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Low-maintenance exterior upgrades that add value and style to your home

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Updated: 8/16/2013 3:48 pm

(BPT) - Sunny days and clear skies are perfect for making exterior home improvements. Homeowners want to use their time and money wisely, so it's important to choose projects that are low-maintenance and have a good return on investment.

Consider these top exterior projects that will increase your home's value and curb appeal. And, because they're low-maintenance, you'll get more time to enjoy the beauty of the season.

Fence, railing or deck upgrades: no painting or staining required

If you're updating or replacing your fencing, patio or deck railing or an entire deck, you'll want to select the right wood for the job. If you like pressure-treated lumber, but don't want to have to paint or stain the wood, then ProWood Dura Color is for you. Each piece is color-infused through and through, and has the natural color characteristics and appearance of cedar or redwood, but won't fade to silver or gray over time, like untreated lumber.

'People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don't want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they fade to gray,' says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products. 'ProWood Dura Color products not only look like natural cedar or redwood, their color lasts much longer and they're backed with a lifetime limited warranty against termites and rot.' What's more, all ProWood Dura Color lumber boasts a two-year color assurance warranty.

How is ProWood Dura Color different? Colorant is infused deep into the wood's fibers during the treating process, eliminating the need to paint or stain. You'll get natural-looking lumber with color that's guaranteed to last. Visit www.ProWoodLumber.com for more information.

Use ProWood Dura Color for your deck addition. A wood deck addition has great return on investment - 77.3 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2013 Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, you're sure to enjoy the expanded outdoor living space.

Exterior door updates are functional and fashionable

If you look at your home from the street, do you like its curb appeal? If not, maybe it's the doors. The doors that mostly affect the style and function of your home's exterior are the entryway and garage doors. If yours are dated, drafty and always need painting, it's time for new, modern options, and they may cost less than you think.

The average cost to replace a steel entry door is $1,137, according to the Cost vs. Value Report, and the cost recouped when you sell the house is 85.6 percent. Your new door will look great and help keep your home energy efficient too.

Garage door replacements come with a similar price tag, averaging $1,496, according to the report, but you'll recoup 75.7 percent when it's time to sell. A garage door upgrade is functional as well as beautiful - because it takes up so much visual space on your home's exterior, a new garage door can set the tone for your home's personality. Plus, most of today's options are low-maintenance and don't require annual painting.

Cut energy bills and seasonal drafts with new windows

If you ignore or delay window maintenance, you're not alone, but doing so could be costing you more money than you think. Windows - particularly old ones - can be a lot of work. Wood windows need annual maintenance to avoid deterioration and rot, single pane windows need to be insulated and sealed during cold seasons, and screens need repair when warm weather approaches.

Take a look at your windows and determine which can be repaired and which need to be replaced. New windows have so many technological advancements that they're virtually maintenance-free and often come with a lifetime warranty.

New windows with multiple panes, low-emissivity coatings, gas treatments between the panes and other advancements make new windows a worry-free addition. New vinyl windows have a return on investment of 71.2 percent, according to the Cost vs. Value report.

Whether your next home improvement project is big or small, researching low-maintenance options today will help ensure your home looks good for many years to come. Plus, you'll have more time to enjoy the long sunny days with a refreshing drink in hand rather than a hammer and drill.

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