Discover how the right garage doors are the key to enhancing curb appeal and can have a major impact on your home’s appearance and value.

With good looks, modest cost, and solid return on your investment, a new garage door is the Triple Crown of curb appeal projects. According to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the national median cost of a garage door replacement project is $2,300 and recovers 87% of your investment if you sell your house — one of the highest percentage of recovered costs in the “Report.”

Add the fact that a front-facing garage door can eat up almost 20% of your home’s front facade. With that much curb appeal at stake, a worn-out, beat-up garage door can be a real liability. No wonder that a big majority of homeowners responding to the “Report” gave a garage door replacement project a Joy Score of 9.5 — a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

“Especially on houses where the garage is front and center, the garage door absolutely has to look good,” says Casey McGrath, a real estate practitioner in Kitsap County, Wash. And it has to operate smoothly: Americans use the garage more than any other entry to the house, including the front door, according to a survey commissioned by window and door manufacturer JELD-WEN.

Types of Garage Doors

Garage doors come in four basic types: They may swing out, swing up, roll up, or slide to the side.

Swing-out carriage-house doors or sliding barn doors are a good choice if you need to keep the ceiling clear or if you want their distinctive look. Otherwise, the most popular option by far is the sectional roll-up door.

Swing – Out

 

Swing – Up 

 

Roll – Up

 

Slide to the side

 

Before purchasing a roll-up door, measure the space between the top of the garage door opening and the ceiling or overhead framing. Standard tracks require headroom of about 14 inches. If you don’t have that, you can get low-headroom track, which costs about $100 more. There are also tracks specially made for garages with unusually high walls or cathedral ceilings.

Choosing the Right Style

It’s important to pick a door that suits the style of your house. If you live in a Craftsman bungalow, for example, you might want something that looks like the swing-out doors found on garages behind early Craftsman houses. Manufacturers of modern roll-up doors make them in styles that mimic the old swing doors, complete with faux strap hinges on the sides and a pair of handles flanking a deep groove in the center.

Most styles, whether traditional or contemporary, feature panels, trim, and other detailing. Doors with true frame-and-panel construction tend to be sturdier than those with decorative detail that is merely glued or nailed on. Many styles have glass panels on the top row, which looks inviting from the street and brings daylight inside. You can also find roll-up doors with shatterproof glass or frosted plastic in all the panels, for a more modern look.

Common Garage Door Materials

Wood: Wood offers a charm and authenticity that other materials merely mimic. Wood doors can be made locally in whatever size you need, and they stand up well to bumps from basketballs. The downside is that they require frequent repainting or refinishing, especially if you live in a damp climate.

Wood doors range from midprice to very expensive, depending on whether they consist of a lightweight wooden frame filled with foam insulation and wrapped in a plywood or hardboard skin (the least expensive) or are true frame-and-panel doors made of durable mahogany, redwood, or cedar. Wood doors usually carry a short warranty, perhaps only one year.

 

Steel: Metal is a better choice than wood if you don’t want a lot of maintenance. Steel leads the pack because it is relatively inexpensive yet tough. Bare steel rusts, so you need to touch up scratches promptly, and steel also dents.

Minimize this risk by choosing doors with sturdy 24- or 25-gauge panels rather than 27- or 28-gauge (the higher the gauge number, the thinner the metal). Or consider a steel door with a fiberglass overlay, which resists dents and doesn’t rust. Fiberglass will need periodic repainting or restaining, though, because the color fades over time.

High-quality steel doors may have lifetime warranties on the hardware, laminations between the steel and any insulation, and factory-applied paint. Budget doors tend to have shorter warranties on some components, such as paint and springs.

 

Aluminum: Inexpensive aluminum doors, once common, have largely been replaced by sturdy versions with heavy-duty extruded frames and dent-resistant laminated panels. Rugged and rust-proof, these are a wonderful choice — if you can spend $10,000 or so on a garage door.

Less expensive aluminum doors have aluminum frames and panels made of other materials, such as high-density polyethylene. Because of its light weight, aluminum is a good choice if you have an extra-wide double door; it won’t put as much strain on the operating mechanism.

Insulation and Energy Savings

Considering the size of a garage door, it might seem obvious that you should invest in one that’s insulated. Because of its sandwich construction, an insulated door is more durable, and the enclosed back panel gives a garage interior a more finished look.

But the insulation won’t save energy unless you heat the garage or treat your attached garage as part of the “conditioned” part of your house. The federal Energy Star program recommends against doing this if you park cars, store lawn chemicals, or use solvents there because it could let dangerous fumes inside; it’s better to insulate only the shared wall and use that as the indoor-outdoor boundary.

