Category: Doors & Windows


What Type of Door Is Best for Your Entryway?

When you're shopping for a new entry door, you've got a lot of decisions to make. But while you're grappling with the right architectural style and finish, don't lose sight of the single most important decision: the material your door will be made of.

How to Choose an Entry Door

Photo: masonite.com

You put a great deal of trust in your front door, counting on it to form a good first impression of your home for any visitor or passerby. For that reason alone, the front door is more important than it’s typically given credit for being. But the fact is that your front door needs to be much more than beautiful. It must also be strong enough to keep out would-be intruders, and it must be durable enough to withstand glaring sun, driving rain, and all the other challenges your local climate might bring. So if you’re seeking to give a fast and dramatic facelift to the facade of your home, be certain that you’re choosing a replacement door that’s up to the task.

Related: New Front Doors Change Everything in 4 Entryway Before-and-Afters

With any investment you make in your home, there are up-front as well as ongoing costs. Entry door selection is no different. In weighing your many options, take the time to understand both the immediate benefits and the long-term requirements of any door you’re considering. There are plenty of factors that affect a door’s appearance, durability, security, and price, but what matters most is the material a door is made of. Choose a door of the right material, and you’re likely to be rewarded with smoother day-to-day operation, minimal annual upkeep, and—more often than not—energy savings.

 

WOOD IS GOOD

How to Choose an Entry Door - Wood

Photo: masonite.com

Picture a front door in your mind. What you’re most likely picturing is a wood door. For decades, wood was the only option, and it served homeowners well. Aesthetically pleasing and with a satisfying heft, wood doors are highly versatile, lending themselves to virtually limitless paint and stain possibilities. Because it’s possible to resize a wood door by planing it down, there are many wood doors around the country that have led very long lives, used over and over again in different applications. But for all their merits, wood doors can be problematic, mainly because the material is naturally porous. Wood inevitably expands and contracts along with changes in temperature and humidity, and in some cases, it can warp, cup, or twist. Furthermore, when exposed to moisture, wood doors can fall victim to rot. Homeowners can fend off those threats to the beauty and proper functioning of a wood door, but it takes work. Even though their manufacture has become more sophisticated and their resiliency has improved, wood doors remain sensitive to the environment. If you purchase one, expect to sand, stain, or repaint it every few years—and perhaps more often than that, if you live in area of the country with a wet, humid climate (for example, the South).

 

STEEL IS BETTER

How to Choose an Entry Door - Steel

Photo: masonite.com

Steel doors make up for the shortcomings of wood and boast advantages all their own. For one thing, steel doors are far more durable. That makes them an ideal choice for regions such as the South, where the combination of glaring sun and heavy rainfall would work against the longevity of a wood door. Also, steel doors neither expand nor contract, which means they always open and close smoothly, no matter the time of year. Perhaps best of all, many home experts agree that steel doors provide the greatest amount of security. While critics say steel doesn’t look as good as wood, new designs from industry leaders like Masonite are changing that perception. Masonite steel doors, available at The Home Depot, feature deep, high-definition decorative panels that closely mimic the look of high-end wood doors—without the maintenance that wood requires. Plus, with Masonite doors, homeowners can choose from an array of glass inserts that can make a steel door even more eye-catching. Considering that steel doors insulate better than wood, it’s a pleasant surprise that steel doors are often the most affordable option!

 

FIBERGLASS IS BEST

How to Choose an Entry Door - Fiberglass

Photo: masonite.com

The newest material for entry doors is fiberglass, and it’s fast becoming the most popular. Unlike steel, fiberglass isn’t prone to rust. And unlike wood, fiberglass doesn’t rot. Benefiting from the latest in manufacturing technology, fiberglass entry doors are impervious to the environmental factors that threaten other types of doors. Genuinely low maintenance, fiberglass doors resist dents and are surprisingly tough. Plus, they provide best-in-category insulation, helping homeowners keep their monthly utility costs as low as possible. What seals the deal is that there are now more style options than ever before. At The Home Depot, Masonite alone offers three families of fiberglass entry doors. The company’s Barrington fiberglass door collection combines the high performance of fiberglass with the beauty of hardwood, while Belleville fiberglass doors offer superior architectural design. In either case, you can go a step further to personalize your door, choosing a decorative glass insert from the wide variety of designs offered by Masonite. With such a broad selection, you’re bound to find a door perfect for your project.

