DIY Eco-Friendly Cleaners for Your Home’s Exterior

Spring cleaning is here! Daylight savings has officially started, which means we get just a little more sunlight in the evenings. I don’t know about you, but that usually motivates me to get some deep cleaning done and check in on everything now that winter is a not-so-distant memory.

Here at S&K, we are always trying to find the best, eco-friendly ways to keep our homes nice. While our energy efficient window options are a great way to do that, there are so many other ways that a home can stay eco-friendly, like cleaning supplies. Outdoor cleaning supplies tend to be harsh and heavy in chemicals since we don’t have to live with the fumes or worry about sleeping in the same room as the solution, but those chemicals can affect the environment. Check out some easy DIY cleaning solutions that will let you do your spring cleaning with a clean conscience.

Window Cleaner:

  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 10 drops essential oil of lemon

Mix the ingredients in a glass spray bottle to avoid the oils breaking down. To use, spray on a glass surface and use a microfiber cloth to polish.

All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • 15 drops of essential oil of lemon
  • 5 drops essential oil of sweet orange
  • 5 drops essential oil of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1-½ cups water

Mix ingredients together in a glass spray bottle (a funnel helps with this step). The vinegar scent will dissipate after use and leave a nice fresh scent behind. Lemon oil is a natural disinfectant, orange oil busts grease, and rosemary oil has some antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. This concoction is great for wiping down patio furniture.

Patio Cleaner:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 gallon of water
  • ⅛ cup natural liquid dish detergent – I’m a fan of Dr. Bronners.

Mix ingredients and spray onto patio surface. Let the solution sit for 30 minutes, then scrub and rinse with your garden hose.

Image via The Greatist

Interested in creating your own cleaning solutions? Once you have an understanding of what natural options work well together, you can play with different essential oils that are heavy lifters in the cleaning department, or simply smell nice, to make a solution that is all your own.

Not only are these a great way to help the environment, these cleaners are a fraction of the cost of commercial cleaners. Happy cleaning!

Upcycle Your Old Windows: 8 DIY Projects

You’ve finally done it. You’ve committed to getting new windows installed by S&K and now you have old window panes and shutters to worry about. First off, congratulations on your new windows! Secondly, why not upcycle your old windows to create new and fun decor in your home? We’re all about finding creative ways to recycle old goods, so check out these 12 do-it-yourself projects that transform your previous windows into something new:

Divided Chalkboard:

 

Great for decor and even better for communicating with your family, this chalkboard window is a perfect way to use an old window frame. It may look complicated, but all you need to do is clean the glass, tape off the frame, and spray with chalkboard paint! Easy as one, two, three. Check out a tutorial here.

Accented Mirror:

A mirror like this can be used in an entryway, restroom, or even as a piece of decor in a living room. Simply remove the glass frames and replace them with mirrors (or potentially one large mirror). You can learn more in this tutorial.

Fireplace Screen:


Image via DIYnCrafts

An unexpected and innovative way to reuse your old window, this fireplace screen is easy to make. Follow this tutorial for a step-by-step guide.

Family Picture Frames:


These rustic window frames are perfect to transition into a picture frame. You can paint the wood however you’d like to match your decor the add family photos. Learn how to do it here.

Box Planter:

Image via 1001Gardens

Take your DIY projects outside with this converted window to box planter. This is a great project for spring and adds just the right amount of rustic flair. Find a brief tutorial here.

Pot Rack:

Talk about a functional use of an old object! This upcycled pot rack is a great way to use you old windows and save space in the kitchen. Achieve this look by following the tutorial.

Gallery Wall:


Perhaps the easiest way to upcycle your old windows, especially if you have a bunch of different sizes and shapes. Clean off your old windows and hang them in a gallery wall. Add a pop of color, like the wreath in the photo above, to brighten up the look.

Advent Calendar:

Expand your holiday decor by transforming an old window frame into an advent calendar. This would be a great addition to any mantle or living room during the holiday season. Follow a tutorial here.

