Tag: Lansdale Window Installation

  • Get Window Privacy Without Losing Light

    Courtesy of House Logic

    It's nice to have a lot of natural light in your home, but if you live close to your neighbors,  it may feel like any one can look into your home.  Here are some tips, courtesy of House Logic, on how to get some moe privacy without sacrificing the natural light in your home:

    Spray-on window frosting

    Available in aerosol cans at hardware stores and home improvement centers, spray-on frosted finishes ($4 to $10 for a 12-ounce can) coat window glass with a translucent or opaque frosting that blocks views but allows light in.

    One can of spray coats about 35 sq. ft. of glass — enough to coat 2 average-size windows. White is popular, but other translucent colors also are available.

    Be sure to clean the interior surface of your window before applying the spray. Work in a well-ventilated area and apply as several thin, even coats to avoid drips. Spray-on frosts can be removed by scraping the window with a blade.

    For windows and glass doors where total privacy isn’t necessary, such as the glass surrounding an exterior entry door, use the spray with stencils to create designs that look like they’re etched onto the glass.

    Window films

    Opaque and translucent vinyl films ($25 to $125 for a 3-by-5-ft. window) cling to the interior glass surfaces of your windows. You cut them to fit with a utility knife.

    Window films come in a variety of opacities, patterns, colors, and even “stained glass” looks. Some frosted films contain glass dust that shimmers for a look that mimics real frosted glass. Other energy-efficient window films provide benefits in addition to privacy, such as reducing UV rays and preventing energy loss or solar gain.

    Peel-and-stick window films cling to window glass with static electricity — a surprisingly dependable method. Properly applied, these films will remain in place for years, yet they’re easy to remove. You can even reapply them to other windows.

    Adhesive-based films are a permanent privacy solution and can’t be removed. Installing them requires a special kit; once in place, they must be carefully cured for up to 8 days. Adhesive-based films ($20 to $40 for a 2-by-3-ft. piece) have better energy-saving properties than static-cling films, and they last for the life of the glass.

    Before installing any film, you’ll want to make sure the window glass is clean and free of dust or smudges. That way, you won’t get bubbles and other imperfections.

    Replacement windows

    For window privacy, especially inside a shower or above a bathtub, a glass or acrylic block window is another option. The texture of the blocks obscures the view while allowing in an optimum amount of light.

    Because of their weight, glass block windows usually are fixed in place and inoperable. However, they’re typically less expensive than an acrylic block window of the same size. Glass blocks are also available in colors, and with etched- and frosted-glass finishes.

    If you prefer an operable window, select acrylic glass block, which is 75% lighter in weight than glass block.

    Glass and acrylic block windows are available pre-assembled and set into a frame for installation like a standard window. A 2-by-2-foot acrylic block operable casement window sells for about $450, uninstalled.

    If you prefer a more traditional look, an energy-efficient window with decorative, translucent glass (similar to a leaded glass window), costs $400 to $600 for a 3-by-5-ft. double-hung window.

    Chemical etching

    Although etching cream is a good option for frosting small amounts of glass, such as on glassware or a mirror, etching an entire window with cream isn’t recommended since it’s nearly impossible to achieve consistent opacity over a large area of glass.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window installation, window repair, window maintenance and window replacement needs.  Call us today at  (215) 453-9180 for your FREE Estimate!

  • Is Your Home a Candidate for Skylights?

    Skylights can be a fun way to bring some more light into your living space.  However, they can cost big bucks to install.

    Here are some questions you should ask yourself, courtesy of House Logic, before you decide if skylights are right for you:

    • Is your roof framed with trusses? Truss framing is typically 24-inch on-center, which accommodates a 2-foot-wide skylight (they’re actually 22.5 inches wide). However, if you need to cut into a truss for a wider skylight (they can range up to 4 feet wide and 6 feet long), you’ll have to hire a structural engineer to spec alternative framing. Costs for engineering run from $300 to $500.
    • Is the attic space clear? Once you have an idea where you’d like to add a skylight, check the attic for any HVAC, wiring, or plumbing in the way.
    • Will you need a chase? A chase is a framed tunnel that channels light from the skylight through your attic space to the ceiling below. Typically it’s finished with drywall and painted. Because it’s complex to build, it adds about $1,500 to a professional installation. Note: If you have a cathedral ceiling, you won’t need a chase.
    • Will a skylight suit the architectural style of your home? In many ways, a skylight is a neutral element that blends with most styles, but it may affect the curb appeal of an older home.
    • Can a solar light tube do the job as well? At less than 20% of the installed cost of a skylight, a solar light tube can illuminate an area of 200 to 600 sq. ft.

