Wood or vinyl. Today, the choice of available window styles is vast; from traditional style sash, single hung and double hung windows, to accent windows that don’t open at all, and of course, sliding windows. Basement windows to let in light and air, and even glass block windows that allow for privacy. Regardless of specific design preferences, often the starting point to the design is the choice between wood or vinyl windows. It is an important decision, and during the construction phase of the home needs to be considered early on. Wood windows, while offering a more traditional appeal, need more up-keep, making it potentially both time and cost prohibitive. Rising in popularity, comparatively low-cost vinyl on the other hand with its fresh, modern appeal requires very little to no maintenance, making this the seemingly obvious choice for busy families, or older home owners not wishing to be saddled with the long-term maintenance needs of wood materials. So with the obvious attraction, detractors out of the way, let’s take more of an in-depth look at the merits and otherwise of both wood and vinyl window materials.
Constructed from Polyvinyl Chloride. Otherwise known as, PVC, vinyl windows offer high quality at a relatively attractive price point. Taking care of vinyl can be an absolute breeze, simply wipe down or include in your home’s annual pressure wash, particularly homes situated in mold prone areas; and you’re done! Vinyl, as they say, is final!
Traditionally, available in white, a color synonymous with vinyl, other colors are available, however those are considered special or limited order quantities and are of course, more expensive.
Due to their durability, ease of maintenance, and overall pleasing attractiveness, vinyl has really come a long way in terms of home renovation popularity over the last twenty years. Vinyl’s popularity over wood means it typically has a faster turnaround due to its availability. Provided of course, you opt for the more common and readily available white.
Due to vinyl’s hollow core frames, cold air will pass through, meaning during winter weather, your home will likely require more heating to maintain warmth. For this reason, when planning on vinyl window installation, ask to see how energy efficient the window style is. During Summer months however, because vinyl is not the best conductor of
temperatures, your home should not suffer additional cooling costs. A plus for sure.
Assuming we are not talking about an historical home, a house with vinyl
windows, installed in the right location and circumstance, will have a good projected resale value. Most homeowners are willing to accept that vinyl windows will be part of the package when searching for a home. Indeed, given the comparative ease of maintenance, it may be the preferred option over the long term for some home buyers.
Often constructed of Douglas Fir or pine woods, wood presents an attractive option. For those who love to paint; wood may be left varnished and in its relatively natural state, or painted any color you choose, barring HOA restrictions. At the outset, wood is also more expensive than regular vinyl windows. Possibly because wood is no longer as popular, therefore the supply and demand side of wood window production is not at the level enjoyed by highly produced vinyl. Due to the lower demand for wood windows compared with vinyl windows, it may not be possible to rush an order through. There simply are not the large number of stockists with a wide selection to choose from. Speak to your builder or construction specialist. If wood is the way to go, discuss this as early as possible in the planning stages of your home build in order to avoid delays or incur additional material costs.
Attached to a tree, wood needs zero maintenance. Attach it to your house, it’s a different story! Wood will require sealing and/or painting at the time of installation, and every few years afterwards. The frequency of upkeep may largely depend on the type of wood being used, weather conditions, and the quality of paint, varnish or sealant used; tip: best not to skip on paint or varnish quality here. Should you think wood windows are for you, ask about aluminum cladding as this never requires painting.
This is possibly one of the reasons natural wood windows are, for some
homeowners, the selling point. Wood is a great conductor and retainer of heat. Cold weather. No problem, the cold will not transmit through the window frame. Hot outside. Likewise. The heat will not pass through the window frame. This has the potential to lower energy costs in the home.
Keep those windows well maintained and you could have potential buyers to your home, flocking to your door! The key is maintenance. If you are in an historic neighborhood, paying more for your wood windows at the outset may well maintain a higher resale value in that late Victorian home than if you had chosen vinyl. So, there you have it. Wood windows versus vinyl windows. The next step is to discuss your needs with your home builder. Ask about the different woods and finishes, if you think wood is for you. If vinyl is your thing but you think color options other than white is the way to go, ask about those now. Remember, anything other than basic white is considered a special order and costs more, so you might want to gather that information and begin pricing! Either way, the outlook, quite literally is great. With a wide variety to choose from; you’ll be happily admiring the view for years to come.
