10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Strolling daily in your neighborhood you may begin noticing improvements that friends and neighbors are making to their homes, including:

  • Repainting house trim
  • Cleaning brick or siding
  • Reroofing due to damaged shingles
  • Repairing or replacing driveways
  • Changing the landscaping in significant ways and
  • Just generally tidying the front yard by mowing, sweeping, trimming trees and bushes, and filling planters with colorful flowers.

As you gradually absorb all this change and note what you like, you may begin to wonder about the curb appeal of your own home. What can you do to make it look better even if you don’t plan on selling anytime soon?

10 Home Makeover Ideas

When you start thinking about improving street appeal, your improvement list may become long. You can avoid feeling overwhelmed by making one change at a time. Here are some suggestions.

1. Photograph your front façade and yard. Analyze what is strong and what needs improvement. Apply a critical eye to tidiness, features obviously needing upkeep or replacement, paint color and possibilities for improvement with new landscaping and hardscaping.

2. Power wash your house but be careful about damaging brick and mortar. High-pressure spraying of a home’s façade makes it sparkle by removing dirt, mildew and moss. High-pressure cleaning is best left to a professional who knows how to avoid moisture damage. But lightly spraying your house with a garden hose before scrubbing off debris may do the trick and is probably best for brick siding. Pressure cleaning can decay mortar and old brick.

3. Clean and repair gutters. Sagging gutters with broken bands and loose downspouts look forlorn. Regular cleanout of leaves and other debris avoids this problem. If you plan to attach a downspout to a rain barrel in the front yard, one topped with a planter may be the best choice.

4. Reroof if necessary. Are shingles coming loose or looking worn, and is the roof visible from the street? Roof damage not only puts the interior of your house at risk but also signals viewers that you aren’t keeping up your property. Spot repairs sometimes are sufficient, but it may be time for a new roof.

5. Decide whether new paint is necessary and what colors would be best. Repainting trim and siding makes a home sparkle. While out walking, look for color combinations that fit your neighborhood and appeal to you. Sometimes just repainting a front door with a stand-out color and adding large, shiny address numbers may be enough to give your home a new look.

6. Improve yard maintenance, including trimming trees, weeding and mowing. A neglected landscape makes viewers think the interior of a home may also need significant repair.

7. Re-landscape. Even if you’re great about maintenance, a boring landscape makes a home look blah. If you can’t afford a landscaper, creative websites may help with planning. Try eGardenGo for suggestions about plant combinations and Paper Garden Workshop for planning tools, including “doodle sheets.”

8. Build a berm or a raised bed with a stone veneer wall. Berms add shape and texture to yards. So do exterior siding options such as a stone fireplace or stone exterior retaining wall.

9. Repair or replace your driveway. Repairing driveway cracks, potholes and heaving adds polish to a home and communicates that you value it.

10. Add exterior stone siding for an upscale, rustic look. According to Remodeling’s 2017 Cost Vs Value Report, stone veneer is one of the top home improvement choices for recouping cost when selling.

The Wow Look

As you plan ways to make your home look sharp and sweet, keep in mind that what looks “wow” in one community may elicit “whoa!” elsewhere. Remodeling magazine seems to indicate that homeowners nationwide think stone looks stylish. Please contact us at North Star Stone for information about how we add wow to homes.

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Best Flooring Options for Your Fireplace Hearth

Best Flooring Options for Your Fireplace Hearth

Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Whether you already have a stone fireplace/stone fireplaces in your home or you’re planning to have one installed, you need to consider the flooring for your fireplace hearth. The hearth of the fireplace begins with the floor of the fireplace and extends into the living area in front of the fireplace itself, plus the fireplace surround. The hearth is the area where you would keep your extra wood and kindling, and any other accessories you have to build and maintain your fire.

 

Fireplace Hearth

What Are the Safety Concerns With a Fireplace Hearth?