    Costs of adding a skylight

    Unless you’re a highly skilled DIYer, leave this job to the pros. You’ll want an experienced installer to ensure your skylight doesn’t leak. Installation cost for a 2-by-4-foot skylight runs from $2,000 to $3,000. Here’s how the costs break out:

    • Cut a hole in the roof and alter the rafter framing: About $500.
    • Install and flash the skylight: With asphalt shingles, expect this stage to cost about $500 — figure 20% to 30% more for metal or tile roofing.
    • Build a chase from the skylight to the interior ceiling: Estimate $1,000 to $1,500.
    • Repaint the entire ceiling beneath the skylight: Plan a minimum of $250 if you hire a pro. If you have an open-plan home, budget for more.

    Skylight features

    Even the least expensive skylights come with insulated glass and UV protection. A fixed skylight costs $150 to $500. However, manufacturers offer many options for controlling the amount of light and enhancing ventilation:

    • A venting skylight that opens manually using a hand crank runs $300 to $600.
    • An electronically controlled venting skylight that opens and closes with a remote control costs $600 to $1,000; including a rain sensor that automatically closes the skylight adds $200 to $300.
    • Built-in mini blinds let you fine tune the amount of light. They operate by means of a stick crank or remote control. Blinds cost $200 to $400.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you window installation, window maintenance and window repair needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Criteria When Getting New Windows

    Windows are extremely important for both the aesthetics and efficiency of a home. However, there are so many criteria for choosing windows that it is easy to forget the end goal.  Some of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a window, according to FacilitiesNet, are:

    • Resistance to wind loads
    • Resistance to water infiltration
    • Air tightness to prevent drafts
    • Resistance to condensation on the interior of the windows
    • Security and emergency egress
    • Light and ventilation
    • Appearance that enhances the overall design
    It is important to not get caught up in the latest designs and trends because many times, these trends haven't stood the test of time yet.
    New state-of-the-art products or components can fail, go out of style or simply go out of production because of poor sales or poor function. Products or components that have not experienced the test of time under field conditions may result in failures that were not demonstrated in laboratory tests. The simplest window design that meets all of the established criteria is usually best. To obtain a more objective opinion, temper the advice and sales pitches of product representatives with recommendations from designers and users of the product.
    While it's easier said than done, price should not be the primary factor in selecting windows.  According to FacilitiesNet, "Settling on the cheapest window product can lead to low durability, poor performance, water leakage and increased or difficult maintenance. This also holds true for the associated materials and work to provide the proper interface between the window and the wall."
    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window repair, window replacement and window installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!
  • 6 Tips to Avoid Bad Contractors

    Shopping for the right contractor is extremely important when you are going to have work done on your home.  Check out these 6 question(courtesy of Yahoo! Homes)s to ask prospective contractors in order to avoid a massive headache later.

    Question #1: What's Your Business History (and Much More)?

    You wouldn't hire a surgeon without knowing how many surgeries he or she has performed, would you? Well, your home is about to go under the knife, so you'll want to evaluate contractors with the same level of scrutiny.

    Kruse suggests first asking questions about a company's business practices and experiences with the remodeling project you need. Find out what kind of procedures and rules this contractor would follow to meet your demands.

    Here are a few other things Kruse thinks you should ask contractors:

    • How long have you been in business?
    • Are you licensed by the state?
    • What percentage of your clientele is repeat or referral business?
    • Are you a member of a national trade association?
    • Do you have a list of references from past projects similar to mine?
    • Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education?

    [Ready to put a contractor to the test? Click here to find one today.]

    Kruse also recommends contacting a client with whom they are currently working. "This way, you can see how things are conducted on a day to day basis," he says. "You can find out if there are problems or issues that have arisen, and ask how well they communicate throughout the project."

    Question #2: Do You Provide a Detailed Written Contract?

    Misunderstandings happen. People forget. Things change. But a contract helps both you and the contractor know what is expected from both parties.

    Every job, no matter how small, should have a signed contract by the contractor and customer, Kruse says. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast - the devil is in the details.

    "A contract should be very specific and point out step by step what will be going on throughout the project and before it even begins," he adds.

    Some things that should be on a contract - all written in great detail - include:

    • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved in the project, including vendors
    • Detailed list of the work to be completed
    • List of each product along with its price and model number
    • Who is responsible for pulling permits
    • Where deliveries will go and where the dumpster will be placed
    • What time the workers begin and end their day
    • Project's start and completion dates plus payment schedule
    • All work carried out by subcontractors

    [Ready to look for a home contractor? Click here to find one in your area.]

