’s marvelous ColorPlus technology that offers UV resistance to prevent fading.

James Hardie even offers an Artisan Luxury line of sidings and trims for a truly outstanding exterior finish.

Choosing James Hardie

So what exactly has made James Hardie building products a leader in the realm of home construction? These materials have managed to bridge the gap between aesthetics and durability.

With James Hardie building products, a homeowner can achieve a beautiful exterior that will also provide a solid return investment.

The performance of James Hardie is outstanding and these products look as good as they last!

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8 Things to Know About Window Replacement

window replacement
It would be nice if window replacement were as easy as a two step “snap in, snap out” process. For some fortunate homeowners, it is.

However, the majority of window replacement jobs require a few more steps, if not many more, for a safe and efficient installation.

1. Know Your City Codes

Even if you’ve hired a contractor to do the job of replacing your windows, you should always research your city’s most recent construction codes. This is not an issue to trifle with. Many cities require a permit for something as simple as window replacement. Failing to secure a permit will often result in severe financial penalties and the negation of any illicit construction work that has been done to your home. Do make sure that your contractor is up-to-date with the latest codes and requirements and familiarize yourself with these as well. NEVER work with
a contractor who is willing to begin construction on your home without a necessary permit. Such a company does not have your interests in mind.

2. Be Aware of Your Home’s Needs

There are many different kinds of window materials on the market. Are you looking for more insulation? Do you need special safety glass in certain rooms? Talk to your contractor regarding all your options. Doing so may greatly affect the interior of your home.

3. Consider Your Energy Costs

Your windows are a critical point of insulation. Energy efficient windows trap both heat and cold which can result in significant energy savings over time. In order to reap the benefits of quality windows, the next point is every bit as important.

4. Make Sure Your Windows are Properly Sealed

A major reason to upgrade or replace windows is to improve the insulation of your home. Choosing double-paned and special types of glass can enhance your home’s energy efficiency, but ONLY if the installation is done properly. This means there must be no opportunity for air to escape, and this can be a real challenge when working on older homes that require more customized work. Everything needs to be tight and properly caulked with a quality sealant.

5. How Much Customization is Necessary?

Always talk to your contractor regarding every detail of the replacement process. Many homeowners are caught off guard when they learn that their “simple” window replacement process will actually involve invasive construction. Are the new windows the same size as those being replaced, or will cutting into the wall be necessary. Will the trim pose problems? Homeowners should always be prepared for complexities.

6. Look Forward

It is always good to look ahead when it comes to any form of home construction. Certain changes will affect both the performance and resale value of your home. This is why you’ll want to research the various materials thoroughly before making a decision. Cutting costs initially can sometimes lead to higher costs in the long term.

7. Research Common Errors

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with common window installation errors, even before the job is done. Poorly fitted frames, frames bowing out, unsealed areas that can lead to elemental damage over time are not that uncommon. You’ll want to be able to address these issues with your contractor immediately, rather than later. Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting an inconveniently long period of time before the company returns to fix the error.

8. Choose Your Contractor Wisely

Maybe replacing your windows isn’t quite as involved as renovating an entire home, but it is a job that requires attention to detail and a certain level of construction. You want a reliable contractor who patiently listens to your questions, and who comes with a large amount of references.

Even simple construction jobs can go terribly wrong. For this reason the underlying theme of each of these points is that homeowners plan ahead. Research the job and know your home. Doing so will help prepare you for what lies ahead, as well as aid you in choosing a responsible contractor. A good contractor will have the experience necessary to answer your questions, and will be able to predict issues that may arise during your window replacement.

How Do I Know If I Need Siding?

siding costSiding is the last thing that a homeowner may think of replacing. Most homeowners do not pay attention to the siding unless there is an urgent problem with the home’s siding. But perhaps it should be replaced. After all, siding does crack, break, wear out and get old. If repairs are not done at the right time, it begins to leak. This could lead to more expensive repairs. But how does the homeowner know that they need to replace sliding. Here are some of the signs you should look out for.

