Replacing Windows on Homes with Classic Architecture

Here in North Carolina, three of the more classic architectural styles remain popular today: Colonial, Federal, and Georgian. Even if you own a home in a classic style, it doesn’t mean that you can’t replace your windows with more modern and more energy-efficient models; it does mean that you’ll want to choose your replacements with a good deal of thought and care.

Let’s start with a look at Colonial-style homes. Among other things, the Colonial style tends to be understated and symmetrical. Colonial homes are also two-storied and rectangular, with the front and back representing the wider side. Other key features are a centered entry, gabled roof, and either white clapboard siding or brick – usually the latter here.

We can see some southern adaptations to the original New England design: Where a steep gabled roof would be helpful in shedding snow, severe winds are a greater concern here; as a result, we might see hip roofs that slope down on all sides, and which are less prone to wind damage. We might also see dual chimneys on each side of the house employed not to release smoke, but instead heat during a hot southern summer.

The windows you’ll find on Colonial homes also tend to follow a certain pattern: They feature small panes (or employ grilles to create the look of small panes); they tend to slide open vertically; and they tend to feature shutters.

With that in mind, you’ll probably want to consider double-hung windows with grilles, and with relatively narrow frames. The most common look for a Colonial-style window would be to have six panes of glass in both window panels. Frames would be on the narrow side, as this yields a more pleasing look when flanked by shutters.

If your home is brick, white frames would be the most traditional choice. If your home features clapboard siding, white or earth tones (think finished woods) are also excellent choices.

Now let’s look at Federal-style homes. Relative to Colonial homes, Federal homes feature more ornamentation. For example, you may find cornices with decorative moldings lining the top of the house. Entry doors are often framed by a small entry porch, held aloft by a pair of round, slender columns; other common features of Federal-style homes include curved steps leading to the entry and lintels topping each window.

Like the windows on Colonial homes, Federals also feature small panes and shutters. However, you’re also more likely to find smaller, ornamental windows. A common feature of Federal homes is a half-round transom window just over the entry; some Federal style homes also top the other windows with transoms as well. Another common feature are sidelight windows that flank each side of the entry door.

You’ll most often see double-pane windows on Federal homes – with white frames the most popular choice. However, the use of additional color in the window frame is becoming more popular. More and more homeowners are opting to choose a window frame color to match a contrasting color or trim on the house. If you’re planning to replace a Federal home’s windows, you’ll want to look at product lines of replacement windows that offer customization.

Homes in the Georgian style are very similar to Federal homes, but one of the key differences lies in the windows. Federal-style windows tended to be narrower and taller. Georgian style preceded the Federal style, and their manufacture was less advanced; out of necessity, Georgian window panes tended to be smaller and their mullions (think grilles) tended to be thicker. As early American manufacturing grew more sophisticated, window panes became larger and more elegant.

Even with authenticity in mind, it’s understandable why many present-day Georgian-style homeowners would opt for narrower grilles: They yield more efficient windows and better views.

But for the most part, little to no compromise is needed when matching today’s efficient new windows to a more classic style. With some diligent research, you should have no problem finding modern windows that do a wonderful job recapturing the style that first drew you to your home.

How to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Anyone who has hardwood floors in their home knows that after several years of use, the finish can become dull, scratched, or worn completely away in places. This is especially true for high traffic areas, like around the kitchen table or near doors where people are coming and going regularly. Most of the time when this kind of wear and tear happens, people worry that their floors will never look as good as they once did. Fortunately, that is not the case, and this kind of damage can be fixed fairly easily if you know what you’re doing.

There are a few things you’ll need before proceeding if you plan on tackling this job yourself. Some of the things you may have laying around the garage already, like sandpaper, and dust masks. One of the main things that you’ll need that you probably don’t have is a buffer. You will absolutely want to rent a buffer from your local home store. If you don’t have a shop-vac, you might also want to look into renting that.

Here’s a more concise list of what you’ll need to refinish your floors:

  • Buffer
  • Shop-Vac
  • 180-grit Sandpaper
  • Oil or Water Based Polyurethane
  • Dust Mask and Booties
  • Respirator with Organic Vapor Canisters
  • Paintbrush
  • Long Handled Roller with ¼ inch Nap Cover

Step 1:

 

The first thing you’re going to want to do is remove all of the furniture from the room you’ll be refinishing and clean the floor really well. You can use a commercial floor cleaner, or make a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. Spray the floor down with your choice of cleaning solution and then wipe down the floor with a terrycloth mop, or an old towel.

