Your Home from the Outside

Advice on siding, windows, and doors

By Brian Watts

Like the inside of your home, the exterior should be a reflection of your personality. Also like the inside, every now and again it’s time to refresh the outside. Decisions about the exterior can be trickier to make; there are so many options for windows, doors, and siding, and none of these improvements are inexpensive. But with a little advice and direction, you can make well-informed choices that result in a beautiful exterior that doesn’t break the bank.


When pieces of existing siding are damaged or missing, it’s time for a replacement. You have several options — vinyl, wood, and Hardiplank — and all vary in terms of cost, durability, and maintenance. Wood is beautiful but expensive, and requires a significant amount of care over time. Vinyl siding is particularly affordable, and Hardiplank is known for its durability. Additional benefits to considering vinyl and Hardiplank include the fact that both:

  • Come in a variety of styles (clapboard, dutch lap, beaded, and faux cedar shingle)
  • Offer lots of color options
  • Require little maintenance
  • Are relatively affordable
  • Do not attract termites and other pests


The first thing that welcomes guests to your home is your front door, so it’s worthwhile to have one that fits your style. A new door can go a long way in changing the look of your home’s exterior. It can also offer varying amounts of privacy depending on the size, or absence, of glass features. Of course, when your door is not working properly, for instance when air is leaking through, it’s time to invest in a new one. Here are some things to consider when shopping for a door:

  • The look: Steel, wood, and fiberglass options are all available in a variety of costs, styles and color options.
  • Hardware: Invest in good hardware that allows a lasting mechanism to open/shut and lock your door effectively. There are many different designs that can further dress up your door.
  • Natural light: Consider the amount of light you want to shine through the door, or if you prefer a solid door for privacy.


Windows go a long way in sealing your house against the weather. When they age or don’t fit right, air and water can leak into your home, making heating and cooling systems less efficient. When shopping for replacements, keep these points in mind:

  • Window types: There are many styles to select from including double hung, single-hung, and casement. Typically, double-hung windows are the best choice as they provide the most affordable option. .
  • Good hardware: As with doors, well-made hardware is something worth spending money on.
  • The U-Factor: The U-Factor rates how efficient a window is at temperature control. Using a rating system from 0.20-1.20, these numbers indicate how well a window will keep warm or cool air from escaping the room. The lower the number, the less you will spend on cooling your home in the summer, and heating it in the winter.
  • Energy Star rating: Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows can lower energy bills by about 12 percent. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, so you save money and help save the environment, too.

Above all, if you have concerns about leaking, damaged, or malfunctioning windows, doors, or siding, enlist the assistance of a reputable, licensed contractor. A good contractor will be able to assist you by creating a solution within your budget parameters, as well as educate you on all the options available for improving energy efficiency and maximizing the durability of the materials you select.

Brian Watts owns and operates a family owned business, Rescue Roofing. He has been in the roofing industry for over 14 years, and specializes in roofing, siding, windows, and gutters. Visit his website at or contact him via phone 540-729-1649, or by email at

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