Home Improvement Experts

Vinyl Siding: 11 Fun Facts

vinyl siding

As a Delaware siding company, we’ve installed vinyl siding on many different homes. We highly recommend it because of its cost and its durability. Here are some things you may not know about vinyl siding:

1. Vinyl siding is usually more affordable than traditional wood siding, fiber cement siding, and even stucco.

2. Vinyl siding was first produced commercially in the 1930s, but didn’t become a popular material for homes until the 1970s.

3. If you’re going to wash your siding, a soft brush, garden hose and mild cleaner is all that should be used. However, check with the siding manufacturer to very what they suggest to keep you warranty valid.

4. Unlike steel siding or wooden siding, you won’t have to worry about your vinyl siding chipping, rusting, or rotting.

5. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we’ll remove your home’s old siding before installing your new vinyl siding (as opposed to installing your new siding on top of the old siding).

6. Vinyl siding can expand and contract up to 3/4 of an inch in hot and cold weather. For this reason, professional siding installers will hang siding so that it has room “move” once temperatures change.

7. The color of vinyl siding will last much longer than traditional exterior house paint.

8. Vinyl is the number one siding material choice among homeowners in the U.S., mainly because it’s affordable, durable, and looks great.

9. Most brands of vinyl siding are able to withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour.

10. When it comes to environmentalism, our Delaware siding experts install CertainTeed vinyl siding, which is made from recycled materials and can be recycled once it reaches the end of its lifespan.

11. A “square” of siding refers to a measure of 10 feet by 10 feet (or 100 square feet).

If you’re interested in high-quality vinyl siding for your home, give us a call today!

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What To Know About Contractor Fees

contractor fees

If you’ve ever had work done by a home improvement contractor, you may have gotten a free estimate, or you may have been charged a diagnostic fee. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference and what you should expect from your contractor. Here is some insight from our home improvement company:

Free Estimate vs. Diagnosis

If you’d like to know how much a project will cost, most companies will give you a free estimate so that you know how much to expect to pay. If you have a problem and want to get to the source of it, however, most companies will charge a fee for a diagnosis. This is because they have to take the time to correctly identify what’s wrong before they can fix it.

For example: If you want to know how much a gutter repair will be, you can usually get a no-cost estimate. If you’re not sure why your gutters are leaking, however, you’ll probably have to pay an expert for a diagnosis.

Also keep in mind, if you need to submit something to an insurance company there might be a fee to prepare the paperwork.

Mark-ups vs. Profits

If you’ve never been a contractor before, you may have fallen under the assumption that “mark-ups” and “profits” are the same thing. In reality, they’re not. If a company has a 1.5 mark-up, it means that a $10,000 project will actually be quoted at $15,000 ($10,000 x 1.5). However, while many people think that extra $5,000 is a profit, it actually goes toward overhead expenses. This includes salary, job supervision, insurance, legal fees, taxes, licenses, and other necessary expenses the company needs to pay. A company will charge a mark-up simply so that they can perform the work under the right conditions.

Job Sizes

Many fees are based on the actual size of the job. If you need to repair one of your windows, a contractor might give you a free estimate and then perform the work for a certain price. If you need new windows, however, a contractor might charge you a fee for measurements and assessments, then perform the work for a certain price. A simple rule of thumb is the more complicated the job, the more costly it will be.

Asking Questions

Like any other homeowner, you’ve probably contacted several different companies to get estimates for your home improvement project. This is always a good idea. In addition to simply getting an estimate, you should also ask questions like:

  • What does the estimate include?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Can the company provide the right licenses?
  • What are the payment terms?
  • Who’s responsible for each part of the project?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your home and any contractor should know that it’s important to you. Contact us today – we’d be happy to help clarify anything you’re unsure about.

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6 Plumbing Tips for the Fall

gutter cleaning

Yes, it’s fall and you know what that means – winter will be here before you know it. Right now is a great time to make sure your home is prepared for the cold (which includes cleaning out your New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland gutters). Here are some other plumbing tips for the season:

Disconnect and Store Outdoor Hoses

Make sure all of your water spigots are turned off, then disconnect your outdoor hoses. If temperatures get down to freezing and your hoses are still connected, the water inside could freeze and cause problems for your indoor pipes. Also, store your hoses in an area that doesn’t dip below freezing on a regular basis – when rubber freezes and thaws over and over, it’s prone to cracking.

