windows

Top 5 Things Not to Miss While Spring Cleaning

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It’s that time of year where the sun stays out longer and the weather starts to warm. We open our windows and shake out the lingering cobwebs from winter. There are the usual things that we think to clean like floors, floorboards, and vents, but what else? Here are the top 5 things to add to your cleaning list this year!

Windows

Even though you look through your windows every day, they’re easy to miss when cleaning up. The best day to clean your windows is a cloudy one – cleaning on a sunny day can leave streaks when the cleaner evaporates too quickly. Start by dusting your windows so that you’re not just smearing dust around. Next, vacuum your screens using an attachment – there’s nothing worse than cleaning all of your windows only to realize your screens are dirty! Finally, use your cleaner of choice. Pre-moistened wipes, a homemade solution with a microfiber cloth, or a sponge all work well, followed closely by a pass with a squeegee. You’ll love your new clean view!

Lighting

We often don’t think about cleaning our lighting, but you’d be amazed at how much dust gathers in those fixtures! Use a vacuum attachment to clean lamp shades and wipe down the lamp base with a microfiber cloth. Even the light bulb itself may be dusty if you have light bulbs that last a long time. Take a duster to your ceiling fans, chandeliers, and standing lamps as well. Finally, don’t forget to clean your light switches! If you think about it, your switches are touched more often than most anything in your house.

Appliances

From small kitchen appliances to your washing machine, your appliances need a good cleaning every once in a while too. Have a coffee maker? Be sure to clean it inside and out. Does your mixer sit on the countertop? Time to give it a good dusting. For washers and dishwashers, you can find a packet of cleaner in your local store – give those machines a run with a cleaner to prevent mildew and stains. Other appliances, such as your hair dryer, electric toothbrush, and alarm clocks are often neglected in the cleaning process as well. Take a minute to put them through some sanitation.

Cabinets

You’d be surprised how dirty the front of your cabinets can be! Your choice of cleaner will depend on whether your cabinets are wood or painted, but it is definitely worth a thorough wipe down of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, especially the ones located below sinks. Feeling motivated? Time to wipe down the shelves inside of your cabinets as well, and maybe vacuum out the utensil drawer.

Tools

Your cleaning tools need cleaning too! You’re certainly not sanitizing your home if the mop you’re using is dirty as well. Take a moment to clean the parts of your vacuum, run your mop heads through the washing machine, and replace any sponges or brushes that are worse for wear. Check the dates on your cleaning products as well, and spot test any new cleaning products to ensure that you won’t stain your carpet, flooring, or upholstery.

Feel free to reach out to Bright Star Handyman Service for any larger projects that may arise while you’re spring cleaning. We’re happy to help!

Keep Your Home Safe from Pests & Critters

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Critter Control

Spring is in the air! The sun is out, flowers are popping up in your yard, and it’s starting to warm up during the day. The saying ‘spring cleaning’ exists for a reason – many of us see these signs of the seasons changing and are ready to shake off the doldrums of winter by cleaning house.

One big item on your to-do list should be ridding your home of any pests that may have moved in during the cold winter months. In partnership with our friends at Critter Control, here’s a list of some things you can do to make sure those pesky critters evacuate your home and fast.

Clean, Clean, Clean!

Often critters are seeking refuge in your home because there are so many delicious things for them to eat! Make sure your food is stored on high shelves in sealed containers. Have pets? Elevate their food off the floor so pests don’t have access. Regularly sweeping your kitchen and dining areas for crumbs and taking out your garbage at least once a week will help too. Make sure that your sinks and bathtubs have no standing water while not in use.

Seal the Entrances

Regularly check your home, especially doors and windows, for holes and other gaps that allow pests to get inside. If you find them, close them up! Make sure your doors have tight seals and install screens on all the windows. Check places you might not see without looking, such as cabinets and outlets. Home improvement stores are stocked with sealants and pastes especially designed for repairing any cracks and crevices.

Plant a Pest-Fighting Garden

Many common garden plants can deter pests naturally. Basil, lavender and catmint can help deter mosquitos. Garlic and sage prevent ticks from taking up shop. Planting some rosemary close to your home scares the moths away. And of course, if you are able to prevent these pests from coming near your home, you’ll also diminish the number of spiders taking up residence. Win win!

