Monthly Archives: January 2014

Choosing the Right Roofing for Your Style

Home and Greenery

When it comes to roofing your home, there are several different styles and options to choose from. What is your preferred style? Do you have a color preference? Does your home have a certain design element, such as modern, cabin style, or pueblo style? Having a particular roofing style in mind can help you to limit your choices when selecting a new roof. Here are some things you need to know about different roofing styles, and how to choose one that best suits your home.

Design a Look
Before you start looking at composition, laminate, or metal roofing, first, you need to determine what your design style is. One thing to consider is the curb appeal of your home. Do you want to install a new roof that will boost curb appeal? As you look through the various selections available for roofing, you need to determine the color, roofing style, and how long you want the roof to last. A pueblo-styled home, for example, will look best with clay tiles, compared to wood shakes or composite shingles. However, a cabin-styled home will look best with wood shakes or shingles versus clay tiles or metal roofing. Understanding the style of your home will make it easier to begin browsing for the correct roofing materials.

Composition Roofing
Many people select composition roofing because it comes in a variety of colors and styles. Composition roofing is normally called asphalt shingles, and it is one of the cheapest roofing materials available. The other positive benefit to asphalt shingles is they are easy to install and repair. Modern asphalt shingles will help to protect against the sun, which reduces energy costs. You can create a unique design style with composition roofing by selecting two or three different colors of shingles and alternating them. The originality of this design will make your house stand out from the rest. When selecting asphalt shingles, remember, the thicker the shingle, the longer it will last. Composition roofing choices can vary in price, but they average about $50 per square, plus installation costs.

Wood Roofing
While choosing to use wood for a roof can help reduce energy costs, it can also require more effort on your part to maintain the roof. Wood shingles and shakes made for the home normally come from redwood, pine, and cedar. This roofing style will need to be maintained properly to protect the home from leaks. The other concern with wood roofing is pest infestations. Certain bugs can burrow in the wood, and you can have troubles with rodents. Proper treatment of the wood is the best way to prevent problems with these pests. You will need to spray the wood shingles with waterproofing treatments as they start to age. The great thing about wood roofing is how unique it is. It can drastically change the look of your home, and thanks to the way wood breathes, it will help to keep your energy costs lower. Wood roofing can last upwards of 25 years with proper maintenance. The average cost of wood roofing ranges from $100 per square, plus installation costs.

Metal Roofing
If you want to choose roofing that is fire-resistant, energy reducing, and long lasting, opt for metal roofing. Metal roofs can reflect the sunlight, helping to reduce energy bills, as heat won’t be absorbed into the attic. Metal roofing can come in large sheets, or you can select smaller shingles. Metal roofing will last upwards of 40 years, and you can choose various paint options. Paint can help your roof to match the color of your home. Select a higher-grade metal like steel or copper over aluminum, as aluminum can dent in a hailstorm. Metal roofing also varies in price, but it averages $100 or more per square, plus installation costs.
Hosuse with Gate
Meeting with a Roofer
While three roofing selections above are the most common, it is important to meet with a quality roofing company to help you create a design style that best suits your home. If you want to use the composition roofing materials, but are unhappy with the colors, consider special ordering shingles. Obtaining the right color can make your home a stand out in the neighborhood. Certain colors are easier to obtain for roofers than others, so you can end up spending more if you want an uncommon color. The other thing to consider when choosing shingles is the neighborhood. Do you want your home to blend in with the others, or would you like your home to stand out? A good roofer can help you evaluate your options to find the correct roofing style to match your home and personal design.

This article was written by Jared Miert, home improvement blogger, hubby and dad.  If you are looking for a new roof or just a quick repair, click here.

Awesome Driveway Designs

Driveway and Gate

Driveways are often overlooked when it comes to home decoration, but they shouldn’t be. When you or a visitor arrives at your house, the very first thing visible is the driveway; and, as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. As such, for anyone caring about the appearance of their home, the driveway is a perfect place to begin decorating, designing, or improving. A driveway offers countless opportunities for artistic creativity, as well as self-expression. You can make your driveway uniquely you, completely unlike any other in your neighborhood or city, while still being gorgeous and functional. Here are a few awesome driveway designs:

Landscape the surrounding area
Perfect for long driveways, landscaping near the sides can enhance your driveway’s beauty. From flowers to bushes to trees, you can turn the area on either side of your driveway into a fairy tale nature haven that makes you feel like you are driving into a beautiful, exotic, and secretive garden every time you come home. There are few better ways to make your home classy, beautiful, and mystical than by properly landscaping the area around your driveway.
 