 

Step 2:

Before sanding the rest of the floor, you’ll want to get the perimeter and any other hard to reach places by hand. You’ll need to sand any part of the floor that the buffer can’t easily access. Using your 180-grit sandpaper, sand about 4-6 inches out from the baseboard, making sure to sand with the grain. Sand each floorboard until the finish gets dull and forms a powder.  You may be tempted to use a sanding block, but I don’t recommend it because you might miss uneven spots in the floor.

Step 3:

Here’s where you’ll need that buffer you rented. Once you’ve sanded all the hard to reach spots and the perimeter, it’ll be time to sand the rest of the floor. Put your dust mask on, and stick a maroon buffing pad to the buffer. Buff the floor in a side to side motion, making sure to overlap your paths by about six inches. Keep the buffer moving at a constant rate to avoid sanding unevenly, and make sure to stop every five minutes or so to vacuum off the buffer pad. The dust buildup can cause it to sand unevenly or ineffectively, so you’ll need to vacuum it to keep your sanding consistent.

Step 4:

Take a break for 20 minutes or so to let the dust in the room settle, you’ve earned it after all that hard work with the buffer. Once the dust has settled, put a new filter in your vacuum and use the brush attachment to get up all of the dust.  Move with the direction of the floorboards so you can get any dust that has settled in the cracks between the boards. After vacuuming, dry-tack the floor with a microfiber cloth to get any final debris that the vacuum may have missed.

Step 5:

It’s finally time to start applying a new coat of finish! Put on your booties and respirator and grab your paintbrush to start the first phase of applying your finish. It’s very important that you start at the point farthest away from your exit door, you don’t want to paint yourself into the room.  Take your paintbrush and apply a 3-inch stripe around the baseboards. You’ll need to work quickly at this point, as you’ll have marks left over if you allow this stripe to dry before you apply polyurethane to the rest of the floor. Once you get to the ten minute mark it’s best to start on the middle and then do the rest of the perimeter as you get to it.

Step 6:

Now you’ll be finishing the rest of the room.  While the edge finish is still wet, pour a line of polyurethane in line with the grain. Only pour as much as you can spread out in about ten minutes. If it dries like that you’ll have a weird bump in the floor. Use your roller with the nap cover to spread out the finish, moving with the grain of the wood first, and then across it. Repeat this process until the whole floor is covered. Once you’re done, wait at least 3 hours before applying a second coat, and about a week before putting furniture back.

If you enjoy completing your own renovation projects, this can be a good weekend project as it needs to be completed pretty quickly once you start. If all of this sounds like a serious hassle, you can always call your local hardwood floor refinishing service  to revitalize the wood floors in your home. No matter who you get to do it, refinishing your floors is a must if you want to keep your hardwood floors looking nice. Most flooring companies recommend refinishing your floors at least once every two years to maintain their appearance. Staying on top of refinishing your floors can also help prevent scratching on your floors. If unattended to, scratching can permanently ruin a hardwood floor, and in serious cases require you to replace parts of the floor if not the whole thing.

Good luck with your floor refinishing project!

4 Deciding Factors to Get Replacement Windows for Historic Home

It is important to strike the right balance between old-school appeal and modern energy efficiency. If you have purchased a historic home, you will understand how exhaustive the decision-making process can be on some of the things in the house. Whether to replace the old windows or not is one of the difficult decisions you need to take. Here are some things you should consider.

Maintaining the architectural integrity

The windows of your old home are designed to match the overall architecture of the house. These windows might be one-of-a-kind that was built just for the home. It may give a special connection between the outdoor of your house with the interior design. If you replace your historic windows with modern ones, then the overall architecture of the home may not look good. You may lose the connection to the past. If you think of reselling the home, the modern windows may deter the potential buyers from buying your home.

Local regulations

If your home is in a historic neighborhood or in a designated historic site, then there may be a rule that you cannot replace the windows. If you replace your old windows with the modern one, it may drastically change the exterior look and will create a historic irregularity.

Consider the payoff

Modern energy-efficient homes can save your energy bills, but the installation cost will be high. So, you may have to wait for many years to enjoy the savings. You should compare the costs and see which one is more cost effective. You can instead, replace the glass or fix any cracks or loose panes.

Historic windows are durable

Historic windows can last a long time. The materials used in their construction are very durable. These windows were designed to be repaired only, not replaced. So, you must rethink before replacing them.