Clean Gutters Regularly

Fall means lots of pretty-colored leaves, however, many of those leaves could end up in your gutters. If your gutters aren’t cleaned out on a regular basis, those leaves could pile up and cause major problems once winter hits. Gutters that are clogged with debris could prevent water from draining correctly (which means water could end up leaking into your home).

Insulate Exposed Pipes

Take a look around your home and note any pipes that are exposed to the air. These pipes have a greater chance of freezing and bursting during cold temperatures, so make sure you insulate them properly in order to keep them warm.

Clean Out Your Septic System

Many people forget about their septic systems, and fall is a great time to give yours a thorough cleaning. Have your septic tank pumped and your sewer line snaked to remove any built-up debris and prevent clogs during the winter. Cleaning your septic system can be tough to do yourself, so trust a local plumbing professional to do to the job right.

Prep Before You Leave

You’re probably going to want to get away at some point this winter (we’re betting somewhere warm), but before you leave, make sure you prep your home for the cold temperatures. Turn off your main water valve and open up your faucets at the highest and lowest points of your home in order to drain the leftover water. This will keep the water in your pipes from freezing and expanding, which could lead to pipe damage. Also make sure that your home thermostat is set to no colder than 55 degrees. This will help keep your plumbing warm.

Flush Your Water Heater

Since you water heater works harder during the cold months, flush it out before winter sets in. This will help get rid of build-up, which can cause corrosion and reduce the water heater’s efficiency. Check with the manufacturer of your water heater for instructions on how to properly flush it.

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Window Replacements: Things to Keep in Mind


window replacement

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we know there’s more to windows than just style – there’s also the issue of longevity, durability, and energy efficiency. That’s why we offer Infinity by Marvin windows. These windows are ones that we can stand behind and ones that we’re proud to offer our clients in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

If you’re in the market for replacement windows, here are a few things to keep in mind:

* Look for window styles that tilt inward or outward, which makes them very easy to maneuver and clean.

* Energy-efficient windows can help you save hundreds of dollars every year.

* Look for windows with fiberglass frames. They’ll be stronger, more efficient, and virtually maintenance-free.

* To make sure your windows are installed correctly, trust a professional window replacement company to do the work instead of trying to do it yourself.

* Low-E windows will reflect heat to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

* Look for a window installation company that offers lifetime window guarantees. You’ll avoid any headaches if something goes wrong with your windows.

* Before you decide on your new windows, know the pros and cons of windows made from different materials (such as wood, vinyl, ect.).

* Know the difference between having to repair your windows and having to replace them.

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Fix Your Roof Before Winter Hits


Pennsylvania roofing repairs

We know it’s only the end of September, but winter will be here before you know it and when it comes to your home, our Pennsylvania roofing experts recommend being prepared. This means that any maintenance you need to do on your roof should be done before the cold sets in to strengthen your roof and help prevent winter weather-related damage.


Cracked, broken, or missing shingles can leave your roof exposed to elements like snow, rain, sleet, and hail, which could all be damaging. If water gets into the cracks of a shingle and freezes, it could make the cracks even worse. And if you’re missing shingles, water could seep into your roof and compromise its strength.


During the winter, gutters can also pose a threat to your roofing (as well as your interior walls and ceilings). If your gutters are damaged, melted snow and ice won’t be able to drain properly and can get trapped. This trapped water can back up into your home and cause water damage, which is why it’s important to make sure your gutter system is always clean. Check your system on a regular basis – especially after the fall season when leaves tend to accumulate and cause potential backups.


If the flashing around your roof or chimney is separated, damaged, or broken, you could already be letting water seep in underneath it. Once winter comes, that water could freeze and make your flashing situation even worse. Have one of our Pennsylvania roofing experts inspect it and fix where necessary. You’ll have a strong, reliable seal for protection during the winter.


