Category: Doors & Windows


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

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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.


The Right Way to Weatherstrip a Door

Besides being unpleasant, door drafts force your heating system to work harder (and consume more energy) to keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature. You can go a long way toward solving the issue by weatherstripping your doors. Here's how to do it the right way.

Door Weather Stripping

Photo: montpelierrestoration.wordpress.com

Door drafts can be a cause of real discomfort. Besides the immediate unpleasantness of a chilly gust invading the warmth of your home in winter, there’s also the impact that drafts can have on your energy bills. That’s where weatherstripping comes in. According to Energy Star, the installation of weatherstripping can save you up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Best of all, virtually anyone can install weatherstripping; this is definitely not a sophisticated DIY. But to coax the greatest value from its insulating properties, weatherstripping must be installed correctly. Continue reading to learn the right way to go about the project.

STEP 1
First, clean the door and the jamb, removing as much dirt and debris as possible. If any grime remains after scrubbing with soapy water, consider using fine-grit sandpaper to eliminate residual buildup. Once you’ve got the doorway clean, proceed to do some measuring. You need to answer two questions. First, how wide is the gap between the door and jamb? (Be sure to measure twice, once along the side, and again along the top. These measurements might differ.) Second, how wide is the jamb? While the answer to the first question tells you how thick the weatherstripping you purchase can be, the second answer reveals how widePlan on buying enough weatherstripping to run across the width and height of the door, plus about 10 percent extra (just in case).

Door Weather Stripping - Install Detail

Photo: dulley.com

STEP 2
Weatherstripping comes in a variety of materials. Each has pros and cons. Felt weatherstripping offers the benefits of being cheap and very easy to cut and install, but because it’s not very durable, it’s best confined to rarely used doors. Marginally more expensive is easy-to-install foam weatherstripping. Though foam wears better than felt, neither boasts the durability of rubber, the most expensive option. Rubber insulates well, but it can be somewhat challenging to install. Unlike the other options, it often must be nailed into place.

STEP 3
With your chosen weatherstripping at the ready, proceed to cut three pieces—one for the top, and two for the sides. If the product features an adhesive back, peel it away and press it into place around the perimeter of the door jamb, not the door itself. Even if your weatherstripping has adhesive, you may wish to reinforce the installation with heavy-duty staples or small tacking nails. Either will help keep the weatherstripping in place over time.

STEP 4
To complete the job, install a sweep along the bottom of the door. The most common type of door sweep consists of a metal band from which a strip of rubber juts down. When the door opens, the rubber flexes so as not to be an impediment, and when the door closes, the rubber provides a strong air seal.

Door sweeps come in standard sizes, but if you cannot find one whose width matches that of your door, you can use a hacksaw to cut the sweep down to size. Attach the right-size sweep to the door using the screws provided. Because these screws tend to be small and not self-tapping, it’s best to predrill holes for them by means of an electric drill/driver. Position the sweep so that it seals tightly against the threshold.

From start to finish, the door weatherstripping process should take no longer than an hour. That’s a small time commitment to ensure that you remain comfortable through the winter, without spending a fortune on to keep the house warm. Though it’s a simple project, weatherstripping really is one of the most effective ways to stop drafts and the discomfort they cause.

 


How To: Install a Deadbolt

The easiest and cheapest way to improve the security of your home is to install a deadbolt. With the right tools, even the average homeowner can get the job done with relative ease. Here's how.

How to Install a Deadbolt

Photo: shutterstock.com

Automated security systems are nice to have, but the easiest and least expensive way to improve the security of home is to install a deadbolt lock. Even a high-quality lockset isn’t enough to keep out an experienced burglar; you’re a lot better off with both a lockset and a deadbolt. Since you really do get what you pay for, it’s best not to scrimp here. You’ll save on installation, because it’s so easy to install a deadbolt, you can do the job yourself within a couple hours. Here’s how.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Deadbolt
- Drill/driver
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Tape measure
- Speed square
- 1″ chisel
- Marking pencil
- 2-1/8″ hole saw
- 1″ spade bit

STEP 1
Determine the ideal location for the deadbolt. Typically, a deadbolt lock appears 6″ or 12″ inches above the key lock (roughly 44″ from the bottom of the door). With help from your tape measure, pick your spot and mark it on the side of the door (the part through which the bolt is going to extend). Now break out your speed square and pencil a straight line at the mark point; it should extend all the way across the door’s side. Next, again use the speed square, this time to help you continue that line onto the front and back sides of the door. You should end up with a single line that runs continuously, at uniform height, around the door.

