Which Material Should I Choose for My Sunroom Interior?

The choice to add a sunroom to your home is a no-brainer. The hard part is deciding which sunroom company, style, and materials you want to use. Our sunrooms from Four Seasons are built with an aluminum exterior, but you can choose between aluminum, vinyl and natural wood for your interior frame. Depending on your values and personal taste, you may prefer one sunroom interior over another.

Aluminum Interior

Sunroom Interior

Pro: Aluminum is a popular sunroom building material because it’s lightweight and structurally strong. That means you can minimize the amount visible frame in your sunroom. Use aluminum for your sunroom interior if you want to emphasize picturesque views and natural light.

Con: Aluminum is known for conducting heat, which can make it harder to control the temperature inside your sunroom. All Four Seasons sunrooms are “thermally improved” to reduce the likelihood of outside temperatures reaching your interior surfaces. Still, if you’re looking for the most energy-efficient material you may want to consider a vinyl or natural wood interior.

Vinyl Interior

Sunroom_Interior

Pro: Vinyl is a lightweight and durable material used for everything from fences to decks. We love vinyl products so much, we ONLY sell vinyl siding and windows. That’s because we like to sell low-maintenance products that last. Vinyl is resistant to rotting, warping, scratching, fading and just about any other awful thing that could happen to a sunroom. If you value durability and want to share your sunroom with future generations, vinyl is the way to go.

Con: If applied correctly, vinyl can be a beautiful interior sunroom material. However, it has none of the frame-minimizing abilities of aluminum or the warm charm of natural wood. If design and style is most important to you, consider an interior material other than vinyl.

Natural Wood Interior

Sunroom_Interior

Pro: Natural wooden interiors are a longtime favorite of design connoisseurs. This material adds warmth and charm to any room in the home. Our natural wood is engineered from sustainable, slow-growth Norther White Pine. You can finish these wood-frame structures with paint, stain or a clear-coat to suit your own personal style. All of our natural wood interiors come with our exclusive exterior glazing track system. This system mounts to your exterior structure to prevent your sunroom’s glass panels from ever touching your fine woodwork. This virtually eliminates the risk of water-staining or rotting.

Con: If natural wood was a perfect choice, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Natural wood is still vulnerable to the moisture problems and fading. If you value looks that last, consider choosing vinyl or aluminum for your sunroom interior.

 

Forced_Entry

Secure Your Home Against Forced Entry

As the weather heats up and people begin to enjoy the outdoors again, so do the criminals. Expert criminologists have found a link between hot weather and violent crime. Whether these bad guys are irritable from the heat or just opportunists taking advantage of an empty home, you don’t want them on your property. You can prevent a forced entry before it even happens. These tested crime-prevention strategies increase your home surveillance and restrict the access of criminals.

Get a Steel Entry Door

A few months ago, this woman posted a security tip from her father to replace the door-lock screws that came with her apartment with 4-inch screws. The idea is that if a burglar tries to make a forced entry into her home, the they will make lots of noise trying to kick her door down. The noise will make the intruder nervous about being caught and they will move on to an easier target. We love the concern this father has for his daughter’s safety! If you own your home and don’t have to worry about landlords, you can take this idea one step further and get a steel entry door. Steel entry doors are a significant security improvement over hollow or wooden-core doors. It’s unlikely that the steel entry door will be kicked in, and it’s extremely hard to bend.

Get it here!

Our Paragon Steel Entry Doors are dipped in 22-gauge steel for exceptional strength and their deadlocks are rated #1 in security by the American National Standards Institute. This steel door also features a steel lock reinforcement plate on single doors with wood jambs for added protection against forced entry. Finally, the ball-bearing hinges are engineered to eliminate door sagging and increase security. The best part about this door is that you don’t have to sacrifice style for security. This steel entry door comes in 8 different woodgrain options and 21 paint finishes.

Invest in Durable Windows

When doors fail, intruders turn to windows for a quick and easy entry. Windows security is often overlooked by homeowners chasing the next high-tech digital security trend. However, upgrading your windows can be just as effective and cheaper than installing an entire security system. When you’re looking for replacement windows, keep an eye out for windows with tempered glass or laminated glass. Both of these glass options are more difficult to crack than traditional glass panes. An obvious window feature to consider is your window locks. Make sure they’re durable and visible from the outside of your home. Don’t forget to sure up security on your top floor windows as well. Burglars know that most homeowners leave these windows vulnerable, and may bring a ladder to make an easy forced entry.

