Get Your Deck, Porch & Patio Ready for Summer Fun

Once you have a deck, porch, or patio installed on your home, the fun – and the work – begins! Each spring gives you an opportunity to keep these outdoor living spaces looking like new while getting them ready for summertime gatherings and relaxation. With regular maintenance, you can make your deck or porch a focal point of your home and add eye-catching curb appeal that can be a great incentive if you plan to sell. Here are some tips on how to care for important parts of these outdoor living areas.

  • Decks and patios. Get out the deck cleaner, bristle brush, and a garden hose and give your outdoor space a good scrub and rinse. You can also use a pressure washer, but be sure to spray with the grain of the wood to prevent damage. Don’t forget the ceiling of a porch and the windows around your deck, porch, or patio too.
  • Outdoor furniture. Do not use a pressure washer on patio furniture (this can damage wood and chip paint). Instead, brush or vacuum off loose debris, wash surfaces with soapy water, and rinse thoroughly. Consult care tags first, but most outdoor cushions can also be cleaned with soap and water. Avoid using bleach and harsh cleaners.
  • Patio umbrella. Use the same method to clean a patio umbrella as you use for outdoor furniture. Scrub the fabric with mild soap and water to avoid weakening the water-resistant coating. Be sure to tighten stand screws.
  • Grills. Use a wire brush, soapy water, and paper towels to keep your grill safe, clean, and running well. View a video of how to clean and maintain a gas grill. Place an outdoor mat under the grill to prevent grease stains on your deck.
  • Water features. Regularly clean leaves and debris out of an outdoor fountain to keep the pump from becoming clogged. Use a 1:10 bleach water solution to kill algae in fountains and birdbaths. Scrub and rinse thoroughly.

Callen Blog - Deck Porch Maintenance 051815If you still don’t have the porch or deck of your dreams – or if your current patio or deck needs a facelift – Callen is the Brookfield remodeling company that can help. From design through completion, our expert carpenters deliver the highest level of care and attention, no matter how big or small the project. Give us a call today at (414) 765-2585 to get your project completed in time for summer!



5 Steps To Spruce Up Your Lawn for Spring

Callen Blog - Spring Lawn Tips 050415Long, brutally cold winters make green grass and warmer weather especially sweet for Wisconsinites. As temperatures head upward, it’s time to think about getting your lawn in shape for the upcoming summer. Follow these easy tips for a spring lawn spruce-up.

  • Clean and inspect. Rake up dead leaves and debris that laid buried under the snow over the winter. A good clean up will not only help your grass grow, it will also prevent damage to your mower. Inspect trees for broken or damaged branches. Prune them or call a professional for assistance. Use an edger around planting beds and along sidewalks.
  • Aerate. Aeration – done by pulling small plugs of thatch and soil out of the ground – helps grass roots grow deeper and produces a stronger, more vigorous lawn. This is best done in the spring. Aerating machines can be rented from home improvement stores and lawn and garden stores.
  • Fertilize. Fertilizer gives your lawn, trees, and shrubs an extra boost of nutrients after cleaning and aerating. Slow- or controlled-release fertilizers are best to supply nutrients gradually. It’s also important to know that not all grasses should be fertilized in the spring; some cool-weather grasses are best fertilized later in the year. To find out when to fertilize your variety of grass, contact your local University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.
  • Mulch. A layer of fresh mulch in planting beds and around trees looks neat, helps soil to retain moisture, prevents compaction, and enhances the soil. Don’t let mulch touch the trunks of trees and shrubs, and never layer mulch more than three inches in depth.
  • Check your gutter system. Proper drainage is essential to protect your landscaping and your home from water damage. Be sure your gutters and downspouts are in good repair and clear of clogs. If your yard has many trees, consider installing the Gutter Topper® gutter cover for long-term protection.

For assistance with gutters, gutter protection, or other exterior improvement projects, call Callen today at (414) 765-2585 for a FREE inspection and estimate. We’re the exterior remodeling company Milwaukee homeowners have trusted since 1986!



