Special thanks to Thompson Creek for sponsoring today’s post and providing valuable information regarding when to replace and how to clean windows.
Like many homeowners, my list of things I’d like to fix/add/improve in my home is exponentially larger than my budget and time. So, my husband and I scrimp and save to eventually handle big projects. To keep us from getting discouraged about a lack of progress, we tackle small, inexpensive and simple improvements in the short term. This spring I decided to dress up our front entrance since it’s the first thing our guests see when they visit. This quick and easy project instantly enhanced my home’s curb appeal and it took me less than half an hour.
We have a very large set of front doors so I knew I had to do something eye-catching.
Project Curb Appeal – Planter Urns
And because I was fed-up with the never ending winter of 2016, I was eager to add some color. So, I set off to the nursery to find some colorful flowers, hoping to find some inspiration. I found some beautiful charcoal urns that I knew would match the light fixtures at the front door. Because of the 12-foot doors, I chose the largest urns (29 inches). I wanted to make sure they could be seen from the driveway.
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but standing next to the urn, I realized just how big it was. Since I didn’t want to waste money filling it all the way up with potting soil (not to mention trying to move it after it was filled), I decided to use some empty jugs I had in the recycling bin.
I fastened the lids to each jug to prevent water from getting inside them later. I was afraid that if water collected inside of them that: 1) the urn would be heavier and hard to move and 2) the stale water would eventually start to smell like rotten eggs. By my estimation, using the empty jugs as space fillers allowed me to use half the potting soil I would have needed to fill the entire urn.
Though the urn won’t be ridiculously heavy filled with dirt, I still recommend placing the urn near its final destination BEFORE adding the potting soil. The urn can be awkward to move when it is full.
Finally, I added the flowers I had picked out at the nursery.
Here’s what the front entrance looked like when I was done:
Free Ways to Enhance Curb Appeal
If your budget is really tight, you can substitute elbow grease for money. Some simple cleaning and maintenance can make a big difference in the appearance of your home.
Sweep – Leaves, dirt, cobwebs, and pollen tend to pool around the front door and patio. Take a few minutes to sweep them all away. Don’t forget to look up! Use the broom to knock down cobwebs.
Power Wash – Dirt can build up over time and mildew can start to form on siding and walkways. Rent or borrow a power washer if you don’t own one and spend time stripping away months (or years) worth of dirt. Your home will look almost new again.
Weed and Mow – If you don’t have money to redo the landscaping, you can spruce up your landscaping my simply cleaning it up. Remove weeds, trim bushes and trees, and rake over the dirt. Mow your lawn regularly to keep it from becoming overgrown and trim the edges for a tidy, clean look. This keeps your home looking cared for and only takes an hour or two each week.
Clean Windows – This is my least favorite chore but it makes such a big difference! When your windows are clean, the whole house lights up. Plus, unlike flowers or lawn decorations, people don’t realize why your house looks attractive when the windows are clean, but they do notice they like something about it. Here are some tips to make your windows really shine:
- Remove screens to hose them off and leave them in the sun to dry.
- Combine 2 cups water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1/2 tsp dish detergent in a bucket. Using a scrub brush, apply solution to outside of windows to scrub clean. Rinse with a garden hose before solution dries.
- Use a vacuum with a detail attachment to clean out window tracks.
- Mix equal parts hot water and white vinegar with a tablespoon of cornstarch (for added shine) in a small bucket – Use a sponge to apply to windows.
- Use a squeegee to remove cleaner from the window, wiping with a microfiber cloth after each stroke.
- After you’ve squeegeed the window clean, dip the cloth in the vinegar solution and use it to wipe the window sill, frame, and track.
Future Home Improvement Projects
I’ll continue to share our home improvement projects with you as we make progress. Our next “big” project is to build a back deck. I also have big plans to convert the kids’ Jack-and-Jill bathroom into a less claustrophobic space.
In a few years, we’ll start looking at replacing our windows. They are in good shape now but since they have such a large impact on the appearance and function of our home, we’ll be keeping an eye on them for signs that they need to be replaced. The symptoms we’ll be watching for are (courtesy of Thompson Creek):
- Drafts: If windows are drafty, they are allowing heat exchange between the inside and outside air. It’s like throwing money out the window.
- Single pane windows: Some older homes have single pane windows. While double pane windows have an insulating layer of gas between the two glass panes, single pane windows don’t have this benefit, therefore making them less energy efficient.
- Frame condition: Older windows, especially wood windows, take a beating over the years. Wood window frames can become warped and cracked due to temperature fluctuations over time.
- Inoperable windows: Often going hand-in-hand with poor frame condition, older windows can become inoperable. They may not open due to sash wear, being painted shut with layer upon layer of paint, or may not remain opened due to sash or balance problems.
- Glass condition: Over time, the seals between the two panes of glass can weaken and become broken. When seal failure occurs, the gas fill escapes and you lose the beneficial insulating properties. One sure sign of seal failure is fog or condensation on the inner glass.
- Increased utility bills: Compare your utility bills from the last few years. Don’t just look at dollars spent – compare kilowatt hours used in the same month over the years. If you see an increase, that’s an indication your home isn’t as energy efficient as it once was. Some utility service providers offer online usage analysis tools to help determine if your usage has increased.
If your windows are showing signs of wear and you’re considering replacing them, you can check out Thompson Creek Window’s current promotional offers.