Welcome to Gentek Canada’s MyDesign Home Studio, our home exterior improvement blog

Get tips and colour choices from our designers and learn about our latest windows, siding and home exterior products.

Introducing: Gentek’s New Visualizer

It’s never been easier to visualize your upcoming home renovation than it is now! In collaboration with Renoworks Software Inc., we recently updated the Gentek Visualizer for easier use, mobile responsiveness (you can now access the visualizer from any device!), and higher resolution images so you can get a better idea of what your finished design will look like! Wondering just exactly what the Gentek Visualizer is and how you can use it to design your dream home exterior? Let’s dig in!

What is the Gentek Visualizer?

You can think of the Gentek Visualizer as a one-stop shop for all your visual remodeling needs! It’s an online tool that allows you to take a realistic look at the final design of your construction/remodeling project using Gentek’s extensive portfolio of building products. From vinyl, aluminum and steel siding, to entrance doors, trim, and other accessories, you can quickly and easily see what your finished design will look like with your chosen materials and colours. Choose from sample homes that emulate the most popular home designs, or upload a photo to see exactly what the outcome will look like on your very own home!

Amazing Just-Launched Features

We’re so excited to announce a few new amazing features for the Gentek Visualizer that were recently launched! The upgraded mobile responsiveness is key to ease for homeowners who want to see their design anywhere, any time and with any device. You can now pull your design up on your phone, iPad, laptop or desktop at your convenience. Plus, you have higher resolution images, giving you an enhanced and more realistic view of the design details you choose.

It’s now easier than ever to select your ideal colour and design with the new colour palettes with pre-selected Gentek product and colour combinations. There’s also an enhanced user interface and easier product navigation, making it a breeze for anyone to use! This amazing service valued at $15 is free until October 31, 2018, so try it before the launch period ends! All we need is 3-5 business days and we’ll send you over a link with your photo ready to use in the visualizer! After that you can design to your heart’s desire, adding products and colour designs until you achieve the perfect look.

If it’s time for you to remodel your home, the Gentek Visualizer will help you achieve the look you want with its amazing new features! Try it now for free and see how you can transform your house into the one of your dreams!


Distinction Siding: The Look of Real Siding Without the Maintenance

When it comes to choosing the right siding for your home, there are a number of things to keep in mind. From the look, to the material, to the upkeep, the siding you choose will have a big impact on your curb appeal and your lifestyle. Two of the main factors homeowners consider when it comes to siding are the look and maintenance of the siding material. Many want the look of real wood, but realize that in order to maintain it, it will take up a lot of their time and money. Enter: Distinction siding: Maintenance-free siding that replicates the variations of real wood for a natural wood finish! Read all about why Distinction siding is about to become your new favourite!

What Sets Distinction Siding Apart?

Distinction siding offers the unrivaled appearance of wood, without any of the hard work and time to upkeep it. While natural wood siding can become easily discoloured and damaged, and needs considerable maintenance, Distinction siding provides the elegance of maintenance free wood.

Distinction siding is a pre-painted, high strength steel product with no visible screws and unmatched durability, so you never have to worry about its performance. It’s coated with rust-resistant paint that offers long-term durability that won’t fade. You’ll also be happy to know that Distinction siding increases your property value being such a high-quality product, so if you’re putting your home up for sale, or plan to in the future, it’s definitely worth the investment!

Distinctive Design

Depending on your home design, you can choose between horizontal and vertical installation for your Distinction siding to get the look you want! While horizontal siding provides a timeless look for your home, vertical siding adds distinction, giving your home a more unique appearance.

You’ll also have to consider what colour you’ll want for your new siding. Distinction siding is available in three series of colours: Wood Series, Nuanced Wood Series, and Granite Series, and in numerous shades including cedarwood, smoked black, exotic walnut and metallic silver. You can see a list of available colours here, but keep in mind that not all colours are available in all provinces. Take some time to decide on your colour and the direction of the siding planks to ensure your complete satisfaction with your siding project!