Beautify your concrete
One of the best ways to make a gorgeous and yet classy driveway is to go for the beautified concrete look. From different designs to various shapes and colors, the myriad possibilities presented to you with concrete beautification make it possible for you to create a driveway perfect for you, and completely unique to you. When your friends come over, they’ll be treated to a driveway unlike any they have ever seen before. Plus, the look of beautified concrete is modern, upscale, and artistic.

Plant in the median strip
One of the most unique driveway designs is the median strip garden. Simply by having the median strip (the middle part of the driveway, between the tires) lower than the rest of the driveway, you can create an entire garden impervious to the bottom of your car when you come and go. You’ll enjoy seeing beautiful flowers and exotic plants directly in front of you as you seemingly drive over them, assured in your knowledge that they are undamaged. It’s not only a fun way to support a gardening hobby, but it’s also a driveway that you can bet none of your friends have.
House with Gate
Brick surface
There may be no prettier building material than brick, and that is as true for driveways as anything else. If you build a driveway out of brick, you can add a mesmerizing and rustic element to your home. The beautiful color of brick will immediately set the tone for your home, welcoming any guests or visitors in classy and artistic fashion.

Wood surface
Similar to making a brick surface, a wood driveway can add aesthetic appeal to your home. Wood is classy, but also simplistic. A wood driveway makes the entrance to your home subtle and sweet, brilliant and beautiful. Plus, you can choose a gorgeous wood that perfectly complements your home, so that your driveway acts as trimming for your pretty house.

Plant grass
One of the quaintest driveways around is a grass driveway. Many people don’t think to build a grass driveway, because they know they’ll be driving on top of it. In actuality, your wheels drive over the same two lanes every time you enter or exit your driveway, meaning that the rest of the driveway is perfect for grass. A grass driveway with lush greenery and two perfect pathways for your tires can be an endearing path for years to come.

With these ideas, you can have the prettiest driveway you and your friends have ever seen, and it can be uniquely you. Build one of these driveways, and you’ll smile every time you come home.

This article is written by Jared Miret, home improvement blogger.  Jared recommends contacting beautifyyourconcrete.com as an affordable way to renew your driveway.

How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing (And What to Do When They Freeze)

Home Repair
Every year when winter comes, home owners and residents find themselves scrambling to prepare for the realities of harsh cold weather. Winter can be a fun time of the year, but only if you are adequately prepared for it. If you are not prepared, you will quickly find that winter is the most troublesome and stressful season. When the weather turns, the house problems can mount, making it quite the chore just to go about your day-to-day life. Thankfully, there are good ways to prepare.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for winter is make sure that your water pipes are ready for the cold temperatures. Temperatures are reaching record lows, so the probability of having frozen pipes is high. Frozen water pipes can be a gigantic trouble. When your pipes freeze, water flow gets blocked and can burst the pipes, causing flooding and thousands of dollars in damage. Plus, broken pipes temporarily mean no water for your house. So it’s best that you prepare to make sure you don’t get stuck with ice in your pipes and nothing but air in your faucet. Here are a few ways to prevent frozen pipes and some tips on what to do in the event that your pipes do actually freeze.

How to prevent frozen pipes
Insulate: The single best way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to insulate them. Insulation is extremely affordable and very easy to install. You can install some simple pipe insulation for $20 or $30 and avoid having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs. While it’s best that you insulate all of your pipes, it is most important that you make sure to insulate the areas of pipe that are exposed to the coldest weather, such as any places where the pipes travel outside of your house or run along an outside wall (a wall that isn’t insulated). Remember, it only takes your pipe freezing in one location to entirely block your water flow.

