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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Thursday, August 23, 2018
6 Tips to prepare Your Home or Apartment Exterior for Fall Weather

If you live in Delray Beach, FL, you don’t need to do much as much winterization as the folks in Chicago, IL. But If you have a place in upstate New York near Lake Erie, you may need to start getting ready now because even in a global warming environment, it is still going to be cold and snowy during the winter.

Those gray and cold winter days can be more tolerable if your house or apartment is warm and toasty on the inside and looks much brighter from the outside. Here are some tips to get started.

Windows

While it’s still nice outside, check your exterior windows for cracks and caulking gaps. Anything that will let cold air into your living space should be sealed. If you own your home, and are able, get up on the ladder on a warm and sunny day and get those windows into shape. If you live in an apartment, start talking to your landlord about necessary maintenance. No matter the price you pay for your apartment — $1,200 in Houston, Texas or $3,500 in New York City — your landlord must still take care of your maintenance needs. To make things easier, let your owner know where they can get all of the window hardware and materials they need to upgrade for the coming Fall and Winter weather.

House Numbers

The Fall weather can bring sometimes extremely low temperatures, along with weather that can wreak havoc on your exterior — specifically your house numbers. Don’t let the weather ruin the look of your entire home; we’ve talked before about the importance of curb appeal year-round.

Upgrade to solid brass house numbers. These professionally-made, heavier house numbers will hold up much better to extreme weather. We’ve all seen the houses with missing numbers or even home with numbers falling off of their house. Don’t be that homeowner; get prepared early as the Fall rolls in and upgrade your house numbers first. 

Thermostat

Consider getting a smart thermostat that will automatically regulate your daily heating and cooling. Did you know that one saved degree can equal a three percent savings on your utility bill? If you rent an apartment but are paying utilities, start talking to your landlord about getting smart.

Although this isn’t a product that lives on the exterior of your home, the smart thermostat can save you a fistful of dollars, so that you can spend a hit more on the most important exterior pieces; perhaps the all-important front door?

Doors

We all know that curb appeal and home exterior beauty oftentimes starts with the front door.

If your apartment is in a building with no exposed outside doors, you’re in good shape. If, however, you’re a homeowner and have a door to the outside, there is a TON you can do to prepare for bad weather. 

Start by picking out some great pieces to feature along with the actual door. You might consider:

·       A tough brass doorbell

·       A classic keypad deadbolt lock

·       A unique, rustic iron door knocker

There are a ton of awesome products that will stand up to colder weather. If you’re a homeowner, take some time to scope out the look and feel you want for your front door, as choosing high-quality, weather-tested products will save you money and keep your curb appeal looking exquisite in the cooler months.

The Patio

You might not plan to use the patio much during the Fall and Winter, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to keep things in order all throughout the year. You want everything to stand up to the weather, so that when Spring and Summer roll around, you’re ready to enjoy it! Plus, if you buy cheap products and expect not to buy another set after the weather destroys them, then you’re kidding yourself.

Don’t skimp on the details here. If you have poles and fences in your apartment or home patio, then make sure you get top-of-the-line caps and toppers that won’t wear down in extreme temperatures. Prepare in the fall and you’ll be ready to handle any weather that the Winter throws at you.

The Mailbox

Your wooden mailbox just isn’t holding up to the weather, now is it? How about an upgrade this Fall? If you’re sick and tired of replacing your mailbox each year, then we suggest you look into brass or steel mailboxes that will last through the test of time.

There are some really awesome stainless steel options that will help spruce up your curb appeal, while at the same time preparing your house or apartment for the upcoming Fall weather.
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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Thursday, August 9, 2018
House Numbers vs. House Number Plaque


The question comes up frequently. Should we identify our home (or building) with individual house numbers or should we install a number marker/plaque?

House numbers or house number plaques can significantly improve a home's curb appeal and make it easier for delivery or emergency personnel to locate your home. They can also help in reinforcing an intended aesthetic or architectural style. The cost for both is minimal and installation is extremely easy.

There are many great options but with varying costs. Individual numbers are the least cost ranging from $10 to $25 each. Individual numbers should be placed onto a surface of the home with a background color that provides contrast from the finish of the number(s). Individual numbers are more flexible in terms of placement on the home. House number plaques or markers typically have their own contrast (numbers against a background), are offered in many sizes, designs, and colors. House markers can also reinforce the homes architectural style, and project the home-owners style. Plaques can cost as little as $50 but can also go as high as $300 (even higher for solid bronze plaques).