In kitchen terms, it seems you can’t go very far these days without bumping into the argument; natural granite or the synthetically produced and highly durable Du Pont Corian?
Both materials offer highly attractive qualities: durability, unique color options and resistance to heat. However, the smaller differences between the two surfaces: ease of maintenance and cost factors can often be the determining factor between synthetic, man-made substance, versus the naturally occurring granite.
With this in mind, let’s go ahead and take a look at the hallmark characteristics in both countertop styles.
A naturally occurring material, granite is formed when magna below the earth’s surface becomes slowly crystallized over a long period of time. The sparkles attracting most homeowners considering granite are derived from the presence of quartz, feldspar with smaller amounts of mica. It is this rich color and texture unique to granite that attracts homeowners looking to upgrade the appearance of their kitchen. Mining companies harvesting the stone from a granite quarry, slice the granite into large slabs before polishing it to a very high sheen. It is this polishing process that reveals each slab or section of granite’s unique color and pigment qualities. No two pieces of granite are the same, variations in color occur both geographically and locally, making each piece highly unique. Absolutely nothing is taken away or added to the granite, making it a completely natural jewel of a stone. In short, if you think a good conversation starter at a dinner party might begin with; I’m glad you like this countertop. Did you know it used to be molten lava? Granite might be a good fit for you and your family!
On the other hand, the synthetically engineered, Corian is constructed from binding resins, minerals, dyes and fillers to provide the texture and color some argue comes a close second to granite. Originally manufactured by DuPont, since the patent has expired, other companies now manufacture comparable Corian surfaces. Today. Brands such as Formica offer comparable choices.
The durability of granite makes it possible to cut food without a chopping board; it simply will not chip or scratch. Granite’s heat resistance also makes it a great contender for durability; set a hot pot on this baby, and it won’t leave a burn mark.
On the other hand, granite can stain. A downside in a busy household where kids and spills seem to go hand in hand. Spilling anything acidic across the top such as citrus juice can leave a stain. Heavy use can also lead to some cracking or chipping
over time. For this reason, you might always opt to use a chopping board, just in case. Granite, being a potential stain magnet, needs to be resealed every six months. This may sound more complicated than need be; these days there are some very good commercial products readily available for this purpose. So, potentially no real biggie. It’s not like you have to haul the kitchen counters over to a service center. However, for the super busy family, having one more thing to think about or make time for may be a granite sized deal breaker. Corian, on the other hand doesn’t need sealing. Spill away, from lemons to limes, and just about everything in between, it won’t stain. Huge plus there. However, it can be a bit sensitive in the scratch and ding department; pretty much making cutting boards a mandatory accessory in terms of prevention. That said, minor scratches from the occasional setting down of a dinner knife can soon be buffed out with a scouring pad.
Lacking the heat resistance of granite, Corian needs trivets or hot pads beneath hot plates or pans. Essentially anything over 325 degrees can lead to discoloration; a good rule of thumb is to assume anything removed from the oven or off the stove will be too hot.
All-natural stone granite has been a household favorite for a reason. The sheer individuality of each piece remains a huge attraction factor for many. The natural blending of quartz, mica and other naturally occurring minerals often presents a huge wow factor for many home owners, making any detractions worth-while.
Versatile Corian, with the potential to be integrated with naturally occurring materials to include wood or even glass, offers the potential for shaping or carving into unique configurations. So, if you have a strange shaped nook in the corner of your kitchen, or want that extra special engraving into your kitchen space, Corian might be an option. You might even decide to combine the two elements!
Granite is more expensive than Corian, However, not as much as one might think. Adjusting for regional differences, granite and Corian start out at roughly the same starting price range. Granite tops out over Corian but for all its jewel like qualities, only by about $50.00 per square foot. So, when considering the two materials, for many it might truly be a question of lifestyle needs at the time of the new kitchen build.
Okay DIY-ers…we know how you just love installing stuff. From bedrooms, decks, closets and shiny new front doors. You take great pride in the home improvement skills acquired over the years. However, you’re going the granite route, be advised to leave installation to the professionals. Granite is extremely heavy. It is, after all, natural rock! So, unless you’re the sort of guy, or gal prone to hauling huge slabs of rock into their home on a Saturday afternoon; best leave this one to the pros’. Not only will they have the equipment, but they should also have the right safety gear for an injury free install.