Periodically run the water: The longer that water is stagnant, the easier it will freeze. So it’s important that you run water through all the pipes with some regularity. You don’t need to waste water by leaving faucets on, but make sure that those guest bathrooms that don’t get used often get their faucets turned on every once in a while. This will keep the water moving and prevent the ice from forming. If you anticipate a cold night coming up, turn on all the rarely used faucets in the house for at least a few seconds to get the water running.

Heat your cold rooms: It goes without saying that the coldest areas of your house are likely to be the culprit if pipes freeze. That means that your basement is just waiting to freeze your pipes. If pipe insulation isn’t enough (or you don’t want to install it), buy a space heater for your cold rooms and turn it on periodically to keep the ambient heat high enough to prevent freezing.

If your pipes freeze
If your preventive tactics are too late, have no fear. Here are two good ways to handle frozen pipes:

Thaw them: You can thaw your pipes with space heaters, hair dryers, or warm towels. You want to be sure to avoid anything that could be harmful or dangerous, such as fire or torches. When you’re thawing your pipes, make sure to have your faucet on; that way, when a little bit of the ice melts, the water will have somewhere to go, which will expedite the process (and also let you know if you’re having success).
Plumber II
Call a plumber: If you aren’t able to easily thaw the pipes yourself, call a professional plumber. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can do serious damage to your plumbing system and even to your house. Plumbing should only be done by those who know what they are doing.

With these tips, you will be able to handle frozen pipes or prevent them from freezing in the first place.

This article was written by father and home handyman, Jared Miret. Jared recommends calling Doug Turner Plumbing if you are unsure how to handle your frozen pipes.

Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling Ideas

AC

One of the most wasteful things in an average consumer’s life is heating and cooling. We all care about heating and cooling our homes, as it is the key to being comfortable in the places we live. But, because the weather fluctuates so much, we end up having to use a lot of energy to heat and cool our houses. Of course, the detrimental impact of using large amounts of energy to regulate temperatures is twofold: First, energy is extremely expensive, so the more you use, the harder your wallet gets hit. And second, our energy consumption is harming the environment. Every bit we use has a negative impact, so it’s imperative that we find ways to reduce our energy consumption and our carbon footprints. Thankfully, there are a few simple tricks that can help you save energy—and thus money and the environment—on home heating and cooling costs.

Energy efficient heating
Insulation: Insulation is a pretty basic home feature, but many houses lack it, despite the fact that it is easy to install and extremely affordable. In fact, installing insulation in your home can pay for itself in just a few months because of how much it will lower your heating bill. It’s pretty simple: insulation does to your home what a winter coat does to your body. When the cold comes, it keeps all the warmth inside. Simply insulating your home can save you hundreds of dollars a year on heating, while dramatically decreasing your environmental impact.

Solar heating: If you feel like taking it a step further, you can install solar panels to heat your home. Solar panels rely on light from the sun for energy, which is far more environmentally friendly than other sources of energy. Solar heating can be achieved in two ways: you can get full solar panels, which provide electricity for your whole home, or you can get a solar heating system, which heats water that then travels through your house, heating it in the process.

Replace your windows with energy-efficient options: There are two reasons why replacing your old windows with new, energy-efficient ones is a good option. First, energy-efficient windows are designed specifically to maximize heat absorption and retention. They simply do a better job of keeping your home warm than traditional windows do. In addition, your old windows almost surely have imperfections in their frames. Many windows are not installed perfectly, and even if they are, they will develop framing imperfections in a matter of just a few years. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Even the tiniest imperfection in the frame lets in a constant draft of outside air, which, over time, dramatically increases the money you have to spend on heating. Thankfully, if you opt to buy energy-efficient windows, you can get a strong tax return to reward you for your environmentally conscious decision.

Window to Garden

Energy efficient cooling
Shades: Many people don’t realize it, but using shades to cover windows can have just as strong of an impact as turning on the air conditioning. Shades keep some of the strength of the sun away, thus keeping your home a cool and comfortable haven.

Paint your house and walls light colors: As we all learned in grade school, dark colors retain heat. The difference between having a brown house with grey walls and having a tan house with white walls can be the difference between you turning on the air conditioning or not. Keep your colors light (this goes for curtains and furniture as well), and you’ll keep your house cool.

