How to Keep Your Home Looking Good on the Outside

It’s often said that a man’s home is his castle. And while this may be true, keeping your home looking like a castle can be a time-consuming-and sometimes overwhelming-process. However, maintaining a nice-looking home need not be a difficult process. All you need is a little time and a little information. Often, simply knowing how to keep your home looking good is the first step towards creating the castle of your dreams. And what better time to start than spring? Taking the time to maintain your home on the inside and outside will ensure that your home is the envy of the neighborhood.

Spring Cleaning

� Windows
Usually, the quickest-and least expensive way-to give your home an instant makeover is to wash it. Start by washing the windows. If you don’t have double-hung windows and don’t feel like stepping onto the roof, you can use many of the spray-on window cleaners available at most home improvement stores. These cleaners, which screw on to the end of your garden hose, help clean and shine windows without the aggravation of spraying and wiping off traditional cleaners.

� Vinyl and AluminumSiding
Vinyl and aluminum siding can become dingy and dirty, causing your home to have unsightly streaks and an overall dull appearance. Many products specifically made to clean aluminum and vinyl siding are on the market, and are all easy to use. Like the window cleaner, some siding cleaners come in bottles that can be attached to hose nozzles. No matter how dirty your siding is, do NOT use solvents, as they could damage the siding.

When spraying your siding with cleaner isn’t enough to remove grime, consider using a soft broom or a power washer. If you don’t own a power washer, check with local rental stores or hardware stores, where they can be rented for a nominal fee.

� Wood Siding
Wood siding can be cleaned with regular siding cleaners (check labels to ensure you don’t damage your siding). However, do not power wash your siding, as this will strip the paint away. Unless you plan on waiting until the siding dries (which can take weeks) and then repainting it, power washing is not a good idea.

� Sidewalks, Patios, and Driveways
Sidewalks, patios, and driveways also benefit from a good cleaning. Do you have unsightly rust or oil stains on your sidewalk or driveway? Many stores carry products that can either diminish the appearance of stains or eliminate them completely. One again, a power washer works great to clean dirty areas.

Fix Minor Problems

Not only will fixing minor problems around your house improve its appearance, but it can also help avoid costly repair bills in the future. Start by walking around your house and taking note of any problems you notice.

� Windows
Check for worn caulk or weather-stripping, and replace as necessary. Paint window trim if necessary, and replace any cracked or broken glass or screens. If your windows are severely worn or damaged, consider replacing them to improve the appearance of your home and to increase energy savings.

� Vinyl and Aluminum Siding
Take time to repair any cracked, warped, or dented siding. Vinyl siding is easy to replace piece-by-piece. Simply remove the damaged siding and replace it with a coordinating piece. If you can, try to buy siding from the same manufacturer to ensure a total color match. If cracks are smaller and harder to spot, you can dab on some matching caulk to camouflage any problem areas.

� Wood Siding
Wood siding tends to deteriorate more quickly than other types, so a little extra work is needed to keep it looking good. Start by caulking and patching any cracks that have formed. Follow up by a quick touch-up with matching paint to finish the job. If there is widespread chipping and flaking of the paint or stain, consider giving your house an all-over paint job.

� Sidewalks, Patios, and Driveways
It is common for sidewalks and driveways to crack over time. If the cracks are minor (less than 2 inches), simply fill them in with a matching concrete patch (available in tubes made for caulk guns) and cracks will become less noticeable. If the cracks are larger, refer to your local home improvement store for the best repair methods for your area.

If your patio is made of brick or flagstone, you might want to remove any cracked or damaged pieces and replace them with new ones. Do you have weeds growing in between cracks? Pull them and apply the appropriate weed killer to prevent them from reappearing.

� Gutters
Overflowing gutters aren’t very attractive. Remove debris and take time to either replace rusted sections or paint them.

Fences and Decks

Like homes, fences and decks can become faded or worn-looking. Clean old stain or paint off of tired-looking fences or decks (power washers work well) and repaint when dry. Replace any warped or broken boards to give your fence or deck a sharper image.

Landscaping

Many homeowners often forget the importance that a well-manicured lawn plays in the overall appearance of their home. Do you still have leaves littering your lawn? Rake them up to allow the grass to reach a nicer shade of green and to make your lawn less cluttered. If your lawn has bare spots, reseed it and add fertilizer to ensure a healthy, green lawn.

In addition to the lawn, take time to care for plants and shrubs around the house. Prune and/or remove diseased or overgrown plants for a tidier look. If mulch is thinning or faded, replace it with new mulch or gravel. Take note of any weeds growing in the lawn or flowerbeds and either hand pick them or sprSIay them with the appropriate weed killer.

Planters, Patio Furniture, and Garden Accessories

If the cushions on your patio chairs have seen better days, clean them or replace them. Repaint any worn patio furniture, and make sure any other items left around the yard are clean and free of visible damage. Do you have a birdbath? Make sure it is clean and free of debris.

By simply cleaning and performing minor repairs around the exterior of your home, you can greatly improve its appearance. Releasing the inner castle in your home doesn’t have to be costly or difficult. Often, just knowing how to keep your home looking good is the best tool in maintaining a well-kept home.

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