New front door styles for 2012


Mahogany grain door

I have recently previewed the new entry doors for 2012 that the leading manufactures have created.  The big growth area for entry doors is in fiberglass construction.  Homeowners are really starting to understand and want the many advantages of fiberglass doors over wood or metal.  With the demand for fiberglass doors the manufactures are giving us more options and styles to choose from.  The advantage of fiberglass doors is their durability and the stunning looks that are available.

Wood doors have always been the best looking doors and have had the most design options but they can be expensive and require maintenance.  Now fiberglass doors look just like wood doors are more durable and cost less.  The new styles available this year increase the appeal of the doors as they give you more wood grain options and more glass styles.  Fir has always been one of the most popular wood doors and now the fiberglass doors have the look and grain pattern of fir.  Mahogany is also a classic door style and there are new mahogany looking doors available.

The demand for fiberglass front doors has increased the glass design options.  Decorative glass comes in many styles that are


Fir grain door

new and unique.  The new glass styles include a silkscreen look, contemporary design or a modern look with sleek lines.  Privacy glass has new styles that give you a custom look allow light in but give you privacy and security.

With all the styles available it can be a daunting effort to pick the style that is right for you.  With this in mind, the leading manufactures have on their websites design tools.  The tools allow you to pick any of their doors and then pick from their selection of glass and shows you what it will look like in several colors.  You can even import a picture of your house and view your house with the new door in place.

The leading door manufacturer that I recommend are Therma Tru and Masonite.  They both have what seems as an endless variety of doors and  offer a good value.  They will also make doors to fit your custom size opening.  For entry doors in fiberglass or metal I would start my search either one off them.  They are both available all over the country and have great warranties.


Craftsman door


Privacy glasscontemporary glass

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Why Home Security Is Essential

Home security is something that a lot of us take for granted – if we lock our doors and set our alarms, we assume we are perfectly safe. And indeed, many of us do not even take precautions that far, as we all tend to become somewhat complacent in the comfort of our own homes. However, if you have an opportunity to upgrade your home security system, it is important to consider just how much an up-to-date system can benefit you and your family. These days, security systems can do a great deal to keep our homes safe, and it is essential to understand exactly how they do so; here is a brief rundown of the ways in which you can benefit from an up-to-date system and plan for security.

o Protecting Your Family – With an adequate security system that includes a working alarm, motion detectors, and potentially even motion sensors and/or laser trip wires, in addition to firm locks, you can quite literally save yourself and your family from harm. A break-in always seems unlikely, but unfortunately there are criminals out there, and any time someone unwanted comes into your home there is a potentially dangerous situation. This can be fully prevented with a good security system.

o Protecting Your Home – Even while you are away from home, your security system can be at work protecting your property. In some cases, criminals actually observe houses in advance of moving to rob them – which means that someone might notice if you and your family leave town. However, if your security system is armed, your home will still be a very secure environment, meaning that your possessions and property are protected even without you.

o Protection Against Accidents – One aspect of home security that not everybody considers is protection against potentially harmful accidents, such as gas leaks or fires. Full security systems usually come with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, both of which can alert you in the event of a dangerous situation caused by an accident. Again, fires and gas leaks always seem unlikely, but taking precautions for protection against such events is completely essential in a safe home.

o Protecting Your Sense Of Comfort – Ultimately, the most important aspect of any security system is that it protects your family’s sense of comfort. Whether you simply use a basic alarm, or whether you set up motion sensors, yard signs, video cameras, etc., having something to protect yourself beyond your own vigilance is a great way to turn your house into a very secure and comfortable environment.


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Use Blinds to Decorate Your house

Utah-window-blindsWhen you are looking for ways to bring added layers of design into your home, don’t forget about using the windows for that extra decor opportunity. You are not limited to expensive custom drapery choices. Consider using a decorating tool that has been around for centuries. Blinds are available in a wide variety of materials to that they not only offer an element of texture, but privacy as well.