When an area is constantly moist and dark, it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. This goes for your roofing as well. If your shingles are loose or cracked, they could be trapping water underneath them and mold or mildew could be growing. While these fungi tend to grow better in warmer temperatures, trapping water underneath your shingles during the winter gives them a head start for growth once spring rolls around. If you let mold or mildew grow too long, it can compromise your roof’s sturdiness and even cause health problems for those who live under it.

Fixing your roof before winter begins gives your home and your family a stronger protection against bad weather, cold temperatures, and the weight of snow and/or ice. Call us today. We’ll come inspect your roof and make any necessary repairs to have it prepared for the winter.

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A Brief History of Home Insulation

history of insulation

As a Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland insulation specialist, we realize that home insulation has come a long way. From mud to asbestos to spray foams, we’ve been able to revolutionize the way we protect our homes and families. Here’s how it all began:

The BC Years

Thousands of years ago in the BC age,  ancient civilizations had their own unique ways of insulating their homes. Both Ancient Egpytians and the Vikings took advantage of the cooling properties of mud. Egyptians built their homes out of mud bricks to keep them cool, while Vikings plastered mud and straw in between the logs that made up their homes.

Early AD Years

Ancient Greeks were the first to use a type of insulation that’s still popular today – asbestos. This material was thought to have mystical qualities because it was resistant to flames, so the Greeks named it “asbestos,” which means “inextinguishable.”

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, homes were made from stone with thatched roofs, so they were cold, damp, and drafty. To absorb the dampness and the drafts, people hung tapestries on the walls.

Industrial Revolution

Though you don’t really think of homes when you think of the Industrial Revolution, this period of time made asbestos very popular. Manufacturers used steam to power their technology, and in order to travel around the building, the steam was transported through pipes. Because these pipes got very hot, manufacturers decided to use asbestos to wrap the pipes and make them safer for workers to be around.

Asbestos was also used in the automobile industry in the early 1900s.


Fiberglass insulation was the next big breakthrough in home insulation. When researcher Dale Kleist attempted to create a vacuum seal between two glass blocks, an accidental stream of high-pressured air turned some of the glass into thin fibers. These fibers became the base of fiberglass insulation, which became popular in the 1940s.

1950s – 1970s

Another form of insulation that became popular is cellulose. Made of newspaper, cardboard, straw, sawdust, or cotton, cellulose was actually one of the earliest types of insulation. It didn’t become popular until later, however, because it was considered very flammable. In the 1950s, insulation manufacturers were able to add a fire retardant to cellulose material, and the insulation was used by many in the 1970s.


Polyurethane spray foam insulation was considered one of the greatest advancements in home insulation. Though it was developed by the military in the 1940s, it didn’t become popular in homes until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Spray foam insulation was much easier to incorporate in home construction because it expanded and could fill in divots and corners (as opposed to blankets of fiberglass or asbestos that only covered level areas).


Today, many forms of insulation are used to protect a home. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we highly recommend our Radiant Barrier reflective insulation, which is the most cost-efficient way to lower your heating and cooling bills and help you reduce your carbon emissions.

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5 More Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself

broken tile diy

A few months ago, we wrote a blog titled “5 Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself,” and got some pretty great feedback, so we thought we’d write another with even more home repairs that you can do yourself.

Cracked/Broken Tiles

Floor tiles can crack because of wear and tear or because of something heavy being dropped on them. If you have just one or two broken floor tiles, you’re in luck – they’re easily replaceable. Simply chisel out the grout from around the edges of the broken tiles and remove them. (You can drill a few holes into the tile to help break it up, if needed.) Scrape off the old adhesive and apply new adhesive to the back of your new tiles. Position your tiles, then press down firmly to form a bond. After the adhesive dries, you can grout your new tiles.