 

 

Carpenter ants are one species of several wood boring insects that homeowners must be on the lookout for. Catching them early will stop the damage they may cause.

What are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are large, black ants that make their nests inside wooden structures. Although they usually choose items such as trees, logs and tree stumps they sometimes nest in the structure of a house. The wood that they inhabit is always moist and is usually starting to decay. Therefore they inhabit homes that are typically suffering from neglect.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

It can be hard to distinguish a carpenter ant from a regular black ant, but there are a few identifying features. Carpenter ants are large ants that can reach up to ½ inch in length.

Since some male carpenter ants grow wings and fly during the spring, they are sometimes often with termites. The main way to tell the difference between a carpenter ant and a termite is to get close to one. Examine the body to see if the sides are straight or if they come in slightly to form a narrow waist. If the insect has a narrow waist, it is a carpenter ant.

It is usually much easier to identify a carpenter ant nest than it is it identify the ant itself. Carpenter ant nests will always be near a wooden structure or tree of some sort. They are usually in a hole that is exposed to the air and the hole will be surrounded by sawdust.

Carpenter Ant Damage

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, carpenter ants are classified as wood boring insects, much like carpenter bees, because they do not actually eat the wood. They simply chew through the wood to create their nests and tunnels. This tunneling makes an otherwise sound looking piece of wood fragile as a result of carpenter ant damage.

Carpenter ant damage is not usually severe if it is detected and treated early. Carpenter ants are slow borers and may take years to destroy the structure of a solid piece of wood. If left untreated, however, carpenter ant damage affects the structural integrity of homes and trees.

Carpenter Ant Extermination

Regular household pesticide does not kill carpenter ants. Carpenter ant extermination is done using a special carpenter ant spray that is available at most home improvement stores. Sprays that are designed to kill termites will also kill carpenter ants. This spray only kills ants that it comes into contact with, not the entire colony.

To kill the entire colony, use a granular ant killer that is formulated for carpenter ants. Sprinkle the granules around the location of the nest. The worker ants will take it back to the other members of the nest and over time they will die out.

Getting rid of carpenter ants can take time, but using these techniques the colony will eventually be eliminated.

 

Your front entry is your chance for that great first impression.
Check out our tips, guidelines and ideas for your outdoor lighting design.

Most guests visit your home at night, so your entryway lighting is crucial for setting the mood and make an inviting entry.
Welcome guests to your home with the warm glow of outdoor lighting.

 

Outdoor lighting has a dual purpose: You want to create a welcoming entrance to your home as well as be able to walk safely up the steps and from the inside clearly identify who’s coming to visit.
Your front door is usually what most guests approach (Or so they say. For some reason all our guests find the kitchen door first – and then never leave the kitchen!)
So, theoretically at least, the front entrance door is THE place to choose to make a statement!

Lighting is one very important way to create a great first impression. 
A pair of wall sconces or lanterns flanking the entryway can complete the look you want, whether it’s grandiose, contemporary, rustic or artistic.

Safety is of course also an issue and the right lighting is key to reducing trip hazards around your home.
Wall lanterns create a warm welcome  and are very important for that exact reason. Aside from that they are primarily  supposed to be decorative.
Combine them with landscape, step  and path lights for ideal illumination.

A third, maybe unexpected,  benefit from outdoor lighting is the illumination it creates outside the windows. Keep the windows from becoming “black holes” when viewed from inside. Instead it visually extends the living areas to the outside.

Lighting the secondary entrances to your home, like patio and kitchen doors, follow the same requirements as the front door, but there the focus might be primarily on safety paired with a comfortable patio light for outdoor entertaining.
I’m not saying that you can ignore aesthetics and go ahead and install some of those glary security lights that will illuminate your neighbor’s back yard as well as yours. That is Light Pollution!

Choose lights that meet your needs for illumination as well as atmosphere and fit the style of your home.
You’ll find styles from sleek, minimal architectural fixtures to traditional lanterns or Craftsman style lights in all price ranges. The choice is yours!

Wall lights, lanterns, ceiling lights or pendants?
Depending on the architecture of your home it might be possible to use wall sconces or lanterns flanking the doorway or lights mounted to or recessed into the ceiling – or a combination of both.

With some minimal, clean, contemporary home designs it might be tempting to choose only recessed overhead lights. But keep the “flashlight-under-the-chin” effect in mind: Illumination directly from above is almost as ghastly as from below – and it can be almost impossible to see the facial features of a visitor with this choice of lighting.

If this is still the lighting of choice, consider combining it with indirect illumination of landscape features or architectural details nearby.

