Experts: Replace Windows and Screens Before Zika Virus Spreads To Texas!

As winter turns to spring, and spring inevitably turns into mosquito season, Texas officials are trying to get the state ready for a possible outbreak of the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is currently devastating South and Central America, and the mosquito-borne disease is linked to an epidemic of permanent birth defects to children born from infected mothers. Many experts believe it's only a matter of time before the mosquitoes carrying the virus enter the United States, and as a warm, southern state with a year-round influx of immigrants, Texas is particularly at risk.

Fortunately, there is good news for Texans. Public health officials, local leaders, and healthcare organizations are hard at work getting ready. Cities like Houston are trying to proactively wipe out the larvae of Aedes aegyptimosquitoes. Even better, two Texas hospitals recently developed the first rapid tests for the illness, a major breakthrough.

However, there are also things Texans can do to minimize their risk. Piles of old tires, standing water, and trash serve as fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes. And in an interview with Texas Public Radio, Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, warned homeowners to make sure their windows are tight, secure, and fitted with screens.

"We're only a few feet from a house which has no window screens," Hotez told a TPR reporter. "So it's the proximity of a house with no window screens, next to the discarded tires, next to the standing water that creates the perfect mix" for mosquitoes. 

Obviously, even the best Texas windows won't protect you when you step outside, but windows, screens, and air conditioning can be a powerful deterrent for your home. As summer approaches, home improvement professionals are hard at work building new decks and patios, but Texas windows have suddenly taken on a new importance. Other home improvement projects may offer a higher ROI; metal roofs and vinyl siding offer up to 85% and 80% ROI on average. But 2016 may not be the year to skimp on replacement windows, and besides, even basic wood replacement windows offer a 70% ROI when you sell your home. 

So if you've noticed your home's windows could use an upgrade, then it would be wise to install replacement windows before the summer starts.

What's the #1 Most Popular Kind of Siding in Texas?

Like homeowners in the other 49 states, Texas homeowners are increasingly looking for siding that's fairly priced. Of course, you want siding that looks attractive and boosts the curb appeal of your home, but more than anything, more homeowners simply want siding that won't break the bank.

For this reason, vinyl siding is the single most popular type of siding material in the country, beating out old favorites like brick, wood, stucco and fiber-cement. If you're looking for affordable Texas siding, then you won't find a better value than quality vinyl siding. Top architects might try and warn you away from choosing vinyl as your Texas siding of choice, but they're not the ones who have to live (or pay the mortgage) on your home.

Out of 15 possible siding options for Texans to choose from, why are vinyl siding services far and away the most popular choice? While architects looking to live vicariously through your home might prefer wooden siding, home improvement professionals know better. Here in the U.S., most siding installations are rated for winds up to 110 miles per hour, which means it can withstand just about anything the elements can throw at it.

And in addition to being the most affordable choice for Texas homeowners, vinyl has a number of other major advantages over the competition. First, it's incredibly versatile, meaning you can choose a type of siding for every type of home or decor. For eco-conscious homeowners, insulated vinyl siding helps keep warm and cool air from leaking out of your home. For budget-conscious homeowners, there are a number of cheap vinyl siding options to choose from. Vinyl also comes in a variety of colors and configurations, giving you more control over the appearance of your home's exterior.

Even better, and as any home improvement pro will attest, vinyl siding is also much, much easier to maintain than materials like wood or stucco, which require constant upkeep to ward off rot, pests, and weather damage. Vinyl is easy to maintain in the long and short term. When the time does eventually come to replace your siding, vinyl has such a high reputation that the average homeowner sees an 80% return on investment.

So if you're looking for the best Texas siding that stands the test of time, saves you money, and requires very little ongoing maintenance, then it's no wonder vinyl remains the number one material for Texas siding, among contractors and homeowners alike.

Replacing Your Home's Siding? 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Did you know that there are over 15 different types of siding, the most popular of which is vinyl? If you’ve decided to embark on a home improvement project with your home’s siding, there’s a few different things you should keep in mind.

For Wood Sidings

It’s important to make sure your wood is adequately prepared, so it lasts a long time. Otherwise, your siding may start to look beat up after going through several seasonal cycles over the years. If there is not adequate stain in the pigment, your wood siding will get broken down from the sun’s UV rays. Pre-finished, 3/4” wood is ideal.

What’s the Advantage of Siding Over Bricks?

