Aaron Wluka's Blog
Nothing ruins a great view like a greasy hand print right in the middle of the window. No matter the time of year it is, you can always benefit from brightly clean windows. They allow in more natural light and can transform a dull room into a bright living space. Planning for this at the right time is important. You don't want to clean your windows while they are in direct sunlight or the cleaning suds will dry while you're working, just making them worse. You can either do a full day's worth of windows by starting on the South and West facing sides in the morning, then moving to the North and East facing sides in the afternoon. You can clean on an overcast day but be careful, or your hard work will just get washed away in the rain.
Filling Your Tool Bucket
Window washing techniques aren't too tricky, but they do require the right tools. If you start without them, you'll stress yourself all the way through the process.
- Soft Bristle Brush: Think of the same kind of brush you use on non-stick pans or glasses in your kitchen, but make sure it’s a clean one, not the actual one from the kitchen, so you don’t spread kitchen grease around the windows. For best results, get one with a built-in soap dispenser and an extendable handle so those high window edges are always within reach and you don’t have to carry around a bucket of soapy water. Use the brush to get grime and stains off the window without wearing out your arms in the process.
- Lightly Soapy Cleaner: Stay away from all the combined sprayer cleaners. Instead, go for a kitchen cleaner that is meant to cut through stains and grease. Your best choice will be one that cleans well but doesn’t get too sudsy. Test it in your brush to determine how much water to combine with it for exactly the right consistency.
- Hose with sprayer: An adjustable sprayer nozzle attachment for your garden hose can make getting the rest of the outdoor grime off the windows even easier. Once you've loosened it up with your brush, simply spray the residue off with your hose. Be careful not to spray too vigorously because you can accidentally loosen the seals around your windows.
- Squeegee: A good squeegee is necessary to prevent all your previous work from going to waste. When used properly, a squeegee gets all that beaded water off your windows, so it can't dry in streaks and ruin all your hard work. It also means the windows are almost completely dry for the last step and won't get those round rubbing streaks either. If you have wide picture windows, look for a wide squeegee to cut down on the number of vertical stripes required. Lastly, look for one with an extendable handle like your bristle brush so that you can always start and the very top of each window.
- Chamois Cloths: For that last little bit of drying and polishing, don't use any old cloth. Get yourself a proper chamois to prevent streaking. If it is in your budget, you can get a natural chamois made of sheep leather, but don't rule out the synthetics. There are some fantastic synthetic chamois fabrics out there for any budget.
- Simple Soft Cloth: After you’ve dried the window, you’ll need a simple soft cloth for the window sill. Use this cloth to pick up any remaining dirt or water from the cleaning process.
Don’t Forget the Screens
No matter how clean the windows, you still can't see through them if you have dirty screens. Since you had to take them off anyway, now is the perfect time to clean them as well. Using the same soapy cleaner and a bristle brush, gently brush both sides of the screen to remove dirt, dust, and grime. Then spray them off with your garden hose and sprayer attachment. Be careful only to use a medium pressure sprayer option, since you don't want to tear the screen away from the edges.
Got your home looking its greatest? Call your real estate professional and schedule that open house!
In the gray days of winter, everyone can benefit from some additional sunlight. Take advantage of the well-documented medical and psychological benefits of sunshine and the vitamin D it generates. Sure, you can open your windows, but then you lose that privacy. You can split the difference with a skylight or a light tube that allows light to come down from the roof of your home.
What is a Skylight?
A skylight is a window that opens up to the sky through the ceiling and roof of your home instead of out the side wall. Skylights come in a variety of styles from clear to frosted or patterned. Some even open and may include fans to help increase ventilation. Skylights must reach all the way through the roof to get access to that sunshine, so they require rooftop placement. That means single story properties can have kitchen skylights, but your two-story home limits skylights to upstairs bedrooms or an office.
Skylights can be as simple or as fancy if you like. Just want some light? Go with a simple glass pane. Want some architectural detailing? Try a domed skylight or one with built-in shades or blinds. You can even get smart skylights that respond to apps on your phone or open and close on a schedule or with the predicted weather.
How about a Light Tube?
Light tubes differ from skylights because they reflect light down through a variety of tubes using mirrors. This structure removes the "view" element entirely and opens up a variety of locations that wouldn't work for skylights. One of the best features of light tubes is that the rooftop location doesn't have to be directly above the interior position. A lot of modern light tubes come with LED lights, so they work whether or not there is sunshine. Great places for light tubes include bathrooms, closets, and basically any dark niche. Light tubes that terminate in your walls instead of the roof open up lower or middle floors as well.
Value and Energy
Properly installed skylights potentially decrease your energy costs by adding more natural light which means less electric light. However, if installed poorly, they can mess with your insulation increasing your heating and cooling costs. Always ensure you use the correct skylight for your home and weather. When you add a skylight correctly, it increases your home’s value. The best skylights protect the home’s energy efficiency and blend in well with the original design. You don’t want your skylight looking like an afterthought.
Before you add skylights or light tubes to your home, talk to your real estate agent about what the actual market value increase will be and the best skylights to use.