Still not sure what type of door you want? Check out Masonite Max. Offered jointly by Masonite and The Home Depot, Masonite Max is an easy- and fun-to-use online tool that guides you through the process of designing and a purchasing a door that perfectly matches your style preferences and functional needs.

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.  


A Contractor’s Tips for a Long-Lasting Front Door

To keep entry doors looking and performing their best, heed the advice of contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler.

Front Door Maintenance

Photo: masonite.com

If there were one rule in home exterior maintenance, it might be this: Don’t skip the door. With their frequent daily use and constant exposure to the elements, even well made, properly installed entry doors are prone to wear and tear. Given their partly utilitarian role in the home, doors are too often taken for granted and left out of monthly or annual upkeep routines. That’s a mistake, according to contractor, author, and owner of Austin Home Restorations, Scott Sidler. Here, Scott tells us what threats exist to the appearance and functioning of doors, and more importantly, what can be done to ensure that the door enjoys a long life. 

Front Door Maintenance - With Plants

Photo: masonite.com

What about ongoing maintenance? Are there annual upkeep tasks that you would recommend?

Scott: Spot-check the finish at least every year. Because of the stronger sun we have in the South, I see a lot of peeling paint. Here, paint chalks very quickly and doesn’t last nearly as long as it does in the rest of the country. But as long as you care for the door by keeping it painted, you’re not likely to have issues. I’d say that around here, a front door probably needs a fresh coat of paint—and at least a little sanding—every five years. It depends on the level of exposure it gets. If the door isn’t covered by a porch and is out there in the full sun, you may need to paint it as often as every two or three years.

Parents always scold children for slamming the door, but the sun and the rain are really a door’s worst enemies, right? Are there any steps you would recommend taking to minimize with the vulnerability of an entry door installation to the elements?

Scott: Many door jambs come with a factory finish on the side that’s visible to everybody coming and going in the house. But the back side of the jamb is usually left unfinished. So when we install a pre-hung door—whether it’s a fiberglass, steel, or wood door—we always make sure to back-prime the wood jamb to give it that much more resistance to moisture and insects. The other thing you can do is a borate treatment. It’s nothing complex. Borate either brushes or sprays on. Once applied, it migrates through the jamb, helping to the lengthen its life at minimal extra cost. It takes five minutes.

Editor’s note: Borate products are inexpensive and readily available at The Home Depot, which is also a great place to buy a entry door. The retail chain sells the full line of doors made by Masonite, a long-established leader in the product category whose fiberglass, steel, and wood doors come with a limited lifetime warranty when purchased at The Home Depot. If you need help choosing a new door, check out Masonite Max. Offered jointly by Masonite and The Home Depot, Masonite Max is an easy- and fun-to-use tool that guides you through the process of designing the perfect door for your project.

What other issues are there to watch out for? 

Scott: Of course, these problems don’t tend to affect fiberglass or steel doors, but in the warm, humid season, doors made of wood often stick. Then in the winter, everything works again. What some people do is shave down a sticking door in the summer so that it opens and shuts smoothly again. But now you’ve got a problem, because in the winter, that door is going to shrink, leaving big gaps all around it. If you’re going to modify a wood door because you’re having trouble with it, be sure to make allowances for the time of year. Fiberglass and steel doors are less sensitive to weather conditions, so they’re free of these seasonal issues.

Front Door Maintenance - Veranda

Photo: masonite.com

Assuming you’ve got the new door, it’s the style for your house, and you’re properly maintaining it—what are the benefits that can be expected? 