If you’re on the hunt for a siding material that does it all, look no further. Distinction siding will give you the look of real wood without the maintenance, and will be a gorgeous addition to your home!


What Blooms – And What to Plant – This Fall

The summer months may see a myriad of bold and bright flowers, but did you know that fall blooms are just as beautiful? The front of your home and backyard will always look more inviting with a colourful garden, and why not keep your landscaping vibrant until the winter frost hits? Here’s a list of flowers that will elevate your garden this fall.

Salvia

From the Victoria Blue Salvia, to the Mexican Sage and Pineapple Sage, there are many types of salvias, which bloom abundantly from mid-summer through late fall. You can grow them easily in a sunny spot, with moist, well-drained soil, and rest assured that they’re often ignored by deer, bunnies and other garden pests. They’re typically known and loved for their velvet blue and purple hues, but they also bloom in lavender, red and white.

Oriental Lily

Growing 4 to 6 feet tall, the Oriental Lily is one of the most gorgeous exotic plants you can add to your landscaping for fall. You can choose from colours including pink, rose, red, cream, white, yellow and orange, and most are painted with darker stripes and spots. They require a sunny to semi-sunny spot and well-drained soil with lots of organic matter. Don’t grow impatient with them – it may take a year or two to get a substantial bundle, but it will be worth it.

Perennial Sunflower  

Perennial sunflowers are not quite as large as annual sunflowers (the one most people are familiar with), but they’re just as beautiful and can be found in varying shades of golds and a softer lemon yellow. They bloom in the late summer to early fall, with multiple, modestly-sized flowers. Plant them in full sun, and to keep them from flopping over, plant them next to other tall plants, walls or fences for support.

Chrysanthemum

Also known as Mums, Chrysanthemums are the quintessential fall flower, blooming when the nights start getting longer and cooler. Available in a huge selection of colours, sizes and flower forms, you can use them potted or throughout your landscaping. They’re breathtaking whether they’re planted by themselves or among other fall flowers, and all they need is a sunny location and a watering whenever the top of the soil starts to dry.

Zinnia

Zinnias are one of the fastest growing flowers, and if planted from seed, they bloom in just 6 to 8 weeks and last from summer to frost. They’re available in a variety of bold and pastel colours, bi-colour, and tri-colour, as well as single petals, semi-doubles and doubles.

Nippon Daisy

The Nippon Daisy, or Montauk Daisy is extremely easy to care for and blooms late in the season, retaining its colour up until a hard freeze. The pretty white flowers grow 24 to 36 inches tall and are frost tolerant, so you can enjoy them for quite some time. They thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, and are also rich in nectar, attracting colourful butterflies to your garden.

If you’re wondering what to will bloom and what to plant this fall, here is our list to keep your landscape colourful until frost hits.


Should You Use Flagstone or Pavers in Your Landscaping?

Two of the most popular materials for designing a patio, pool deck or driveway are flagstone and pavers. Flagstone is natural stone, while pavers are a manufactured concrete product. Concrete pavers mimic natural stone and offer a more affordable option for your patio or deck. And while flagstone provides a look that’s more organic, pavers are ideal if you’re looking for uniformity in the spacing between the pavers. Pavers are set down in pre-set laying patterns, while stone gives you the opportunity to have a one-of-a-kind patio. Both have their advantages, so the choice comes down to budget and personal style. Let’s check out some of the differences below.

Flagstone Patio

When you hear flagstone, it means natural stone including travertine, slate, limestone, sandstone, and bluestone. Each stone has its own colour, texture and qualities, so you can choose based on your personal home design. While flagstone typically comes in square and rectangular shapes with varying sizes, you can also opt for irregular shapes and large slabs. Stone provides the opportunity for skilled stonemasons to design a unique pattern just for your home. It will take time to cut and lay the stone for your patio or driveway, but you’ll get a design unlike anyone else’s.