Call Critter Control

If certain household pests like mice, ants, or snakes have made a home in your home, it’s time to call in the experts. Invading nuisance wildlife can wreak havoc on residential properties and structures and if left unattended wildlife and pests can cause costly damage to your property. Check out the Critter Control website to find out more information about these critters, and then give them a call!

Top Home Improvements for 2019

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Luxury Upgrades

“Luxury” means “a state of great comfort and extravagant living”. These days, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drive a Ferrari or buy a solid gold toilet - small improvements in your home can make all the difference. A 2019 trend in home improvement is to add luxury touches to your home, rather than starting from bare bones. Buying a fancy coffeemaker, re-painting your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint, or even upgrading your furniture can loan a luxury feel to your home.

Home Automation

With advances in technology like Nest and Google Home, you can operate anything in your house with the touch of a button. From advanced security systems to remote operation of utilities, the phone that’s constantly in your pocket will allow you to manage your home from near or far. Want to use alternative energy sources? Charge up your solar panels from afar during a sunny day. Kids home from school and you’re not there yet? Grant them remote entry with a touch of your keypad. You can even set when your dishwasher starts from your iPhone, but you still have to load it - for now.

Natural Light

Increasing amounts of research demonstrates what natural light can do for our homes and our moods. The trend in 2019 is toward bigger and bolder windows, with light fixtures in the less sunny parts of our homes that can create the same ambience. More natural light equals more Vitamin D, which can boost our moods during the cloudiest parts of the year. In addition, sunlight boosts our body’s production of serotonin, known as the ‘happy hormone’. Finally, natural light is beneficial for your sleep/wake cycle – allowing natural light into your home will help your body know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time for bed.

Open Floor Plans

These days, we’re knocking down the walls and blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor. Main floors are spacious, with kitchens looking into the living rooms on one side and opening up to a patio on the other. Top floors are open too! In addition to being the place that we live and sleep, our homes are the place that we entertain friends and family – it’s much easier to do so with big, open spaces. Especially look for kitchen and dining areas that emulate open air bars and restaurants, with collapsible doors, durable rugs, and patio bars.

10 Home Repair Services for Less Than $500

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Are you tired of the same-old, same-old in your home?  There are lots of ways to update a home, but sometimes our wallets won’t allow us to build our perfect home at this very second.  We have some suggestions for home repairs that may get you a few steps closer to living in your perfect space without breaking the bank.  Here are 10 home repair services for less than $500:

Seal the Deal in the Bathroom

Does your bathroom look dirty regardless of how many times you’ve scrubbed the tub & tiles?  One cost-effective way to give your bathroom a new, fresh feel is to replace the grout between the tiles.  Over time, tile grout can start to discolor and chip away regardless of how clean you keep it.  It’s normal wear and tear for a bathroom, but it can make your bathroom feel older than it is.  Sometimes, deteriorating grout can even make the surrounding tiles come loose if water gets behind them.  The caulking around your bathroom fixtures may also need a little help.  Caulk is the sealing around your sink, bathtub, toilet, and bathroom hardware that prevents water leaking into your walls and flooring.  Both grout and caulk can wear down over time and allow leaks, which will cost you more to replace in the long run.  

Upgrade Your Porcelain Throne

If your toilet is constantly breaking the chain or isn’t doing it’s job with water pressure, it may be time to upgrade!  Newer appliances, like toilets, are more energy and resource efficient than ever before.  While making an upgrade like an energy efficient toilet or low-pressure shower head will cost you money up front, you may benefit from lower bills on the backend.  You can be more water-conscious and have a shiny new toilet that can shift the look of the whole room!

Revamp Your Interior Walls

If you’re bored with your plainly painted living room or kitchen walls, you have some options without breaking the bank!  There is one big way to completely change the dimensions of your walls: wainscoting.  While this might sound like an old English term, wainscoting is a wall covering that has become increasingly popular in the last few years.  More specifically, it is vertical, painted wood panels that cover the bottom half of a wall, typically horizontally lined with a wood molding at the top to separate the panels from the drywall.  This is a great way to diversify the look of your walls and potentially cover any minor damage the lower half of your walls may have sustained from your kids or pets!  Price will depend on the size of the room but can be an affordable DIY project or reach out to us for our home repair services!