Cutting the granite can get very expensive if you make a mistake. Drop it onto your floor, and you might end up having to install more than just a few countertops. The professionals will also expertly match up seems to make sure
everything matches up at the sides and corners, with no awkward gaps and so on. If you must go DIY, either for budget reasons or just the pride gained from your ability to successfully complete a job yourself, then Corian might be the better route.
Being so much lighter than granite, Corian should be easier to handle on the job. Corian can also be cut using a regular circular saw. Additionally, matching up the seams can more easily be managed with the use of commercial materials made for smoothing out any seams.
As previously mentioned, granite can stain, therefore sealing it every six months with a granite specific product is not something you should miss. A truly maintenance free material, Corian can be cleaned with just basic soap and
water products. In the case of removing raw fish or meat juices, cleaning with bleach and even ammonia-based products do not produce adverse effects. Abrasive cleaners are not advised as they can scratch the surface of your countertop. A little more consideration is needed in the cleaning and maintenance of granite. Bleaching agents, or other harsh chemicals such as ammonia or even vinegar will harm the surface of the granite, staining it.
To clean granite, a basic warm solution of water and soap will do the trick. Should you wish to disinfect your granite surface, especially following any raw food preparation where cross contamination may occur, a water and isopropyl alcohol solution can be used. Bleach, vinegar, or ammonia, however, should never be used to clean any natural stone because they can react with the material and dull its appearance. Only daily cleaning with warm, soapy water and weekly disinfecting with a water and isopropyl alcohol solution should be done for a granite countertop. Check your local supermarket; these days there are some excellent pre-packaged solutions or wipes you can purchase, taking the guess work out of mixing and measuring.
So, are either worth the investment in purchase of materials and installation? Cheaper alternatives are available, such as laminate which, in itself has been around for years. So beyond personal preferences, all things being equal, how does the investment stack up long term?
Often, homeowners who have granite countertops installed will generally expect their home to factor well in terms of re-sale value. Granite, after all is certainly a selling point when it comes to marketing real estate. And, certainly for those appreciating the appeal of natural stone, a house with good quality work surfaces will always trump over lower quality surfaces.
Corian, however is certainly not the poor step child in this relationship. Corian is in itself, a high quality product, developed by a world renowned and well regarded company. In all likelihood, a home with Corian product work surfaces will fetch a good price on the market by home buyers looking for quality accents in their prospective home.
Both will be happy to help.
Vinyl and linoleum; often considered cheaper, synthetic alternatives to the more expensive hardwood floors; the differences between the two range from construction materials and color options, even environmental considerations. Essentially, the slightly more expensive linoleum is produced from natural materials, making it more environmentally friendly than synthetically produced vinyl which is known to create small, organic toxic particles or by- products, upon installation. New product research is currently developing environmentally friendlier vinyl products, emitting fewer toxic emissions. Linoleum offers a greater range of colors, however offers greater ease of installation. It is also impervious to moisture, whereas linoleum, if not installed correctly may be damaged by water. There are however, other considerations between the two. So, before you decide; read on.
Around for almost two hundred years, linoleum was an English invention at the height of the Industrial Revolution during the 1800’s. With materials to include linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, ground cork and mineral fillers, linoleum takes up color beautifully. Dyes and pigments are added to the material, producing some of the vibrant colors favored by linoleum fans. Available in sheets and tiles, linoleum is readily available at most home improvement centers. The natural products found in linoleum make it fully biodegradable and also recyclable! A familiar choice in older, pre-restored properties, hospitals and other commercial centers. Today, linoleum is being looked at as an environmentally safer alternative to vinyl. Linoleum’s natural materials, to include pine rosin and linseed, has made the anti-bacterial like properties of the material an attractive option for places where impeccable levels of cleanliness are important.
Linoleum’s ability to resist average wear and tear such as scratches and dents, makes this a great choice when compared to vinyl. Overall, linoleum has a lifespan over three times that of vinyl, possibly because linoleum can be
patched up when signs of obvious wear and tear do appear. Vinyl by comparison generally needs to be replaced rather than repaired, again making this a less attractive offer in terms of its overall environmental impact.