Forced Entry

Get it here!

Our Preservation Replacement Windows come with heavy-duty locking and operating hardware. There are dual locks on all windows 29″ or wider. If somebody does try to break into your home, we offer a Lifetime Limited Transferable Warranty that includes glass breakage. However, it’s doubtful you’ll ever see broken glass with these windows because Preservation uses double strength glass. You can choose to order your windows with tempered glass as well. Plus, we have sealed double pane and triple pane glass options that tend to make a loud “popping” sound when broken. Noise is never an intruder’s best friend.

Keep Landscaping at a Minimum

Try not to have an abundance of large trees and bushes on your property. Intruders love tall trees and bushes because they are an easy spot to hide in and they conceal the view to your front door as they try to break it down. If you do plant trees, plant them far enough away from the home that nobody can use the tree to gain access to the second floor. For added security, try planting thorny bushes under first-floor windows. Criminals looking for an easy target won’t want to climb through a rose bush to gain access to your home.

Add Fencing to Your Yard

Fencing improves your home security for obvious reasons. If an intruder can’t get through a strong and tall fence, it’ll be pretty difficult for them to rob your home. Even decorative fencing and railing can improve your home’s security. Decorative fencing may be easy to climb over, but it will make a getaway more complicated for a burglar. If an intruder is looking for an easy target, fencing may be enough to discourage them from choosing your home. Don’t forget fencing on the sides of your home and in your backyard too. If you’re building a new deck this summer, consider adding railing to deter a forced entry into your home. We recommend our Fiberon Railing because they have great lighting products. Add post side lights to your deck for extra surveillance of your exterior.

 

storm damage windows

Windows and Doors Storm Damage | Avoid Illinois Storm Damage

With Illinois’ brutal storms, it’s possible for windows to take on storm damage and tornado damage even with protective storm shutters. Damaged windows can be especially hazardous because they often result in broken glass. During a severe storm, keep yourself and your family away from windows and broken glass by taking harbor in an interior room. After a storm, check for these signs of window damage:

  • The most obvious sign will be a shattered window. You’ll probably see a big pile of broken shards of glass on your floor and notice something is wrong.
  • Check for cracks or holes in your window panes. If any glass has become damaged, board up broken windows until they can be fixed.
  • Make sure your window frame hasn’t become damaged during the storm.
  • Many homeowners forget about their glass doors when checking for storm damage. Glass patio doors can take on the storm damage just like your windows.
  • Doors can take on impact from flying debris during a storm. Check exterior doors for scratches, dents, and other signs of a high-velocity impact.

Prepare for the next storm:

Some very practical people may tell you to simply replace all of your windows and doors with storm windows and doors. While this idea is functional, it won’t look very pretty on your home. Our Paragon entry doors come with the Guardian Weather Barrier System, which protects your door from air and water leakage. Together, the door jamb, threshold and astragal (the seal between doors) discourages rot and insects as well as increases the structural load your home can withstand. Our Preservation Windows are tested to withstand a driving water spray of 5 gallons per hour per square foot at simulated wind speeds over 57 mph. They can also withstand structural load conditions with wind speed over 190 mph- the equivalent of a EF4 Tornado. Illinois has already experienced an F3 tornado in Ottowa this year.


After you’ve checked for storm damage, your next step is to call your insurance agency. Depending on your homeowners insurance policy, replacement siding may be covered. Cramer Siding and Window will work directly with your insurance company to review and negotiate the details of your claim to make this process as easy and simple for you as possible. We will serve as your advocate when dealing with your insurance carrier. This is a task we take seriously to help ensure you are getting the best possible products, workmanship, and overall outcome for your project.

