Spring is the perfect time of year to start tackling home improvement projects. Pleasant temperatures renew the spirit and motivate homeowners to get up and give their home a cheerful makeover. Also, it is a lot less stressful to climb a ladder and check the gutters without the threat of slipping on ice.
If you start projects in the spring, you can have your home comfortable and ready for summer parties and lazy afternoons. You’ll also save yourself the trouble of making important home repairs under the hot summer sun.
Because most homes are not made of steel, they need to be maintained to stay in great condition. During winter, your home underwent some tough conditions — heavy piles of snow sitting on the roof, sleet hitting the window panes and ice forming in the gutters. Spring is the time to check for weather-related damage.
So, where do you begin? How do you know which projects are most important? You’ll want to pay the most attention to the areas that were affected by winter weather. To help you get started, we’ll look at the top-priority projects to undertake in the spring when flowers are in bloom, birds are singing and your home is ready for a fresh start.
1. Replace Gutters
One of the first things you’ll want to do after winter is to inspect your gutters. If gutters are blocked, damaged or out of place, they won’t drain properly.
Gutters need to be able to carry water from April showers and summer storms away from your home to prevent water damage. If there is any sign that your gutters are not in working order, make sure to fix the problem right away. Otherwise, water can pool around the foundation and leak into the basement or pour down the sides of your home, potentially damaging windows, doors and siding.
During the winter, snow and ice build in gutters, putting extra weight on them and possibly causing them pull away from the house. You might also find leaves, twigs or other debris clogging gutters once snow and ice have completely melted.
You might only need to give your gutters a good spring cleaning, but sometimes they need to be replaced. How can you tell? Here’s what to look for:
- Bent or floppy gutters
Make sure the downspout is also in good condition and free of cracks or leaks to prevent water from pooling where it shouldn’t. The downspout is supposed to direct and carry water away from the house. Also, the downspout should be firmly connected to the gutter and free of clogs so that water doesn’t build up in the gutter.
If you discover you need a new gutter, you’ll want to replace it immediately. There are two main gutter types to consider when replacing your home’s gutters. Those are:
- K-style: K-style gutters are the most popular gutter type and are seen on most homes. K-style gutters look like trim and can be both decorative and functional.
- Half round: Half round gutters are shaped like a semi-circle. Half round gutters are most commonly seen in older homes or homes with slate or tile roofs and are usually used in restoration projects to match the style of a home.
Although April showers bring May flowers, July is actually one of the rainiest months in Virginia. Prepare for summer rain by fixing winter damage and making sure your gutters are in tiptop shape. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in water damage if you replace old broken gutters with new ones.
2. Upgrade Your Deck or Porch
Spring is a great time to create the deck of your dreams or one that invites barbecues, parties and peaceful afternoons. After all, the benefit of owning a deck is the chance to enjoy your time spent outdoors.
Imagine a comfortable sitting area for morning coffee or after-dinner drinks with friends. Or you might picture firing up the grill to finally try that grilled corn recipe you’ve been holding onto. Sometimes, a deck upgrade is well worth the time, effort and cost, especially if you love to party or relax outside. You can get ready in time for summer fun if you get it done in the spring.
Most importantly, the winter season can be hard on decks. Freezing rain, snow and ice load a deck with moisture. Your deck needs maintenance to make sure wood isn’t splintered, warped, moldy or rotted.
You can tell if your deck is in need of repair just by feeling it and looking at the wood. Rotted wood feels soft and spongy as a result of excess moisture, and it looks darker than other wood.
You can also check if your deck is rotted with a knife or another sharp blade. If you can penetrate the wood without applying much pressure, it’s likely time to get your deck replaced.
Any signs of mold or mildew need immediate attention before it spreads or causes serious damage. Your deck could also be stained by wet leaves that had been hidden in the snow. Leaves have tannins in them, and they leak tannins when under rainwater, staining unfinished wood as a result.
If you’ve decided to upgrade your deck and get it ready for summer, you’re probably making a smart move. You’ll get to enjoy a new deck, but you’re also likely to get most of the cost back when or if you decide to sell your home. By adding a 16-by-20-foot pressure-treated wood deck, you’ll get a 90.3 percent return at resale on average, according to HGTV.
There are many different materials to choose from when upgrading your deck. The best woods for a deck are chemically-treated redwood, cedar, mahogany and teak. You could also replace the deck with environmentally-friendly composite materials or recycled material combined with wood, which is easier to maintain than traditional, untreated wood.
No deck? If you have a porch, spring is a good time to make porch repairs, too. Your porch might need TLC or full replacing after winter if you notice any of the following:
- Water damage
- Rusty or loose hardware
- Holes in the screen
A screened-in porch is perfect for enjoying warm weather without having to deal with rain and bugs like mosquitoes and flies. Get your porch ready for lazy summer afternoons and make it cheerful and comfortable.
3. Fix the Roof
A well-maintained roof is essential to your home’s condition. Even though a snow-covered roof makes a pretty wintertime picture, snow and ice build-up can get heavy and put too much weight on a weak roof. Ice dams, or blocks of ice that form in the gutter or edge of the roof, may prevent proper drainage and cause water to leak into the home’s interior. Ice can also puncture a roof.
It is also possible that water had gotten underneath damaged shingles and caused rot. For this reason, you’ll want to check shingles for damage.
You also want to inspect your rooftop ventilation system in the spring to make sure it’s not blocked so that heat doesn’t build in the attic over the summer.
