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Low Maintenance Home Exterior Trends That Are Designed to Last

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They say that trends come and go. While that might be true, some exterior trends are designed to last. These trends are the ones that focus on minimizing maintenance requirements while maximizing curb appeal. 

The reality is that all homeowners want to boost curb appeal. Whether they’re looking to sell or not, the appearance of a person’s home says a lot about them. Excellent curb appeal can increase property value, but it can also increase homeowner pride. There's truly no substitute for pulling into the driveway of a house you’re proud of every single day. 

However, people are busier today than they ever have been before. Longer work hours, multiple jobs, social clubs, familial obligations, and more keep people busy. So, more than ever before, people demand low-maintenance options. They want the exterior of their home to shine, but they need it to do so without a lot of upkeep. 

Thankfully, the design and home construction world has risen to the demand making way for several exterior trends that are both visually appealing and low-maintenance. All of these trends can increase curb appeal and boost property value, too. 

Here are five exterior trends that are sure to boost your curb appeal.

Trend #1: Go for Faux

If you peruse HGTV or Pinterest at all, then you probably know that wood is a huge trend in homes right now. Everyone loves the look of reclaimed wood roofs, siding, flooring, and more. But here’s the thing, wood is a pain to maintain. It’s porous, so it doesn't do well with moisture. It also attracts termites, and it isn’t very fire resistant. 

So, go faux instead. The market has everything from vinyl cedar shakes for your siding and roof to faux wood flooring for your interior. To boost your exterior curb appeal, jump on the wood trend, but don’t use real wood. 

Trend #2: Say Goodbye to Boring Roofs 

Asphalt roofs are out of trend for several reasons. One, they’re boring. Two, they’re bad for the environment and terrible for energy-efficiency. Three, they’re a pain to maintain. While they’re incredibly cheap, asphalt shingles don’t do very well in inclement weather, so repairs are frequent. 

The good thing is there are plenty of low-maintenance asphalt shingle alternatives including, synthetic shingles, metal roofs, and solar shingles. All three of those options are visually appealing and low-maintenance options. 

Trend #3: Go Neutral 

As far as exterior house and roof color combinations go, the trends are all over the place. Some experts are saying that dark colors like burgundy are the way to go. Others are saying light blue houses are going to really pick up steam in the coming years. Some insist that the grey trend that’s been going on will continue. Some designers say that you should paint your door a bright red or deep blue for a striking visual impact. 

When it comes to exterior colors, there isn’t much that’s certain. Color trends continuously change. If you want to boost curb appeal and ensure that you don’t have to repaint to ride the next trend, go neutral. Neutral colors are always in vogue. Go for high-quality, weather-resistant neutral paint colors for a guaranteed boost in curb appeal that will last for years to come.   

Trend #4: Be Strategic with Your Windows 

Large windows are on-trend. People are really into natural lighting inside the home, so large windows are a reliable way to increase curb appeal these days. However, if you aren’t looking to replace windows or increase the size of your windows, there are still several exterior window ideas that you can employ for low-maintenance designs. 

For the lowest maintenance windows, go for fiberglass and vinyl windows. Be sure to choose windows that are designed with easy-care and energy-efficiency in mind. While you might have to pay more upfront for low-maintenance, high-quality windows, they’ll increase your property value while simultaneously decreasing upkeep time. 

Trend #5: Do Simple Landscaping 

A neatly manicured lawn is the signature of curb appeal. However, you don't have to have a lush garden and perfectly kept grass to have fantastic curb appeal. Instead, several landscaping trends are low maintenance and offer high curb appeal. 

For instance, Asian-inspired landscaping is gorgeous and is comprised of rocks, peaceful fountains, and low-maintenance plants. Another trend is to forgo vegetation altogether and opt for a completely rock and stone landscape. You can also opt for low fuss plants, artificial grass, a permeable paving system, or some combination of easy-to-handle yard solutions. 

The key to landscaping is making everything look great without a lot of ongoing effort. As long as your yard is designed well, your curb appeal and property value should rise.

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Increase Your Curb Appeal Today 

These five trends are perfect examples of ways to stay on trend while keeping your maintenance goals in mind. You can boost curb appeal and renovate your home’s exterior in a way that will last for decades to come. The secret lies in choosing high-quality materials and opting for low-maintenance options rather than fussy ones.

If you’re smart about your exterior design, you can have a home that is beautiful, low-maintenance, and high-value. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance. 

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How to Make Your Home More Weather-Resistant

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Inclement weather can be disastrous for your home. This is especially true if you live in a particularly harsh climate. From hurricanes in the south, to fires in the west, to tornadoes in the Great Plains, to frigid temperatures in the north, there’s no shortage of weather-related dangers for your house. 