Shiplap Installation

Many people who are avid watchers of HGTV have seen and heard about shiplap quite frequently in home redesign.  But why?  Shiplap has been commonly known as siding on the exterior of your home, but has recently gained popularity for interior home remodeling.  Shiplap, as opposed to wainscoting, is horizontal wood paneling that lines the walls, with the top panel laying slightly over the panel beneath, like a roof tile but thicker & longer.  Originally used to support proper rain flow down the side of a house, many have turned it into a feature wall within their home!  It’s a beautiful way to bring unique texture into a room.  Cost varies depending on the size of the room, but some shiplap panels can be found for as little as $1 per foot of board!

Line a Room with Crown Molding

Crown molding is the decorative line that runs around the crease where your wall and ceiling meet.  While older homes typically have crown molding, many newer or renovated homes can come a little more bare.  Molding comes in a number of materials, shapes, and sizes and cost can vary depending on which you choose.  A simple crown molding installation can make your living room, dining room, or bedroom look even more elegant without breaking the bank.  It softens the hard corners of the room while adding a classy, finished look.  They can typically be painted any color and come in a variety of shapes.  Some are more standard, while more expensive options like plaster can offer large, intricately detailed custom molds like an early 1900’s Victorian home.  While some people choose to do this themselves, we recommend our home repair services to give you a hand!

It’s All in the Lighting

One cost effective way to make changes to several rooms at once is to update your lighting.  Replacing old light fixtures can not only bring more light in to your home, it can affect the entire feel of the room.  An older light fixture could be dating your home 20 years without you even realizing it!  Not to mention, changing the fixture and converting to LED light bulbs could help reduce the amount of electricity your home uses on an annual basis.  If your overhead light fixture isn’t bright enough, look into investing in a floor lamp to add more light.  Want to see the difference lighting can make in your home before making the purchase?  Take one of your lamps and move it to another spot in the room, and see how the dynamic in the room changes from just this one step!

Paint the Town Red

Painting your kitchen, living room, bathroom, or bedroom can drastically change the feel of the room.  While it takes a little bit more preparation to move and cover your furniture, sometimes a new coat of paint will have your home looking like a brand new place!  If you don’t want to paint your walls, take a look at your cabinets and baseboards and see if they need a new color or coat of paint.  Typically, it’s best to sand down the old paint to get the new coat to go on smoothly and last longer.  One word of caution, sample your paint before you decide to make touch-ups on your walls or trim.  It can be difficult to match paint colors exactly (usually in older homes with discontinued paint colors), so work with someone to make sure your touch-up paint matches exactly, or get ready to repaint everything!  

Picture Perfect Windows

Blinds and curtains are typically under siege in homes with kids and pets, but can also wear down and break on their own over time.  One way to update the look of your home is to install new blinds and curtains.  While cost depending on how many windows you have and how fancy you want your blinds, it can be a great way to make your home look even nicer!  If blinds are out of the question, take a good look at your curtains.  Curtains are great to reduce the hard lines that windows and their frames can create in a room.  Looking for more light?  Blinds and sheers are a great option.  Wanting to limit light in the bedroom, heavier drapes can help cut out excess light.

Save the Stairs

If you have pets, an older home, or a high-traffic area in your home, your floors may be showing you that it’s time to do something.  Installing a floor runner up your stairs or in a hallway is a great way to hide the wear and tear on your floors.  Carpet prices vary but there are several affordable options.  If you choose a full runner for the stairs, be sure to secure it so it does not slide when you walk on it.  There are also individual carpet pieces that use adhesive to stick to each individual stair.  If you think you need to replace the stairs altogether, reach out to us about our home repair services!

Scrub Away

If you’re not sure you’re ready to replace anything in your home yet, maybe a good thorough cleaning will have you loving your same old space!  Some homeowners that are trying to sell can change their minds about their home after deep cleaning and repairing their home.  If you’ve never cleaned your light fixtures or repolished your wood floors, this might be a good place to start!  It could be more time-intensive on your side, but might just be what you’re looking for in a home repair!