Individual House Numbers:
One consideration often overlooked when purchasing individual house numbers, is the total number screw holes to be drilled. Most house numbers have a minimum of 2 holes per number. So if you have 4-5 numbers, then plan on lining up and drilling at least 8-10 holes. This can be challenging if installing onto brick, stucco or rock. Installing onto uneven surfaces such as stucco requires skill and patience. See this article regarding installing onto stucco.

The color or finish for the individual house numbers should be either lighter or darker than the background surface it shall be installed upon. Contrast is important for viewing from afar and at night. Keep in mind that many house numbers have a "living finish" which is intended to naturally patina from weather over time. This can affect contrast.

Individual house numbers are not a good solution for attempting to cover up inconsistencies in the background surface. Also, keep in mind that every time the background will be painted, all of the individual numbers will need to be removed.

If installing onto a solid surface such as wood, only wood screws are needed (typically provided).
If installing onto a masonry surface or other, will require some sort of anchor for the screw (typically a standard plastic anchor is sufficient). We like to shoot a dab of 100% silicone into the hole before inserting a plastic anchor for added strength.

House Number Plaques (markers):
These are very easy to install because they typically have only 2-4 attachment points or screw holes. Plaques can easily be installed onto any surface even when uneven such as stucco. Many plaques have accommodations for a street name or sometimes a family name in addition to the number. They provide customization in content and color. Plaque designs do have character style and size constraints however. Plaques are great for covering up blemishes on a wall surface. We have even seen people use a plaque to cover up existing individual numbers which were partially embedded into a brick wall surface. Plaques have built in contrast depending upon colors selected.

There are so many plaque sizes and designs available that it can be daunting. Some are architectural in style and some are very decorative. Some are understated in design. When selecting a plaque design, take into consideration the intended architectural style of the dwelling. And measure, measure, measure! A plaque which is too large for the building such as an estate size plaque can look awkward.

Individual House Numbers Mounted Onto Backer Board:
You can create your own number plaque from mounting your numbers onto a backer board. You can make your own backer board, or purchase one from any home store and paint or finish it to your liking. In this scenario, the individual numbers need to be installed onto the board, and the board installed onto the wall surface. We sell a variety of backer boards online.

Lawn Markers and Plaques:
Another option is to order a Lawn Plaque. Lawn plaques can be positioned anywhere within the lawn or garden. Some homeowners will purchase a lawn plaque in addition to numbers or a plaque for the building, particularly if they have a long driveway or very large yard. Lawn plaques are typically only single-sided and have 2 ground stakes. Be aware of snow however. Snow build-up can easily obscure a lawn plaque.

Vertical vs. Horizontal:
Vertical numbers can be difficult to read especially if you have 4 or more numbers. Vertical number arrangement or vertical plaques are a great option for a column or when there is no other good mounting option.

Lighting:
For obvious reasons, it is always a great idea to mount your numbers or plaque in a location where it shall be lit at night. For example, numbers mounted near a doorway may be lit from a porch light. Many people will direct a single landscape directional light onto a number or a plaque location.
 
Oak Park Home & Hardware offers a wide variety of individual house numbers, wall plaques, and lawn plaques. Need help in deciding? We can assist. Just send us a picture of your home and where the numbers or plaque will be installed, and we'll send back some recommendations.
 
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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Improving Your Home or Apartment Exterior After a Long Winter

Improving Your Home or Apartment Exterior After a Long Winter

Whether you live in Chicago, Illinois or Delray Beach, Florida (yes, even the Florida rain and cooler temperatures) winter can wreak havoc on your building’s exterior. If you live in an apartment with rent prices on the rise like Denver, Colorado, for example, luckily you’ll just have to notify your landlord about winter weather-related damage.

But if you own your home, the repairs will be your responsibility, so after summer has arrived, check your property for the following issues:

Roof

There’s almost nothing worse than coming home from the gym and seeing that faint--but definitely there--brown ceiling stain that signals water damage. Resist the urge to paint over it and hope it will magically disappear. The sun, snow, ice and even leaves can damage your roof. Some areas of the country are prone to ice dams that actually lift shingles off of the roof and allow water to trickle down behind interior walls. Animals and birds can also damage your roof by attempting to build homes or trying to get inside yours. And be sure to inspect any exterior hardware, as bugs, rodents or just dirt and debris can destroy items like these.

Chimneys

OK, you loved building roaring fires, and these helped you keep warm during that nasty winter. Now that summer has finally arrived and you won’t be needing to use that fireplace for a while, get it cleaned. Creosote is a by-product of burning wood, and it will coat the inside of your chimney. And guess what? It’s extremely flammable! So, if you don’t want flames shooting out of your chimney when you build your first fall fire, call a chimney service company today.