There are several things you can do to make your home more weather-resistant. You can do simple fixes or start from the ground up with fire-and wind-resistant construction techniques. Whatever you do, it’s crucial to take some steps to make your home more weather-resistant. 

A few measures today can save you fortunes in the long run. How can you make your home more weather resistant? Let’s get into it. Here are four ways to make your home more weatherproof.

#1: Choose High-Quality Materials from The Beginning 

The most straightforward way to protect your home from weather damage is by choosing weather-resistant building materials from the start. For instance, avoid wood as a material. It’s porous, which means it absorbs water, which can result in mold, mildew, and damage. Moreover, wood isn’t very resistant to fire. 

Instead, opt for materials and construction techniques like ICF construction. ICF stands for insulated concrete forms, and it’s a type of construction that uses pre-made, insulated, concrete, interlocking blocks to build instead of traditional wood or metal studs. Ultimately, this technique is more energy-efficient and weather-resistant. In fact, ICF homes have even stood up well to tornadoes. 

This also extends to roofing materials, siding materials, and more. Always go for weather-friendly options. For your roof, stay away from asphalt shingles that absorb heat and are easily damaged in high winds and rough storms. For siding, fiber cement is always a terrific choice. Ultimately, opt for high-quality, weather-resistant materials in the beginning, and you’ll be way ahead of the curve when the storms roll in. 

#2: Regularly Check and Seal Windows, Doors, and More

Water leaks cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. You can avoid these leaks by employing some window weatherproofing. First, be sure that your windows and doors are correctly fitted and that there are no leaks. If there are any issues with fit or any cracks, be sure to seal them up. Additionally, always use weather-resistant windows and windows that prioritize energy-efficiency. 

Weatherproofing your windows and doors helps prevent water damages, but it also helps prevent cool or warm air from coming in or out of the home. This helps keep energy costs down. 

Aside from your windows and doors, be sure to regularly do a sweep of your exterior siding, especially if you have stone or brick siding. If you see any cracks, be sure to seal them up as soon as possible. Water can get in and cause significant damage to your siding. If you live in an area that freezes, rain and freezing can cause severe cracks to form in your siding and foundation. So, be sure to inspect, seal, and repair frequently. 

#3: Insulate and Focus on Energy-Efficiency 

We’ve already talked a bit about energy-efficiency, but it’s worth talking about a bit more. One of the best things you can do for your home is to ensure that it’s adequately insulated. If a home isn’t well insulated, you’ll pay much more to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulation is incredibly essential if you live in harsh temperatures. 

Be sure your attic and basement are both adequately insulated, and do spot checks twice annually to make sure everything is up to par. Check for any spots where air is seeping in or out of the home and patch them up. 

#4: Smart Yard and Driveway Design 

Standing water can wreak havoc on your yard, driveway, and your home’s foundation. One of the smartest things you can do to protect your home is to invest in solutions to eliminate standing water in your yard. This is incredibly important if you live in areas that are prone to flooding. 

There are several driveway drainage options. From French drainage systems to permeable paver systems, there’s no shortage of options to control water buildup in your yard and driveway. You can even do things like turning your yard into a sloped yard or planting a rain garden. The key thing here is to do something to manage water buildup in your yard, because flooding damage can be expensive and difficult to repair. 

Start Making Your Home Weather-Resistant Today

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These four ideas are fantastic ways to make your home more weather-resistant. With a little forethought, you can save yourself tons of time, money, energy, and frustration in the future. Take preventative measures today to protect your home in the future. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Office Interior Design Ideas that Maximize Productivity

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Most businesses want the same thing. Ask most CEOs and business owners, and they’ll tell you that they want increased revenue and profits. One of the best ways to increase profitability is by improving productivity. While there are several effective means for increasing productivity in the office, productivity maximization really begins in the design of an office building. 

If an office is designed with productivity in mind, then you can expect an increase in employee output. But how do you design an office to maximize productivity? 

There are several ways to emphasize productivity with design. Here are four design ideas to get you started. 

Idea #1: Incorporate Quiet Areas 

Wide-open offices have been a trend in office spaces for the last several years. Collaboration became a buzzword, and people everywhere were raving about breaking down the walls and having a free flow of conversation and ideas in the workplace. While those concepts have merits, this emphasis on constant collaboration virtually eliminated designated quiet spaces. 

Quiet spaces are critical for the completion of some jobs. They’re also crucial for private meetings. However, there’s a way to benefit from both the creativity that comes from open designs and the productivity that comes from quiet spaces. It’s not uncommon to see the inclusion of temporary or non-limiting walls, like a conference room glass wall, for instance. Glass walls allow for quiet while still feeling open. 

So, this first idea is all about creating quiet areas for employees to do their job and have meetings but do it in a way that still allows for the free flow of ideas. This ensures that you maximize productivity on all fronts in your office’s design. 