There are tons of other things you can use your old windows for, like shelving, making a small greenhouse, and more. What do you plan on doing with your old windows?

 

 

Energy Efficiency for New Windows

Image via Angies List

According to Energy.gov, “windows are responsible for 25-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.”

If you are selecting windows for a new home being built or replacing existing windows on your home this spring, energy efficiency is important to consider. Energy efficient windows are a great way to reduce energy use, therefore saving money on energy bills and in turn, making your home more comfortable.

There are some things you should know about replacing your windows. Tons of decisions go into the type of windows you purchase and the type of replacement you will make. You may have the ability to replace windows in their existing frame. Discuss this with your window retailer and installer to see if this is an option for you. If not, you will need to decide on the fame type you would like for your new, energy efficient windows.

Other things to consider when looking at window type:

  • Glazing type
  • Gas fills and spacers
  • Operation types

Beyond type, you’ll also need to look at design, energy use and labeling, warranties, and proper installation. Check for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping and then research the energy performance label to find the best option that fits your needs. You can find ratings from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) here, which includes ratings on all ENERGY STAR certified windows. This is a great tool to compare products.

Here are some tips for window selection:

  • Look for ENERGY STAR and NFRC labels
  • Consider gas-filled windows for colder climates
  • For warmer climates, select windows with coatings to minimize heat
  • Look for low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) to reduce heat gain in warm climates
  • Opt for a low U-factor for better thermal resistance in cool climates
  • Consider both SHGC and low-U factors to maximize energy savings in temperate climates

The most important factor when looking at energy efficient windows is the installation. Without having the windows properly installed, the windows won’t be able to do their job properly. Installation can vary based on window type, construction of the home, home exteriors, and more. Everything should be installed according to manufacturer’s recommendations in order to perform correctly, including flashing and air sealing.

While the whole process is a lot to consider, energy efficient windows are extremely helpful in saving energy and money. Does it seem overwhelming to select windows on your own? We take the time to make sure we select the right product  and the right price for you and your needs here at S&K. Check out our window services.

Baseball for a Cause: S&K Platinum Sponsor Spotlight!

The Karen Friedman Memorial Baseball Camp for a Cure is a cause near and dear to the hearts of those at S&K Remodeling, and it certainly shows. This year, S&K remodeling was named a platinum sponsor to the organization after donating regularly to the organization for 5 years.

Image via Facebook

What is Karen Friedman Memorial Baseball Camp for a Cure?

Joey Friedman stopped playing professional baseball in 2013 around the same time that his paternal grandmother passed away from metastatic breast cancer. After watching his grandmother in pain and learning his mother was also in such pain when she passed in 1992, Joey was motivated to make a difference.

Established in 2014 by Joey to honor his mother, Karen, the organization holds a baseball camp as a means to remember his mother, contribute to the fight against breast cancer, and raise funds for their scholarship, the Karen Wallace Friedman Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a deserving King George High School Senior annually to help make a difference in the lives of young people, just as Karen did when she was a teacher for the same school before passing.

Each year since its founding, the camp has averaged a 26% increase in money raised for the cause. S&K Remodeling is proud to have assisted in such an amazing growth over the past five years.

The Karen Friedman Memorial Baseball Camp for a Cure gave S&K a spotlight on social media for their generosity:

Image via Facebook

“Special thank you to one of this year’s Platinum Sponsors, S&K Remodeling. S&K Remodeling has provided high quality home improvement from Central Virginia to Northern Virginia since 1998.S&K Remodeling has been a loyal sponsor for five years. Check them out at https://buildsandk.com

S&K is honored to be recognized and excited to continue to contribute to such a great cause.

 

Winter Prep Checklist

Winter Prep Checklist

Is Your Home Prepared

Source: bobvila.com

Give your home a once-over and tend to winter preparation tasks and repairs before the year’s first frost. “Getting the exterior of the home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping Old Man Winter out and keeping it warm and toasty inside,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, VA. By being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components, and make your property safer.

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

 

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

Done? Congratulations!  You’re officially ready for winter.