How to Install a Deadbolt - Drilling Door

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
On each side of the door, mark the point 2-3/8″ or 2-3/4″ from the edge (the measurement depends on the length of your latch bolt; for specifics here, refer to the template provided by the manufacturer of your chosen lock). Meanwhile, on the edge of the door, mark the midpoint. The three marks you’ve made represent where you’re going to drill. First up is the hole for the lock cylinder. Having attached the 2-1/8″ hole saw to your drill, address the mark on the front of door. Rather than drill all the way through, go about an inch deep, then move over and drill through the other side. The result should be a clean, circular hole through which you can easily see the other side. Finish with the 1″ spade bit; drill through the marked point on the side of the door, continuing until this hole meets the other.

STEP 3
Choose the faceplate from among the lock parts supplied with your purchase. Match the hole in the faceplate with the hole you drilled on the door’s edge. While holding the plate in position, trace around it with your pencil, marking its silhouette. Having done so, use a 1″ chisel to create a 1/8″-deep mortise within the tracing. The faceplate and bolt are likely attached, so you must install both simultaneously. After confirming which is right side-up for the bolt, slide the bolt through the latch hole, bringing the faceplate flush with the edge of the door (assuming you’ve mortised correctly). Secure the plate with the mounting screws provided before moving onto the key cylinder. When sliding the cylinder into place through the larger hole on the face of the door, be sure to fit the tailpiece of the cylinder through the corresponding holes on the bolt. Once it’s correctly positioned, screw the cylinder onto the door. Then repeat with the other half of the cylinder: Slide it into the door, join it to the bolt, then screw it in.

STEP 4
The hard part is over. After locking and unlocking the mechanism a few times to test its functionality, activate the bolt and shut the door as far as it will go. On the doorjamb, mark the point where the bolt hits. Here, using the 1″ spade bit, drill a hole to accept the bolt. Now look over to the unused lock parts you have left; the strike plate should be among the last remaining. Fit it over the hole, then trace around it with your pencil. As you did for the faceplate in step 3, proceed to chisel out a 1/8″-deep mortise. Once finished, set the strike plate into the mortise, making it flush with the jamb, then secure it in place with screws.

Test the door to be certain that it’s working properly. Assuming it is, you can now rest easier, knowing the average burglar would have a much, much harder time gaining entry to your most valuable investment—your home.


Bob Vila Radio: Fast Fixes for Sticky Double-Hung Windows

Do you work up a sweat wrestling with sticking windows? These time-tested tricks can help you get those slashes sliding freely up and down again.

Sure, you love your old wooden double-hung windows. But sometimes—after raising and lowering them—do you feel like you need a visit to the chiropractor? Here are some tips for freeing up those sticking windows.

Sticking Windows

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Listen to BOB VILA ON STICKING WINDOWS, or read text below:

First, if the windows have been painted shut, use a hammer and stiff putty knife (with a blade at least 4″ wide) to work your way between the window sash and the moldings. Holding the putty knife parallel with the glass, gently tap the corner of the blade between the molding and the sash. Once you have the blade partly in, wiggle it around to loosen the paint. Repeat the process around any areas of the sash where it appears there could be binding.

You can also try using a hammer to drive a block of wood into the window tracks, as near to the sash as you can. The wood should be about 1/8″ wider than the tracks. The idea is to spread the tracks just enough to ease the binding. Finally, rub a little candle wax into the tracks. That’ll help keep those sashes sliding!

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.


What Would Bob Do? Repairing a Door That Sticks

Wood doors can be sticky, but the repair doesn't need to be. If your doors have been a little temperamental lately, try one of these fixes to get them opening freely again.