    Anything that changes along the way must be written and signed in a change order, which makes sure everyone is in agreement on the change, price, time, or anything else that is adjusted from the original contract.

    Question #3: How Much Do I Need to Put Down?

    If the contractor asks you to pay for all of the project's cost upfront, it's time to find another contractor. An unreasonable deposit is the first sign something is fishy, Kruse says.

    The Better Business Bureau's website suggests going by the rule of thirds: Pay one third at the beginning of the project, one third when work is 50 percent complete, and one third after it is final and you are satisfied with the outcome.

    But chances are your contractor will have a formula to determine how much money is needed to get the job started. "Most contractors go with a 15 percent down payment on larger projects," Kruse says. "My clients usually give me the 15 percent deposit at the same time they hand me the signed contract."

    [Ready to start your home remodel? Click here to find the right home contractor today.]

    Keep in mind that if the job is a small one, it's okay to provide money for the cost of materials - which might be 50 percent of the job or a little more, he says.

    Question #4: Can I Get Itemized Price Estimates?

    Some contractors like to hand you a bid with one price estimate for the entire project because it's less work on their end. Don't let them. You will need details on all the costs associated with the project and each item purchased.

    Here's why an itemized estimate is essential: If midway through the project you decide to put in a less expensive countertop than the one originally discussed, you need to know the exact cost of the first countertop. Without it, you have no way of knowing how much of a credit you should receive.

    An itemized price list should detail the cost of labor, demolition, materials, electrical, plumbing, permits, and more.

    Kruse explains how an itemized estimate is better for client and contractor: "It just makes it easier to track work, and it's transparent to both the client and I of what is expected on the job. I also offer my preferred vendor list to our clients so they know who we are buying their products from."

    Some contractors use their estimates as proposals, but these might be very inaccurate and could mislead the homeowner, Kruse says. Don't assume anything. Be certain that once you sign a contract, what you see on paper is what you will be paying.

    Question #5: Who Will Be at the Site?

    Just hiring your contractor doesn't ensure he or she will be the one hammering and sawing. They might only show up to sign the contract and present the finished product. It's important to know that certain contractors manage their companies by getting bids or supervising many job sites at once and are not hands-on people.

    How do you find out which one you have? "Ask potential contractors who is going to be in charge of your project at all times," Kruse says. "You need to meet with that person, get a feel for what he/she is like and get acquainted a bit. Go check out that person at one of their current jobs."

    [Ready to get started on your home remodel? Click here to find a contractor in your area.]

    In their "Home Sweet Home Improvement" guide, the Federal Trade Commission urges homeowners to ask if subcontractors will be used on the project. If so, homeowners should ask to meet them to make sure they have insurance coverage and proper licenses.

    When meeting the subcontractor, ask if the lead contractor pays them on time. Why is this little detail important? According to the Federal Trade Commission, "A 'mechanic's lien' could be placed on your home if your contractor fails to pay subcontractors or suppliers," who, in turn, could take you to court to retrieve their unpaid bills.

    Question #6: Do You Think We Can Get Along?

    Just like any good relationship, the one between you and your contractor should have harmony, communication, and collaboration. Some personalities and styles just don't mesh, so don't pick someone just because their bid is the lowest, says Kruse.

    Your contractor will be part of your daily existence for quite some time. They will see how your children behave, how you don't water your plants, and how your breakfast dishes sit in the sink all day.

    Hiring a contractor without much thought can be a big mistake, says Kruse. "Sometimes [homeowners] end up with work that is less than adequate, or they give these shady contractors a large chunk of money upfront and then they never show up again."

    Protecting yourself from these nightmares means knowing exactly who your contractors are before you hire them. After all, it doesn't hurt to ask - but it sure could hurt if you don't.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing repair, window repair and deck construction needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate today!

  • Prepare Your Home for Winter

    Putting a little bit of money into your home to prepare for winter will keep you warmer and make your energy bills lighter.

    Caulking and weather stripping are the best ways to save energy without putting too much money down, according to House Logic:

    Weather-stripping can be done by a painting contractor, a window installation contractor, or any handyman firm and is usually bid by the job or by the window.

    It is also recommended that you increase attic insulation if the joists are showing through the old insulation.

    You can also get storm doors installed, primarily in the most drafty areas can save you up to 8% of your energy, according to House Logic.

     

  • How to Hurricane-Proof Your Windows

    Since Hurricane Sandy may show up by early next week, it's important that your family and your home, particularly your windows, are prepared to weather the storm.