Since the fireplace hearth is directly in front of the fireplace and surround, you need to be careful about safety hazards that can happen on or near the hearth area. No matter how safety conscious or careful you are, accidents happen to the best of us. Some of the safety concerns that you should be aware of with your fireplace hearth are:

Sparks and Embers

Sparks and embers from the fire can fly out unexpectedly from a fire. Although it’s more common from fires with wood that is partially wet, these sparks can happen with any fire. It has very little to do with the skill of the person who built the fire, so sparks are almost uncontrollable.

Fireplace Hearth
If these sparks land on carpet or other textiles, however, there is a danger that damage or an unplanned fire can occur. A spark can land on the carpet or textile, smolder, and then build into a dangerous fire hazard.

Tripping and Falling

Some fireplace hearths cause another kind of home safety hazard, and that is the danger of tripping and falling. If you have a hearth that is raised above the natural level of the room’s flooring, the sudden change in elevation can cause visitors in the home to trip or fall, because they are unaware of the step up. Homes with small children face a similar problem, as youngsters tend not to be as aware of uneven flooring as adults.

Why Hearths Make a Home Safer

In most cases, though, the hearth makes the home safer. Hearths provide a natural area around the front of the fireplace and surround that signals to the residents and visitors that the fireplace is there. The hearth truly is the heart of the home, and having a custom stone fireplace and hearth is one of the most satisfying ways to make your home cozy and warm for your family, friends and guests.

What are the Best Flooring Options for a Stone Fireplace Hearth?

There are certain flooring options that help to make a fireplace hearth safe, beautiful and functional. These are all qualities that will work to bring value and style to your home. You obviously want to make your hearth safe, but you also want the hearth area to complement your home’s décor. Of course, the hearth also needs to perform the function that it’s intended for.

 

Fireplace Hearth

Slate

Slate tile is a natural flooring solution that goes with just about any living area flooring. Slate is a natural type of thin rock that lends itself well to home décor. It does not burn or singe easily, and can withstand extreme wear and tear. It’s available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Concrete
Concrete is a fantastic hearth flooring solution for those who are eco-minded. Concrete hearth flooring is safe and protective for any potential sparks coming from the fireplace, as well as offering a decorative flooring option.

Stone Veneer/Manufactured Stone
For the discerning homeowner who wants a natural look, there is perhaps no better choice than manufactured stone or stone veneer for the hearth. Stone Veneer is beautiful, functional, safe and affordable for the fireplace hearth.

Brick

Brick can also serve as a fireplace hearth. They also will prevent accidents from happening around the fireplace, but brick may not suit every home décor due to the lack of color options.

Whichever kind of flooring options you choose for your fireplace surround, be sure to consider all the issues mentioned above to ensure a lifetime of satisfaction. Learn more about our stone veneer and take a look at our stone fireplace galleries and see how we use stone veneer to make fireplaces beautiful.

Exterior Stone Veneer Q&A With A Valued Customer

Exterior Stone Veneer Q&A With A Valued Customer

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

We had the wonderful opportunity to ask some questions about an exterior stone veneer installation we recently completed in Gurnee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Read on to see what was involved in this homeowner’s decision making process about choosing and installing stone veneer on his home’s exterior and find out how his home has gained value within the neighborhood. 

 

Question No.1:

What was your thought process about changing the look of your home’s exterior?

After living here for the pasted 23 years Donna and I thought through the process of possibly moving to another home with a more modern exterior look. After much debate we decided to stay here and give our home a much needed face lift. We love our 1/2 lot, the cul-de-sac location, our proximity to the toll road and all off the local services.

When we built our home it was the typical tract style approach where you picked from a number of models and had one build. As a result most of the homes in the area ended up looking pretty much the same. This new face lift has definitely set us apart from the other homes in the area.

 

Question No. 2:

Why did you select using stone veneer versus say a different color siding, stucco or maybe brick?

We wanted a more modern look. When we drove through the newer neighborhoods with the up scale homes we could see the use of stone building materials rather than the typical aluminum siding and brick facades. As you know we aren’t finished yet. We plan to have you wrap the remaining lower portions of our home and we plan to change the remainder of our siding to the new wood styled cedar shakes. Once completed, we hope to have a much more craftsman styled exterior look.