Pavers

Manufactured pavers arrive from the factory cut precisely in their pre-set pattern. This means there’s minimal need for cutting the stone on site. Pavers come in random pattern sets and you can also order them in varying sizes and slab sizes. The materials are made with colour and texture to imitate natural stone like flagstone and cobblestone, and the concrete material meets quality standards of strength and consistent dimensions. If you have a pool in your backyard, pavers would be a great option for you since they don’t get as hot under the sun as real stone.

Construction and Installation

Pavers and flagstone are similar in preparation, however they differ in the composition of the base layer and the skill required for installation. Pavers sit stop a compressed gravel base topped with a layer of sand, while the base layer of flagstone is poured concrete and mortar. Pavers are set on top of the gravel and secured with polymeric sand, a manufactured sand that fills paver joints and keeps out dirt and weeds. There is little need for cutting or shaping pavers as they are manufactured in exact specification. Laying a flagstone patio or driveway, on the other hand requires skilled stonemasons to shape and fit the stones on site.

Maintenance

Neither flagstone or pavers require a ton of maintenance, but there will eventually be some routine upkeep for both. Due to seasonal freezing and thawing, patio pavers can experience some movement, but don’t fret as your contractor can easily remove and reset the pavers, fixing them into place. As for flagstone, the mortared joints can deteriorate over time (it usually takes at least ten years for them to start deteriorating even a little bit). In this case, your contractor will have to use a grinder saw to clean out the joints and replace the mortar.  

There are pros to using both flagstone and pavers in your landscaping. Choose the one that will work best with your style and budget. And don’t forget, you can always use a mix! A flagstone patio and paver walkway (or other way around) can be a great way to stay on budget and get a gorgeous design!


The Best Ways to Use Hanging Lights in Your Backyard

Your backyard should feel like an oasis. In the warm weather months, it should be somewhere you love to relax and spend time in at the end of the day. If you feel like your backyard has the perfect landscaping, garden door and patio, but is missing something to make it feel cozier, hanging lights could be just what you’re looking for. Hanging lights are a simple yet effective way to decorate your yard and they’re very affordable! Check out the best ways to use hanging lights to upgrade your backyard.

Create a Canopy Around Your Deck

If you have a deck in your backyard, hanging lights around your patio will result in a magical outdoor space. Stand poles at each of the four corners of your deck and hang the lights going from one pole to the next. Not only will it look gorgeous, it will provide you with a light source when you’re sitting on your deck at night.

Hang Them From a Tall Tree

Feel the entertaining bug coming on? If you have a backyard with a tall tree, set up a table under the tree and hang lights from the top. Let them dangle just far enough above the dinner table that they’re not in the way, yet fall in the eyesight of your guests. It will be the most enchanting dinner party anyone has ever been to.

Light Up the Perimeter

Rather than using hanging lights on just one section of your backyard, why not use them on the entire perimeter of your outdoor space? Hang lights along your fence creating a glowing border you’ll love to step into night after night. It will help create the feeling of an outdoor room, evoking feelings of comfort and tranquility.

Cover Your Porch Ceiling

This one is for the hosts! If you love to throw parties out on your porch or know you’re going to be having people over for numerous celebrations, consider outfitting your entire porch ceiling with lights. This is definitely more of an extravagant look, so it depends on the vibe you’re going for and your personal decor style. But if you’re up for it, your entertaining space will be completely transformed.

Picnic Table Overhang

A backyard picnic table is a great way to create togetherness and comfort in your outdoor space. Make it even more inviting by creating an overhang with outdoor lights. Place poles on both sides of your picnic table cementing them to the bottom of planters. Enjoy your nights spent eating underneath the lights.

Hanging lights are one of the best ways to illuminate your outdoor space. Set them up in your backyard based on your home style and needs!


Secrets to Building the Perfect Shed

A backyard shed is a great way to add character to your yard, while also providing extra storage space or workshop area. Depending on your family and lifestyle, your reason for needing a shed may vary – you could use it to store sports equipment, perhaps you need a garden shed, or maybe you want to create a workspace for yourself. Whatever the reason, it’s important your shed is built properly so it lasts for years to come! Here are 5 secrets to building the perfect shed!