Storm Damage

Siding Storm Damage | Avoid Illinois Storm Damage

Siding, stucco and brick are also susceptible to storm damage. As a rule of thumb, older and cheaper siding is more likely to feel the affects of a severe Illinois storm. Look out for these common types of exterior damage:

  • Check for splits or cracks that run parallel to your siding. Wind uplifts your siding and puts an immense force on your exterior during a storm, resulting in storm damage. Be sure to check at different times of the day, as different light environments can make damages easier to spot.
  • Fast-flying debris can cause chipping or dents to appear in your exterior. Your exterior is most vulnerable at the bottom of a siding panel where the siding is least flexible. These damages are easier to see from below looking upwards.
  • Holes in your siding can really make your exterior look bad. If you see them, your exterior likely took a bad hit from some flying debris or hail. It can be tempting to ignore a small hole. Even the tiniest holes allow moisture to enter your home, which cause rotting framework and mold. Illinois homes are especially susceptible to this type of storm damage because the state experiences a large volume of tornados.
  • If you have a stucco exterior, holes can be a big problem. Call a professional immediately if you find one, even if it doesn’t seem like a large hole.

Prepare for the next storm:
Storm Damage Siding

There are two great options for replacement vinyl siding that can stand up to a storm. The first is Preservation High-Performance Siding. Everything about this siding is designed for durability, from it’s double-thick nail hem and advanced locking channel to it’s sure-grip bottom lock tabs. This siding has been tested to ensure it can stand up to the force of a Category 5 hurricane wind. For inland Illinois residents, that’s the wind-speed equivalent of an EF3 tornado! The next step up would be Preservation Integra Siding with ClimaShield Thermal Support System. This siding has a high-density, waterproof skin and a weather seal around each panel. If moisture does happen to get under your siding, a diamond groove drainage plane will direct moisture away from your interior. Plus, it has an impact resistance rating five times higher than that of ordinary vinyl siding.


After you’ve checked for storm damage, your next step is to call your insurance agency. Depending on your homeowners insurance policy, replacement siding may be covered. Cramer Siding and Window will work directly with your insurance company to review and negotiate the details of your claim to make this process as easy and simple for you as possible. We will serve as your advocate when dealing with your insurance carrier. This is a task we take seriously to help ensure you are getting the best possible products, workmanship, and overall outcome for your project.

When Should I Replace My Siding?

 Damaged Siding

Replacement_Siding_Damage

Storms, baseballs, and bugs are all bad news for your siding. Those in Central Illinois who took the brunt of last week’s storms know this all too well. Damaged siding doesn’t just look bad- it can also create cracks, gaps and holes in your home. These imperfections are the perfect spot for moisture to enter your house and cause your framework to rot. Siding defects can also be a good way for creepy crawlies to gain entry to your home. Some bugs (like termites) are infamous for devastating a home’s structural integrity.

If you want replacement siding that can stand up to daily wear and tear, vinyl siding is your best choice. But our Preservation Vinyl Siding protects against impact up to five times more than ordinary vinyl siding. This replacement siding has super-tough, acrylic DuraShield modifiers that protects your exterior against everyday bumps and dings. In independent tests, Preservation Siding held its own against winds equivalent to a category 5 hurricane! In addition to all this, Preservation Integra Siding with ClimaShield will protect against termites.

Too Much Maintenance

Replacement_Siding_Maintenance

If you’re already spending tons of time exterior maintenance, I have bad news for you. It will only get worse. Homeowners with traditional wood siding may need to repaint their house as often as every three years! Older siding often has so many problems that it’s not worth the upkeep to maintain it. That’s why you see so many houses with older siding falling into disrepair.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance exterior, vinyl is the way to go. Vinyl is easier to maintain and keeps its color longer. Our vinyl Preservation Siding takes that one step farther by providing a truly maintenance-free siding experience. Our replacement siding can be covered in a variety of in ColorThru pigments. These pigments produce uniform colors that go clear through the siding panels. Extreme heat and nasty storms won’t wash your colors away because our replacement siding is made with ingredients that protect it from ultraviolet degradation, heat degradation and humidity. All you have to do to clean your exterior is spray it occasionally with a garden hose.

High Utility Bills

It can be frustrating to lose money on heat that’s escaping right through your walls. If you don’t see major damage areas on your siding and attic, your loss of energy is likely due to poor insulation. There’s a number of old DIY tricks you can try to fix this. But sooner or later you’ll be tired of spending even more money on complicated DIY projects you’re not cut out for, and you’ll start looking at replacement siding options.