The stone has given our home a custom look. It certainly set us apart for all the other homes on our street, all of which used the more traditional aluminum siding and brick facades.

 

Question No. 3:

Why did you select North Star Stone to supply and install stone for your project?

After extensive research, we discovered that your quality of materials and expertise in this field were second to none and once again you’ve confirmed all the great reviews I’ve read.

 

Question No. 4:

Please share any comments about the installation process and the final outcome.

As you know I’ve owned my own industrial contracting business for the pasted 30 years and I tend to watch the quality of the installers very closely as I do my own people.

Your installers were very professional, very courteous and most of all they were extremely clean. Even though they worked very late in the day and they still had to drive a great distance all the way back to the shop, they didn’t seem at all to be in any hurry to run off!!!  I’ve experienced this with other installers and I know that feeling when someone just wants to finish the installation and leave as quickly as possible.

I might also add that they’re to a very large degree “artist”! This is a very specialized type of installation. This isn’t like stacking bricks with the same mortar line, etc. This requires much more of artistic approach and your guys do it as though they’ve been doing it for years!!!!

 

Question No. 5: Would you recommend North Star Stone to others considering an exterior facelift?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

If anyone is looking to break away for the typical cookie cutter look this is the way to do it! If you love your home, your location, not to mention the hassle of moving and you really don’t want anything more than a fresh exterior look “THEN WHY MOVE”!

We are the talk of the neighborhood! I still can’t believe I’m driving up to the same house and I can’t wait to finish the process!

 

Should I Seal My Stone Veneer?

Should I Seal My Stone Veneer?

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

You have recently decided to improve the appearance of your home by adding stone veneer. You have decided after some research that you would like to seal and possibly enhance your new manufactured stone but you’re not sure where to begin. Fortunately, North Star Stone is here to help. Continue reading to learn a bit more about stone sealers and enhancers.

 

What is a stone sealant?

Sealant is a product that is typically brushed over stone in order to provide a protective layer against things such as salt, weather, moisture, stains and potential color deterioration. There are several brands on the market that can be purchased at retail stores like Home Depot and Lowes as well as on the web. It is recommended that you avoid products with acid and use a silane or siloxane-based sealant that is penetrating yet provides breathability. Eagle Natural Seal or The Armor SX5000 WB are two brands available at Home Depot. At Lowes you can find Eco Advance Concrete/Masonry Siloxane Waterproofer.

 

What is a sealer + enhancer?

Like the name implies, a sealer + enhancer does the job of sealing as well as enhancing the stone, which essentially means it works to bring out the natural character of the stone and to essentially make it more vibrant. It is important to make sure when selecting a sealer + enhancer that it is safe to use on manufactured or man made stone such as stone veneer. Just like with sealer, it is always a good idea to do a spot check in an inconspicuous place to see how your stone reacts with the product. 511 Seal & Enhance by Miracle Sealants is safe to use on manufactured stone and can be found at Home Depot.

 

Why should I use this product?

The general rule where sealing stone veneer is concerned is, if the stone darkens when a drop of water hits it then it can also be stained by other materials in the environment like oil, dirt or plant residue. Furthermore, the up side to sealing your stone is that it makes stone veneer even more easier to clean and will provide protection against the environment and color fading. Additionally, depending on the weather conditions and climate where you live, in order to protect your stone’s appearance and longevity, the relatively short time it will take you to seal your stone is well worth it. As a result, applying a sealant to your stone is most likely a good idea. Many stone veneer manufacturers will often say their stone does not require sealing, which essentially leaves the choice with you. Most sealers can be applied to stone on the interior and exterior of your home, so keep that in mind for any stonework beautifying the inside of your home as well.