The home needs frequent painting

If your home needs painting, say once every six years, then you should consider replacing the current sliding. Your home sliding should keep its painting for at least 8 or more years. Siding that is cracking, pealing or chipping is a clear indicator that there is something that needs to be addressed in your home.

High heating and cooling bills

Most people think that heating and cooling bills are only escalated by poor heating and cooling systems or lack of attic insulation. This is true in most cases, but your sliding can also contribute to the increasing bills. If your neighbors are paying lower heating and cooling bills with the same structures as yours, then there is something wrong with your exterior wall insulation. Old or cracked sliding can be a major cause of excessive heating and cooling bills.

Rotting or warping

Visual inspection of the sliding helps you identify any signs of rotting or warping. Take a screwdriver with you when doing the inspection. Look for rotting boards or warping areas or any other damage on the homes sliding. Use the screwdriver to check how solid the inner layers are. If the layers are soft or rotting, then this is a clear sign that something needs to be done there.

Loose sliding

Sliding boards can crack or come loose after a storm. If the cracks appear on one or two boards, the only thing that you should do is to repair those boards. However, if these cracks are in almost all the boards, then replacement is necessary. Cracked or loose pieces of sliding can allow water to seep through them, leading to damage on your inner wall. Professional services may be needed to replace these boards.

Peeling paint

Peeling paint or wall paper that is pulling away from the inner walls can be a sign that the wall is seeping water. This seepage is mainly caused by faulty sliding. Rather than repainting the inner wall, it is important to check the sliding. If the sliding is not replaced, moisture will still seep in and the paint will continue peeling.

Mold or fungus

Mold grows in most conditions. Thus, growth of mold or fungus on your homes sliding is an indicator that water is penetrating it. It is important to inspect sliding when you see mold or mildew growing. Moisture can cause rotting and eventual collapse of sliding. Thus, the parts affected by moisture should be replaced immediately.

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How To Prepare For A Siding Job?

siding chicagoTo effectively prepare for a siding job, you must first take into consideration what type of siding you are using. Different siding materials require completely individualized preparations. Moreover, improper siding preparation is a chief reason why some siding installations fail in the long run. If you want to get the most out of your siding’s performance, the preparation stage is every bit as important as the installation.

Smoothing Out the Details

Regardless of what siding material you’ve chosen, a very important preparatory step is to insure that your new siding is being installed atop healthy walls. Wood rot, mold, and uneven textures are not safe surfaces upon which to install new siding. Doing so will further damage the integrity of your home and lead to uneven siding. Always make sure that you have or your contractor has repaired any wall surfaces and that the material underneath is solid.

Understanding the Procedural Differences

Materials such as vinyl siding require a different approach to preparation than brick or wood. For example, vinyl siding is not as insulative as fiber cement, so home owners will want to install insulation before proceeding with their siding job. Certain siding materials have different attachment mechanisms which will alter preparation concerns.

When it comes to preparing your home for a siding job, there are many questions you’ll need to ask your contractor. The first and foremost has to do with how familiar he is with the installation process of the particular material you have chosen.

A contractor who specializes in vinyl siding may know all the ins and outs for its installation, but may have little experience in preparing for a fiber cement installation. You’ll also want to make sure you pay attention to the nuances of your home’s exterior. How will your contractor work with doors and windows, or gables and custom designed homes that require special attention to trims and corners? You want a seamless installation, so it’s important that your contractor have experience with these issues and that he is not approaching your home with a “learn as you go” attitude.

Experience Is Necessary

An experienced contractor will be able to confidently explain every detail of your exterior’s preparation and siding installation. However, it takes an educated homeowner to be able to tell the difference between a contract who is passing along shaky answers and one who is speaking from within a vast frame of reference. This is why it is important for you to research the siding material you have chosen, and look into the common errors connected with its installation. Familiarize yourself with its most popular construction issues and make sure your siding is being installed on a well-maintained wall space.

Why Hire A Professional Window Washing Company?

arlington heights windows replacementProfessional window washing service is a sound investment. It has a long list of benefits, which serves both commercial and residential buyers. A word-of-caution to all buyers of professional window washing service is to hire someone who owns and runs the operation.

