As the cool, temperate weather of fall gives way to the harsh cold of winter, you may be tempted to give up on some of those home improvement projects you’ve been procrastinating on. But the truth is, you can – and should – get all of those projects done. All it takes is a little prioritizing. Use the list of fall home improvement projects below to get yourself organized and wrap up the projects that you absolutely need to get done before the cold weather sets in.
1. Finish Your Roof Repairs While You Have the Time
If you planned on making some repairs to your roof this year, now is the time to do it. Damaged shingles and small leaks are a quick fix for any roofer. And those little repair jobs are simple enough that you should have no problem tackling them yourself. However, if your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan and requires a replacement soon, you’d be better off waiting until the spring when your local contractors will have greater availability.
2. Get Your Home’s Heating Up to Date and Save More
An essential home improvement tip for the fall is to get your heating system in tip-top shape. Older gas and oil furnaces (over 20 years old) can be up to 50% less efficient than modern units, forcing you to spend more for less heat. When shopping for replacements, look for the Energy-Star label. Furnaces that meet Energy-Star standards will give you the biggest bang for your home improvement buck.
For even more energy savings, consider installing a programmable thermostat, such as a Nest or Wi-Fi-enabled Honeywell thermostat. A smart thermostat allows you to program a heating schedule that balances savings with comfort and, according to Wired, could save you up to 12% annually on your heating bill.
3. Give Your Fireplace a Facelift
Speaking of heating, if you have a fireplace now is a good time to give it a little TLC. Scott Specker, owner of Five Star Painting in Alpharetta, GA, shared these steps to give your fireplace a quick facelift:
- Remove Dirt: Wiping the surface down with a damp cloth should do the trick.
- Mix & Apply Paint: The first coat of paint should be a two parts white paint, one part grey and two parts water. Use an oval-shaped, flat brush to apply the paint to the bricks.
- Add Color: Next, create new color using ¾ cups water, ¾ cups black paint and ¾ cup French Roast paint. Using this mixture, take a rag (not a brush) and apply paint to the area in different places.
- Use a Wax Finish: Finally, apply wax to the bricks using the same type of rounded brush.”
4. Wrap Up Your Landscaping Now for an Easier Time in the Spring
Another great tip for fall home improvement is to get your yard in shape for the long winter nap. That means:
- Bagging up dead leaves.
- Plant trees or other plants.
- Adding a few fire features (optional).
If you are planning any major landscaping projects for next year, now is the time to meet with a professional and start laying the groundwork so you’re ready to roll come spring. You should also make time to tick these items off your landscaping list, courtesy of Beau Tanner, owner of The Grounds Guys of Athens, AL:
- One Final Cut: Give the yard that one last cut taking it down to about two inches. This will make it easier for fall clean up as leaves blow across the shorter grass easier.
- Aerate: Aerating the lawn helps the micronutrients get into the soil and feed the lawn before the colder winter months.
- Use a Good Pre-Emergent: Putting down a good pre-emergent will keep winter weeds from germinating and thus not “stealing” the nutrition from the soil.
5. Repair Cracks in Your Driveway and Walkway to Keep More From Forming
Make sure to keep up with your driveway’s upkeep. Small cracks in your asphalt driveway can quickly become large cracks if not properly filled in before winter arrives. The repair process is pretty simple, requiring only:
- A bucket of filler.
- Caulking gun.
- Shop vacuum.
- A hammer and chisel.
Follow the steps outlined in this How Stuff Works article for a quick play-by-play.
For walkways, the repair process will vary based on the type of path. Most stone walkways can be repaired with a little elbow grease and these supplies:
- Wire brush.
- Mortar-joint repair caulk.
- Flat trowel.
- Concrete-block adhesive.
Here are some quick walkway repair how-to’s from This Old House:
6. Finish Sprucing Up Your Home’s Exterior to Prevent Damage
If the exterior of your home is looking a little shoddy, don’t put it off until next year. Basic maintenance projects for your home’s exterior, such as the siding and eaves, should be done now while the temperature is still above freezing. These projects include:
- Power washing.
- Replacing damaged screens.
- Repairing rotten trim.
- Remove peeling paint.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
You should also take the time to examine your deck and make sure its holding up. J.B Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, recommends “walk[ing] around the deck and sprinkl[ing] water on several different areas. If water soaks into the boards, it’s time to reseal the deck. If water forms a puddle or beads up, the deck is repelling water and will be safe for the winter.”
By wrapping up these home improvement projects in the fall, you’ll be able to weather the winter just fine. And for better or worse, you’ll have a lot of free space on your to-do list when spring arrives.