Scott: I don’t think a lot of people think about it this way, but the front door is the only part of your house that anyone will stand and stare at, with nothing else to do. This is how I explain it to homeowners: A guest doesn’t walk up to a wall in your house and just stare at it. But at the front door, while they’re waiting for you to answer it, visitors are just going to stand there and stare at the door. The door and its hardware. That’s the stuff your guests and potential homebuyers see first and linger on. Meanwhile, you probably go in and out of the front door every day. So make it something you love. And if there is one door in the house that should work smoothly, it should be your front door. It just gets so much attention. It’s the first impression your home makes. Don’t skip the door!

Editor’s note: Choose a new entry door with the best chance of standing up to the inevitable wear and tear it’s going to experience. In continuous operation since 1925, Masonite manufactures doors in an array of materials and style, and the company specializes in durability. Among the many Masonite product lines are its Barrington fiberglass doors, which stand out for their resistance to denting, warping, splitting, and cracking. Not sure what type of door you want? Don’t forget to try Masonite Max, a new online tool that guides you through the process of designing the perfect door and easily purchasing it from The Home Depot.

Front Door Maintenance - Glass Inset

Photo: masonite.com

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com


A Contractor’s Tips for Open-and-Shut Door Installation

In an interview with Bob Vila, contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler explains his approach to choosing and installing doors in the South, where he lives and works around a changeable climate.

Front Door Installation

Photo: masonite.com

Real estate agents call it curb appeal. It’s how a house looks to visitors as they arrive by car. Curb appeal was, is, and will be important to homeowners, whether or not they’re planning to sell. And while factors ranging from landscaping to paint color influence curb appeal, there’s no more immediate facade facelift than a new front door. Thanks to the advent of pre-hung doors, installation has only gotten easier. But according to contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler, owner of Austin Home Restorations, the job still comes with some complexities. Here, Scott shares what to keep in mind.

Front Door Installation - Curb Appeal

Photo: masonite.com

Most entry doors that you can pick up at The Home Depot—they’re pre-hung, right? What is a pre-hung door, anyway?

Scott: A pre-hung door comes with the jamb, the hinges, and the door itself. It’s a fully functional door; it’s just not installed. If it were not pre-hung, you would have to cut out hinge mortises and fit that door into an existing jamb. But with a pre-hung, you just order the doors you need, you set it in the rough opening—the framing between the studs, with the header above it. Then the door gets leveled, plumbed, shimmed, and fastened into place, and finally the trim goes over. Unless it’s a custom situation, pre-hung doors are used almost exclusively. It’s been a big step forward, I think. Everything is already assembled, and you just install it into the building.

If pre-hung doors have made entry door installation so much more forgiving, what’s the most difficult part now?

Scott: When you’re installing a door, you’re working with three planes: The door needs to be plumb, it needs to be level, and it needs to be square. It’s easy to miss some of the alignment issues. If you shim it a little too much on one side, you may put the jamb out of square, and as a consequence, the door may not close properly. But in new construction—if your framer did a good job, and you’ve got a well-framed opening—it’s fairly easy, so long as you take your measurements properly. With remodeling, it’s another world. In an older house that may have settled a bit, you need to make adjustments to account for any sagging. If the level, plumb, and square are not perfect, the door isn’t going to perform as it should. It’s not going to stay open when it’s open. It’s not going to to stay closed when it’s closed.

Front Door Installation - Interior View

Photo: masonite.com

You live and work in the South. Are there any regional considerations you take into account when installing a door?

Scott: If we’re installing a pre-hung—or even if we’re building a jamb on-site—I like there to be plenty of space in the jamb. That’s why I use larger shims. They allow me to make sure there’s extra space in there, and that’s important because we get so much sun. Winters here, the temperature ranges from the 30s to 50s, so the wood contracts quite a bit. And in the summer, when it’s 95 degrees and 100% humidity, and it’s raining, that wood is going to swell. You want to make sure that there’s a little extra gap around the door that you can fill with weatherstripping, which can take that large expansion and contraction we get here. I think that’s fairly common in a lot of the country, but with wood doors here, the effect is extreme. You don’t have those issues with fiberglass or steel doors.

Do you think that’s a reason other contractors should think about shying away from wood doors in the South?