 

Things to Know about sealers

 

  • Certain sealers may make your stone appear wet, slightly darker and or vibrant.
  • Always test a small portion of your stone with the sealer or sealer + enhancer product first in an inconspicuous place before applying it all over. This will help you know how your stone will respond to the product.
  • The more porous the stone the more coats required. Read instructions carefully.
  • Check with your stone veneer supplier to make sure the product you purchase is safe to use on your stone.
  • Sealing or enhancing your stone is something you will need to repeat periodically. Check your product information for details.
  • Make sure you are applying your product under the right weather conditions, as it may not perform correctly.

 

 

If you aren’t at the sealing and enhancing stage of your stone projects yet but are still considering stone as a way to update, accentuate and add character to your home – why not contact North Star Stone? Our experts are here to help. You too can see why homeowners in Chicagoland suburbs like Libertyville, Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect have chosen North Star Stone as their source for expert stone veneer fireplace and exterior stone siding selection and installation. For more information please call 847.996.6850 or email info@northstarstone.biz.

 

Using Cement Board and Stone Veneer Together

Using Cement Board and Stone Veneer Together

Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Cement Board + Stone Veneer = Great Combination

Time to select new siding for your existing home or new construction? Architects are frequently specifying the use of fiber cement board because it offers a balance of good looks, durability, maintenance and affordability. Combining the cement board with a complimenting stone veneer creates a finished look, increased home value and added curb appeal.

View Our Stone Veneer Colors & Styles

Cement board is an excellent choice for siding since it is primarily made from Portland cement and offers the strength and performance of masonry including the benefits of minimal upkeep, fire protection and termite proof. A vendor such has James Hardie or Certainteed offer many styles and colors of siding to showcase your home. Other suppliers of cement board can be found at the big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowes.

Learn More About The Costs Of Exterior Stone Veneer

Stone veneer can really add highlights to your home and create visual interest when you are adding a product like Hardie Board Cement Board. It is important to find the right mixes of stone veneer and the exterior siding.  Think of stone as the accent to highlight the home. Look for focal points on your home like a front entryway, columns, chimneys, knee walls and peaks to add stone.  Since manufactured stone veneer is lightweight and thin, the product can be easily installed with your siding installation.

An additional benefit in using man made stone veneer other than it’s cost is the ability to fine tune the color of the stone to coordinate with your siding color. North Star Stone, Inc. in Libertyville, IL custom manufactures every order of stone to work perfectly with your exterior stone project.

The following pictures use cement board and our Cobble Stack stone in the color of Barrington Hills. The color of the stone is deep with rich intensity using the colors of charcoal, varying tones of brown and some cream color.  To learn more about exterior stone veneer click here or call us at 847-996-6850.

Exterior Stone Veneer and Stucco- A Perfect Combination

Exterior Stone Veneer and Stucco- A Perfect Combination

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

The use of thin stone veneer and a stucco finish can completely update the look of your home. In the mid price homes that we frequently work with, the combination of stone and stucco give a sense of beauty, strength, permanence and elegance.  Many home homeowners with an existing house have a dated brick or a brick color they don’t care for, or a plain track house that looks like every other house on the block. Below are examples of how stone veneer and stucco blended together might work for your home.

Stone Veneer Exterior Siding

The traditional style home pictured to the right is located in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois and built was built in a typical upscale housing development. The models start looking the same from block to block. The original home was covered in white siding and some brick under the porch. Working with the homeowner we designed a look that capitalized on the lines of the house that blended the stone and stucco together.

The stone veneer used is North Star Stone’s cobblestone in the color of Northern Brown Stone. The stucco contractor blended a custom color of stucco and used his artistic ability to create a beautiful offsetting color banding. The banding detail on the garage, over the windows and on the columns really blended well with the stone to create a masterpiece.

Stone-Veneer-StuccoChicago Home With Stone and Stucco Sidingstone-stucco-2

This brick ranch house, also located in a northern Chicago suburb created an interesting challenge since we had to work with the existing red clay tiles for the roofing. The home was originally clad in a very dark red brick. North Star Stone’s Castle Rock was used in the color of chateau and was installed on the lower foot section around the house. Stucco was applied above the stone drip sill in a coordinating color.