Whether it’s wood, aluminum, or quality vinyl siding, it'll be a lot easier to clean than any other surface since it is smooth and even. In most cases, it can be washed off with nothing more than a power washer and light soap. Since it’s not a painted surface, you won’t need to deal with the maintenance of re-painting or worrying about rot.

So Why is Vinyl so Popular?

There are a few reasons why about one in three homes (32%) use quality vinyl siding. A big point in its favor is affordability; This Old House estimates that vinyl siding costs about 26% less than aluminum, and 11% less than cedar. Vinyl can be given a low-gloss finish so that it resembles wood more closely. The lack of maintenance tends to be what seals the deal with most people, though. When investing in insulated vinyl siding, look for quality materials; premium siding is thicker, which allows it to be more resistant to sagging over time. Quality siding materials are also less likely to get damaged or fly off in high-wind storms; property damage makes up about 36% of all remodeling jobs, after all.

Why Replace Your Siding?

There are definite cost advantages to updating your siding. Homeowners who replace their vinyl siding tend to recoup 80% of the cost on average when the house is sold. Home improvement services are typically worth the money you spend on them -- money invested now is, after all, money invested in the future of your home.

Deck Building Services Can Create an Inviting Outdoor Gathering Space

The 50 degree weather on President's Day weekend gave you some hope that spring weather might finally be approaching. After six straight weeks of looking outside at the snow on the ground, it looks like this warmth may actually melt away the last of the piles of dirty, grey snow that seem to be everywhere. Those thoughts of spring, however, also got you to thinking about the repair projects and updates that are needed on your house and on your property.

First up is replacing the spongey, and now mildewing, siding on the front of the house. Before that can be done though, the large window above the front porch will need to be replaced. It is difficult to tell what came first, the leaky window or the mildewed siding. Either way, these expensive repairs have to be a priority. While you are scheduling contractors and bids for these "must-do" projects, you also decided to add a more fun item to the list of outdoor improvements. The decision to install a new deck is a home repair item that will bring more relaxing meals outdoors for a family that finds itself too busy to even eat together most of the time.

Increasing Your Outdoor Living Space

Home improvement services can include everything from vinyl siding to composite decks to aluminum roofs. While the indoor home improvement projects often become a priority for many homeowners, outdoor projects like the decision to install a new deck can bring just as much enjoyment.

Today's busy school and work schedules often mean that families do not often take the time to gather for meals. Eating a quick meal at the kitchen table is full of the usual distractions. The mother looks at the pile of laundry that still needs to be folded. The father longs for his recliner and another episode of the the latest crime television series he has been binge watching. The children, whether they are youngsters in elementary school or high schoolers who drive, are tempted by their phones and their constant updates from friends. Making the decision, however, to move the indoor meal to a new outdoor eating area can help slow things down. Away from the distractions of television and piles of laundry, the parents may actually be able to encourage the entire family to linger on the deck or in the backyard gazebo and enjoy evenings of pleasant weather and great conversation.

The most current deck designs include eating areas, in addition to benches and nooks that encourage reading the morning paper and resting in the sun. Expanding the footprint of a small deck first built when your home was constructed can change everyone's view of the outdoor space. A larger, more comfortable location can become a great landing spot for older children and their friends who just want some where to gather.

Increasing Your Home's Value

In addition to providing a relaxed setting, the decision to install a new deck will also increase the value of a home. A wood or composite deck installation project returns an average of about 87% of the original investment. Expanding the outdoor living space, while at the same time upgrading the materials used for this space, may be a real selling point if you later decide to move.

Over 40 million decks in America were constructed at least 20 years ago. As an answer to these aging decks and patio spaces, the deck and patio construction industry employs nearly 120,000 people in the U.S. This industry works toward offering a variety of traditional decking options, as well as composite materials that are virtually maintenance-free. These composite materials have warranties that equal the length of many vinyl siding and metal roofing options.

Increasing the List of Home Improvement Projects

As the long winter weather finally begins to wind down and your list of outdoor projects continues to grow, perhaps it is time that you also look at the fun projects that could be added to the list. Replacing leaking windows and old siding have to be priorities, but when the contractors come out to give the bids why not ask for an estimate and a design to install a new deck as well?

The 3 Undeniable Advantages of Choosing Metal Roofing

Are you going to redo your roof for your next home improvement project? If so, consider metal roofing. It offers a plethora of advantages over traditional shingle and slate roofing. Your roof will be more durable, more weatherproof, and less costly -- not to mention the fact that it'll be as aesthetically pleasing as it is unconventional.

