A Homeowner’s Guide to Exterior Renovations

February 4, 2020 | Blog

When it comes to doing renovations on your home, the interior is often what comes to mind first. But the exterior of your home can say a lot in terms of curb appeal, too! And many times, since most of the time is spent on the inside of the home, it’s easy to forget to keep up with exterior maintenance. With the help of JBDB’s design-build team, here is a quick guide to help you determine if your home’s exterior is due for some updates.


The type of material your windows are framed with – and how well they’ve been maintained over the years – will play a big part in the longevity of your windows. 

Average lifespan: Around 20 years

How you know it’s time to replace: If you currently have wood framing, check to see if the wood is deteriorating. It’s also important to check the seals on the windows to make sure they aren’t broken.

Replacement options to consider: There are several types of window material options: maintenance free, metal-clad, vinyl/Fibrex fiberglass, and wood. Talk to a design-build expert to see which material best fits your home and your budget. For example, if you’re in an historic home, you may want to use wood windows. Vinyl tends to be the least expensive material, and metal-clad tends to have the highest price tag.

Expert tip: John Miller, VP of sales and production at JBDB, says, “Make sure you are getting new construction windows rather than replacement windows. And make sure to take it down to the opening instead of just replacing the sash and putting in a replacement window.” Replacement windows tend to act more like band-aids instead of fully fixing the issue.

Garage Doors

The main reason you may think about replacing a garage door is if you’re wanting to update the look of your home, versus needing to replace it because it’s getting worn out. “You’ll more than likely wear out the opener before you wear out the door,” John says.

Average lifespan: Dependent on usage and material, typically 15+ years

How you know it’s time to replace: For a wooden garage door, look for signs of rotting. On metal doors, look for dents or dings on the surface.

Replacement options to consider: Most homeowners opt for a steel door for their garages. Depending on whether or not you’re planning to finish the garage and have it heated, you’ll want to pick a garage door with the corresponding r-value to keep it insulated.

Expert tip: From window styles to number of panels to color, there are a wide variety of styles available to complement the rest of your home’s exterior. One current popular choice is choosing a steel door that is finished to look like wood. John says, “They’ve made improvements in their printing technology to give it an even better, more realistic look.”


Since it covers your entire house, changing the color or look of your siding can make a drastic change to the look of your home. 

Average lifespan: 20+ years for vinyl siding

How you know it’s time to replace: If you have wooden siding, check for signs of decay. Signs of hail damage or faded coloring on your vinyl siding are also signs it could be time for an update.

Replacement options to consider: Vinyl is a common option. LP® SmartSide® is another option that is wood-based, maintenance free, and engineered to resist decay. James Hardie cement board won’t decay and is fire-resistant.

Expert tip: Instead of doing all horizontal siding, consider adding in a few other options such as board and batten or shakes as accents for your home, suggests Emily Thull, JBDB’s designer. “In general, people are more open to mixing vertical and horizontal, doing different elements, mixing wood finish with color finish,” she says.


Like siding, your roof covers a significant portion of your home and it’s important to make sure it’s in good condition to protect your home.

Average lifespan: around 20 years

How you know it’s time to replace: Look for algae growth (if constantly damp and shaded by trees), deteriorating shingles, fading from the sun, wear and tear from hail, ice, wind and snow.

Replacement options to consider: Asphalt shingles are a common choice, but homeowners also choose steel roofing, standing seam roofing, steel panel, or slate options.

Expert tip: For some extra visual interest, pick a secondary material to accent architectural features like dormers or overhangs. “As long as it fits the architecture of the home, there are some great ways to highlight rooflines by using another material,” Emily says.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late! 

If it’s time for your home’s exterior to get a refresh, talk to JBDB’s team of experts today to get things started! View our portfolio of exterior home projects to see how our team has transformed and improved homes just like yours throughout the Twin Cities area.

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We look forward to hearing your ideas, sharing our expertise, and collaborating together!

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