1. Start with a Plan

Plopping a shed just anywhere in your backyard probably isn’t the best idea. Take some time to plan where you’ll place your shed, how big it will be, the materials you’ll use to build it, etc. Without planning, you may be stalled with unforeseen problems that can lead to wasted time and money.

2. Your Foundation is Everything

Like most things in life, you won’t get far without building a solid foundation for your shed. You’re setting your shed up to fail if you build it on a weak base, and keep in mind that you should never build a shed in a wet, low-lying area. Level the ground (if you need to) and install an on-grade foundation made of solid concrete blocks or pressure treated wood timbers. Make sure the timbers are rated for “ground contract” as wood rated for above ground use will eventually rot. Space the clocks or timbers close enough that they support the shed’s floor frame.

3. Low Maintenance Materials are Key  

Your shed should be a structure that makes your life easier, not harder. That’s why using low maintenance materials is key to a perfect shed! It may cost you a little more upfront, but it will be worth the cost in the long run! Fiber cement siding is a great option for your exterior shed walls! Not only is it low maintenance, it’s also highly durable and weather resistant, and with wood grain textures, you can get the look of a wood shed without the maintenance!

4. Add Trim for Extra Character

Siding is a great way to cover your shed walls, but it can end up looking plain if you don’t add trim. Trim adds extra detail at the roofline, dimension around windows (if your shed has them), and a beautifully crafted entryway. Get creative and have fun with designing your shed, just like you did your home!

5. Don’t Forget Air Flow

Air flow is key for a healthy shed since it prevents water from causing damage to the wood. Too much moisture can cause rot, warping, corrosion and mold, which can be a death sentence for your shed. To allow fresh air to flow under your shed, make sure the mud sill (the lowest wood member) is at least 6 inches above the ground. And leave 2 to 3 feet around the perimeter of the shed so it’s not too close to trees, bushes and structures that can block the sun and wind from keeping it dry.

A backyard shed is one of the best additions for your backyard! Use these secrets to build the perfect shed!


10 Things to Consider Before Building a Deck

 

If building a deck is high on your home reno to-do list, we’ve got just the post for you! From choosing the right material, to deciding on deck placement, and making sure your deck is safe and supported, here are 10 things to consider before building a deck.

1. Why Do You Want a Deck?

This may seem simple, but ask yourself why you’re building a deck. What will be its main purpose and function? Do you want to extend your indoor living space? Will you use it to entertain in the warmer months? Or perhaps you want more privacy or will use it to grow a patio garden close to the house. Knowing its function beforehand will ensure you get the most use out of your deck!

2. What Materials Will You Use?

Wood is historically the most popular choice for building a deck, but it’s not your only option. Looking into alternatives such as weather-resistant wood like redwood and cedar; treated lumber; hardwoods; composite decking; and alternatives like plastic and aluminum.

3. Where Do You Want Your Deck?

The location of your deck is also important. If you have a small yard, your options for placement are likely limited and you’ll have to build your deck in the space available. If you have a bigger outdoor space, you can consider attaching it to a back door, a second story, or you may choose a freestanding deck in your yard.

4. What’s Your Budget?

Make sure to know your budget before going all in with your deck project. Factor in aspects such as the size of the deck, materials used, intricacy of the design, and who will build it – you or a contractor?

5. Do You Need a Permit?

Check out your local building codes to find out if you need a permit to build a deck. You may need one if your deck is over a particular height or size, so make sure to get one if you need it. You also want to make sure your deck is safe and secure!

6. What Size and Shape Do You Want for Your Deck?

The size of your deck will be determined by the size of your yard as well as your budget. As for the shape, make sure it compliments the rest of your house design. A well-designed deck should enhance the beauty of your home and coordinate with the surrounding landscape.