Clogged Drain

Whether it’s in your kitchen or bathroom, at one point or another, you’re probably going to experience a clogged drain. There are several ways to unclog a drain (and our bath solutions experts recommend staying away from chemical cleaners). Try mixing 1/3 cup vinegar with 1/3 cup baking soda. Once it starts to fizz, pour it down the drain and let it sit overnight. In the morning, flush with hot water. Or cut off the top of a wire hanger and straighten it out, making a hook at the end. Use the hanger to grab and pull whatever’s clogging your drain, then rinse it with hot water. You can also resort to a sturdy flat plunger.

Torn/Peeling Wallpaper

Fixing torn or peeling wallpaper only requires adhesive, a small brush, and a steady hand. Carefully peel back the damaged wallpaper and apply a thin layer of adhesive with a small brush. Place the wallpaper in its original spot and use a damp sponge to smooth it back into place and let it dry thoroughly.

Broken Light Switch

There’s always a danger involved in trying to fix electrical issues, but fixing a broken light switch is pretty simple. First, turn off the breaker that powers that light switch. Then, unscrew the two surface plate screws, then the two screws on the mounting piece underneath. Then, remove the wires from the back of the switch, paying attention to where each wire is. Plug the wires into the new switch in the same pattern, making sure to establish the ground wire. Then, reattach the switch to the mounting piece and replace the surface plate.

Old Faucet

If your faucet has seen its days and it’s time to replace it with a new one, start by turning off the water supply. Then, disconnect the water supply lines from under the faucet. Disconnect the lift rod from the faucet and remove the nuts. Remove the p-trap and disconnect the drain from the sink. After that, follow the instructions for installing the new faucet. Attach the new drain and drain rod, then reconnect the water supply lines.

Just remember - some major home repairs are best left up to the experts. Call the professionals at P.J. Fitzpatrick today!

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What Your Front Door Color Says About You


front door colors

Your front door is not only an entrance to your home – it’s also a statement about who you are. When choosing a new front door, it’s always important to think about energy efficiency, maintenance, cost, and style (for tips on choosing the right front door, read this blog article), but did you know that the color of your door can also say a lot about you?

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we install a lot of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania doors, and we like to tell people that when you choose a front door color, don’t just focus on what would match your siding and trim – think about the kind of family you are.

Below are some common front door colors and what they can say about your personality:

Blue: Depending on the shade, a blue front door can mean you’re prosperous and positive (royal blue), calm and grounded (dark blue), or friendly and sincere (powder blue).

Yellow: Yellow front doors are pretty uncommon, but often say a lot – you’re confident, curious, wise, humorous, and understanding. You’ll also probably spark the interest of your neighbors.

White: A white front door will tell your neighbors that you’re clean, organized, simple, and serene.

Red: Red is one of the most common front door colors and in early American tradition, a red door meant “welcome.” While bright red says you’re exciting and vibrant, a darker red can mean you’re warm and inviting.

Black: Black is a color that symbolizes order and control. It will tell people that you’re sophisticated and authoritative.

Green: Like the idea of “going green,” a green front door says your home is a place of health, community, and safety. If you opt for a bolder, brighter green, you’ll give off the vibe that you live an exciting life.

Brown: Depending on the shade, brown can mean you’re warm and reliable (light brown) or introverted and private (dark brown).

Purple: Like yellow, purple is an uncommon front door color. It’s often associated with spirituality, so by painting your front door purple, you’ll tell your neighbors that you’re open-minded and a risk-taker.

Grey: A grey front door is often associated with intelligence and being dignified, but can come across as stand-offish, depending on the shade you choose.

Orange: The color of orange is considered vibrant and exciting, and if your front door is orange, it’ll say the same about you. You’ll also give off the vibe that you like entertaining and taking on new challenges.

So tell us – what’s the color of your front door? Does it fit your personality?

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12 Decorating Tips for a Small Bathroom

small bathroom decorating

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we’ve seen plenty of small bathrooms that have been decorated perfectly – some, to make the space look larger and others, to make a statement. We’ve collected 12 decorating tips to help you create a bathroom you love.

1. Choose Vertical Storage

Since you’re tight on space, you may not have room for a towel basket or even a lot of room in your closet. Invest in a vertical storage unit like shelves, bars, or even a ladder to keep your things organized and add an element of design.