    Here are some tips on how to Hurricane-Proof your windows before the storm comes, courtesy of House Logic:

    Add hurricane window film

    Tough, clear plastic hurricane film is popular because you can’t really see it, and you can leave it in place year-round. If the glass breaks, hurricane film prevents glass shards from zipping around inside your home.

    If you’re an average DIYer, you can install peel-and-stick hurricane film on your windows for a mere $25 per linear foot. As a bonus, the film blocks ultraviolet light that can fade carpets and fabric.

    The downside to hurricane film—and it’s a big one—is that the film isn’t strong enough to stop hurricane winds from blowing in the entire window frame. That’s why most insurance companies don’t offer discounts for hurricane film and why you should also shield your windows with plywood.

    Shield windows with plywood

    Good old plywood is one of the building industry’s toughest materials, and is hard to beat for storm protection. Some tips for using plywood to shield your windows:

    • Cut sheets of 1/2- or 5/8-inch-thick plywood. Make sure you overlap window frames by a good 8 inches all around.
    • Use heavy-duty screws and anchors (in wood) or expansion bolts (in masonry) to attach the plywood to your home’s walls (not the window frames).
    • Pre-install screw anchors around window openings to speed up installation.
    • Store shields in a handy location where you can reach them easily and put them up fast.
    • Keep your cordless battery charged so it’ll be ready to use when a storm is coming.
    • Keep extra flashlights and batteries handy in your home. It gets very dark inside once the plywood is installed.
    • Expect to spend $1 to $2 per square foot if you do the work yourself and $3 to $5 per square foot if you hire someone.

    Add storm shutters

    Because roll-up or accordion-type storm shutters are permanent, they’re a snap to deploy when a storm comes. All you have to do is pull the shutters into place before a hurricane to prevent damage and broken windows.

    If you’re skittish about being in the dark, look for shutters that have perforations or are made from tough translucent fiberglass that lets in light.

    Expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $50 per square foot for professional installation of storm shutters, depending on style and material.

    Install high-impact glass windows

    The great thing about windows with high-impact glass is that they’re always in place, ready to beat back anything hurled by hurricane-force winds. These brawny buddies are made up of two panes of tempered glass separated by a plastic film. They come in standard sizes and shapes so they won’t make your home look like a Brinks truck.

    Expect to pay three times as much for a window with high-impact glass as for a regular window of the same size and type.

    Ask about home insurance discounts

    To encourage you to take steps to minimize damage, your insurer might offer discounts for hurricane-mitigation improvements. In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, for example, the annual insurance premium on an older home insured for $150,000 runs between $3,000 and $8,000, assuming no hurricane-mitigation improvements. With improvements, such as storm shutters or high-impact glass, the same home would cost between $1,000 and $3,500 to insure.

    Also, here are some general tips, courtesy of House Logic, to prepare your family and home for a hurricane:

    • Make a grab-and-go bag with family finance and medical essentials like: Prescription and over-the-counter medicines, one change of clothes for each family member, a back-up drive from your computer, a copy of your home inventory, and a flash drive with copies of important documents like insurance papers, birth certificates, deeds, tax returns, passports, and drivers licenses.
    • Trim up your trees and shrubs to make them less vulnerable to summer storms.
    • Is your sump pump working? Replace it if it isn’t.
    • Load the phone number for your insurance agent and the company’s claims line into your cell phone.
    • Price a flood policy, especially if you live in a flood zone.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window installation, window repair, window replacement, and window maintenance needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Picking the Right Replacement Windows

    Courtesy of Joel Sartore/National Geographic/Getty Images via AARP Home

    There are many things to consider when replacing your windows: materials, budget, energy efficiency, finding the right contractor...The list goes on.  It can prove to be quite a headache.   Here are some tips, courtesy of AARP Home, to consider when replacing your windows:
    • Define and prioritize your goals for replacement windows regarding energy efficiency, maintenance reduction, noise control, security and appearance.
    • Gain at least a basic understanding of the properties, costs and tradeoffs associated with various replacement systems (PDF),materials (PDF) and glazing options.
    • Don't assume that national name-brand windows are better than lesser-known brands. Buy only replacement windows rated by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). Also look for products certified by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association(AAMA). Use NFRC performance data to compare specific window models.
    • Resist unsolicited sales presentations. Seek estimates only from local dealers/installers with solid track records who can provide credible references.
    • Shop around. Don't be pressured into making a quick decision by today-only price offers.
    • Check dealer claims about your eligibility for window replacement tax credits.
    • Before installation begins, compare the brand and model numbers of the windows brought to your home with those listed on the contract. If your installer obtained the windows from a dealer, ask to see the installer's order sheet.
    • Don't make a big down payment. Make sure the payment schedule stipulated in the contract allows you to maintain leverage throughout the installation process. As always, don't make a final payment until the project is completed to your satisfaction.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window replacement, window repair, and window installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE Estimate.