When that happens, we want you to give us a call. Our Preservation Integra Siding comes with ClimaShield Thermal Support System. This system molds perfectly to your replacement siding to ensure superior insulation and a high-density, waterproof skin. The system’s ship-lap profile creates a complete weather seal all the way around each panel so that no heat will escape. Finally, ClimaShield has a diamond-groove drainage plane that directs moisture away from interior walls.

Outdated Design

There’s nothing wrong with replacing your siding simply because you don’t like it. Curb appeal is one of the most important factors for selling your home. Plus, if you replace your outdated siding, your neighbors might stop directing people to “turn left at the ugly parfait pink house on the corner.” It can be fun to imagine reinventing your home into a Pinterest-worthy country farmhouse or sleek mid-century modern. If you need some inspiration, you can find us on Houzz! The most important thing about your new home is that it’s practical and makes you happy.

Growth on Siding

I used to love the classic look of ivy crawling up the side of a home. But any kind of growth on your exterior is bad business. Plant-life or algea around the seams of your siding may indicate that moisture is entering your home. This can cause rot and mold in areas that are hard to access. Plus, humidity-loving insects won’t be able to resist a damp, warm interior with 24/7 food access.

Vinyl siding is best to reduce insects and rot because water cannot penetrate vinyl the same way it gets into wood. Integra Preservation Siding comes with ClimaShield Thermal Support System. Not only does this support system insulate your home, it has a waterproof skin to discourage growth. If water does happen to get under your replacement siding, ClimaShield has a diamond-groove drainage plane that directs moisture away from interior walls.


Whatever your reason for a new exterior, installing replacement siding is guaranteed to spruce up a tired-looking home. We have the best vinyl siding on the market and it comes in traditional, board & batten, scallop, and shake siding. We can even install siding on your soffit and fascia! For a free project estimate, fill out our form or call 217-655-4496.

Contractor Scams

Spot Contractor Scams Before They Happen

You’d like to think the best of people, but being too trustworthy can leave you vulnerable to contractor scams. Recently, a woman in Vanderburgh, Indiana was tricked into letting a pair of supposed “contractors” fix a leak, free of charge. When she let the pair into her home, they stole the jewelry from her bedroom.

“Homeowners can get ripped-off in a number of ways,” says Steve J. Bernas, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The projects often carry a hefty price tag and it’s very important that consumers know who they are dealing with.”

Use these tips from the Better Business Bureau to make sure you’re always getting a reputable and trustworthy contractor.

Your contractor says: “I’m going to need a 50% deposit to get started.”

It’s normal for contractors to ask for an up-front payment before they begin a job. It ensures that you have the money to complete the project and that you’re committed to moving forward. What’s not normal is your contractor asking for more than 1/3 of the project cost in advanced payments. If you give your contractor more than ⅓ of the job in advance, you risk your contractor doing sub-par work or skipping out on the job completely. 

At Cramer Siding & Window, it’s typical for salespeople to ask for up to 1/3 of the project cost as a down-payment. We would never take advantage of our customers and our salespeople follow strict guidelines on what types of payments they can request.

Your contractor says: “We don’t need to put everything in the contract. Just take my word for it.”

You and your contractor discuss the details of your project and you’re getting along great. Your contractor is agreeing to all if your ideas and even making suggestions for add-ons! Since you’re communicating so well, you assume it doesn’t matter if not everything makes it into the written contract because you “have an understanding.” This is where you get taken advantage of. You find that the details you thought you had agreed upon aren’t being built. Your contractor tells you that those features weren’t included in the written price, and that to finish the project you’ll need to make additional payments.

Cramer Siding & Window prides itself on making sure our customers experience no cost overruns. We write new contracts for all project updates, and you will never pay more than what’s stated in our contract. When you work with us, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to get and exactly what it will cost.

Your contractor says: “I can give you a cheaper price without a building permit.”

You are legally required to get a building permit for any large construction projects so that local officials can visit the project site to make sure the work meets safety requirements.