A professional window washing company offers an eclectic range of services. They’ve got the equipment and tools to do a terrific job. They’re capable of taking extra care of the hard-to-reach areas. Another advantage is that the owner/operator will dispatch a crew consisting of experienced, knowledgeable window cleaners.

Professionals have at least three years of experience, in window treatment and care. It’s imperative that a buyer invests in a registered, established company with a minimum of three years in the industry, and well-trained contractors.

Liability insurance is an asset which a registered window washing company offers to their customers. If an accident should occur on the part of their employee’s carelessness, having the damages covered, shouldn’t pose a problem. A professional window washing company makes preparation for such accidents to guarantee that their customers are safe and satisfied. A professional window washing company, seldom use subcontractors for their projects. If they’re subcontracting, it’s imperative that they employ board-certified professionals and have liability insurance.

Most companies offering professional window washing are a member of an established association. This is to make sure that their specialty spans the latest cleaning techniques and products. These days, window cleaners are using eco-label products and advanced equipment to complete jobs quickly.

It’s essential that a professional window washing company has unbiased customer reviews as a reference. This is an asset to learn about their services and effectiveness when cleaning windows. Sometimes these companies offer free consultation, and an estimate based on the services a customer need.

Professional window washers are known for their carefulness and ethical practice on the job. Besides getting quality for an affordable price, a buyer needs a reliable candidate whom they can trust. It’s not the easiest search, but buyers who know what they want, shouldn’t find the task too daunting. Another advantage of choosing a professional window washing company is that their workers are knowledgeable, and has extensive background cleaning different glass types, including tempered glass. This type needs the hands of a specialist who knows how to care for tempered glass and other delicate types. There’s no need to hire someone who’s capable of doing an ordinary clean, which leaves scratches on windows and sills undone.

First-time customer discounts are a popular service, which a professional window washing company offers. It doesn’t matter if a professional window washing specialist, use the automated or manual method to wash windows; they offer hands-on scrubbing. The main concern is that a customer receives the best-in-class window cleaning service. It’s not so much about the system being used, but the cleaners’ level of competence, knowledge, hands-on experience and commitment to give quality cleaning service.

It’s essential that a buyer of window cleaning services research the company offering contractors for hire, before entering an agreement. Window cleaning is a career which calls for professionalism and industry experience. For this reason, a buyer should exercise prudence when hiring someone. It’s a safety measure to certify that they get the right fit or team for the job. In the past few years, window washing has seen paramount improvements in theoretical and practical standards. A brand whose employees are aware of the changes, makes an excellent candidate. A few homeowners and business operators acknowledge the importance of having clean windows. It’s something which everybody should explore as it’s a beneficial undertaking. It enhances the look of the surroundings and gives the windows an extended lifespan.

How to estimate your siding cost?

siding costThere are two main steps necessary to estimate your siding cost. The first involves measuring the surface area of your home, and the second is dependent upon which type of siding you will use. Exterior siding comes in a variety of materials, and some cost markedly less than others. Your best estimations will also need to take into account whether you’ll be siding your own home or hiring a contractor for the job.

Measuring Your Exterior

The shape of your home may complicate this step somewhat. Your wall area can be calculated by measuring each separate wall as a rectangle with a metal tape measure, and multiplying the height by the length. However, if your home has gables, you will need to isolate these triangles from the rectangular measurements and calculate them separately using the triangle area formula (height multiplied by length and the product divided by two). Then, add the square footage of each triangle and rectangle together to determine the overall surface of your home.

Determining Labor Costs

If you are going to undertake the siding process yourself, then your costs really boil down to the purchase of materials and the tools necessary for executing this task. However, if you are hiring a contractor, these costs can be anywhere from double the price to, more likely, a triple cost. This is because you will be paying for labor, which varies amongst contractors. However, depending on which contractor you use, some may offer a discount on materials that depends on their relationship with the manufacturer. Truly, you may find that your siding estimates differ greatly from one contractor to another, which is why it is generally a good idea to consult with more than one company before making a commitment.