Generally, linoleum is not for the amateur fitter. Difficult to install, if fitting is not done properly or professionally, moisture can penetrate, damaging the sub flooring beneath. Sheet style linoleum, is the most difficult form of linoleum to install, requiring both a flooring adhesive on the bottom and a finishing coat on the top to seal out moisture. Self-adhesive tiles are available, and the most easy to install, however they must be cut to the exact measurement in order to prevent moisture getting below the surface of the linoleum. Linoleum is also available in a floating style of flooring with a cork bottom, however this is very sensitive to water damage, making this particular style of linoleum flooring best suited to areas where spillage is less likely.
Sweep, vacuum or dust your linoleum frequently. Avoid chemical cleaners such as bleach or disinfectant solutions. Warm soap and water are the best and safest bet for cleaning linoleum. Anything more than this may damage the flooring. Your linoleum floor should be finished once or twice per year depending on traffic; this is important to retaining the linoleum’s long-term durability. Damaged tiles can be changed, and patches can be made on the linoleum, but check with a professional to ensure any patch is properly sealed.
Installing waterproof vinyl flooring is a breeze compared to linoleum. Due to its pliability, it is far easier to cut and fit around corners, making it an attractive DIY option for homeowners who enjoy taking on improvement projects around the home. Vinyl is also pretty big on style when it comes to finishes and texture. Vinyl can be made to look like wood or tile, with realistic grain or texture, making it a warming, attractive option for the busy home. Padding beneath the vinyl provides additional comfort due to its insulation abilities. Your floor will feel less cold during cooler winter months!
Like linoleum, vinyl requires a protective coating, and it is this coating that gives vinyl the ability to withstand high traffic, harsher cleaning agents and so on. However, unlike linoleum, once sealed it never has to undergo further treatment. Unfortunately, once the coating on a vinyl floor has worn through, the entire floor needs to be replaced. Vinyl tiles can be replaced individually, and longer pieces of vinyl repaired by fusing the surface or double cutting. In terms of longevity, although linoleum needs annual conditioning, proper care and maintenance means it effectively self recycles compared with vinyl which, once the protective coating has expired, needs to be replaced. Vinyl which is hard to recycle and generally does not possess biodegradable properties, presents the question; What to do with a product that emits toxic properties once it has been reached the end of its life span? For some homeowners, this may be problematic.
So, if you are looking for greener flooring, between the two, linoleum may be right for you. On the other hand, if you are seeking to cover a smaller area of the home, a bathroom or laundry room for example, the less expensive per
square foot vinyl might be the cheaper and more reasonable option. in all things, it is best to take lifestyle factors into consideration: how much the room will be used, the level of traffic flowing in and out of the room, if the room is a social room or a more utilitarian room for storage or laundry. And of course, budget. Talk to your home builder about the flooring options that are right for you and your family. Taking the time to select the best products before construction can save a lot of expensive delays or disappointments later in the process. You might even opt for several types of flooring as needs change throughout your home. Getting the best product you can afford means you’ll be happy walking into your home for years to come.
Congratulations, you have made the decision to not only purchase a home for you
and your family, but actually have a home built to your specifications.
In other words, a custom home!
Your home purchase is likely to be one of the largest financial investments you
and your family will make during your working lifetime. Likely this is your dream
home; the home you want to remain in for a considerably long time. A place
where you plan for your family’s life to happen. A place where memories will be
made. Choose your builder well, and you will likely observe the building of a
house that becomes a home even before you have lain the first carpet or wood
floor. Choose unwisely, or don’t ask the right questions before hand, and you
may end up with a build failing to live up to the expectations you had in mind.
Often, when choosing your builder, communication in the first instance is key.
Consider these things when choosing your custom home builder.
A house should be a place to come home to. A place to relax and retreat from the
world. The only thing you need to be looking at when chilling out at the end of a
busy day is that big screen T.V and a comfy sofa. Failing that, a hot bath and a
room spacious enough for a big cozy bed. The very last thing you and your family
want to be staring at are nicks in the dry wall and a shower basin leaking through
the dining room ceiling!
Your first priority should focus on a quality build. This is not a relative statement.
As in, my idea of quality might be different than another person’s and that is okay.
In building terms, while we may all want different things in a home, quality is
consistent. A leaking roof or inadequately plumbed bathroom results in flooding,
and is not desirable by anyone.