Gutters

Frankly, some property owners in Texas take these off of their homes because when leaves and general tree debris are blown around, even products that claim to protect your gutters sometimes do not work. If you like the way your gutters channel the rain away from your foundation, either get up on a ladder or find a service company to clean them out. Those pesky ice dams we mentioned before like to build upon gutter debris.

Your Deck and Doors

Temperature extremes and moisture are your deck and doors mortal enemies, and winter brings these adverse conditions frequently. Loose boards on the deck can mean corroded nails and screws while discoloration can be a clue that water has breached a barrier. Diagnose, replace and reseal as necessary. A smart thing to do is to find some amazing door hardware and upgrade to start the summer

Window Trim

Your windows may be framed with wood or a wood substitute, and while plastic may last longer, any window trim material can be adversely affected by winter’s extremes. If the trim is cracked, water can get where it doesn’t belong, and again, you’ll be trying to paint your troubles away. As soon as it’s warm enough to inspect, check out all exterior window trim surfaces.

The Mailbox, Too!

What about that cheap mailbox you’ve had since 1999? Maybe it’s time to replace that, especially after a long, harsh winter. Now that summer is here, check out some craftsman style mailboxes. These look great on any house, and you’ll have a ton of options to upgrade as the summer start.

Nobody said it would be easy, and if they did, they weren’t telling you the truth. Homes need care, and while there can be low-maintenance homes, the no-maintenance home has yet to be invented. By being proactive, however, you can keep more serious problems from occurring.

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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Tuesday, May 22, 2018
5 Subtle Improvements Your Home's Curb Appeal

If you’re aiming to sell your home in the near future, you’ve probably been running around like crazy working on the interior of your home. Maybe you installed brand new carpeting throughout your entire home or put in amazing new hardwood floors. You might have upgraded your kitchen appliances to brand new stainless steel and even cleaned every single closet out and decluttered for showings.  

But what about the exterior­ — the first thing a potential buyer might see when they arrive for a showing?

Although the interior of your home is very, very important. It’s also important to remember that making a good first impression is where it all starts for the buyer. There are a few things you should focus on when looking to improve curb appeal.

Upgrade your hardware

Have you taken a look at your exterior hardware recently? There is an amazing amount of work you can do for the exterior of your home when you focus on the hardware. Take a look at what you currently have and analyze what might need updating first. Keep in mind that your buyer is going to want to purchase a move-in ready home, not one that they need to perform a ton of updates on. Here are a few things you can focus on in terms of hardware.

·       Mailbox

·       House Numbers

·       Door Knockers

·       Welcome Signs

·       Door Entry Hardware

·       Welcome Mats

If you take the time to update these subtle items on your home’s exterior, you’ll have buyers eagerly waiting to step into your home for a showing.

Should you paint?

The easiest way to grab attention is by adding a lot color to your front door. Painting your front door, a unique color, can help your home stand out from the rest of the neighborhood competition. It doesn’t take much to create an extremely friendly front door and entryway. Imagine walking up to your house as a buyer — what would you want to see? And if you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can always hire a professional craftsman to help get the job done!

Opt for outdoor lighting

Lights lead the way to your home. Your entryway welcomes your buyers into the next home of their dreams. So, why wouldn’t you spruce things up a bit? Soft exterior lighting can make a huge difference in comparison to houses located near yours. The lights will also help to emphasize your landscaping efforts (see next tip!) and help improve your security as well.

If you want to make an eco-friendly decision to truly impress your buyer, use solar lights which are great for sidewalks. They don’t require any running electrical cables and you’ll avoid using the old orange extension cord that you tossed into your garage last winter. These lights are very easy to install and will surely provide the ambiance your buyer will love to see when they first approach your home for a nighttime showing.

Add greenery for a bright and inviting feeling

Plants are a great addition. Your home will instantly start to feel very welcoming once you add lots of greenery. Flowers along the sidewalk and driveway, in front of your home, flower pots creating nice clean angles on your lawn and garden beds on the side of your house — these added landscaping techniques will enhance the brightness and home-like feeling of your property. Consider adding a cast stone planter or two as an architectural accent.

Upgrade your mailbox

Little details like the mailbox do actually make significant impact on the value or your home to the buyer. You will notice for yourself that improving these smallest details can change the look of the home overall. There are a ton of great places that will sell amazing hardware at a great price. And as we mentioned above, don’t overlook the smaller details such as changing the outdated locks, door handles, rusted light fixtures and other hardware pieces that provide such great accents to your beautiful home.

Whether your buyer is a current renter of a Chicago apartment or a Millennial who has recently secured their first mortgage after a long battle with the bank, it is the little things that will get that buyer into your home for the showing and inevitably lead you to a sale. Keep working on that curb appeal and you’ll have a deal done in no time!