2. Try Light Colors

If you want to make your bathroom seem larger, choose a paint color that’s a lighter or neutral shade. Light-colored walls and matching or complementing accents make a room look larger and more open.

3. Add Curtains

If you have pedestal or other type of free-standing sink, give it a little skirt with a pair of fun curtains. You’ll also give yourself extra storage space, since you can hide things behind the curtains.

4. Accent with Plants

Bathrooms are supposed to feel fresh, so why not add some plants to your decor? Get a few mini terracotta pots and plant aloe, herbs, or small flowers to liven up your space.

5. Go Bold

Since your bathroom is a small space, you have the freedom to make a statement with it. Go bold with a patterned wallpaper, a one-of-a-kind bath tub, or an oversized piece of artwork.

6. Use the Mirror Trick

Putting a large mirror in a small space immediately gives the illusion that the space is larger than it really is, so when choosing a mirror for your bathroom, opt for an expansive one.

7. Create a Cut-Out

If you have the room, create a cut-out in one of your bathroom walls, paint it a light color, and install a shelf. You’ll not only have a decorative space, you’ll make the area look bigger.

8. Replace Your Tub

If your bathroom has a bath tub, you could be losing out on valuable space. Transform that bath tub into a sleek shower with our available bath solutions services.

9. Add a Backsplash

For a little pop of color, add a tile backsplash behind your sink. Since your bathroom is small, you won’t need much and it won’t take you long.

10. Lay Flooring Length-Wise

If you’re putting in hardwood or tile flooring with a rectangular shape, arrange the panels to run long-ways along the length of the floor, not the width. This will give the illusion that the space is larger than it is.

11. Create Texture

Your sink, toilet and shower/bath tub are the major eye-catchers in your bathroom, and they’re probably smooth and sleek. Break up the consistency with some texture like stones, big tiles, brushed walls, and more.

12. Illuminate Upwards

Invest in some lighting options (like sconces or chandeliers) that spread light upwards as well as downwards. By illuminating the space above you, it will make the bathroom bigger and brighter.

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When Choosing Siding Color…

Delaware siding

You may have many of your big aesthetic home choices made, like roofing material, window style, and garage door type, but when it comes to siding color, it may be hard to decide which is best.

Don’t worry – our Delaware siding experts are here to help.

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we specialize in many home improvement services including Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware siding. We install a wide variety of siding (such as horizontal, vertical, and shake and shingle) and in many colors, so we know how tough it may be to choose one.

Complement your roof.

Since the two largest palates of color that the eye is drawn to are your roof and your siding, make sure you take into consideration the color of your roof before you decide on your siding. If your roof is a light neutral color (like brown or tan), consider siding with a darker hue (like navy or rust). If your roof is a dark neutral color (like black or dark grey), consider a lighter color (like peach or gold).

Don’t be afraid of color.

Because siding is the first thing you see on a home, many homeowners opt for a neutral color and then use doors or shutters to add some color. If you’d rather make your house stand out from the start, however, we say don’t be afraid to go for it. Making your home a bold color like forest green or cornflower blue may be a great way to distinguish yourself from everyone else in the area.

Consider mixing and matching.

These days, architecture is unique, so drawing the eye to many different features of your home can be fun. By mixing and matching siding colors and textures, you can highlight the best parts of your home’s design (and add some creativity).

Beware of stripes.

While we do encourage mixing and matching siding colors and textures, we must warn you: If you choose to do a vertical siding and decide to alternate light and dark colors, you home could end up looking like it’s covered in striped wallpaper. Our siding experts can help you avoid this.

Know color terms.

It’s important to know the difference between the term “analogous colors” and “complementary colors.” Analogous colors are one or more colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (such as yellow and green). These colors will give you the smoothest contrast transition.

Complementary colors, on the other hand, are colors that are across from each other on the color wheel (such as blue and orange). These will present more of a dramatic contrast.


When looking at a home, the eye tends to notice light colors before dark colors, so keep this in mind when choosing siding and trim colors.

Ask for help.

That’s what we’re here for! If you’re not sure about your siding color choice, get a second opinion. We’d be happy to help you decide.

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