We work hard all week so it's not surprising that more homeowners are looking for solutions that reduce the amount of time needed to maintain their homes. When you combine this goal with plans for home improvements, using low maintenance building materials makes a lot of sense. You might also benefit from less time needed to keep your home clean and lower utility bills for water and energy that's used to power your home.
Manufacturers recognizing this emerging requirement are introducing new products that don't need as much cleaning, sealing or other home maintenance care that we've come to expect. Here are the top 10 low maintenance building materials and products that can save you time, year after year.
Interior Low Maintenance Building Materials
We spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, baking, enjoying family meals and sometimes entertaining. This room gets more wear and tear than any other room in your house, which means there's more cleaning. Wouldn't you love fewer things to keep the heart of your home in top shape?
- Quart countertops – are growing in popularity. They have the same natural stone appeal of granite, without having to worry about maintaining a protective seal to avoid staining. Quartz is an engineered material made from natural stone chips, resins and pigments. Not only will it withstand staining, it's also more resistant to scratches, cuts and high heat.
- Stainless steel appliances – are changing to avoid the smudges and fingerprints you can't avoid with children. Most manufacturer's now offer a dark gray or black stainless steel with a darker, matte finish that fends off smudges and prints.
- Low maintenance flooring – options are expanding. Laminates that look like wood or tile are gaining popularity because they're inexpensive, soft underfoot and much easier to keep clean. Hardwood flooring still needs care so another new material are tiles that look like wood. If you're not ready to make that leap, there are also new tile materials that look like wood but resist scratching better.
Low Maintenance Building Materials for Your Home's Exterior
You'll find even more low maintenance building materials available for your home's exterior. That's because a house is exposed to the weather 365 days a year. And we know that we're seeing more extreme weather conditions than ever before.
What's fascinating is none of these low maintenance building materials are new. They're simply getting more visibility as homeowners search for low maintenance options to avoid sealing their deck each year or painting their house every five years.
- Fiber cement siding – is dimensionally stable so it doesn't expand and contract like other siding materials, as the weather changes. This puts less stress on the paint, with newer products offering a durable, baked-on paint finish guaranteed for 15 years. It's also more resistant to rot, fire and insects (read: Popular Home Siding Varies by Region).
- Trim that decorates your house – no longer needs to be made from wood. Like the house above, Azek offers a variety of exterior trim for your house, deck and railings plus arbors, gazebos and more.
- Metal roofs – are tougher than traditional asphalt shingles, with a 40 to 50 year warranty. Many homeowners didn't like the look of the standing seams, but new metal roofing options resemble slate, clay and wood shakes. The material is also extremely fire resistant and you won't have to clean up granules from your gutters and lawn.
- Fiberglass windows – have good thermal insulating properties, plus they're moisture and rot resistant unlike wood windows. Like fiber cement siding, they won't warp due to extreme temperature changes and the seams are bonded so they won't separate. This means less caulking and paint finishes will last longer so there's less touch-up needed.
- Composite decking – now mimics the color and texture of real wood. You can pick your favorite wood for less cost and all you have to do is clean your new decking versus staining and sealing every few years. There are also fewer repairs as composite decking won't chip, splinter or warp like traditional wood decks.
- Railing systems – go hand-in-hand with composite decking materials. You can pick from PVC, composite or fiberglass that now install with hidden fastening methods. They look like traditional railings and balusters but there's no more repainting and touch-up.
- Irrigation systems – now offer weather sensors that calculate when your landscaping needs water and just how much. This automated solution means no more worrying about when to water the lawn or who will take over when you go on vacation. You'll also save water with WaterSense-certified systems averaging savings of 8,800 gallons of water each year.
What does low maintenance mean?
Low maintenance refers to house features and materials that require less maintenance and/or fewer repairs to achieve their projected end of life. For example, wood windows need to be painted periodically while fiberglass windows never need to be painted … making them low maintenance.
How do you build a low-maintenance house?
A low-maintenance house is built with higher quality materials that require less maintenance. For example, if you want wood windows you can get aluminum clad wood windows that don't need painting on the outside. Another low-maintenance tactic is to buy products with longer warranty periods, to reduce replacements. Hot water heaters last five to 10 years. You might pay 20% more for the 10 year warranty but you'll save time and money over one that has to be replaced after five or 6 years.
Are low-maintenance building materials natural or synthetic?
Many traditional building materials like brick, stone and slate are long lasting and low maintenance which is why we still use them today. On the other hand, there are lots of new synthetic materials created to lower maintenance costs. These synthetic materials include composite (vs wood) decking, engineered (fiber cement or fiberglass) siding and extruded PVC trim which are not a food source for pests like woodpeckers … and need little or no painting.
What's your next project using low maintenance building materials?
Want more ideas for low maintenance improvements to your home?
- Home Maintenance: Products That Save Time
- Tips for Picking Your New Roof
- The Pros & Cons of Replacement Windows
- 4 Low Maintenance Siding Options