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a home beautification, feel free to reach out to us at Bright Star Handyman Service to learn more about our home repair services.  We’re happy to help to create your dream home!

Why is My House So Cold?

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It’s getting colder outside and it is time to start cranking your home heating system, but why is it still cold in your house?  Just because the windows and doors of your home are closed & the heater is on doesn’t mean your house will stay warm.  The bitter cold of winter can show us where our home is leaking air and raising our gas & electric bills by overusing our heating and cooling systems to compensate. 

If you’re sitting on your couch and you feel a slight breeze of cool air, you might have a draft in your home.  There are several contributors to having a drafty home and, luckily, there are simple ways to locate and fix the air leaks!   When there is a leak in your home, the air inside of the home escapes outside and the outdoor air invades the desired controlled temperature of your home. 

How do you locate the source of the draft?

First, notice what room you’re in when you feel it the most.  Is it a certain part of the room, like when you’re sitting on the couch?  Or is it a general coldness you can feel in multiple rooms?

The most common culprits for air leaks include, but are not limited to, windows, doors, attics, and fireplaces.  Sometimes, even light fixtures and electrical outlets can allow air in, if the insulation is old or lacking.  There are several ways to remedy unwanted airflow in your home.  

Here are some easy ways to fix the draft in your home:

Check the Attic

Heat rises & if there is not enough insulation to keep the heat from leaving the house through the attic, the heated air will rise straight out of your house and let the cold in.  Sometimes holes in the roof at the culprit.  If you’re not sure, hire a contractor to inspect the attic for you.

Shut the Fireplace Damper 

Fires can offer a great source of warmth when they’re in use, but when they’re not blazing, the fireplace becomes a wind tunnel directly in to your living room or bed room.  One easy way to keep the cold out and the heat in, is to close the damper between uses.  Don’t forget to reopen it before next use though, or you’ll end up with a house full of smoke!

Replace the Weather Stripping on Windows & Doors

As our homes age and slightly deteriorate from normal wear and tear, the rubber pieces that help line up our windows and doors can also wear out.  Dried and cracked rubber will not fill the seams of your windows and doors like new, elastic rubber.  When the space between the door and the door frame (or window and window frame) is not fully sealed with the rubber, air will make its way inside and out.  You might be able to tell when to replace the rubber or you can ask a contractor!  Sometimes the windows themselves are the culprit.  Read more about windows here.

If you cannot find the source of your air leak, reach out to us for a free consultation and we’ll be happy to arrange a repair man to your home to help you out if you need!

12 Easy Ways to Winterize Your Home

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Being cold is not cool. Luckily, with our helpful collection of 12 easy projects, you’ll have your home ready for winter long before the snow flies.

1. Caulk Windows and Doors

It can’t be said enough that windows and doors are the two leading culprits for winter heat loss in your home. With these caulking tips, you’ll be able to keep your home warm and ensure a tight seal around interior trim. And as a result, warm air stays in your home. Don’t forget to check your external caulk as well and fix any gaps before the snow flies.

2. Add Insulation

Beefing up the insulation in your home, particularly in basements and attics can keep your home warm. And will promote a more even temperature and eliminate cold spots. Better yet, adding insulation is a cost-effective solution to what can be an expensive problem over time. Follow our guide to insulating your house, and you will have a toasty home before you can say ‘winter.’

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Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family in South Jersey and Philadelphia! We are grateful for your love and support as we enter the last quarter of the year! If you have been considering a home renovation or remodel, now is the time to reach out to Bright Star Handyman Service for a free consultation regarding your next home improvement project.

If you’re curious about whether or not Bright Star is the right fit for you, check out our ever-growing project gallery or our Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. We love hearing from you and supporting you in your kitchen remodel, bathroom redesign, new deck build, garage or basement renovation, or anything else you can imagine! From installing new windows to adding an extra bedroom, we’re happy to help you!

From all of us at Bright Star, we hope you and your family have a safe and Happy Halloween!

