How to size exterior shutters


Mike’s response:

The classic shutter look is to generally look like it fits inside the window trim, not from the top of the trim to the bottom of the sill.

This is from the days when shutters actually functioned as a window covering.

In early days, shutters had to swing inside the trim.

This look has continued on to this day.

Standard pre-made vinyl or poly-styrene shutters are made in 4” increments.

This allows a cost effective way to achieve the look.

Shutters are applied to the house with screws.

Shutters will not swing in.

Custom sized shutters and historical hardware can be ordered at additional cost.

Re-caulk around the windows

You ask, we answer:

Hi Mike,

We had new windows installed 15 years ago. While the windows are fine, we noticed a draft coming into the house the last two winters. Should we re-caulk around the windows again? What do you is the best way to do the caulking?


My favorite exterior caulk is OSI Quad. Big Box stores, at the insistence of professionals, started handling this several years ago. Note: this is an exterior caulk.

On the inside use a high quality Latex Painters’ Caulk. Sometimes interior painters caulk around the edges of the interior trim. This will seal the outside edge seam between the wall and trim. Then caulk the inside edge where the trim meets the window or door frame edge.

Latex caulk is an easy clean with a wet rag. Wipe off the excess. The idea is to fill the crack.

Interior latex caulk comes in many colors, so you can do this to stained wood without harming the appearance

Residing your house step by step

You are getting ready to make a decision regarding residing your home in Naperville, Wheaton or Glen Ellyn.   You need to examine and weigh the pros and cons of each of your options.  Vinyl – Cement Fiber – Wood

1.         Evaluate your neighborhood.  Is it stable or rising in value?  Are people fixing up or are your neighbors letting yards and exteriors deteriorate?  This will help determine the material you choose.

2.         The odds are if you live in the Western suburbs, your property values and your neighborhood is stable or rising in value.  Yes, even with the housing bubble, property values have stabilized and are on the rise again.

3.         You need to make sure that you have something that is going to be pleasing to look at and something that is going to last.

4.         How long do you plan to stay in your home?

5.         Think about curb appeal.  Will siding help sell my home?  Will it siding reduce market time for my home?  Will siding facilitate a premium price when it is time to sell?  Is it possible to actually turn a profit from this improvement?


1.         Wood siding is beautiful – for 1or 2 years.  Maintenance and the cost of that maintenance will soon dominate your budget and psyche.

2          Vinyl.  A high quality vinyl siding looks great.  It will last for years, and cleans easy enough with a spray from the hose and a brush.  I have always thought some vinyl homes lack definition and detail.  Some do look great.  Usually the good ones are done with an .046 gauge vinyl from a brand name manufacturer, like Mastic vinyl siding, in the Quest or foam backed Structure line.

3.         Cement Fiber Siding.  Stunning  looks, Crisp detail, bold colors or soft pastels.  James Hardie Cement fiber siding is the class of this category.


1.         Wood will be equal to and probably more than cement fiber.

2.         Vinyl depends on what your purchase.  .038 vinyl the storm chasers install is the lowest denominator.  Foam backed insulated siding is the highest end for this category.  Cost of the foam backed siding is surprisingly close to the cement fiber.  Trade up!

3.         Cement fiber.  If the cost of a good line of vinyl siding is $10k, figure cement fiber will run around $12.5k for the same job.


Rules of thought according to Mike Schmidt Exteriors, Inc.

  • Less than 5 years in a $200k or less neighborhood = vinyl siding
  • >5 years  < 10 years in a $250k or more neighborhood = vinyl is ok, cement fiber is probably a smarter choice.
  • 5 years in a $400 or more neighborhood = cement fiber siding hands down.

Fact:  According to Realtrac magazine, James Hardie Cement Fiber Siding is the #1 return on investment for any home improvement project for 8 years and running.

Have the siding installed by a Certified Contractor like Schmidt Exteriors, Inc.

Our men are technically trained, insured and each project is closely supervised.

A+ ratings @ BBB, Angies’ List, Remodeling Magazine and Guild Quality, attest to our accomplished reputation for excellence.

Please do give us a call and allow us to quote your project. I believe you will be pleased with the price and thrilled with our quality people.

Mike-pics-for-ads-025Mike Schmidt


How to choose the right siding?

We get that question often from our Batavia; Il customers.

When choosing siding,  be sure your ideas will give you the results you want both now and later.

It is time to update your home’s exterior. You have many home siding options and cannot seem to decide which one to choose.

Evaluating the pros and cons of sidings can help.
Those 3 evaluation points will narrow your list and help you to choose the best solution for your needs.

No matter whether your home is old or new, those 3  points should be considered before you choose the best siding for your home:

  1.  siding durability and functionality
  2.  siding style and beauty
  3.  siding maintenance.