Replace your windows: Replacing your windows doesn’t just help you heat your home, it also helps you cool it. When hot weather comes, the air gets moist (especially if you live in the southern states of the U.S.). When that moist air creeps into your home through imperfections in your window frames, it makes it harder to keep the air cool. Replacing your windows can solve this problem and keep your cooling costs down.

With these tips, you can keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year long, without hurting your wallet or the environment.

This article was written by Jared Miret, home improvement blogger.  Jared says, if you must use Air Conditioners, remember to keep them out of landfills by having them repaired rather than replaced. Check out AC repair in Cypress, Texas today.

5 of the Weirdest Things Commonly Dug Up in Backyards

Digging Up a BackyardA number of common home improvement tasks might require you to dig up parts of your backyard. Diverse remodeling tasks, ranging from installing patios and ponds, to fixing up the messes left by critters in your backyard, all necessitate getting your hands a bit dirty.

While you may not venture into your front or back yard with the intent of unearthing valuable treasures and artifacts, on occasion you may be shocked what you find when digging a hole to plant a tree, tilling your land, or planting a garden. Your average backyard project probably won’t  include a call to your local archaeologist, but countless homeowners have unearthed odd and startling objects over time. Below are some of the most common surprises that people have when digging in their backyards.

1. Ancient Bones

Over the last 150 years, residents of Michigan have unearthed ancient fossil bones just by digging around. In 2012, two 11-year-old boys dug up a bone they initially thought was a cool rock to add to their collection. It ended up being a mastodon vertebra! While the average person will not come across such a rare find, you should submit photos of any large and uneasily identified bones to a nearby paleontologist just in case!

A more common discovery might be finding any number of other fossils, ranging from ancient shells, insects encased in amber, to petrified wood. Your local geological surveys might be able to provide helpful keys for identifying common fossils in backyards.

2. Ancient Artifacts

While you may not know what an ancient artifact looks like at first glance, you will surely take note of any unique pieces of art or tools that are uncovered when you are digging and working in your yard. In 2006 , a Washington state man found a 1,000-year-old Native American artifact while working on his rock garden. If you find something in your yard that appears to be some type of ancient artifact, you can have it authenticated by a local anthropologist or archeologist. While you might not be able to cash in immediately on your find, you can easily find joy in having excavated a part of history in your own backyard.

Planting3. Hidden Treasures

We have all heard of maps that lead to hidden treasures buried decades ago by pirates and thieves. But most of us would not go as far as to search for these buried treasures on our own. In 2013, someone did just that—by accident! A farmer who was searching for the keys he dropped in his field was surprised to find 14 medieval coins that dated back to the 14th and 15th centuries. (But unless you’re While it’s not exactly a pot of gold, each of these coins is worth $700-$800! If you find old coins in your yard or floating around your house (maybe in the back of a drawer!), you can take them to a coin store for authentication. The older the coins are the more specialized the coin dealer will need to be.

While you probably have to reside in Europe, Asia, or South America to find the world’s oldest hidden treasures, Americans have found their fair share of unearthed historical and fascinating objects as well.

4. Deceased Pets

While burying a pet in the backyard may not be uncommon, it can sure be a surprise when you find a pet that the previous home owner buried. From time to time, people even come across bones of bodies buried on their homestead instead of in a local cemetery. If you find bones that appear to be human, call your local police station to confirm that the bones are not part of a crime.

5. Time Capsules

Time capsules are a popular trend that many people bury at significant milestones in their lives. At the time a capsule is buried, it is intended to be found by future generations or uncovered by the creator several years down the road. While time capsules do not often contain items of material value, they can hold great personal value for the person that created them.

While it is more likely that you will find nothing other than dirt, rocks, worms and bugs when you are digging in your yard, keep your eye out for anything unexpected just in case!

Guest writer Ryan Diaz enjoys getting his hands dirty, and can frequently be found assisting homeowners with improvement and beautification projects in the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. He has come across many of the weird objects listed above while installing concrete in Houston-area homes.