The roof is one of the most important parts of the home, and you need a good roof to keep your home dry and protected from the elements. Make it a priority to check your roof in the spring to look for any winter-related damage and get your roof in shape to handle summer heat and rain. To see if your roof is in need of repair, look for the following signs:
- Cracked or torn shingles
- Missing shingles
- Sagging areas
- Curled shingles
- Water stains on the ceilings, which could point to a roof leak
- Water spots on exterior walls
- Rust or stains where exterior walls meet the roof
Just like your home’s gutters, the sooner you make a necessary roof repair, the better. Water damage can lead to mold inside your home, and you definitely do not want that.
4. Replace Siding
New siding can instantly energize a tired, weathered home. You may also need new siding due to winter weather.
During the winter, snow, wind and sleet hammer against your home. If your siding isn’t in good condition, winter moisture could have penetrated the exterior of the home and caused rot. Sometimes, snow builds up against the house surrounding the exterior with too much moisture.
In the spring, after everything has melted, you’ll want to check all the exterior walls and siding for needed repairs. Well-maintained siding not only makes your house look great and boosts curb appeal, but it also protects the interior. You’ll need strong siding to stand up against summer storms.
To check the condition of your siding, look for these signs of possible damage:
- Uneven layers
- Water Stains
Also, check for holes or areas where critters may have tried to dig or gnaw their way into your home to get out of the cold.
If you need your siding replaced, it’s best to hire a professional. The wall beneath the siding needs to be checked for damage, and siding has to be installed properly to allow for expansion and shrinking.
Vinyl siding is the most popular choice for siding, but other materials such as fiber cement and wood may also be used. A contractor can help you decide the best siding for your home, taking into account the look you want, the style of your home, your budget and the best materials to stand up against weather year-around.
5. Replace Windows
Virginians know it can get cold in the winter, but it can also get pretty hot in the summer. Spring is the time of year to fix or replace windows due to winter damage and prepare for summer heat and bugs.
Over the summer months, it’s not uncommon for Virginians to experience temperatures in the high 80s and 90s. One way to stay cool is to keep heat out and keep cool in. If windows aren’t sealed properly, it’ll be hard to make the most out of an air conditioning system. Before summer rolls around, check your windows for the following signs of damage:
- Gaps between window and frame
- Damaged weather stripping
- Air leaks
- Rotting frame
- Cracks in window
- Poor insulation
- Condensation inside double or triple-paned windows during the winter
Sometimes its hard to notice an air leak. One way you can test for an air leak is with a smoke test. To conduct a smoke test, close all windows and doors. Next, turn off all combustion appliances such as the furnace, water heater, oven or any space heaters. Then, put on bathroom fans and kitchen vents to create negative pressure and suck in outside air through any crack or gap around windows and doors.
Next, hold a burning incense stick next to a window. If there is an air leak, the smoke will fluctuate and be pulled inward. If there is not a leak, the smoke will not change. Although the smoke test might help confirm your air-leak suspicions, sometimes the best thing to do is call a professional for advice.
If you find you need to replace windows, consider energy-efficient windows to help lower air conditioning bills and future heating costs. ENERGY STAR® qualified windows save $126 to $465 a year when replacing single-pane windows and $27 to $111 over double-paned windows in the typical home.
You may only need to replace the window’s caulking to seal up gaps and help protect your home from wind, rain and everything that gets blown in with summer storms. However, if you need to replace a window, energy-efficient windows are a good choice because they are thicker and help lower energy bills, keep out bugs and protect against weather. You also want to make sure your windows open and close with ease so you can enjoy fresh spring air and eventually, cool summer nights.
A Few More Springtime Home Improvement Ideas
We covered the top spring home improvement projects, but here are a few more ideas to inspire spring cleaning and a happy home:
- Apply fresh paint: Makeover your home’s interior or exterior with fresh paint on siding, doors or trim and make your home feel like new.
- Check the attic: Make sure the attic is ready for summer heat. Look for mold, ensure vents are clear and make sure insulation is intact.
- Check the basement: Look for cracks or leaks in the walls. Make sure you are prepared for summer humidity with a dehumidifier and adequate ventilation.
- Bathe windows: Wash windows with a soft cloth and window cleaner for crystal-clear beauty inside and outside.
- Spend a day or two cleaning: Wash drapes, dust ceiling fans, shampoo the carpet and open the windows to let in fresh air.
- Prepare the lawn: Rake the lawn and get ready for summer fun by cleaning lawn furniture and the grill.
- Check the air conditioner: Check if your air conditioning system needs a filter change, and make sure everything is in good condition.
Which Project Should You Choose?
It may not be possible to tackle all the projects on your spring to-do list at once, so choose the ones that are most important first. Anything that is damaged and can let the elements into your home needs immediate attention, like roof leaks or blocked gutters. Cosmetic improvements such as a new paint job can be saved for later.
Who Should You Hire for Help?
Home improvement projects can feel overwhelming, especially if more than one item needs to be repaired. A lot of projects are too large of a task for one person to complete, and sometimes it is best to reach out for expert help.
Sunshine Contracting is here to take the projects off your hands and do the work for you. When it comes to home repair, you can depend on us to deliver high-quality results every time with every job.
With over 20 years of experience, and with multiple awards and certifications under our belts, we always put our customers first and have the background to prove it. We strive to make our customers happy and feeling safe and satisfied with their homes. For us, home improvement is something we take great pride in and have a passion for.
Sunshine Contracting will make your home pop for the summer and keep it ready to handle tough weather with every season yet to come. If you live in northern Virginia and need help with a project, contact Sunshine Contracting today.