5 Ways to Waterproof Your Home!

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Clean & Repair Rain Gutters

As fall approaches, leaves fall and begin to gather on roofs and in gutters.  One of the best ways to prevent water entering your home is to make sure your gutters are offering proper drainage for your home.  Wet leaves left on the roof can cause mold and a number of other damaging issues.  If you have a really tall house or a steeply angled roof, it might be best to hire a professional to help you out!


Repair Cracks in Concrete

Various temperatures create different stresses on a number of elements in your home.  Your concrete, like garage floor, foundation, or even house walls can begin to show signs of wear.  In the summer, the heat forces the stone to slightly expand, while the stone contracts in the colder months.  While it’s normal and expected, over time the fluctuations can be too much for the concrete.  Cracks in your concrete are typically not too hard to repair (unless it’s in the foundation) but are necessary in maintaining the integrity of your home.  If water seeps up from the foundation, it can ruin your floors, walls, and anything else the water may touch.  It’s best to take care of these repairs quickly and they can be as easy as using a caulk gun and doing it yourself!  


Replace or Seal Old Wood

Old window and door frames can be a huge culprit in allowing water into your home.  If you own an older home, the sealant on wood can begin to wear down and expose the material to air and water.  The elements can begin to break down the integrity of the wood, sometimes allowing water into your home.  Sometimes, the fix is as easy as resealing the material, while other times it may take a full removal and re-install process.  Your best bet is to ask a professional to inspect the wood to make sure it won’t cause you future problems.


Update Door and Window Seals

When we say ‘seals’, we don’t mean the wood trim and frame around the windows and doors.  We’re talking about the rubbery material that creates an airtight seal around your windows and door.  As most plastics and rubbers, they will wear down over time.  The rubber can shrink and become stiff, hard, and holy, exposing holes in the seal.  With these holes, water, air, and sometimes little insects can get into your home.  Just like a windshield wiper loses its effectiveness over time, these guys should also be looked at if you’re having leakage around your windows or doors.


Check the Basement

Basements are typically the most common thing to flood in a home.  There are many things that can contribute to basement flooding like cracked concrete, leaky washer & dryer intake, or old basement windows.  Make the effort to check out your basement from time to time to make sure everything is properly sealed to keep everything dry!

7 Things to Know About Windows

Pick and Choose Based on Your Budget 
There are so many options when it comes to window selection, it can get a little overwhelming.  We’ve put together a breakdown of the most common window options from framing, like wood, vinyl, and aluminum, to types of panes, like single, double, or triple.  All styles of windows offer their own unique qualities, but ultimately it’s your choice at the end of the day!  Want to match older windows in your early 1900’s home?  Wood, single-paned may be your best option.  Thinking you want to cut your air conditioning usage during the hot Philadelphia summers?  Aluminum double or triple-pane windows may be just what you’re looking for!

Skylights Offer a Greater Amount of Light
Skylights, like regular windows, need to be replaced and sealed every so often to help maintain temperatures in your home.  Compared to typical wall windows, skylights can offer up to 25% more light in your home.  If you’re looking for a lighter, more airy feel to a space in your home, but lack a wall for more windows, a skylight could be your best option!

Better Windows Can Reduce Your Energy Consumption
If you have an older home, or it’s been a while since you’ve had your windows checked, you could learn that your window efficiency may be affecting your energy bill up to 25%.  With high or low temperatures, older windows may begin to lose tightness in the seal that holds the window to the wall, or even between the panes.  While many like to match their older home with single-paned windows, these are the least efficient when it comes to conserving energy.  With only one pane of glass and typically a wood frame, there is not much insulation between indoor temperatures and outdoor temperatures.  By switching to a single or double-paned window option and updating the frames, the U.S. Department of Energy states that new windows could reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home by 15%.

Windows Can Help Drown the Sound of Noisy Neighbors or a Busy Street
One commonly overlooked advantage to installing new windows is the amount of noise reduction they offer.  Your home walls most likely do a decent job of creating a sound barrier between you and thee outside world, but one highly effective way to create even more indoor peace is to install double-paned windows.  Double-paned windows have air (or argon) trapped between the two panes which act as an extra insulator and noise barrier.  Especially great for those living in a bustling city like Philadelphia, you could gain a higher level of solitude by replacing older windows with thicker, insulated windows.

