Low-Maintentance Materials and Products

Claudette Reichel  |  1/11/2007 9:26:52 AM

Low-maintenance surfaces and products not only save you time and labor, they typically last longer and reduce the expense and environmental impacts of frequent refinishing.  Many low-maintenance materials have the added advantage of being flood-resistant.

Materials:  In addition to the familiar low-maintenance claddings (brick, stucco, stone, vinyl and aluminum siding, etc.), examples of low-maintenance home products that need little or no refinishing or infrequent replacement from the effects of weather or wear include:

  • Composite or high-density plastic trim, moldings, shutters, etc.
  • Composite or plastic lumber decking (no finishing, but may mildew)
  • Metal, vinyl-clad, fiberglass and composite windows and doors
  • Fiber-cement siding and trim (paint lasts longer)
  • Clog-free gutter systems
  • Wood-look concrete, plastic or pressure-treated wood fencing
  • Laminate flooring (scratch resistant)
  • Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile with narrow, colored grout
  • Decorative concrete with integral color
  • Solid vinyl and linoleum tiles
  • Fluorescent and LED lights

Mildew/algae resistant:  Smooth, nonabsorbent surfaces tend to be less mildew prone.

  • Paint:  Use high quality acrylic latex paint with a fungicide additive and, if available, zinc-oxide pigment.
  • Roofing:  Metal roofing, shingles with zinc impregnated granules, low-moisture-absorbing tile, concrete.

Cleanability: Choose smooth, non-absorbent, durable surfaces that can be wiped clean. Specify scrubbable paints (ask for its scrubbability rating) for walls and woodwork. Choose water-based urethane, aluminum oxide and factory finishes on cabinets and floorings.

Examine appliances for crevices and ridges that collect grime or are difficult to reach. Avoid hard-to-access horizontal details that collect dust, such as open areas above kitchen cabinets. Use vertical window treatments, such as vertical blinds, instead of mini-blinds, and machine-washable curtains. Include space for shoe cubbies and smooth flooring at family entry.

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