Scott: In new construction down here, and also in standard remodels, it sure feels like most of the exterior doors are fiberglass or steel, except on the high end, where the clients want something really special. In the South, fiberglass and steel tend to hold up better than wood. We also run across rotten jamb bottoms. The legs of the jamb start to rot out, because no matter what material the door is, you’ve likely still got a wooden jamb. With all the rain we get, that wood is going to rot out eventually. That’s why some jambs today have PVC bottoms. Just that bottom foot and a half or so being PVC… it makes a huge difference.

Front Door Installation - Lites

Photo: masonite.com

A new door ought to suit the style of the house. How do you go about choosing the right door for a project you’re working on?

Scott: It really depends on what the client wants. A lot of our clients say, “I want something that’s true to the style of the house,” what was there originally. So we can do a little research and see if we can find out. But usually we choose based on the home’s architectural style. Colonial-style doors are going to be the standard four- or six-panel doors. Mission-style doors are typically composed of thick, vertical boards tied together under an arched top, with a peek hole and wrought iron hardware. It’s about staying true to the architectural style of the house, whether this is an 1800 Queen Anne Victorian or a newer house in the local vernacular. Just try and stay true to that, so it doesn’t look terribly anachronistic and way out of place. Choose for the scale and style of the building.

Editor’s note: If you need help selecting a door, don’t hesitate to check out the Masonite Max configurator offered jointly by The Home Depot and Masonite. Easy and actually quite fun to use, the Masonite Max tool guides you through the process of designing and purchasing the perfect door for your project. Based in Tampa, Florida, Masonite has continually operated since its founding in 1925. Today, the company manufactures steel, wood, and fiberglass doors in an array of styles to suit any preference. Plus, at The Home Depot, Masonite fiberglass and steel doors carry a limited lifetime warranty!

Front Door Installation - Back

Photo: masonite.com

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Make One Minor Change to Get Major Curb Appeal

A new door gives your facade a facelift, while improving security and energy efficiency. Plus, recent data suggests the replacement all but pays for itself upon resale. So what are you waiting for?

Photo: masonite.com

When Remodeling magazine last published its annual Cost vs. Value Report, many were surprised to learn that, of all the many different home improvements one might undertake, front door replacement offers the greatest return on investment. Upon resale, homeowners recoup a whopping 97 percent of the project cost. We already knew what a difference replacing the entry door could make for a home’s curb appeal. Now we know that the upgrade virtually pays for itself.

As the first and last thing a houseguest sees on his visit—and as a familiar, inevitable part of the homeowner’s daily life—entry doors play a pivotal role in design. Therefore, for a job of such modest proportions, front door replacement delivers outsized benefits. Besides the immediate boost to curb appeal, a new door can also bring enhanced security and even superior energy efficiency, assuming the previous installation, like many old doors, had become drafty over the years.

There are a dizzying array of doors on the market today. To narrow the options, anyone wading into the ocean of options can do well by focusing their search on warranty-backed doors from long-established manufacturers. Masonite fulfills both criteria. In operation since 1925, the Tampa, Florida-based company offers steel, wood, and fiberglass doors in styles to suit any preference or spec. Best of all, some Masonite doors are guaranteed by warranties for up to 25 years. In fact, Masonite steel and fiberglass doors feature a limited lifetime warranty when purchased at The Home Depot, making the retail chain your best bet for value.

Photo: masonite.com

Choosing a Masonite door can begin at The Home Depot, or it can begin online with Masonite Max. Offered jointly by The Home Depot and Masonite, the easy- and fun-to-use Web tool guides you through designing an entry door that perfectly matches both your practical needs and your aesthetic tastes.

When you’re finished, Masonite Max provides the name and model number of your chosen product, making your purchase from The Home Depot fast and hassle-free. And iff desired, you can even use Masonite Max to schedule an in-store appointment with a Home Depot customer service agent. He or she not only handles your checkout, but can also answer questions about working with Masonite doors.

If you’re a contractor, then, perhaps better than anyone, you know the old adage is true: Time is money. What you may not know is that in addition to carrying the full suite of Masonite entry doors, The Home Depot offers many appealing conveniences and services especially for its professional customers.