Both stone veneer and stucco are masonry products that are virtually maintenance free and have stood the test of time and work in all climates.  The blending of stone and stucco also is a cost effective way for the homeowner to stretch out their budget. Stucco installation is about half the cost of stone with installation. Effective use of blending both stone veneer and stucco will create a completely new look for your home.

Whether you are building a new house, getting rid of your old siding or trying to cover up some brick you don’t care for, North Star Stone, Inc., can find a perfect blend of stone and stucco.

 

 

Interview With The Pros: Pro-Line Exteriors Cement Board Siding

Interview With The Pros Stone Exteriors

Our potential customers frequently ask about how they can refresh the look of their existing home. In many cases the client has older siding that looks faded and dated. The customers love the look of stone and want to incorporate stone with their new siding. Please help us understand the cement board siding and why you recommend Hardie Siding.

 

1)   What is cement board siding and why has it become so popular?

James Hardie fiber cement siding is made of Portland cement, cellulose fiber, and silica.  Some other companies use fly ash instead of silica.  Fly ash, a combustion by-product, has proven to be a poor constituent because many of the planks have experienced delamination.  James Hardie planks and panels offer the best performance, durability, and look.

 stone siding and hardie board

2)   What are the color and trim options for the cement siding and what are your recommendations for selecting colors? What factors do we need to consider?

The James Hardie ColorPlus Collection offers 23 different siding colors and trim.  ColorPlus finishes come with a 15-year warranty that includes both labor and material.  You can also get a custom color from a third party pre-finisher but the finish warranty is very limited.  The primary factor in choosing between a ColorPlus finish or a third party custom color is this warranty.  ColorPlus comes with the full backing of the James Hardie Corporation; one can only hope the third party pre-finisher will stay in business long enough to honor their very limited warranty.

3)   Please describe the steps of a typical installation job using cement board siding.

The first step is the tear-off of existing siding and installation of the James Hardie house wrap.  After setting the trim (outside corners, inside corners, frieze boards, window trim, etc.) the siding can be installed.  The siding is blind nailed and all seams are covered in a slip sheathing to properly shed incidental moisture.

 stone veneer siding with hardie board

4)   Do we need to get a permit for new siding?  It depends on the municipality and scope of work.  Some don’t require a permit for siding and some do.

Some municipalities also require a house wrap inspection to take place before the siding can be installed.  Even is a siding permit isn’t required some municipalities have license, bond, and insurance requirements.

 

5)   If I am considering either new windows or new doors, can I still put up my siding first and save the windows and doors for a later project?

Although it is preferable to do the windows first, Hardie siding can be installed in such a way to allow windows to be installed at a later date by installing James Hardie window trim around existing windows.  The optimum exterior renovation, for both function and aesthetics, occurs when the windows and siding are done at the same time.

 

6)   How does the cost of cement board siding compare to other siding materials and why is it worth the money?

A James Hardie fiber cement siding project is approximately 30% more than standard vinyl and 15-20% more than foam back vinyl.  It is worth the extra investment for many reasons: it holds up much better over time than vinyl; Hardie is non-combustible so the homeowner can get a discount on homeowner’s insurance; it is environmental friendly; and most of all, Remodelers’ Magazine lists James Hardie siding as the number one return on investment among all home renovation projects.

  faux stone siding with hardie board

7)   Do you have a favorite product you like to recommend to your customers and why?

James Hardie fiber cement siding, North Star Stone Veneer and Marvin windows.

 

8)   Do you like the addition of stone to the front of the home and your siding material?

Absolutely!  Adding North Star Stone to one of our projects creates a substantial “Wow!” factor for the homeowner.  Every homeowner we’ve worked with that did Hardie with the North Star Stone claims that their family members, friends, and neighbors are amazed at their renovation.

 

9)   Please give us a little background about your company and how our readers can contact you.

Pro-Line Exteriors, Inc. is a family owned and operated company.  The owners, Andy and Mike, do all the estimating, sales, and project oversight.  Our primary focus is exterior re-modeling.  The best is to call 847-710-9996.  Visit their website at http://www.prolineexteriors.com/