Idea #2: Emphasize Clean and Sustainable Workspaces 

Clutter is a known productivity killer. Your office must be designed in a way that eliminates clutter and emphasizes cleanliness. For example, storage space and organization tools should be abundant in the layout of your office. 

In addition to cleanliness, there’s been a significant upswing in sustainable and natural material use in the workplace. This could be because of nature’s positive effect on productivity, or it could be because employees take pride in working for a company that makes sustainable and eco-conscious decisions. 

Either way, it’s a smart move to incorporate sustainable materials into your office’s design. Consider using things like reclaimed wood, recycled metals, or natural stones, like quartz in your office’s design. As a bonus, sustainable products can be more cost-effective than other alternatives. As a warning, they can also be more expensive. 

Just be sure to price things out. Get natural stone or quartz pricing and compare. Check out studies over sustainability, natural elements, and their effects on worker productivity, and decide if these investments will result in a decent ROI for you before going all in. 

Idea #3: Focus on Office Acoustics 

While we’ve already talked a bit about noise’s effect on productivity, acoustics play a significant role in employee output. If employees can’t easily communicate, hear, or if they’re distracted by noisy office acoustics, it’ll be difficult for them to be productive. 

Too often, very little thought is put into an office’s acoustics until it’s too late. CEOs mistakenly build office buildings with insanely high ceilings, concrete floors, and little in the way of insulation. This layout creates a giant echo chamber that can effectively drive employees crazy rather than helping them be productive. 

There are several ideas for focusing on office acoustics. You can use insulation, louvers, panels, sound masking, bulky furniture, or even more complex office screen and wall systems to help control acoustics. 

Idea #4: Consider Comfort and Flexibility in The Design

While comfort and flexibility might seem like enemies of productivity and focus, as it turns out, they aren’t at all. Employees who are comfortable and who are allowed to work in flexible spaces outperform employees who work in stuffy, uncomfortable cubicles. 

Giving employees the freedom to work in a way that they’re most comfortable allows them to focus less energy on ignoring their discomfort and more on the task at hand. To translate this idea to design, many business owners are creating office spaces with larger work areas, bigger desks, more comfortable chairs, and they’re adding in several “flex areas.” 

In other words, they’re creating alternative areas for the employees to complete their jobs, so they aren’t chained to their desks. 

Maximize Productivity in Your Office Building

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These four ideas are just a few ways that you can maximize productivity through design. If you create quiet areas, emphasize cleanliness, prioritize sustainability, and consider employee comfort, you’ll be well on your way to creating a more productive workforce in no time. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Prep Your Air Conditioner for the Summer 

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Summer is almost here! OK, maybe not quite yet, but before you know it, you’ll be pulling out the barbeque and the patio furniture. And as the warmer weather approaches, you’ll be cranking up the air conditioner to keep you and your family nice and cool.

Just like a car, your AC requires regular maintenance to run efficiently. After a year of being inactive, your unit must get a professional maintenance check-up. You want to make sure that it's still in good working condition and that it's safe to run all summer long.

Get ahead of the game and schedule your AC repair in time for summer with a professional HVAC company before the weather gets too hot. It might be hard to believe right now, but soon you’ll be complaining about the heat instead of the cold!

Read on to discover what you can do to prepare your air conditioner just in time for summer.

Change the Filter 

The role of the filter is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. You’d be shocked at how much builds up on there in a very short amount of time. Think about how much dust and debris you pick up when you use the vacuum cleaner — and it’s even worse if you have pets.

Change or replace your air filters regularly to avoid any unnecessary (and unhealthy) buildup of dust and debris. Not to mention the damage that all of that buildup can cause to the parts of your AC unit. It gets clogged with all of that dust and dirt, causing wear tear on the parts. A clogged filter also prevents air from flowing through effectively in your home.

Consult your heating and cooling service provider to change or replace your filter correctly. They’ll be able to answer any specific questions you may have.

Clean the Coils 

The coils in your air conditioner are a critical component of the unit because they absorb the heat from the air in your house. They're located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace. Over time, the coils become insulated with dust and debris, and this reduces the amount of heat they can absorb. Therefore, your AC has to work harder to cool your home. 

Dirty coils can lead to:

  • Increased operating temperatures (excess dirt and can cause undue stress on the AC, causing fans and compressors to work harder at increased operating temperatures to achieve the desired level of indoor comfort)
  • Higher humidity levels inside your home
  • Decreased cooling efficiency
  • Higher cooling costs

To prevent placing unnecessary strain on your air conditioner, be sure to keep the coils clean. Consult your HVAC professional first, but you can also get rid of any debris found around the outdoor condenser unit.

The spring season is the perfect time of year to have your AC unit professionally checked out. With a little tender loving care, your air conditioner will be good to go all summer long!

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