For starters, there’s the Pro App, which gives you up-to-the-minute info on what’s in and out of stock at your local store—definitely a time-saver. The Pro App also gives you electronic receipts, which you can quickly and easily forward to clients. That, too, saves you a step and frees up your time for other things.

In addition, purchases of Masonite doors—or any other tools or materials—can be charged to a Revolving Charge Account, which makes bookkeeping as easy as it possibly can be. Once you’re set up, the account allows you to carry a balance, make low monthly payments, and enjoy itemized billing.

Commercial Credit Accounts are yet another convenience for contractors at The Home Depot. These help small business owners by enabling them to issue cards to employees, track expenditures online, and set up PO numbers. You can go back to focusing on being a contractor, not an accountant!

For high-quality doors in almost every imaginable style and material, with unparalleled support for those in the building trades, Masonite and The Home Depot are the doorway to value and satisfaction.

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Fixing a Broken Window Pane

At one time or another, most homeowners must deal with a broken window pane. Save the cost of a contractor and make the repair yourself—here's how.

Has a pint-sized baseball player in your neighborhood recently hit a home run through your bedroom window? Here are some tips for fixing it.

How to Replace a Window Pane

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPLACING A WINDOW PANE or read the text below:

Once are wearing gloves and goggles, remove the broken shards by pulling them toward you. That way, if a shard breaks, the splinters are sent safely away from you.

Next, scrape and sand the notch of the sash where the new pane is going to go. Then run a bead of caulk around the notch, not only to provide a cushion for the glass, but also to help make the window weather-tight.

For help in positioning the pane of glass, fold a short length of duct tape in the middle, forming a tab. Now stick the tape onto the glass. That’ll function as a temporary handle.

Once you have the new pane in place, open your glazing compound, remove a lump with your putty knife, and roll it on a flat surface until it looks like a length of rope. Set it next to the edge of the glass and use your fingers to smooth it out.

Once you add a few more lengths of glazing compound around the window, you’ll be done… except for a little sanding and a coat or two of paint!

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Is Now the Time to Replace Your Windows?

Drafts, rotting frames, aesthetics—there are plenty of good reasons to opt for replacement windows. Let's add yet another: increased energy efficiency. Have we piqued your interest? Read on!

Photo: pella.com

If you’re too chilly to feel truly comfortable at home, your windows—not the weather—may be to blame. Drafts are chief among the many reasons to consider replacement windows. And while an immediate benefit of new windows would be coziness through the colder months, there’s a year-round incentive too. Drafty windows force your heating and cooling system to work harder to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. So when you replace your windows, you can save real money on your monthly utility bills, thanks to your home’s much-improved energy efficiency.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Technology has had an impact on every corner of your lives. While the great strides that have been made in computers over the past decade probably come to mind first, there have also been tremendous advances in window manufacturing. That’s why, according to ENERGY STAR®, replacing your old windows with ENERGY STAR®-certified products can lower household energy bills by as much as 7 to 15 percent. Depending on a number of factors, that translates into anywhere between $71 and $501 annually!

No single innovation is responsible for the superiority of today’s windows. Their improved performance results instead from a variety of new manufacturing methods. Perhaps most important has been the incorporation of multiple panes of glass. While single-pane windows have long served us well, they have their flaws. Double-paned windows insulate almost twice as well. You can even get triple-paned windows to maximize the efficiency of your home.

Some window makers, including major manufacturers like Pella, go a step further in their multipaned windows. By injecting argona colorless, nontoxic gas—into the space between the panes, manufacturers have improved the insulation value of windows that were well-insulated to begin with. How? Because argon is denser than air, the gas creates an all-but-impermeable seal between the home interior and exterior.