Quality cannot cut corners. In other words, your custom home is constructed by
qualified professionals who know what they are doing!
Ask to view current home sites or projects. Take a walk through if possible.
Remember, you are looking for quality. Not the style of the home. Rather, does
the overall appearance of the home suggest quality, and attention to detail?
When you talk to the builder, are they passionate about the homes they build?
Are they keen to educate you as much as possible about the process? Do they
mention other builds they have worked on, or when asked, are they evasive?
A great way to see other builds is to view pictures of both interior and exterior of
the homes. Ask to see your prospective builder’s portfolio.
Chances are, you found your prospective builder via Google search engine. Take
another look at their website, checking for testimonials provided within the last
eighteen months to two years maximum. Ideally, the more recent, the better.
Beyond the website, check out reviews that may have been left on Yelp! and
other similar review sites. After actual word of mouth recommendations, the on
line community can be a tremendous help when it comes to tracking down
Look at their Facebook page. Most businesses now have at least one social media
hub from which they post recent business happenings and so on, that might be of
interest to customers old and new. Ideally Facebook postings should be current
and reflect the useful information prospective clients, like you, are searching for.
The more current the social media account, the more likely your prospective
builder is working hard at staying engaged with the home buying community.
Your builder should be using quality products throughout the build. From
foundation, framing, to roof cover. Conduct thorough interviews, asking
questions about materials used. A good builder will take the time to listen and to
answer your questions honestly. The reputation of their work rests upon future
word of mouth references.
Ask for a time line. Based upon the idea you have for the project, ask how soon
the project can be started. Bearing in mind, the specifics of a design, location of
the build, and so on, ask for a general ball park. Is the builder so backed up with
projects, that yours cannot be started for six months? This might be a good thing
as it can show the builder is popular. However, if you are hoping to have moved
in by Christmas and it is already June, some expectations might need to be
Who will be working on the home build? Assuming your home builder brings in
contractors for certain aspects of the build ; do the contractors turn around and
sub contract? For example, a painter sub contracting for an assistant, or an
electrician subcontracting for an electrician’s help. This may be perfectly legal
and fine, but how is the quality of workmanship monitored? Does your
prospective builder work with a preferred and well qualified, read, licensed and
bonded list of contractors?
Ultimately, you decide what is acceptable to you, but the key is; you feel free and
able to ask the questions.
Aside from the house plans themselves, choosing a site in which to build your
home must be one of the most exciting aspects of your home build. But you need
to get it right. Not just the elevation of your home, but the actual location and
size of the build lot.
Does your builder assist with finding a site? Assuming you do not have a site
already purchased, a builder worth their salt would prefer to be involved in the
selection of the build site. Involvement from an early stage will enable them to
advise on drain-field site, in addition to location of well and septic should there
need to be one. Additionally, this would be the perfect time to discuss the
proposed elevation of the site. Will the home be fronting the passing road, or
elevated away from the road?
A good builder, i.e one for whom this is a full time craft, not something they are
doing as a side gig over their existing job, will possess an excellent working
knowledge of the quality fixtures and fittings you want in your custom build
home. Custom builders understand why you want to custom build. You want the
type of finishing touch, overall style and attention to detail not available in more
In looking through your prospective builder’s portfolio, check to see if some of the
homes reflect the type and style of home you are looking for. If you have a
specific style of home in mind, is the builder willing to help you achieve as close
to that design as possible, considering variables such as budget and location, or
after speaking to the builder, do you feel as though your ideas were brushed aside
in favor of one style of house that was repeatedly pushed on to you.
Ask if your builder provides a home warranty service, or some other insurance to
cover you if, say within twelve months, the roof leaks. Ask about important after
market customer service. Even in the best situations, things can go wrong, in
which case you will need to contact your builder to resolve the problem.
When it comes to building a home, there are many things to take into
consideration. Likely you have more questions than we have talked about here,
which is where your next step comes in.
Contact Perry’s Custom Homes as part of your next move. We’ll be happy to
answer questions and help you take the next steps toward your dream custom
We are custom home builders, specializing in unique custom homes in the Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and surrounding areas. We provide custom home plans, sell lots for building, and a full range of general contracting services.