More coming soon…

How long will a window last?

  • · Most of today’s windows are made from a frame material and an insulating glass “sandwich”-each component subject to wear, weathering, and potential failure.
  • · Weather-stripping in the frame and moving parts can wear out with use.
  • · An insulating glass panel may suffer a broken seal after years of expansion and contraction with temperature changes-creating a “fogged” look as moisture accumulates between the glass panels.
  • · According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), some windows can last up to 50 years.

Some of the factors that go into the determination include:

  1. Frame material
  2. Quality construction practices and building style
  3. Product quality
  4. Climate and exposure
  5. Routine care and maintenance
  6. Replacement of parts that wear with use with an AAMA Certified product that’s cared for, you can expect to increase the service life.

What are the best Cleaners to remove stains from my vinyl windows?

  1. Bubble Gum: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Solution of vinegar(30%), Water(70%), Windex®
  2. Crayon: Lestoil® DAP (Oil-Based Caulk) Fantastik®
  3. Felt Tip Pen: Fantastik®, water-based cleaners
  4. Grass: Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  5. Lipstick: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®
  6. Grease: Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  7. Mold and Mildew: Fantastik®, Solution of vinegar(30%), Water(70%), Windex®
  8. Motor Oil: Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex® Oil Soft Scrub®
  9. Paint: Brillo® Pad,Soft Scrub®
  10. Pencil: Soft Scrub®
  11. Rust: Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
  12. Tar: Soft Scrub®
  13. Top Soil: Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®

*Cleaning Materials are listed in alphabetical Order. Schmidt Exteriors, Inc. does not endorse proprietary products or processes and makes no warranties for the products referenced herein. References to proprietary names is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to imply that there are not equally effective alternatives. All cleaners used must be thoroughly rinsed off and dried after use or discoloration of vinyl frames could occur.

Why do energy efficient windows help reduce condensation?

Will new windows eliminate condensation?

  • · Condensation is a direct result of interior humidity and the difference between indoor and outside air temperature.
  • · Warm moist are seeks a cold surface. This is a basic law of physics.
  • · A glass with ice will form condensation. The moist air in the heated room is seeking a cold surface.
  • · If you keep the humidity in your house low, then the likelihood of experiencing condensation is also low.
  • · However, the efficiency of your window will also impact the temperature and humidity level at which condensation occurs.
  • · High performance windows with low U-factors result in inside glass surface temperatures much closer to the room air temperature
  • · Windows with warm edge technologies and non-metal frames are also less likely to have condensation on the frame or at the edge of the glass
  • · Insulated, high efficiency windows greatly reduce condensation on the interior surface of the glass
  • Note that in certain conditions (humid mornings after a clear night sky), windows may have dew on their outside surface
  • This “dew” appearance is a sure sign your windows work. Your new high efficiency windows do not change with the exterior conditions.
  • The dew will dissipate as the morning wears on.

How can I tell if a window is energy efficient?

  • · Check the window’s NFRC rating label. Quality replacement windows will have an NFRC label adhered to each new window.
  • · The NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) is an independent testing organization that rates the “U-Factor” for replacement windows.
  • · U-Factor is the amount of heat transferred through a material.
  • · The Federal guideline recommendation is .30 or less
  • · Lower U-Factor numbers can be achieved. The lower the U-Factor, the slower the heat flow, the better the insulating quality.
  • · A newer measurement mandated to measure window efficiency is SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient)
  • · SHGC measures how much heat is allowed to transfer through the glass by the sun’s rays.
  • · The lower the number the better. Typically .30 or less.

How can I tell if I need new windows?

There are tangible signs your old windows need to be replaced:

  • ·Your windows are difficult to open or close.
  • The window sash falls unexpectedly.
  • You rely on a storm window, and that is highly suspect.
  • Drafts are evident. Air leaking through and/or around the windows.
  • Excessive condensation or icing on the inside of the window panes.
  • Windows rattle in the wind.
  • Paint chipping or peeling.
  • House is always too cold in winter – or too hot in summer.

Why should I buy new replacement windows?

  • · Adding new replacement windows to your home can be valuable in many ways.
  • · For homeowners looking down the road toward eventually selling their homes, energy efficient windows can be a strong selling point for your realtor and will increase a home’s value.
  • · There are benefits you’ll enjoy right away, like the savings on your home energy bills from increased window efficiency.
  • · Your quality of living will benefit, the beauty and elegance in appearance is self satisfying and appreciated by those that visit your home.
  • · Benefits like reduced drafts and better overall comfort enhance your day to day standard of living.
  • · Replacement windows are a great investment both financially and in less tangible ways.