7. Will You Include Any Extras?

Determine whether you’ll need any extras for your deck. Extras include railings for higher decks; a roof if your deck location is hot most of the day; or a privacy screening if you’re able to see into your neighbour’s yard, or them into yours.

8. How Will You Incorporate Storage and Seating?

Two main functions of a deck are storage and seating, so how will you incorporate them? For storage, you might consider lift-top benches or a storage closet to hold things like garden tools, outdoor patio cushions and outdoor childrens toys. And if you plan to dine and entertain out on your deck, a table and seating is a must!

9. How Much Space Do You Need Between the Deck Boards?

Make sure to space your deck boards a good distance apart to account for weather and time that will make the boards expand. A good rule of thumb is placing them ⅛ inches apart.

10. What Finish Will You Use?

If you choose to go with a wood deck, you’ll need to apply a finish to maintain its look and function. You can purchase stains and sealers in a wide variety of colours and opacity options per your design, and make sure to apply it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Deck Building just got a whole lot easier! Use these tips to build a deck you love!


How to Pick the Perfect Garage Door for Your Home

Many homeowners underestimate the power of the garage door to elevate their home. The garage door has become such a noteworthy feature of homes that there are more style and colour choices than you can imagine. You should put as much consideration into your garage door as any other aspect of your facade. Follow these tips to pick the perfect garage door for your home!

Coordinate Your Garage Door with Your Home Style

Your garage door should complement your exterior style, not detract from it. You want it to fit in and look good with the rest of your home and your aesthetics. If you have a contemporary style home, you may choose a more unique design that stands out, while if you have a more traditional style home, perhaps you’ll opt for something with more of a rustic style that blends in to its surroundings. Your garage door should have the design and features to match your house, so this should be top of mind when choosing one.

Choose Your Colour

Choosing your garage door colour is a fun task! The colour you choose should complement the rest of your architecture, so avoid dramatic colours and strong contrasts. Take cues from the rest of your exterior design to help you choose the perfect colour. You can match your garage door to your window trim, choose a colour that blends in with your siding or brick, or match it to your front door.

Material Counts

When it comes to choosing the material for your garage door, think about aspects like durability, maintenance, design and cost to ensure your garage door checks all the boxes. Wood is usually best for a traditional home, but keep in mind that it requires regular maintenance. Aluminum is another option, with little to no maintenance, but it dents easier than a material such as steel. Steel is a more sturdy option, but can rust if scratched or dent. Then there’s fiberglass, which is more durable than wood and metal, and generally costs more than metal, but less than solid wood. With all of these options you can choose from a wide selection of styles and colours, so choose a material that’s best for your lifestyle!

Details and Customization

Customizing your front door ensures it’s a total standout on your block. Not only can you customize the design of your door, you can also add details such as panelling, hardware and windows to make it your own. You may consider panelling for a colonial vibe, hinges and handles to replicate stable doors, or window styles such as arch tops, divided-lights or large panels.

Consider Security and Comfort

If you’re a smart homeowner, security and safety are always top of mind. Look for a garage door with good security features like handless doors or keypads that allow your family to enter your garage without a key. Many garage doors have an automatic feature that retracts if they sense movement, but you may also consider finger guards to prevent pinched fingers. As for comfort, if you want a break from outside noise and the elements, look for a door with increased insulation and weather-stripping.

Choosing the perfect garage door for your home is a fun endeavour! Use these tips to help you make the right choice for your home.


Why We Love Vinyl Siding

With numerous siding materials available, from wood to steel to fiber cement, there’s one that tends to rise above the rest. There’s no denying that vinyl siding has made a name for itself in the world of exterior design. Time and time again it’s proven itself to be a favourite for homeowners, ranked the number 1 exterior cladding in North America. Here are 5 reasons we love it so much.