Window Treatments Can Increase Privacy
Aside from the noise reduction quality of double-paned windows, there are a few other options for treating your windows.  Commonly seen in first floor bathrooms, frosting windows can add a new layer of privacy without blocking the light from entering the room.  Some windows can be replaced with bubble glass, which looks much like treated, frosted windows, or even glass blocks. 

Placement in Small or Hard-to-Reach Spaces
The traditional window is single hung, meaning two windows sit vertically on top of one another, the top is fixed while the bottom moves with a lock in the middle of the two to keep them closed.  You can also choose double-hung, where both panes move, allowing you to only lower the top part, if you choose.  Sliding windows are great options around outdoor spaces like a porch or patio.  Casement, or crank windows, are usually seen in the kitchen over the sink or in higher levels of older homes.  These are typically in places that are harder to reach or, for safety reasons, should not open all the way, like on the second and third floors of your home.

Window Accessories Add Greater Protection
Installations of awnings, blinds, and shades can add an aesthetically pleasing look to your home while also decreasing your energy consumption.  One report by Home Energy Magazine states that awnings may be able to reduce heat entering the house by up to 77%.  Light colored shades, blinds, and curtains can also reflect the light back out of the house and trap temperatures close to the window, preventing heat from moving further inside.  
 

Bright Star Handyman Service would be happy to connect with you about your options when it comes to window replacement in Philadelphia! 

Contact us for more information!

The Effects of Weather

While we're still in the grips of Winter, it's important to stay ahead of weather-related home problems and the repairs they may need.  Living in a climate with high humidity, warm summers, and cold winters, our homes are subject to wear and tear that could cause serious damages in the future, if left unrepaired. 

Here are a few signs that weather might be affecting your home:

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Doors & windows no longer open and close with ease.

There are a few reasons that your doors may not stay closed.  Some of the easier repairs include replacing the door's hinges, knobs, or sometimes even the door itself.  After years of opening & closing, the screws and hinges can be loose and the door can hang too low for the knob to latch properly to the doorframe.  If you've recently put in older or vintage door knobs, they are usually smaller than current doorknobs, which can also affect it's ability to latch closed.  Drastic weather changes can cause the house's walls and foundation to expand or shift, which causes a much bigger issue than changing a hinge.  A foundational shift can also cause many other serious issues.

 

Cracks show up in the walls and ceiling.

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Similar to the doors sticking, walls and ceilings can being to crack with the expansion and contraction of air during the changing weather.  These cracks can be unsightly as they run either across or down the walls.  Some people use the rule of thumb that "the crack points to the problem", so take notice where they might be showing up in your home!  It could just be old drywall but, if you don't plan to repair it, keep an eye on it and seek help if it continues to grow!

 

Your drywall and wood bubbles up.

Weather can affect the internal parts of your home by wearing on the outside, like roofs, walls, windows, and others.  With a roof leak, your attic will take a beating, affecting the insulation, drywall, wood interior, and anything else you might have up there.  The water can bubble up in the drywall, ceilings, wallpaper, and light fixtures.  It also will warp any sort of wood, whether doors, floors, cabinets, or trim.  Water damage is not something to be taken lightly, as it can lead to mold problems and is a potential health hazard.

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These are common problems for home owners (especially in older homes), with a wide range of reasons and repairs for them.  Bright Star HandyMan Service is happy to schedule a free consultation regarding any of your home repair needs.  
Contact us here for more information on how we can help you proof your home against these natural causes, or fix them for you!

Before & After Cornice & Windows!

Before and after of the cornice and windows. Bright Star Handyman scraped all the loose paint off the cornice and painted it using Benjamin Moore HC-169. For the windows, Bright Star removed the existing capping that was old and outdating then sealed any gaps to help with the homes energy efficiency. Only after everything was properly sealed did we install the new aluminum capping!

Bright Star Handyman services the entire Philadelphia area. Give us a call today! 

Before & After!

Before & After!