Depending on the size of the windows and the illusion that you want to create, you will be able to find blinds in the materials, colors and orientation that will help you turn the windows into an important part of your decorating scheme. The choice of vertical or horizontal slats will help to break up a long, boring wall or make the window appear larger.

Fabric, wood or even a less expensive yet still attractive plastic or metal type of blind choices are available to fit any decorating budget and design inspirations. They can be used as the only window treatment, but are attractive when coordinated with curtains and drapes. The slats can be adjusted to filter the damaging rays of the sun to protect your expensive custom drapes, carpeting and furniture from fading.

Before purchasing window  blind be sure to measure the window exactly so that it will cover the window properly when installed. You will need to measure width, height and depth at three spots each to make sure that once they are hung your new window treatments will not be obstructed in any way. Measure each end of the window and along the middle. The measurements may all be different, but make note of the biggest and smallest measurement.

Don’t forget that window treatments should fit into the theme of the exterior of the home as well as the interior design. Don’t risk taking away from the curb appeal because of a poor choice.

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How to Baby-Proof Your Child’s Room in Five Easy Steps

The experience of baby-proofing a room for the first time can be an overwhelming one for new parents. With your child's safety at stake, it is incredibly important to pay attention to details and to change your habits so that you are not likely to undo your work with one ill-placed object. Luckily, by following these five easy steps, you can baby-proof your child's room perfectly.

  1. Choose a soft floor covering, like a fluffy rug or a playroom mat. For your child's bedroom, it is important that everything is soft, since some children go through phases where they try to escape from things, like their cribs. In order to make sure the landing is safe, considering covering the nursery floor with a playroom mat for the first few years of your child's life.
  2. Cover electrical outlets. This one may seem obvious, but it's a step you must stay constantly on top of. Try to get into the habit of always inserting outlet covers immediately after unplugging electric devices early, so that by the time your baby is mobile, the outlets are always covered.
  3. Look out for corners. Babies seem to have a knack for hitting their heads on the corners of tables and other surfaces, so soften them with Styrofoam, or buy corner guards at your local baby store or online. It can be hard to become accustomed to the change in your home's appearance, but it is well worth the safety of your child.
  4. Eliminate small pieces. This one is much easier to achieve in your child's room than in the rest of the house. Since your nursery is only going to include items you need for your baby, a habit of buying no toys with small pieces should keep them out. For the rest of your house, make sure you think before you set something down.
  5. Keep cabinets locked. If your child is getting to the age when he is getting into everything, you should buy child-proof cabinet locks to keep them out. As an extra precaution, keep potentially dangerous items up high.
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Think outside of the box with a stair railing design

Draper-Utah-stair-railWe recently finished the construction of an unusual stair railing.  The homeowner wanted a unique look  and a style to complement his home.  The newel posts are solid douglas fir and distressed for an aged look.  The top and bottom rails and the cross members are 2 x 6 alder that has been distressed as well.  The truly unusual part of the railing is the metal screen placed between the posts.  This allows the railing to meet building codes but it also give the railing a farm yard look.  The stair ends are finished off with wood end caps, risers and a skirt board  mitered to the risers.  As you can tell from the pictures a stair railing can make a dramatic statement to the look and feel of your home.  With all of the options available to you,  your railing can be one of a kind and add value to your home.



Posted in Stairs | Tagged | 4 Comments

The best place to buy building materials.

I am often asked by homeowners where the best place to buy home improvement material is.  With home improvement big box store within a few miles of most people it is easier than ever to shop for home supplies.  It is convenient to shop in one place for everything and the store hours fit into our busy schedules.  They lure us in with the promise of low prices and for some things they do have low prices.  I have found that some items have competitive prices compared to locally owned suppliers but if you want something unique or a little nicer the cost is much higher than the local stores.  The biggest disadvantages of the big box stores is the lack of knowledgeable advice and limited selection.  Few homeowners are aware of the other places to shop for home improvement materials.

