Homeowners have less free time so they don't want to spend it on home maintenance. That's why new home products and materials that require less home maintenance are becoming so popular, even if they cost more. Home builders are making these products standard in new homes. They're also offering upgrades for home buyers who want to avoid many traditional home maintenance chores like painting.
Boomers more than any other age group are focusing on homes that need less maintenance. What's fascinating is they want low maintenance and high tech which is an interesting combination (read Builder Online's article, Boomer Home Buyers Want High Tech and Less Home Maintenance).
When building (or buying) a new home, home features that require less maintenance are more costly. The benefit is you're able to absorb the higher price into your mortgage and reduce yearly out-of-pocket expenses for home maintenance.
Reducing home maintenance chores is becoming more popular, so you might also enjoy:
- Home Maintenance Strategies That Can Save You Time
- Green Landscaping (Less Home Maintenance) with Native Plants
Roofing That Requires Less Home Maintenance
Improvements are being made to the traditional asphalt shingle to extend their lifetime. Some manufacturers are now offering a lifetime warranty for certain “roofing systems” like GAF's Lifetime Warranty System (scroll down). There are new asphalt shingles with double thick tabs and weather-grade asphalt between the layers. My favorite new roofing features are algae blocking granules (saves cleaning the roof) and shingles that reflect sunlight to lower cooling costs.
Some traditional roofing materials like slate and tile (learn more about tile roofs) last a lifetime but they're expensive. That's why manufacturers now have roofing tiles made of cement and fiber, that look like slate and tile. Metal roofing is also growing in popularity because the panels are strong and easy to install. The panels are coated to resist rust and corrosion, and if they get damaged you can have them re-coated.
Siding That Needs Less Home Maintenance
Everyone loves the look of wood siding but homeowners would rather not paint every six to eight years. Vinyl siding now dominates the market (more than 30%) because it's easy to install, durable and affordable. Because vinyl siding doesn't need to be painted, it's ideal for homeowners who want to reduce their ongoing home maintenance. The only negative about vinyl siding is the environmental impact due to toxins being released during manufacture and house fires.
More traditional siding choice that require less home maintenance, like brick, stone and stucco, are more expensive. Homeowners have to balance cost versus benefits, and sometimes that means using brick or stone siding on the front of their home, and vinyl siding on the other three sides.
The newest siding product is fiber cement that looks like wood but requires little home maintenance. Fibers are compacted to create a dense material that resists weathering, insects, fungus, UV rays and extreme shifts in temperature. It costs more to install but lasts 50 years (yet to be proved given how new it is) and has fewer home maintenance costs.
Home Maintenance and Window Materials
Like wood siding, everyone loves wood windows because they're beautiful and relatively energy efficient. Wood windows also cost more and need to be painted (or stained) periodically to continue looking good and avoid damage from the elements. Manufacturers now offer wood windows with the exterior wood covered (called cladding) with vinyl or aluminum, to reduce their home maintenance needs.
For budget conscious homeowners wanting to avoid home maintenance, vinyl windows are a great choice. Aluminum windows are also good in warmer climates but should be avoided in cold climates as they conduct heat, are cold to the touch and may have problems with condensation.
The newest windows, made of fiberglass and composite materials are strong, more energy efficient than vinyl and require less home maintenance (you'll laugh at Marvin's hockey video showing their strength). They're affordable with prices that fall between wood and vinyl, and they can be painted unlike vinyl windows which can't be painted.
Alternatives to Wood Mean Less Home Maintenance
If you're used to painting your home today, you might not realize how many different types of wood are used on your home's exterior. When you switch to vinyl siding or another low maintenance material, you still need to consider synthetic alternatives for these home features:
- Trim boards near the roof line – fascia and soffits.
- Brick molding around windows and doors, and don't forget the garage door trim.
- Porches and decks from the flooring to the railings and columns (read more about deck design and materials).
What are you doing to cut down on annual home maintenance chores?