8 Low-Maintenance Upgrades You’ll Love


THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON HOUSE LOGIC.

You can have a virtually chore-free home with these easy-care materials.

 

Homeownership should be about enjoying your home — not being a slave to it. The trick is to choose materials and products that make maintaining your home a snap.

Here are eight projects that’ll give your home a gorgeous makeover — and give you your weekends back.

 

#1 Swap Out Your Siding With Fiber-Cement

Fiber-cement siding is the curb appeal champ that seems to never age the way wood does. It comes in a variety of shapes and forms: horizontal lap boards, shingles, and vertical board-and-batt style. Simulated wood graining is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing at about half the cost.

Why it’s low-maintenance: Tough, long-lasting fiber-cement siding is dimensionally stable when the weather changes, which puts less stress on paint finishes, helping preserve those good looks for years (and letting you enjoy a big reduction in upkeep). It’s also rot-, fire-, and insect-proof. Warranties range from 30 to 50 years.

Newer versions feature durable, baked-on paint finishes guaranteed to last 15 years. That means less repainting and touch-up work than wood siding, reducing the time and money you’d spend on routine maintenance. And unlike vinyl siding, fiber-cement takes paint well if you should decided to change colors.

Life expectancy: 50+ years; 15 years on pre-painted and finished siding

Maintenance cycle: Repaint every 15+ years.

Cost: $5 to $11 per square foot, installed.

The next-best thing: Vinyl siding is low-cost (about 20% to 40% cheaper than fiber-cement), never needs painting, and is rot- and insect-proof. It’s also lightweight and easy to install, which helps keep installation costs low. It has an expected lifespan of about 35 years.

However, it isn’t fireproof, nor does it take paint well, which means you’re limited to the colors offered by the manufacturers.

#2 Switch to Metal for a “Forever” Roof

Metal roofing is one of the toughest, most maintenance-free roofing materials made. In addition to the traditional standing seam panels — the ones with ridges running from the peak to the eave — today’s metal roofing includes products that mimic slate, clay tiles, and wood shakes.

Metal roofing also is extremely fire-resistant — in a fire-prone area, having a metal roof may qualify you for a discount on homeowners insurance.

Why it’s low-maintenance: Most metal roofing comes with a 40- to 50-year warranty, and the replacement cycle is almost three times longer than that of three-tab asphalt shingles.

Look for baked-on enamel finishes with rust-proof undercoating that are warranted for the life of the product. The finish won’t crack or shed like asphalt, meaning you won’t be scooping those little granules out of the gutter every spring and fall.

So you know: There are two types of rust-proof undercoating. For reliable protection from rust, The Metal Roofing Alliance recommends:

• For galvanized zinc undercoating: A galvanizing thickness level of at least G-90.

• For Galvalume undercoating: Thickness level of AZ-50 or AZ-55.

A metal roof does cost about two to three times more than asphalt shingles. But that doesn’t account for the benefits you reap by not having to repair or replace as often. Here’s to your many maintenance-free weekends.

Life-expectancy: 50+ years

Maintenance cycle: Repair or repaint every 50 years.

Cost: $3.50 to $11 per square foot, installed.

FYI: Most metal roofing is made with steel, but homeowners in coastal areas should choose aluminum products to protect against rust.

Steel and aluminum are recyclable.

The next-best thing: Concrete tile just sounds tough, doesn’t it? Bingo — it’s resistant to wind, hail, water, fire, and pests, and often comes with a lifetime warranty against defects and performance failure. Concrete tiles often outlast the building they cover.

Caveat: It’s heavy; you’ll need your roof structure evaluated by a building engineer to make sure it can support the added weight. Retrofitting a roof to carry concrete tile can add $1,000 to $10,000 to the cost of installation.

Cost: $4.50 to $10.50 per square foot, installed.

#3 Get Handsome Easy-Care Floors with Laminate

Laminate plank flooring gets the nod here for its ease of installation (it’s a good DIY project), relatively modest cost, and easy-peasy maintenance. We like that it can mimic natural stone and exotic hardwoods like koa and rosewood for a fraction of the cost.

Why it’s low-maintenance: Laminate flooring has a tough, clear plastic wear layer that resists scratches, moisture, and stains; it never needs refinishing during the life of the product. Some are reinforced with aluminum oxide, one of the hardest compounds known. Laminates also are dimensionally stable, so seams won’t open up during changes in temperature and humidity.

Depending on the thickness and composition of the plastic coating, warranties range from 15 to 50 years. Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties against staining, fading, and wear.

Life-expectancy: 25+ years

Maintenance cycle: Sweep or vacuum as needed; use water sparingly when cleaning.

Cost: $1 to $7 per square foot; add $2 to $5 per square foot for professional installation.

#4 Choose Quartz Countertops — They’ll Never Stain

Almost 80% of designers responding to a recent survey from the National Kitchen and Bath Association said quartz countertops are their top choice. In addition to being long-lasting, quartz counters come in many colors and unique patterns to go with any motif. It’s composed of about 95% quartz particles with resin binders (quartz is one of the hardest naturally occurring substances). It’s about the same price as granite.

Why it’s low-maintenance: Quartz is tough, durable, antimicrobial, and scratch-resistant. It’s almost impossible to stain, and it cleans up easily. It’s completely non-porous and never needs sealing. A 10- to 15-year warranty is standard; some manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee.

Life-expectancy: 30+ years

Maintenance cycle: Occasional cleaning with mild soap and water.

Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot.

FYI: Quartz is an abundant natural resource. And old quartz countertops can be crushed and reused in new counters

 

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