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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Friday, May 20, 2016
Spring It Up! – Revitalizing Exterior Components


As the weather breaks and we venture out to tackle outdoor tasks from window cleaning, gutter cleaning, yard clean up, painting and more, you may have noticed that a few other items may need your attention as well!

Your exterior lighting, mailbox, house numbers, doorbell, and door hardware may be looking a little tired from the elements (the weather). They may have accumulated dust, dirt, or have become a bit discolored or faded. Good news….you may not have to replace them! How about revitalization instead?

First and importantly, know whether or not your light fixture(s), mailbox, or house numbers’ finish is intended as a living finish or not. A living finish is generally a raw or patina finish that will weather and develop its own patina naturally over time. For many folks, this is a desired look. If the finish is not an intended living finish, then it is most likely a powder coated paint finish.

Now…it is important to understand that no mater how durable a finish may be, when exposed to the “elements” for a period of time, it will shown some wear. Some manufacturers use a clear chemical lacquer finish while others, because of State EPA standards, may use a clear “water-based” lacquer finished coating. A water-based lacquer will naturally dissipate exposing the finish below it. However, even a durable powder coat finish will fade somewhat over time, particularly when fully exposed to the Sun. Some people tend to think that extreme weather is the biggest factor in affecting a finish when in reality, it is ultraviolet rays from the Sun.

A living finish can be sealed as well. Sealing a living finish will slow down or halt weathering. Keep in mind that sealing a living finish will darken the color.

So here is what you can do;

CLEANING:

Clean your light fixture, mailbox, doorbell, house numbers or door hardware with a soft cloth rag and very mild detergent such as dish-washing liquid. Then wipe completely dry immediately after cleaning. Do not use any chemicals or abrasives of any kind! A chemical can remove any possible sealer that is part of the finish.

SEAL & PROTECT:

Then you want to apply a sealer of some sort to help revive the finish and protect it from the elements. If you have some clear furniture paste wax on hand (such as Johnson's Paste Wax), you can apply a couple coats of paste wax, let it dry and wipe it off leaving a coating on the finish. If you have some lemon Pledge or even Stainless Steel Polish around, you can apply a coating of this. It will also revive and seal the finish because they typically have some silicone in it. If you are concerned about applying anything to the finish, then Endust is a safe bet because it does not have silicone. In either case, the application will darken the finish but will lighten up within a few hours or so. You should apply a sealer to all of these items at least a couple of times per year. It will prolong the life of the finish.

PLAN B - REFINISH:
So lets say none of this works to your liking. You can then consider refinishing yourself. The quickest and easiest method is to spray paint. These days, there are so many color options and spray paint types available from textured finishes to high gloss or matte. For mailboxes, house numbers, and doorbells, make sure to clean and dry well before spraying. It is best to remove the items and spray paint them in a protected area where over-spray will not affect anything. For light fixtures, uninstall them (make sure to turn the power off). If you are able to remove the glass in the light fixture easily, then that is the best method. If not, mask off the glass with painters tape. For door hardware, either remove the door hardware or mask off the door and door trim before spraying. Make sure to plug or mask the keyhole. Keep in mind that spray painting door hardware will not be a permanent fix. There will be scrapes and scratches just from normal use. In all cases, with spray painting, apply in very thin coats and let dry thoroughly in between coatings. Do not over apply making the finish too thick.

PLAN C:

If cleaning up or attempting to revitalize any of these items does not work satisfactorily, then Oak Park Home & Hardware can assist in selecting appropriate replacements. Many customers will email us a picture of where the item will be installed asking for our recommendations. Look through our site and let us know if we can help!
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Oak Park Home & Hardware specializes in lighting products in the spirit of Arts & Crafts, Mission, Prairie, Bungalow, English Tudor, Tudor Manor, and Spanish Revival styles.

We have developed unique relationships with many of our Craftsmen, and suppliers of products allowing customization for our customers. All at very competitive pricing!

© 2018 Oak Park Home & Hardware, Inc.
Oak Park Home & Hardware offer high quality lighting designs. We provide customized lighting solutions with manufacturers such as Arroyo Craftsman Lighting, Mica Lamp Company, 2nd Ave Lighting, and UltraLights Lighting.

We also offer quality lighting products with manufacturers such as Quoizel, James Mattson Coppercraft, and Lundberg Studios. Please check out our unique lighting designs in the style of Greene and Greene!

We offer handcrafted Mission style hardware, Craftsman style mailboxes, Arts & Crafts style house numbers and so much more. Please bookmark us!
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