Meanwhile, Low-E, or low-emissivity, coatings have also gone a long way toward improving window technology. These microscopically thin, transparent coatings have been described as a ”sunscreen for your house.” In the winter, glass with Low-E treatment reflects heat back into the room, keeping it warmer. In the summer, the same glass reflects heat away from the home, allowing the interiors to remain cool. Low-E coatings perform one additional and extremely valuable function: They help block UV rays, drastically reducing fading of home furnishings due to sunlight.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Even window frames have gotten better. Wood remains a popular choice, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for its insulating properties. In fact, compared with aluminum windows, wood frames insulate 1,800 times better! Fiberglass composite frames are another good option. Although less expensive than wood, fiberglass insulates nearly as well—or equally as well—as wood. Plus, fiberglass doesn’t expand and contract like wood does. Even contemporary vinyl window frames are well worth considering, because their multichamber construction inhibits the conduction of heat and cold.

Aside from energy efficiency, replacement windows offer a range of other desirable features, including:
- Tilt-in sashes that make glass cleaning easier
- Between the glass blinds, shades and grilles for privacy and light control
- Prefinished frames
- Low-maintenance exteriors

And finally, let’s not forget that replacement windows can completely and attractively transform the look of your home. To see just some of the countless looks within reach, check out the Pella Photo Gallery. If you’re on the fence about it all, consider this: Replacement windows are a savvy investment. According to the Remodeling magazine 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, window replacement offers a high return on investment, with homeowners recouping about 79 percent of the total project cost upon resale. Not bad at all!

This post has been brought to you by Pella. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Are You Making a Big Mistake with Your Storm Windows?

If you rely on storm windows to stop drafts and save energy, find out which potentially costly mistake you could be making without realizing it.

This winter, before you shut your storm windows, make sure that at the bottom of each one, the weep hole is clear. All factory-built storm windows have small weep holes. These are designed to expel any moisture that collects between the storm and the primary window.

Strom Window Weep Holes

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Listen to BOB VILA ON STORM WINDOW WEEP HOLES or read the text below:

Unfortunately, some folks don’t understand the need for the holes. Concluding that the holes are hurting rather helping, those people fill in the weep holes with caulk. Doing so may save you a few bucks in heating costs over the short term, but in the long run the absence of weep holes can rot the window sill and, in severe cases, lead to water damage and mold in the wall.

If the weep holes in your windows have been caulked over, you can make new ones: Just drill a couple of quarter-inch holes through the bottom corners of each storm. For the weep hole to be effective, the drill bit must go all the way through the frame. Be careful, though, not to drill into the wooden sill underneath.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: This Winter, Remove Your Screen Door to Enjoy More Light

Screens are a must in warm weather. But as it gets darker earlier in the evening, you may choose to remove your sliding screen door as a way of maximizing natural light.

Maybe your cat has been using your sliding screen door for climbing practice. Or maybe, as we approach winter, you’re thinking you simply won’t be using the screen again until spring.

How to Remove a Sliding Screen Door

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING SLIDING SCREEN DOORS or read the text below:

Whatever the reason, you’re planning to remove the sliding screen door. Here’s how it’s done.

With some doors, it couldn’t be simpler. Just grasp each end of the door and lift, pulling the bottom towards you until it clears the track. Once you’ve got the bottom out of the frame, you should be free to guide the panel to the basement, garage, shed or wherever storage area you’ve chosen.

It’s not always that hassle-free. Some doors have screws sticking up from the bottom of the frame, one at each end. These screws control the tension on the wheels that allow the door to roll in its track. To remove this type, start by loosening the tension on the wheels a bit. Then, working one end of the door at a time, ease a flathead screwdriver under the wheel, gently lifting up. Once both wheels are out of the track, pull the bottom of the door toward you to ease it out of the frame.

Take care not to damage the door hardware or wheels. Plastic wheels on old doors can be especially brittle.


Bob Vila Radio: For Brighter Interiors, Clean Your Storm Windows

Storm windows give protection and increased efficiency to older windows, but with their exposure to the elements, they gradually become streaked and foggy. This year, take the time to clean your storm windows, and you may be surprised by the difference it makes.

These days, a lot of folks are feeling the chill in the air and are beginning to button up their homes for the winter. If you have an older home with wood or aluminum storm windows and want to enjoy the crisp light of the season, your fall to-do list should include the task removing and cleaning those storms.

