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   FRONT EXTERIOR  Considerations in Changing the Exterior of Your Home
2011 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Casas Bonitas
Article: Bob Skolnick
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One of the best ways to give yourself an emotional lift is to change the front personality of your home. It is the first emotion you experience when you arrive home and it is the first impression for your friends, neighbors and guests. The style of your house will determine or limit what you can do for the front exterior. There are several items that define the front personality; the roof on pitched roof homes is the most dominant element visually. If you have an older home with an asphalt tile roof you can change the surface to a smooth metal or a metal tile look keeping with the strong Tuscan and Spanish architecture of the region.

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1.) This home is accentuated by a tiered entry flagstone walkway and mixed landscaping of texture and size. The boulders add a natural feel. The enclosed patio with two entry door sets provides for a hacienda entrance. The selection of a rich coffee wall color and the light purple door make for a true southwest appearance.

2.) Stone veneer adds color and texture to the front of any home. The choices of colors and sizes are numerous. These are but a few of the many choices. Not shown is the option of a thin brick veneer for decoration of your home’s front.

3.) The front exterior of this custom El Paso home shows multiple elements of creating an excellent front personality. The terraced landscaping and curved walkway of stamped concrete lends to the attractive front door system. The use of stone veneer on the columns and front along with decorative wrought iron make this mid-price home look classy and welcoming. The clay tile roofing finished the Mediterranean feel.

4.) Nothing can make a “first impression” better than an intricately designed custom front door. A new door system designed by a good artisan is timeless and can add a feeling of Old World elegance.

5.) Thresholds that are adjustable can always be regulated to maintain a tight seal to prevent air leakage.

6.) A custom door or any door for that matter must have a tight air seal to ensure there is minimal heating and cooling loss.

7.) The front entry door framed by two custom carved wood posts along with the copper band below the clay tile roofing makes an excellent welcoming impression.

8.) The stamped concrete walkway creates an attractive and sweeping entrance to the home.

Artistic Entryways


C & D Southwest Lumber

Designer’s Mart

EF Building Materials

Rawson Builders Supply

Spirals by Design

Top Notch Exteriors

Torres Welding

Window Solutions
The next most dominant visual is the front entry door and adjacent windows. A custom designed wood door with glass inserts and wrought iron overlays makes a big welcoming first impression. Installing new windows offers many options in size and style. The front surface materials give the home texture and color. Stone veneer and thin brick veneers are very commonly used in new home construction in the region. They come in many styles and colors that can be applied over your front stucco face. They also work with encasing front entry columns. If you have or want a front entry porch, then consider carved wooden columns. They add a touch of artisan workmanship and particularly work well with pueblo, Spanish and Tuscan architecture. All homes have a front walkway. Why not depart from the old time straight to the front door access and give the front walkway a curve or two and finish the surface with stamped and colored concrete. Lastly, your landscaping is a big contributor. Add a boulder or two, create mounding or terracing to depart from a flat surface running up to the home. Select plants and shrubs that will be in foliage all year long. Nothing looks worse than dormant vegetation in front of a home. Given the amount of money you are likely to spend on the front exterior refreshing, it is a good idea to engage a rendering artist and prepare a color sketch of the new look.

One of the best ways to give your home a new front look is to change the rooflines with gables or a front porch.Jim Martin

River rock, cultured stone and carved wood beams, which are stained and finished, add a lot to front exteriors and are very popular right now. A lot of it depends on the style of the house.
Pat Ganey

Entry Doors & Windows

Entry door systems serve as ornamental expressions and as a function of energy efficiency. The front entry door and its adjoining window panels provide a statement of welcome and style, but also keep in mind that when the front door opens and closes, it allows outside air in and inside treated air out. When your heating and cooling system was designed, there was an allowance for this gain and loss. What is not allowed for is the continual leakage of an improperly sealed front door. Mass manufactured and inexpensive doors provide closure but are not engineered to the degree a custom door can be. First of all, the space to place the door may be part of a house built many years ago and settling might have occurred. Exact measurements need to be taken and given to the custom door manufacturer so that your new entry system is constructed to fit perfectly and tightly. A well-built custom door will have Kerfed compression weather stripping to ensure an airtight seal. Also, part of a good custom door system is an adjustable threshold, which allows for adjustment upon installation and in later years to make sure the bottom seal of the door is airtight. One of the other benefits of a custom door system is the ability to select the type of wood. Each type of wood produces its own look. The best woods are Philippine mahogany, soft maple, walnut and alder. These are solid woods that weather well and do not tend to crack. All good woods require periodic maintenance of the surface seal. Calendar yourself to provide care annually and they will last the life of the house.

Columns define the front entry of a home and also add an architectural relief from a horizontal flat front of the house. The entry columns can be framed and boxed, then covered with stucco, stone veneer or brick veneer. Another excellent option is the placement of either round or square custom carved timbers for your columns. The carved timbers along with a carved header beam really support the prominent local Spanish, Tuscan and Pueblo architectures. Be prepared to provide some annual care for your carved wood and it will last and look good for a long time.

New windows are a significant step to changing the exterior of a house, especially older homes because back then, all were made of aluminum. Now there is a wide variety of window replacements. Changing the window itself is a big step.Max Goldfien

Walkways, Driveways & Landscaping

There are many choices in the pathways to your front door and garage. Stamped and sealed concrete is an excellent option for your driveway. The patterns vary from brick to cobble stone to a square tiled look. You can color the stamped concrete to compliment the face of your home. For your walkway there are a few more options for the path leading to your front door. In addition to stamped and sealed concrete, you also have the option of a flagstone and clay brick walkway surface. When planning your walkway include a few curves in the design. Do not forget to allow for foot lights to illuminate the walkway in the evening. When landscaping the front consider the orientation of the front of the home. South facing homes will get more intense sunlight and may require a full desert landscape design rather than natural grass. Synthetic grasses have come a long way over the past decade and present an option if you want a green front surface facing the heat and sun intensity. Lastly, shade trees positioned in the front of the house break the architectural lines of the house and offer some relief from direct sunlight. ///
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