The same principle goes for the must-have decorative fixture that looks wonderful at the front door, but does not shed sufficient light. It just needs a little help and can work well if you augment it with other less visible light sources.
One of the most important considerations when choosing wall sconces to flank a doorway is size and proportions.

Size matters!
In our experience most home owners tend to choose entry lights that are too small for the scale of the door and the wall they are attached to.
With larger homes and taller ceilings, be bold!

 

As for size: look at the proportions of your front entryway.
Those Jelly-jar wall lights we all know all too well might look out of place next to the door in your new home, even if your parents also had them “and they worked just fine.”
By the same token, no matter how much you admire those wrought iron lanterns that would be suited for a grand entrance they might very well seem overwhelming flanking your cottage door.
The wall fixtures should be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 the height of the door.

If you are using two sizes of sconces for your front door as well as your garage you’ll want to use the larger sconces at the front door, since this is where you want to create the focal point.   The smaller sconces that flank the garage door shouldn’t draw too much attention to this less attractive area of your home.

As a rule of thumb, outdoor sconces or lanterns should be mounted with the center of the light source about 5’6″ to 6′ from the ground and 8’ – 10’ apart.


Patio Lighting creates a mood for relaxing and entertaining.

Our decks and patios have become important extensions of our living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms.
As we add state-of-the-art barbecues, outdoor kitchens, comfortable dining areas we want to add the comforts and feel of home we have become used to indoors.
Whether enjoying a romantic al fresco meal for two or entertaining a crowd, we want to see the food on our plate, look good, maybe feel romantic and also be able to move around without danger of tripping.

Create a safe environment with atmosphere.
One tip is to avoid glare and use as much indirect light as possible.
Inconspicuous step lights and small light fixtures positioned under a railing or a banister can help you put the light exactly where it is needed to safely negotiate stairs and dark areas on the patio.
Try to avoid the “runway-effect” of light sources lined up in a straight row unless. The trick is to illuminate an area without the light sources being the center of attention.

Patio lights don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. Try a combination of wall sconces next to the entryway, some lights for areas that need special attention like changes in terrain and compliment these with twinkling strands of lights in nearby trees or indirect light sources that add atmosphere by accenting architectural features or parts of the surrounding landscape.

A little light goes a long way outdoors. 25W or 40W are sufficient in most exterior fixtures. In order to avoid glare and create atmosphere it is always preferable to use several light sources with a low wattage instead of a single one that will keep your neighbors awake.
With LED bulbs, look for some that are equivalent to 40W and 60W and choose a color temperature of around 2700K or lower, since they feel more like incandescent bulbs.

 

Compact Fluorescent bulbs Outdoors? YES!
Outdoor lights tend to be on for longer periods of time and are sometimes hard to reach. Both good reasons for switching to compact fluorescent lamps.
Since not all compact fluorescents are suitable for cold temperatures check the description on the package to make sure that you choose CFLs rated for outdoors.

 

Take Control!
It might be practical for a variety of reasons to have the flexibility to choose the levels of light, so plan on installing dimmers to control the light levels of your outdoor lights!
This way you can go from security lights to mood lighting at the touch of a switch.
Just keep in might that dimming incandescent lights cause them to shift to a warmer, more yellow tone. I love this effect around my deck because it adds warmth and the feel of flickering candles.
Plants, however, take on a sickly look in yellow light, so dimming is not for landscape lighting!

Some manufacturers like Kichler Lighting have come out with chandeliers as well as floor and table lamps rated for exterior use. This makes it possible to bring a feeling of “home” outdoors and extend the hours you can enjoy your patio or deck.

Form + Function represents the outdoor lights by a large number of manufacturers. We offer choices from cutting-edge Contemporary to Craftsman style or Traditional. Our criteria for choosing the fixtures is quality, integrity and form as well as function.

 

Motion Sensors are great! -If you aim the sensor right, so the lights turn on from a sufficient distance.
(I am embarrassed to confess that I am speaking from painful experience: for way too long I have dealt with a hard-to-reach garage light that doesn’t turns on until I am directly under it after having stumbled my way through the dark. I’ll fix it next weekend. I think.)
Again, please don’t even think about blinding your innocent guests with a spotlight with a motion detector! It is cruel!
Motion detectors can be used in combination with regular wall lights, not only as part of a security light system.

Landscape and path lighting looks the best if the light source is is not glaring in your eyes, blinding you. That translates to: No runway lights flanking the driveway, but subtle illumination of rocks, bushes and other natural features along the way. Works just as well, but what a difference!

 

If you want to get creative with curtains, you’re going to need to consider the design of the room in question very carefully before you proceed. Find out about creative curtains with help from The Design Diva in this free video.