Unconvinced? Check out these three advantages of metal roofing:

With an infrastructure built to withstand both the elements and the test of time, metal roofing is incredibly durable. While a shingled roof only lasts 12-17 years, metal roofing and metal shingles can last up to 50 years. In other words, a metal roof can last three to seven times longer than typical asphalt shingles. Metal roofing is also fire resistant, which safeguards the home even further.

And this durability is important because it's there when it counts. During times of inclement weather, such as heavy rainfall and strong winds. In fact, metal roofing can protect homes from gusts as high as 110-160 miles per hour.

Metal roofing is not only a durable, safe, and effective choice, but a cost-efficient one, too. Metal roofing is extremely energy efficient, working to absorb heat and keep homes cooler, resulting in as much as 25% annual savings on your energy bills. If you're looking to cut your costs even further, metal shingles cost around 20% less than installing a standing seam, as they are easier to assemble and faster to install.

Once you decide to go ahead with your metal roofing home improvement project, it's important you find home improvement professionals fit for the job. If you don't choose the right metal roofing contractor, your roofing job will be inconsistent, off-schedule, and unsafe. Look for qualified professional metal roofing experts with years of experience, viable referrals, and communicative business practices. With the right home improvement professionals by your side, you'll have a long-lasting, quality metal roof.

What's your experience with metal roofing? We want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts and inquiries in the comment section below.

4 Home Improvement Projects That Will Help You Sell Your House for More

Even if you function just fine in your home as-is, sometimes in order to sell your house, you have to put a little time and effort into a few home improvement projects. Even if you don't have the budget for a major construction project before selling your home, even a few simple kitchen upgrades could make a perspective buyer fall in love with your house and make an offer on it.

The catch is that it is likely the money you pour into improving your home is not going to be entirely recovered. For example, if homes in your neighborhood are worth $200,000, and you put $50,000 into fixing your house up, it's unlikely that you'll suddenly be able to sell your house for a whopping $250,000. The magic in making effective home renovations when selling a house is knowing what projects give you the highest return on investment (ROI). A few projects that are likely to pay you back include:



  1. Metal Roofing

    Replacing your entire roof is probably not an endeavor you want to undergo when selling your home, but if your current roof is in poor shape, it's non-negotiable. Lenders who fund mortgages won't touch a home with a 10-foot pole if the roof needs to be replaced.

    The good news is if you have the option replacing your rundown roof with metal roofing, you're probably going to be able to recover 85 to 95% of the cost of the project when you sell your home. Metal roofing is desirable to home buyers because it improves a home's energy efficiency by 25% and requires little maintenance. Furthermore, metal roofing experts say that a good metal roof lasts for 50 years or more. Insurance companies also love the fire resistance of metal roofs; your new roof could lower your homeowners insurance by as much as 30%. Studies show that homes with metal roofs sell for 6% higher than their counterparts with shingle roofs.

  2. Replacement Windows

    The ROI you get from replacement windows is multi-faceted. Home improvement professionals suggest that about 77% of the cost of replacement windows will be returned to you when you sell your home. This is especially true if your existing windows have wood frames, which are rot- and leak-prone and can be a huge turn-off to buyers. On top of that, window technology has evolved so much in recent years that you can now get gas-filled windows that promote the heating and cooling efficiency of your home. There are tax credits available for homeowners who make eco-friendly upgrades, including the use of energy-efficient replacement windows. That takes a huge chunk off the bottom line cost immediately. And, of course, having new windows that are more efficient will help you wrack up your ROI through lower energy bills.

  3. Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades

    There are few home features that attract (or detract) a buyer as quickly as the state of the kitchen and bathrooms. Even a minor cosmetic update to your kitchen and bathrooms -- such as refacing the cabinets, upgrading the sinks and faucets, and replacing the outdated appliances -- can have a huge impact on your home's selling power. Kitchen renovations have an estimated ROI of 85%, and the ROI for bathroom updates is about 80%. More importantly, it could be the single reason you are able to sell your home at all.

  5. New Siding

    Your siding is one of the biggest factors in your home's curb appeal. Outdated or dilapidated siding on a home makes the entire structure look like it's falling apart, whereas bright new siding on your home instantly puts it back in the prime of its life. In most cases, you can expect to recover about 80% of the cost of adding quality vinyl siding when you sell your home.

Have you ever invested in any home improvement projects in order to sell your home? What projects were worth the money to you? Please share your experience in the comment section below!