All these factors must be taken into account before deciding whether to replace your old windows or not. It’s an important decision as it will affect the overall look of the house and the resale value of it. So, you should make a wise decision.

4 Historic Home Renovation Tips from The Professionals

If you own a historic home and want to update it then you need some advice. It is hard to maintain old homes. Here are some tips from the professionals that can help you in renovating your historic home.

More time and money needed

Historic home renovation can cost more money and take more time than normal houses. Everything in the house needs to be custom-made. So, your budget needs to be high and you should be prepared for a long time it will take to finish the project.

Consider the regulations

 

If your house is listed on the historic register of if it’s a preservation district, then you need to check with the respective office for any restrictions on the renovation project. You need to follow their guidelines to renovate the house.

Expect the unexpected

Old homes are likely to have problems. These problems pop up suddenly. So, you need to keep the budget for this kind of surprises. It is wise to keep about 10% to 20% budget for these nasty surprises.

Asbestos and lead paint

In the past, people were not aware of the dangers of asbestos and lead paint, so these were widely used in building homes. You need to get rid of these before you start living in your historic home. You need to find a good contractor to do the job.

These tips are very important to remember when you start your historic home renovation project. It can help you overcome some of the major obstacles of historic home renovation.

3 Things to Consider When Planning a Historic Home Renovation

Though a historic home renovation appears to be very simple, it is actually harder than you think. There are lots of things you need to consider. For example, stick to the historical preservation needs, use the current building codes, etc. You need to adhere to all the rules and regulations associated with renovating a historic home. When you are planning to renovate a historic home, you should consider the following things.

Identify what to keep, remove or change

You should first identify what to keep. Is there a historic artifact or interesting feature that you want to keep? Is there an item that needs to be protected during a historic home renovation? You should consider the options. Then identify things that you want to remove. For example, the wiring, pipes, structures, etc. that should be removed due to safety reasons. You can change some of the aspects of the house as well; for example, the doors and the windows. Make a decision regarding it.

See if the budget matches the funding

You will get fund for renovating historic homes. But you should see if your budget and the fund that you will receive matches or not. You should use item-by-item costs to come up with an accurate budget. You can take help from a previous project that was similar and make an approximate budget for the project. You should consider costs like taxes, permits, insurances, etc. in your budget as well.

Develop a schedule

You should develop a logical sequence of your works along with the duration of each task. Write a start and finish date. The task durations must not be more than two weeks. Otherwise, your project will be delayed. You should start the schedule with planning activities.

Creating a detailed plan will save you time and money. Historic home renovation is a complex process. You should follow your plan to complete the project on time.

Things to Know When Cleaning up Asbestos and Lead from Old Homes

When you decide to buy an old house, you may get into various difficulties. The design regulations of the old house are different than the modern ones. Many things that were allowed before in construction are no longer permissible. Use of lead and asbestos are such materials that are not allowed to be used in construction anymore due to their harmful properties. However, many old homes still have these. So, before you get into your historic home, you should remove these harmful components. Here are some of the things you should know about lead and asbestos.

Rules for working with lead

If you bought a house that was built before 1978, then you should assume that it has lead-based paint. According to the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rules, any contractor that comes in contact with lead paint must complete a certification course. They must follow strict guidelines. This work is very labor intensive, time-consuming and expensive. If a plumber or anyone works on any project that includes more than 6 square feet of the lead-painted surface, then that person must wear an HEPA-filtered respirator. After finishing work, they must seal off the room and get rid of the debris. They should remove lead dust from their clothes, boots, tools, etc. that were in the workplace. If these rules are not followed then you will be fined by the authority.

Dangers of lead

Lead is poisonous and it can lead to chronic headaches and even brain damage. If children ingest paint chip or inhale lead dust then it could be dangerous for the children’s health.

Asbestos

If you find asbestos in your old home after doing a home inspection, then you should take steps to remove them. It can be found in the floor tiles. If you leave asbestos undisturbed, then it is not harmful. But for your peace of mind, you should get rid of them. It is necessary to seal the asbestos-contaminated rooms when removing them. You should scrape it off and dump it in a landfill that has a license to take care of asbestos. This clean up is also expensive.

You might have other problems like termites or mold in the old house. People who take care of the lead and asbestos problems also can fix the termite and mold issues. As lead and asbestos are toxic, you shouldn’t handle it yourself. You should hire a professional to do the job. You should remember that lead and asbestos are bad for your health. It is your duty to look after the well-being of yourself and your family. So, you should remove any trace of lead or asbestos from your old home.