What’s Best – Full Frame Window Replacement or Window Insert

By Mike Wood, CR, Callen Sales Manager and Exterior Product Specialist

Callen Blog - Window Replacement or Window Insert PhotoYou may have noticed a draft coming through windows, or maybe condensation. Your windows just might be old and in general disrepair.  The question is should you get a full frame window replacement or just a window insert?

With a window insert, you remove the sashes and stops and put the new window inside an existing frame. While this is the least expensive way to go, use caution when choosing an insert.

With a window insert, the window will have less glass and also less light because the new window is inside the frame of the old one. It’s possible to lose an extra inch on each side of the sash. The problem of air leaks may not be addressed because although the window may be tight, the frame around it may not be. If the original frame is rotted or not square, a window insert instead of total window replacement will only result in more problems down the road. However, inserts are a good option if the window frame is in good condition with no signs of water damage and the opening is square.

With a full frame window replacement, the entire window, sashes, frame, stops, and intercasing are removed to the interior studs. This results in a secure anchoring of the frame to the house, better insulation and air sealing, and a plumb and square window so it opens and closes properly.

When looking at replacing windows, look at the products Low-E glass coating and its U-Factor. Low-E glass coatings reduce the heating and fading effects of the sun and can help keep your home cool on a hot day by blocking longer-wave radiant heat from entering. On a cold day, it can prevent the radiant interior heat from escaping through the glass. The U-Factor measures the heat transfer through a window and tells how well the product insulates. The lower the U-Factor, the greater resistance to heat flow (in and out) and the better it’s insulation value. U-Factor values generally range from 0.25 to 1.25.

There are also several different window replacement options:

  • Vinyl is the least expensive and maintenance free, but color choices are limited. Also there are different qualities of vinyl – think good, better, best. At Callen, we advise to go with the “best” for long-term results.
  • Wood is aesthetically pleasing, but requires maintenance such as scraping, painting, or staining, and is susceptible to moisture damage.
  • Fiberglass is typically more expensive than vinyl or wood, but it is stronger, more durable, and more energy efficient. Fiberglass is the highest-quality insulating material for replacement windows.
  • Aluminum clad: These have wood frames inside and an aluminum shell on the outside for low maintenance.

The most important part of window replacement, whether a homeowner chooses full frame or insert, is to get a qualified installer, a contractor with an established business. That installer is Callen.

To learn more about whether you should do a full window replacement, call Callen at 414-765-2585. We are the exterior remodeling company Milwaukee homeowners have trusted since 1986!



Is James Hardie® Fiber Cement Siding Right for You?

Callen Blog Photo - James Hardie Benefits -40615If you love the authentic look of wood siding but are unwilling to deal with the maintenance hassles, then fiber cement siding may be the perfect choice for you and your home. Fiber cement is made from a mixture of water, sand, wood fiber, and Portland cement that is molded into planks and cured at high temperatures. The finished product is extremely durable, yet looks like real wood. What’s not to love?

In recent years, Callen Construction has seen the use of fiber cement siding steadily increase. To meet the needs of our customers, we are a certified installer of James Hardie® fiber cement products. Here are some advantages that set James Hardie products apart from other siding materials:

  • Durability – James Hardie products are specifically engineered to withstand damage from moisture, rot, impact, fire, and insects.
  • Low maintenanceWhile James Hardie siding must be painted or stained, the paint can adhere better and last longer than the same paint applied to wood siding, saving you time and money.
  • BeautyJames Hardie fiber cement siding is available in a variety of textures and colors. While it can be custom painted, we recommend going with a factory-applied color. ColorPlus® Technology is a baked-on paint finish that is more durable, more sustainable, and warrantied.
  • Longevity – James Hardie offers a 30-year transferrable product warranty, as well as a 15-year finish warranty, to cover both paint and labor.

The Cost of Fiber Cement

While it costs more than vinyl, fiber cement siding costs much less than wood, stone, or brick siding, and is often comparable in price to insulated vinyl siding.

Schedule a FREE Consultation

To learn more about the advantages of James Hardie fiber cement products, and to get inspiration for your exterior remodeling project, please call Callen at (414) 765-2585. We are the exterior remodeling company Milwaukee homeowners have trusted since 1986!