Instead, your contractor scams you by saying that he can quote you a cheaper price if you look the other way or apply for a homeowners permit. A lower price may sound good, but it means that your contractor has no obligation to meet those safety requirements. Even worse, if you went for the homeowners permit you are legally responsible to make sure your property is up to code when the inspector comes to visit.

At Cramer Siding & Window, we make it our priority to ensure that all of our installers are expertly trained and current on all of their certifications.

Your contractor says: “We ran into an unexpected problem.”

You and your contractor have already signed a contract and the project has begun. Before the project can be completed, your contractor tells you that they found some problems and the price you set together has grown substantially. Common “problems” include structural defects, termite damage or unavoidable design changes. In many cases, these problems may be legitimate. However, you should still be cautious of contractor scams that are designed to exploit your fears.

Your contractor says: “I just finished a job at your neighbor’s place and I have some extra materials…”

In this contractor scam, an unknown contractor knocks on your door and tells you they’ve just finished a project nearby. They have some extra materials (like wet cement) that can’t be stored. Instead of wasting it, they want to re-pave your driveway on the spot for a fraction of their normal price. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This deal is risky because you know nothing about the company and haven’t had time to check their references. Next year when your driveway starts cracking, they’ll be nowhere to be found.


Always work with professional installers rather than amateurs to get the job done right. Check references compulsively. Cramer Siding & Window is unique in that we employ all of our installers instead of sub-contracting to ensure we can control the quality of our services. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and strive for the most transparent policies in the industry. Don’t get duped by contractor scams. If you’d like to work with trustworthy professionals on your next project, fill out a free project estimate form here.

Home Siding

5 Renovation Projects to Make Your Small Home Feel Bigger

  1. Install More Windows

    Cramer Siding & Window - Free Estimates

    This one you might already know. More windows means more light and the illusion of more space, which will make your small home feel bigger. For added functionality, try a Bay or Bow window. The seat boards can provide extra space to display plants, books, and other decor.

    Cramer Siding & Window’s Preservation Replacement Windows are beautiful, energy efficient and come in an array of interior finishes and exterior colors, glass options, styles and designs.

  2. Transition to Blind-In Doors

    Dark drapes over your patio doors add bulk to your home and block natural light. To make it look like your home has more depth, ditch those drapes! Instead, try patio doors with blinds built right into them! You’ll save space, your home will feel bigger, and you’ll avoid finding your pets tangled up in your blinds for the hundredth time.

    Cramer Siding & Window’s Paragon Mini Blinds Collection has blinds sealed between two glass panels and no dangling cords. Our doors are Energy Star certified and customized for an exact fit.

  3. Swap to Sliding Doors

    Paragon Door

    Sliding doors are more functional for a small home because they maximize the amount of space you have for furniture placement. If your doors swing inward, you have to make sure that nothing stands in the way of their movement which limits the amount of usable space in your home.

    Our Illuminations™ Patio Doors by Preservation are designed to provide full, unobstructed views of the outside. A weathertight fit and powerful build provide energy savings.

  4. Opt for a White Kitchen

    There’s a reason white kitchens are trending in interior design for 2017. White makes a small home look bigger by reflecting light and the color’s simple elegance never goes out of style. Lucky for you, white is a standard color for most kitchen appliances and cabinetry. But if you’re looking for a little more flair for your counters, some say quartz is having a moment, too.

    Our sister company, Woodfront Kitchen can reface your kitchen cabinets with beautiful, Amish-made Kiln Dried Wood in hundreds of wood, stain, frame and center panel options. There are countless quartz options for your countertops, but my favorite white quartz styles are Dovedale and Torquay.

  5. Convert Your Tub to a Glass-Walled Shower

    It’s tricky to find space in your bathroom because you can’t exactly remove your tub or your toilet. What you can do is convert your traditional bathtub to a glass-walled shower. A shower has a lower threshold than a bathtub, and won’t visually divide space the same way. Glass walls in your shower will make your small bathroom look bigger by adding depth.

    Our sister company, Custom Bath Solutions specializes in tub-to-shower conversions and we can customize your new shower in a variety of finishes. We can even install a seat in your shower if you’re worried you’ll miss the luxury of lounging in a tub.