Estimating Material Costs

It is easier to estimate the cost of siding installation than it is to determine the overall cost of your siding as a long term investment. This is because certain types of siding are less expensive to install but involve costly maintenance and repairs within a few years.

When choosing amongst the most popular types of siding, make sure to assess whether the siding is prone to:

• Warping
• Cracking
• Fading
• Pest damage
• Mold damage
• Heat damage

These conditions represent expensive calls for imminent maintenance. When siding your home, it is very important to consider whether a reduction in up-front installation costs is worth the inconvenience and expense of future repairs. Such concerns should absolutely be factored into your siding estimate.

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3 Best Vinyl Siding Materials

vinyl sidingThere are many options when it comes to choosing siding material for your next project. Some of them are little bit more expansive, some have a better and some require more maintenance. Here are the three we want to compare:

Shake Vinyl Siding

Shake vinyl siding is a relatively new type of siding with an appealing look. Originally vinyl siding was viewed as a cheap alternative to better quality, and more visually pleasing siding. Shake vinyl siding comes in different textures, shapes, and colors to mimic different woods. Home owners will be pleased with the appearance of their shake vinyl siding, and even more pleased with the minimal maintenance it requires. Unlike real Cedar shakes, vinyl shakes do not require repainting or staining.

This type of vinyl siding, generally, will last much longer than the real wood materials without the annual maintenance. It is important for consumers to choose the style of shake vinyl siding carefully. Some styles are not timeless, and tend to become outdated. Pay attention to the look of other houses in your neighborhood, and choose a shake siding that complements the surrounding houses. Otherwise you might find yourself wanting to replace your siding prematurely for a more modern look. Shake vinyl siding is not expensive. It is manageable for the average homeowner to install without professional assistance. Professional installation is a major expense that homeowners should try to avoid.

Seamless Vinyl Siding

Seamless vinyl siding comes in 40 ft. strips unlike the traditional vinyl siding that comes in 12 ft. strips. The traditional 12 ft. strips leave more breaks and seams after installation, which makes the home susceptible to water damage and pest infestation. Seamless vinyl siding limits the risk of weather and pest damages. It is also a thicker material making it more durable. The installation process for seamless vinyl siding is a major improvement to the traditional siding.

Traditional vinyl siding is installed using nails that are only partially imbedded to allow for expansion and contraction. On the other hand, seamless vinyl siding is installed using a floating clip system, which eliminates the visibility of nails poking out every few inches. Seamless vinyl siding gets its name by ending the seams at a window or door; the seams are not visible. Limiting the seams creates better insulation, saving you money on your utility bill.

This siding will never need to be painted. Seamless vinyl siding is more expensive than tradition siding by roughly 10 percent. Professional installation is required in most cases, which adds to the overall costs. The extra cost are likely worth it because seamless vinyl siding will hold up better through the years, giving consumers a better return on their investment.

Solid Core/Insulated Vinyl Siding

Sold Core or Insulated Vinyl siding has the benefit of built-in insulation. The insulation is glued inside each strip. This type of siding is recognized for increasing energy efficiency in homes. Thermal bridging is eliminated with insulated vinyl siding. An example of thermal bridging is studs in a wall; the studs are an interruption in the insulation in the wall.

Studs provide a thermal flow between the inside and the outside of a home, which also is known as thermal bridging. Insulated vinyl siding has no interruptions is insulated material; therefore, thermal bridging is not possible. This type of siding is easy to install and comes in a variety of styles. If you find a style you like this material is a great purchase; it’s energy efficient, durable, long-lasting, and easy to install.

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5 Reasons To Replace Your Siding

siding contractor chicagoComing to terms with a decision to redo your exterior siding isn’t easy.

Siding replacement involves a lengthy and invasive construction process, but it’s also an important task that may result in significant savings over time.

Here are several reasons to replace the siding on your home:

1. Your Siding Is No Longer Functional

Although this should go without saying, many homeowners choose to keep their cracked, warped, or environmentally mottled siding due to budget constraints or lack of time. However, it’s important to keep in mind that damaged siding is also non-functional siding. It will not insulate or protect your home to the extent that newer siding can. This may result in higher energy expenditures or even pest and pathogen issues, all of which can increase the costs of your future bills and home maintenance.