Your Fireplace Needs Attention

Your Fireplace Needs Attention

Make Sure Your Family is Safe and Comfortable This Fall

fireplace-cleaning

We’re completely into the Fall season now and so it’s time to start burning a fire in your home’s fireplace. Well, before you start, your fireplace needs attention. Autumn Maintenance tips from DIYNetwork states :

  • Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

fireplace-cleaning-smoke

 

Check out this information from Enlighten Me:

Though chimney cleaning is recommended twice a year, many homeowners neglect it because it is dirty and involved. This home improvement task is essential, though, if you use your fireplace regularly.

Chimney cleaning is necessary for both health and safety reasons. Cleaning your chimney on a regular basis you will help to keep your home free of allergens. The buildup of dirt and creosote will also be prevented. Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, causing smoke to back up into your home and make your fireplace noxious. Excessive creosote can potentially ignite and cause an uncontrolled fire hazard.

Regular maintenance of your chimney will also prevent water from enter your home and causing damage. Cracks in your chimney’s liner can lead to discoloration of your chimney’s exterior and let smoke and odor to enter your home. These can be prevented with regular maintenance.

The first step of chimney cleaning is to schedule an annual inspection of your chimney as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It would be advisable to schedule the inspection for Halloween. Doing so will let you approach the fall and winter wood burning season with confidence that your chimney is prepared for the coming cold weather. In cold areas, though, you may have to schedule your inspection earlier since they are in heavy demand at that time of year.

The second step is arranging for the cleaning of your chimney. It is possible to obtain the tools and supplies you need to clean your chimney yourself, but cleaning it 100% can be difficult. Hiring professional chimney sweeps that are equipped and trained for the task isn’t uncommon. They are experienced with working indoors and maintaining the cleanliness of your house as they draw smoke out of your chimney and remove creosote deposits in your system.

How often chimney cleaning should be done depends on who you ask. At the very least a cleaning can be done after a cord of wood has been burned. A yearly inspection will reveal your chimney’s condition and a professional chimney sweep can take care of it, if you’re unable to.

 

So before you start building that roaring fire this fall to keep your home warm, make sure to call a professional in your area to have your fireplace cleaned and ready. Here’s a list of some chimney cleaners in your area.

The following companies are not endorsed by S&K Remodeling and are just general searches based on your location. S&K Remodeling is not responsible for quality of work.

Fredericksburg, VA

Stafford, VA

Dumfries, VA

Woodbridge, VA

 

fredericksburg holiday laser light show

Downtown Fredericksburg Could Have Laser Light Shows for the Holidays

Downtown Fredericksburg

A holiday laser show to light up the town?

Source: Fredericksburg.com by: Cathy Jett

 

Fredericksburg laser light show

 

Downtown Fredericksburg could have some extra sparkle this holiday season.

Fredericksburg VA Main Street is seeking the city’s permission to project laser lights into the trees, on the sides of some buildings and along the sidewalks to create a festive atmosphere.

Main Street came up with the laser lights idea because outlets on the aging colonial-style street lamps lining William and Caroline streets can no longer effectively power strings of electric lights, and there is no money in the city’s budget to repair them for the next three to five years, Mike Carmody, who heads the nonprofit’s holiday lights task force, told City Council during its work session Tuesday. Downtown also doesn’t have as many large trees along the streets as it used to, and the new ones aren’t strong or large enough to handle lights.

Last year there was no unified plan for lighting downtown, except for the battery-operated lights that illuminated the holly trees in the large planters along the streets. This led to numerous complaints from people about the lack of holiday lights, according to Main Street. The laser projection shows would be a temporary solution until the street lamps can be rewired or replaced.

“It’s a good way to bridge this period, and can still provide merchants with a little bit of bang for the holiday season,” Carmody said.

Carmody’s committee has identified 33 locations for the light shows in the 500 to 1000 blocks of Caroline Street and 100 to 400 blocks of William Street. The projectors would either be located on roof lines, overhangs or inside windows and project twinkling lights into the branches of large pear trees, images such as snowflakes on the sides of such buildings as Café New Orleans and patterns of colorful lights onto the sidewalks.