Professional contractors have many places to shop in every community and many of these stores also sell to homeowners.  The stores may not be as close by or have shorter opening hours but the selection of products knowledgeable advice and value cannot be beat.  At local contractor oriented stores you have the benefit of employees with years of experience and a selection of items that will allow you to pick just the right look for your home.

Homeowners are surprised when I tell them that for material like baseboards, casing and other woodwork the local stores are half the price of the big box stores.  Doors come in many styles that are never found at the big stores and are available for the same price as the two common styles found in these stores.  For special orders or custom sizes the locally owned stores are your  best place to shop as they deal with  custom orders every day.

To find the locally owned stores look in the yellow pages, search online or even better call a contractor and ask him where he buys his material.  At the professional stores you will have the selection of home building materials to give your home a unique look and quality material that will give you years of enjoyment.

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Enhance the Street Appeal of Your Home with Shutters

Moveable wood shutter

movable wood shutter

It has been said that windows are the eyes on the face of your home.  Eyes without eyebrows, eyelashes and makeup can look boring.  The same can be said of your windows, without shutters or other details your home does not look its best.  Shutters have been used on homes for hundreds of years for protection and looks.  Exterior shutters can be movable, allowing them to cover your windows in bad weather or fixed in place on the sides of your windows.  As homes have been built faster and cheaper  shutters are one of the details missing on many homes today.

composite board and batten shutter

Board and batten shutter

With shutters there are many design options and come in several types of material.  Traditionally shutters have been made with wood and can be painted to accent your homes color or stained to add richness and warmth.   Wood shutters can be made to fit any sized window and have the largest design possibilities of any shutter material.  The disadvantage of woo shutters is that they will need to be repainted or stained to keep them looking good.  They are very durable and will hold up to the most severe weather.  Vinyl  has been a popular alternative to wood over the last few decades.  They are the most affordable shutters and will not require maintenance.  They come in many colors or can be painted.  They have any styles and sizes available.  The downside  of Vinyl is that it does not match the look of wood and does not hold up as well to strong winds and will fade over time.  A new type of shutters is becoming popular that is made with composites or fiberglass.  They can mimic the look of wood and are durable and do not require maintenance.  The price is more than vinyl and comparable to wood.  Sizes and shapes of composites will be more limited than wood shutters.  For the utmost durability and carefree use you can not beat composite shutters.

raised panel shutter

Raised panel exterior shutter

Whichever shutter you choose for your home it is important that they complement the style of your homes and are in the right proportion to your windows.  They also need to be mounted securely.  Exterior shutters designed and installed properly  will make a dramatic transformation to the street appeal of your home.  They will increase your homes value and is a good way to personalize the exterior of your home.  An experienced carpenter can design and build you custom shutters or install ready made shutters.

Arched top wood shutter

Arched top wood shutter


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Fireplace Mantels are a Great Way to Enhance Your Home.


Cherry mantel

Hardwood mantelMantel with TV cabinet.

Utah fireplace mantel

Mantel with TV cabinet.



Mantels are one of the best ways to customize your home and add value to it.  Most homes have the same look and feel to their family room.  A fireplace is the focal point of most rooms and offers you a great opportunity to create a room that is unique and fits your own style.  The mantel makes the most of your fireplace and adds to the warmth and feel to the fireplace.  A fireplace is incomplete without a mantel.

Mantels can be be built in many styles and designed to fit the size of any fireplace.  They can be built with the finest in hardwoods for a rich and warm feel or with paint grade materials for a lower cost option. Mantels can be incorporated into shelving or cabinets on the sides of the fireplace for a custom look.  Even if you already have a mantel it can

Alder mantel

Alder box mantel beam

be  updated to create a new look and make your home look new.  This is a easy and effective way to enhance your home.