2. Your Siding Is Comprised of Inferior Materials

Siding has become a highly competitive market with certain options offering more for their cost than others. Is your siding:

• Heat and warp resistant?
• Mold and pest resistant?
• Color fade resistant?
• Moisture resistant?

Fiber cement composites outdo their vinyl competitors on almost every level. The repairs and maintenance of certain siding options make their initial budget-friendly price absolutely moot in the long run.

3. You’re Breeding Bugs or Fungus

Termite damage or black mold spores are issues that cannot go ignored for simple safety reasons. Termites destroy the structural integrity of a home, and black mold, as well as many types of fungal spores, are airborne toxins. It wouldn’t make sense to allow the situation to fester, which is why replacing your current siding for a material that’s more mold and pest-repellant is the safer option.

4. Increasing Maintenance Costs

Does it seem like you’re always doling out funds for new paint jobs or siding repairs? This is likely because the siding option you chose does not hold color well, and the material is highly vulnerable to heat, weather, and sunlight. Cheaper siding materials most often result in higher labor and maintenance costs. Products such as fiber cement siding are not only known for their ability to keep paint, but their extreme weather-resistant qualities make them the lowest maintenance option currently on the market.

5. You Want to Increase the Value of Your Home

Siding can last anywhere from ten years to half a decade, depending on the material. However, if you’re looking to put your home up for sale, re-siding your home can increase its value more than marginally. Advertising quality products such as fiber cement siding for your home sale lets buyers know that exterior maintenance is not in their near future.

Siding exists to protect and insulate your home. If your current siding is showing signs of damage, incurring considerable repair costs, or has simply fallen off the side of your home, you are no longer reaping the benefits of a well-sided home. Don’t wait until your energy bills bloat or your home is overrun with pathogenic mold. Keep in mind that solid upfront choices will lead to better long term results. So, select your siding carefully so that you won’t have to make a similar decision ten years from today.

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Benefits Of Vinyl Replacement Windows

vinyl windowsA draft can ruin the temperature and a person comfort in the home from not having vinyl on your windows. The standard window may in fact allow for a draft or wind to come into the home but vinyl will help to protect a home from these elements. Vinyl replacement windows will allow a person to no longer have to receive the drafts from outside that may prove to be uncomfortable. The vinyl windows will come in different shapes, sizes and color for the home not limiting you to only having to buy one type of vinyl window for your home. While replacing your windows with vinyl windows you will not need to worry about too much cost as they can fit into any persons budget. While the windows will be in your budget for your home understand also that this replacement can prove to give great benefits that can help to save you additional money among other benefits.

Lower Heating Cost

In homes that provide heat, the one aspect that can run your heating bill high will be the draft that can come into the home. If a person is running heat in their home then it is likely that the temperature outside of the home is cool or cold. The draft entering the home will cause a person to either have to run the heat for a longer period of time to overpower the cool air or to continuously have to turn the heat on and off. This can cause the heating bill to be higher than normal for a home. A vinyl replacement window will help to no longer allow a draft to come into a home thus lowering the bill from the cost to heat your home.

Lower A/C and Cooling Cost

The A/C or air conditioning costs will be high if a person is using this air system to keep from the heat outside. Just as there can be a cool draft there can be a warm draft as well that can come through a window. As the warm draft flows into the house while the air conditioning is running a person may need to run their system more than normal to keep their home cool. This will cause a person to have to pay more in costs for using this system due to the draft that is passing through the home. Vinyl window replacement will be able to bring the costs lower when using the air conditioning in the home.

Create An Energy Efficient Home

Having a vinyl window replacement in a home can help to make the home more efficient thus making it greener for the environment. By not having to overrun your heat or air conditioning you will be able to save from using a lot of electricity. This will not only bring down your costs but make your home energy efficient as well which will ultimately be better on the environment as well.

There are other aspects of owning vinyl window replacement windows as well from being able to clean them easier than standard windows to easier maintenance. Vinyl windows will be a great addition to a person in terms of making their home more energy efficient and reduce the home energy costs.

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