Carmody said that the lights would be aimed so that they don’t distract or blind people driving down the streets, and that they’d have timers so they’d all come on at dark and shut off around 11 p.m. The timers would also eliminate the cost of manual labor to turn the lights on and off. His committee has recommended a $35 reimbursement each for the people and businesses providing electricity for the laser projectors.

Main Street is considering using colored laser lights because the cost of laser projectors that use only white lights is about eight times higher, Carmody said.

“My initial reaction is that I don’t like it,” said City Councilman Tim Duffy after watching a demonstration of the lights in council chambers. He said that the projector that created rapidly moving patterns of light would be bothersome to people like his wife, who has vertigo.

Councilwoman Kerry Devine said that she had concerns about using different colored lights, and prefers the look of the traditional white ones.

Ann Glave, Fredericksburg VA Main Street’s executive director, said that the lights didn’t show well in the room, and offered to give a demonstration outdoors.

Councilman Billy Withers asked if it would be possible to repair some of the lampposts so that electric lights could be used. Glave said it was her understanding that the sidewalks would have to be torn up to redo the wiring, and some of the lampposts would need to be replaced because they’ve rusted at the bottom. Carmody was asked to look into the price of white light projectors.

“Everybody misses the lights downtown,” Mayor Katherine Greenlaw said.

The projected budget for the laser light shows is $8,502, which includes $4,583 for the projectors, $2,000 for installation and $1,155 for location costs. Main Street has $4,000 budgeted for the downtown lighting project, and is seeking funding from Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority to cover the cost of the projectors. It also needs approval to install and show the lights on the city’s rights of way.

double hung window vinyl max

Double Hungs and our Warranty

Double Hungs and our Warranty

Double Hungs, or Sash Windows are the most popular window type and exude classic style. They can be combined into multiple units to create more light.

sash window or hung sash window is made of one or more movable panels, or “sashes”, that form a frame to hold panes of glass, which are often separated from other panes (or “lights”) by glazing bars, also known as in the US (moulded strips of wood). Although any window with this style of glazing is technically a sash, the term is used almost exclusively to refer to windows where the glazed panels are opened by sliding vertically, or horizontally in a style known as a “Yorkshire light”, sliding sash, or sash and case (so called because the weights are concealed in a box case).A significant advantage of sash windows is that they provide efficient cooling of interiors during warm weather. Opening both the top and bottom of a sash window by equal amounts allows warm air at the top of the room to escape, thus drawing relatively cool air from outside into the room through the bottom opening. source…

double hung window

 

Our Promise
All products manufactured by Vinylmax are backed by a Lifetime Limited Warranty. All vinyl, glass, seals, screens and hardware are covered by this warranty as long as the original purchaser is residing in the home. Elements of this warranty coverage are transferrable to the next homeowner. We ensure your Peace of Mind.
vinylmax windows

 

 

 

 

Double Hung Windows

 

Shower Testimonial
Here’s a quote from a very happy customer. – Shower Testimonial
“Working with S&K has been the most wonderful experience I could have ever imagined to have.  From day one they were thorough and explained everything in detail of the work they were going to complete for me.  I felt so comfortable and at ease knowing that the jobs were going to be completed to my expectation.  I am so happy with the work they have done that I am looking around my house for more areas that can be updated.  The owner and all staff have been very professional and the work they have done has been very rewarding.  I will definitely be recommending them to others.”

    – Clirissa Hughes

Check Out This GREAT DIY Pallet Coat Hanger

This is a great project to spruce up your entry way with minimal requirements and easy to make! You can wow your guests with great color and pop.

coat-hanger

Source:

 

What you’ll need:

  • Discarded pallet
  • Standard screws
  • A few different paint colors – 1 can of white primer
  • Hooks, which can purchased at Ikea or Lowe’s
  • Hanging kit which can also be purchased at Lowe’s – This kit is great and holds a ton of weight