1. It’s Extremely Durable

Vinyl  is known as one of the most durable siding materials there is. For any homeowner who’s passionate about making their home not only beautiful, but also safe, vinyl is the perfect option. Vinyl siding can stand up to almost any weather, exceeding ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for windload, impact resistance and more. You can count on vinyl siding long term, through temperature fluctuations, moisture exposure and high winds.

2. It’s Low Maintenance

People’s lives are getting increasingly busier, so it’s important to many homeowners not to worry about a lot of upkeep for their home exterior. Vinyl siding is easy to maintain and stays looking new for the long run. Simply rinse it with a garden hose to remove most airborne dust and dirt. It doesn’t require repainting, and you don’t have to worry about chipping, cracking, rot or insect damage either.

3. It’s Easy to Install

Quick installation saves you on costs for your siding project. Installing vinyl siding is a no-fuss process, and when you use one of Gentek’s premium contractors, you can rest assured that your project will be completed with the highest professionalism and techniques. Since it’s easy to install, it creates a neat, uniform finish that coordinates beautifully with decorative sidings such as scallops and faux shakes.

4. It’s Affordable

The cost of your exterior cladding should be a factor that comes high into consideration, and it’s no secret that outfitting your entire home in siding can be an expensive process. With all the benefits of vinyl siding, you would think it comes with a high price tag, but it’s actually one of the most affordable siding materials out there. Not only is it affordable, but you’ll be happy to know that its style, sustainability and durability aren’t compromised at all.

5. It’s Eco-Friendly

Vinyl siding and insulated vinyl siding have a low overall environmental impact, as they don’t require high energy and water to manufacture. Plus, there’s virtually no manufacturing waste when producing vinyl siding. It’s also lightweight, making transport more energy efficient. Vinyl scrap can also be recycled, meaning it won’t be sent to landfills.

If you were wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to vinyl siding, we hope this article cleared it up! Take a look at all the vinyl siding products Gentek has to offer!


How Much Siding Do You Really Need?

Outfitting your home with new siding is an exciting endeavour! It can give your home a whole new look, and with so many styles, colours and materials to choose from, you can create the aesthetic you’ve always dreamed of. Siding protects your home from the elements, provides insulation and comfort, and adds to the curb appeal of your home. Gentek carries an array of siding options that are low-maintenance, long-lasting and extremely durable! The siding you choose will depend on the area you live in and your home style, but when it comes to calculating how much siding you need for your home, there are some steadfast rules.

Prep: To calculate how much siding you’ll need for your house, you’ll have to take measurements of your home, and you’ll need the right prep materials. Make sure to have a pencil, paper, measuring tape and ladder.

Step 1: Draw out a rough sketch of your house. This allows you to track your measurements as you go.

Step 2: Measure the height of your house (from ground to top) and length of your house (from side to side) in feet. Write the dimensions on your sketch. Start with one side of the house first, then move on to the others.

Step 3: Measure each rectangular wall of your house, one at a time. Do not deduct for windows and doors, unless it’s a wall with a large opening such as a garage door. The excess will provide an allowance factor for waste.

Step 4: Measure all gable walls (the triangular portion of a wall). Include base length and height (the distance from base to peak).

Step 5: Find the area of the rectangular walls. Length x Width = Area of the wall.

Step 6: Find the area of the gable(s). Length x Width divided by 2 = Area of the gable.

Step 7: Add the gable and rectangular wall areas to find the total area of the walls.

Step 8: Add 10% to make up for wasted siding. It’s better to have more siding than not enough!

Step 9: Take measurements for starter strip (measure the entire base of your house), the trim (the distance around all windows and doors), and j-channel (measure the top of each window and door).

Step 10: Measure the height of inward and outward corners, and don’t forget design features such as bumped out windows.

Step 11: Calculate the pricing for your project. The price of your siding will depend on material, style, thickness, colour and whether it’s insulated. You’ll also need to consider other factors in your siding project such as soffit and fascia, tools, cost of removing your current siding, and cost of installation. Contact your local Gentek retailer for pricing!

If you’re undertaking a siding project for your home, do these calculations so you know how much siding you really need!