Fireplace mantels start will a basic shelf above the fireplace.  It can be built over the brick or stone above the fireplace or on the wall.  It can be a modern style, with clean lines, a traditional style with custom moldings or a rustic look with a simple wood beam or log.  Legs can be added to the mantel to surround the fireplace and increase the size and looks of the mantel.  This is a great way to put a border around the stone or tile around the fireplace.  The lintel above the fireplace can be arched or have a raised panel look.  The mantel can wrap around the sides of the fireplace.  Mantels can be designed to work with a TV screen above the fireplace or your artwork of decorations.  One mantel  I recently built had a cabinet on the side of the fireplace that housed a television and electronics in it.  The doors open and slide into the cabinet giving the homeowner a good view of the TV or the ability to hide it when not in use.

Custom mantel with cabinets.

Mantel with cabinets

An experienced carpenter can help you design a mantel that sets your home apart from others and increase its value.  They can build a mantel that will fit any budget  and shape and style of your fireplace.  A well designed and built mantel will make a big impact to your home and will be the focal point of  the room it’s in.  It will give you a great way to decorate a room personalize your home.

mantel remodel

Fireplace after mantel is added.



Utah mantel

fireplace before mantel



Posted in Carpentry, Home Improvement | 2 Comments

Make your basement more inviting.

Basements can seem closed off from the rest of the house.  In a Utah home we recently helped change that problem.  Like a lot of houses the stairway going to the basement had a wall on both sides making the stairs Stair-remodel-in-utahseem confining and closing in the basement.  The lower sections of the stair walls were removed  and we widened the stairs.  A stair rail was installed in the place of the walls. This opens up the basement, allowing you to see down the stairs better and opens up the two sides of the basement.  It also makes it easier to move things to the basement as it is easier to turn the corner at the bottom of the stairs.  Many homes can be remodeled to open up their stairs.  Walls can be removed and replaced with a header to open up the basement and make it feel more like it’s part of the home.  In this home we used maple newel posts and railing with black metal balusters.  We installed stair caps on the sides of the open stairs and ran a maple stair skirt along the stair wall.  The wood work was stained a mahogany color giving it a rich and warm look and feel.

Posted in remodel, Stairs | 2 Comments

Best front door for durability and value.


Your choices in exterior doors used to be simple, you had one type of door, wood.  Wood doors are very attractive and come in an unlimited array of styles and wood types.  In spite of all the advantages of wood doors, for many people the disadvantages are to great.  The biggest disadvantage of wood doors is the maintenance required to keeping them looking good.  The weather and sun can take  its toll on wood doors.  Here in Utah our climate goes from hot to cold and the sun shines brightly.  This results in wood doors needing repainting or sealing to protect them.  Wood also will expand with humidity and can warp, so you do not always get a perfect fitting door. Wood doors are still very popular because homeowners do not want to give up the style and feel of real wood doors.

A cheaper type of exterior door is hollow metal doors.  Metal doors are very durable and need less maintenance that wood doors.  They come in many styles and give you a tighter seal than wood doors, making them more energy efficient.  The disadvantage of metal doors is they do not look like wood and they dent easily. For the last few decades metal doors were the only alternative to wood. Metal doors are the most popular doors on newer houses, especially on lower priced homes.

The last few years door manufactures have made advancements in a new type of door.  The new modern doors are made out of fiberglass. Fiberglass doors have many advantages over other doors. They are more durable than wood or metal doors and come with longer warranties. . They are more energy efficient, five times the insulation value of wood, and do not expand with changes in the weather. They do not dent like metal or split and warp like wood.  They come in an increasing amount of styles and can be made to look like wood.  Fiberglass doors come in textures that have the look and feel of wood.  They can be painted or stained to resemble many types of wood.  The downside to fiberglass doors has been their price.  In the last few years the supply of fiberglass doors has brought their price down.  Now fiberglass doors are priced close to metal doors removing the one advantage metal doors have.  If you have not looked at a fiberglass door lately you will be surprised at how attractive they are.  Fiberglass doors can fit any budget as they come in numerous styles and prices.  Just like metal and wood doors they come with several window and sidelight options.  Given the longer warranties, durability, efficiency and looks of fiberglass doors, for many homeowners they are the perfect door.  A properly installed fiberglass front door will be the last door you will ever need and will enhance the value of your home.

Utah front door installer

Mahogany entry door

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