  • Choosing the RIght Windows for Your Home

    Courtesy of Pella Windows and Doors

    Are you in the market to replace your windows? Here is an article that is extremely informative on all of the window choices out there and how to choose the ones that are best for you, whether that be vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum, wood or other options.  Choose what's best for your style and your wallet with these helpful tips.

    http://www.diynetwork.com/windows-walls-and-doors/windows-buying-guide/index.html

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window replacement, window repair, and window installation needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • Energy Audit: What's Best For You?

    Do you think your home's inefficiencies are bumping up your electric bill? Why not do an energy audit and see where your home's efficiency issues are?

    Houselogic has some tips on choosing the type of energy audit that's right for you! Whether you do your own or hire a professional, it will give you a hint as to what needs to be repaired and/or replaced around your home. Houselogic says it can even save you 5-30% annually on your electric bill once you've made the changes needed after the audit. Here are some ways to approach an energy audit courtesy of Houselogic:

    Use an online energy audit questionnaire

    You can find them at the website for your local utility or municipality, or at government-supported websites such as Home Energy Saver or Energy Star.

    Online questionnaires immediately calculate areas where you can achieve savings. Be prepared to answer specific questions about your home energy usage and costs, such as:

    • Energy costs and usage for the last year.
    • The energy sources for your home (gas, propane, electric).
    • The square footage of your home.
    • The number of gallons of water your toilet tank holds (often stamped on the inside of the tank).
    • The R-value of insulation in your attic (sometimes printed on the paper bats), but you won’t have to climb into your attic or poke around behind the water heater.

    Cost: Free.

    Conduct a DIY energy audit

    Got a flashlight, ladder, measuring stick, safety glasses, dust mask, screwdriver, and a stick of incense? If so, you’re equipped to inspect your home. You’ll also need to dig out utility bills and do a little research about optimal insulation requirements for your area. Expect to spend 2 to 4 hours.

    Cost: $50 if you have to buy the tools; otherwise: no cost.

    Hire a professional energy auditor

    Even if you conduct a DIY energy audit, it’s a good idea to double-check your diagnosis with a professional energy auditor, especially if your audit reveals you have problems. An auditor knows homes well enough to advise you on how to get to the source of a problem, saving you a lot of trial, error, and perhaps unnecessary expense.

    There are two types of professional energy audits:

    • Visual inspection. Along the lines of DIY energy audit, this evaluation will give you the benefit of the energy auditor’s keen eye and experience. You’ll come away with plenty of ideas for improving your home’s carbon footprint. Cost: $150.
    • Diagnostic inspection. Using hi-tech equipment like thermal scanners and duct blasters, a professional energy auditor will shake down your house for air leaks, noxious fumes, and spotty insulation. Cost $400 to $600.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is there to help with any of you roofing, window replacement, and window repair needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for a FREE estimate today!

  • Poor Window Maintenance Increases Cost

    Yes new energy efficient windows are a good way to save on energy costs, but it doesn't stop there. Maintaining these windows is almost equally important in factoring their efficiency.

    According to FacilitiesNet,

    When properly maintained, windows can be expected to maintain their solar and thermal properties throughout their 30- to 35-year service life.

    So, it stands to reason that if you don't maintain your windows properly, your windows will have a much shorter service life, which will end up resulting in early window replacement.

    Window manufacturers are constantly trying to up the ante and improve upon window efficiency. Check out these innovations courtesy of FacilitiesNet:

    One of the new technologies available today is the motorized shade. When used as part of a building’s daylighting control, the units can provide an easy way to minimize solar heat gain in rooms with southern exposures. Controls for the units can be interfaced with room lighting controls or centralized building automation systems to regulate both light levels and solar heat gain.

    One of the most promising developments is the “smart window.” Smart windows use a small electrical voltage to change the light transmission properties of the glass. Depending on the technology used, the windows can vary from translucent to reflective. By connecting the windows’ control to a building automation system, the properties of the window glazing for entire areas or buildings can be regulated to minimize heat gain or to maximize the use of daylight.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help you with all your window maintenance, window repair, window installation and window replacement needs. Call us today at 215) 773-9181 for a FREE estimate.