Photo: shutterstock.com

In my house, several of our wood doors keep sticking. I’ve tried candle wax and have made sure all the screws in the door frame are tight, but the doors are still sticking. Any advice on how to fix a sticking door would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

How to Fix a Sticking Door - Panel

Photo: shutterstock.com

In a situation like this, sometimes the door itself is to blame. Over time, joints in a wood door relax, causing the construction to sag and stick against the jamb. A more common cause is a hinge or strike plate that has become loose. But you’ve mentioned that the screws are tight, presumably in both the door and the jamb. So, although failing hardware is typically the first thing to check when a door is sticking, that doesn’t seem to be the cause of your predicament.

I’d speculate that humidity is the issue. Doors usually stick in summer, when relative humidity is high. The moisture expands the wood, making your doors too tight in their frames. In the winter, humidity levels are usually lower, because cooler air cannot hold as much moisture. If you have better luck with these doors in the cooler months, it’s simply because environmental factors are not causing them to swell.

What you should do is buy a hygrometer and take a reading of the relative humidity indoors. Common causes of high humidity include wet basements and improper use of the bathroom or kitchen vents when bathing or cooking, respectively. If you happen to have a lot of houseplants, that too might add to the humidity, particularly in combination with other factors. So check the hygrometer reading, and if the reading comes in at over 70 percent, there’s your explanation. Get the humidity down, and you’re likely to find that those annoying doors finally unstick on their own.

If getting the humidity down isn’t in the cards, then you can always trim down the door panel. Concentrate on the problem edge, the one that rubs against the jamb; you can usually identify it by the worn finish. Ultimately, the space left between the door and jamb should be about 1/8 inch wide, or roughly the thickness of a nickel. Follow these steps:

• As a test, open and close the door with the aim of identifying the precise area where the problem’s occurring. Use a sharp pencil or carpenter’s compass to scribe the panel where it rubs against the side or top of the jamb. Having drawn a line on the door, proceed to take it off the hinges and carry it somewhere you feel comfortable kicking up a little sawdust.

• Next, use a hand plane, power planer, or belt sander to shave off the excess material. Remove only the minimum required for the door to close. (When the panel shrinks in winter, you don’t want there to be a big gap between the door and jamb.) Now put the door back into place and check the fit. A certain amount of trial and error is almost inevitable with this task, even for people who’ve done it before. You may need to remove the door again in order to sand off a little more. Keep at it until you’re satisfied.

• Once the door fits well and you’ve managed to achieve an approximately 1/8-inch reveal, you’re ready to refinish the part of the door that you’ve planed. You can either remove the door or finish it in place, but time is of the essence. The door wants to swell up again; refinishing limits its capacity to do so.

If the humidity is under control and you’ve already tried trimming your doors, then it’s possible you’re seeing a symptom of foundation settlement. Unfortunately, foundation problems are not DIY-friendly repairs. Consult with a foundation repair specialist. Fair warning: Foundation repair work is rarely cheap, but it’s in your best interest to understand precisely what problems, besides sticking doors, your foundation may bring about in the future.


Bob Vila Radio: Screen Repair Made Simple

Holes in window or door screens are not only unsightly, but they also invite flying insects into your home. Fortunately, it's a simple fix, whether your screens are metal or fiberglass. Read on to learn how it's done.

Ever notice how pesky bugs manage to find their way through even the tiniest holes in your screens?

How to Fix a Window Screen

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SCREEN REPAIR or read the text below:

No need to fret. Repairing the little holes is easy, especially if you catch them before they grow into big holes.

For metal screens, make a patch (using the same screening material) that’s about an inch larger than the hole. Next, unravel about a half inch of fringe around the edge of the patch and bend it at a right angle. Place the patch on the hole, push through the fringe wires, then bend them back to secure the patch.

For fiberglass screens, push the fibers of the screen back toward the middle of the hole, then apply a bit of clear nail polish to bond the fibers together.

For larger holes, head to the hardware store and pick up a self-adhesive patch that’s a snap to apply.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 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.