How to Clean Storm Windows

Photo: whatarestormwindows.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CLEANING STORM WINDOWS or read the text below:

Do the job from inside the house, removing each panel that’s nearest you. If it’s a triple-track storm window, start by lowering the screen nearly to the bottom of its track, pressing inward on the spring-loaded tabs at the bottom of the screen. Then, holding the tabs inward, wiggle the screen a little, pushing up slightly on one side, to pull the screen toward you and out of its track. Repeat the process on the glazed sash, again working with the track nearest you. Be sure to note which windows and screens go where, since you’ll need to replace them as they were after you’ve given them a good cleaning.

If yours are wood storm windows, either fixed or operable, removing the windows for cleaning may be overly laborious or simply not possible, depending on circumstances. Clean these windows from the outside. You’ll be surprised by what a difference it makes!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Is Now the Time to Replace Your Front Door?

Swap out your current front door in favor of one that not only looks better from the curb, but also functions better day to day.

Photo: pella.com

Everyone knows the importance of making a good first impression. Yes, that’s advice for first dates and job interviews, but it also applies to home design and remodeling. And while curb appeal depends on many factors—landscaping and siding, lighting and lawn care—the front door, the focal point of the facade, trumps the others in terms of importance. It also has essential daily functions to perform, keeping out the weather and intruders, while also resisting more wear and tear than most other components are subject to. Despite its prominence, we rarely think twice about the entryway. Perhaps it’s time that we gave it our full attention.

Properly maintained, a quality door can last for decades, but there comes a time when it makes more sense to replace it than to repair it. If you’re trying to figure out whether or not that time has come for your entryway, take a close look and ask yourself the following questions:

• Is your front door weathered, scratched, or dented?
• Are there cracks or breaks along the door’s edges or within its panels?
• Does the door let in drafts?
• Have you encountered difficulty getting the door to hang level on its hinges?
• Is it often a hassle to close and lock the door?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then it may be wise to consider front door replacement. Think about not only the problems that exist with your current entryway, but also the advantages to be gained from putting in a new one—improved appearance, energy efficiency, security, ease of operation and more. Best of all, research suggests that when you move out, you are very likely to recoup most of what you spend on a new door. According to the Remodeling magazine 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, front door replacement ranks as the single most cost-effective home upgrade, returning more than 95% of the investment!

Photo: pella.com

Of course, deciding to replace the front door isn’t the only choice to be made. Exterior doors differ in size, architectural style, and accessories. They also differ in material, and for many homeowners, differentiating between wood, fiberglass, and steel often ends up being the most challenging part of the process. Selecting one is a matter of your budget, and of weighing the pros and cons of each material. Here’s what to know:

Heavy in feel and inviting to look at, wood doors are generally the most traditional, often including rich details and decorative, light-admitting glass inserts. Typically, they’re most at home in heritage house styles (e.g., Craftsman, Colonial, and Victorian), but since they are available in such a wide assortment of finishes, you can bet there’s a wood door out there that would work perfectly as the portal to your place.

Fiberglass doors are significantly more affordable than wood, but equally appealing to homeowners are their low maintenance requirements. And while wood doors last a long time, fiberglass doors are also quite durable, being resistant to dents and cracks, rot and rust. You can get them in a virtually any finish you can think of, which means that no matter what sort of house you live in, fiberglass remains a top option.

Now if security is the main thing you want, nothing beats steel doors. These are the strongest of all, deterring not only intruders but also fire and moisture degradation. Often forgotten, too, is that most steel doors contain an insulating foam core, which means they excel in energy efficiency. Pre-primed, steel doors can be finished with any exterior paint in the color that best complements the outside of your home.

Once you’ve chosen a material, there are plenty of ways you can customize your chosen front door. For instance, there are glazing options, such as glass inserts, sidelights, and transoms. And there also countless styles and finishes available in hardware—door knobs, handles, and lock sets. To see a comprehensive collection of all the different looks you can achieve in your entryway, visit the Pella Photo Gallery.

This post has been brought to you by Pella. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.