10 Healthy Home Maintenance Tips

Morgan Contractors


10 Healthy Home Maintenance Tips

At Morgan Contractors, we help families build and remodel the houses they dream of. We love our work and the people it brings us into contact with. It is our hope that all our clients and their families are healthy and happy long after our involvement in their projects are complete. So, to help them keep a healthy home, we’ve created a handy healthy home maintenance checklist.

Tackle these items one at a time, or over the course of a weekend this winter. Each task will contribute to a healthier home. Don’t forget to put on some holiday music in the background while you work!

Start with Bedrooms, Living Rooms, and Family Rooms

We spend more time in these spaces than we realize – nearly half our lives may be spent in a combination of these three rooms! It certainly pays to keep them clean and healthy, so here are 5 simple tips to do just that.

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and near all bedrooms. Remember to test them monthly and change their batteries once each year.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in or near bedrooms.
  • Ask your family to help make your home a smoke-free space.
  • Aggressively deal with clutter – it is unsightly, but even more important, it can be a place for rodents and insects to make their homes.
  • Keep the floor clear of electrical cords and other items such as shoes, toys, and clothing. This will prevent falls and lead to a more efficient and spacious home.

Healthy Home Maintenance for Kitchens

The kitchen is considered the heart of the home. For a healthy ‘heart’, your whole family will appreciate, follow these simple tips and tricks.

  • Never heat the house with your stove (this happens more often than you think)
  • Use a range hood fan or other kitchen exhaust fan.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Never leave food unattended on the stove.
  • Avoid wearing clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Use safe (green) cleaning and pest-control products, and keep them safely locked away.

Don’t Forget the Bathrooms

Though they may be a small space compared to other rooms in your home, bathrooms may need more work than anywhere else to keep them safe. There are many hazards to be found in your bathroom, but with the proper precautions, risks can be minimized.

  • Medications locked in a secure cabinet and make sure they all have child-proof lids.
  • Take measures to consistently clean up excess water and moisture around the sink and on the floors.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air into the room when not in use.
  • Make sure your vent fans push air to the outside. Vent fans that keep air in the house also keep moisture inside. Ask your contractor about this.
  • Tile, stone, and most other bathroom materials are hard. To prevent falls on hard surfaces, install grab bars on the wall of the bathtub and shower and next to the toilet. This is especially important if you have elderly people in your home or anyone with mobility issues.

Safeguard Your Attics

Because attics are not used as often as other rooms, they are often neglected when it comes to safety measures. Keep your attics safe and healthy spaces by taking the following steps.

  • Check for leaks in the roof.
  • Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. This will reduce moisture and potential mold buildup.
  • Seal gaps around roofing and attic openings. This will help keep rodents and insects out of your home.
  • Keep the attic clear of clutter and organized. This will make fetching holiday decorations easier, and remove areas where pests can dwell.
  • Check your insulation. Older homes may have asbestos – and you will need to hire an insulation expert to inspect and/or remove the harmful substance.

Basements, Crawlspaces, and Utility Areas

Don’t forget these important and potentially dangerous places in your home. A few precautionary measures will go a long way toward a safe and healthy home.

  • Limit water heater temperature to 120 degrees F to prevent burns.
  • Change the furnace/AC filter every other month.
  • Ask a professional to check your furnace and other gas appliances for carbon monoxide leaks each year.
  • Make sure the clothes dryer vent funnels air to the outside.
  • Test for radon. Most homes are safe, but if it is found in high levels, you will need to hire a specialist.

Stairways and Halls

These frequently used areas in your home can cause problems unless they are properly looked after. Here are some tips to prevent falls and other hazards.

  • Use stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs if children are present
  • Make sure stairs and halls are well lit.
  • Fix loose or uneven stairs, and attach a carpet or no-slip rubber strip to each stair.
  • Install handrails on both sides of your stairs.

With a little hard work and some attention to detail, you can help make your home a safer and healthier place to live. You can divide this checklist into seasonal chunks, so you aren’t overwhelmed. We wish you a happy and healthy year ahead!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your home remodeling project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

8 Convenient DIY Home Repair Jobs

Morgan Contractors


8 Convenient DIY Home Repair Jobs                                                        

As fall turns into winter, we spend more of our time indoors. While this gets us out of the cold, it can also throw into sharp relief a few (or many) of the chores and tasks that we have neglected during the warmer months. With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to forget household maintenance. But small projects, like fixing a creaky hinge or cleaning a laundry room, can make a big difference in our happiness during the thick of winter. To help you keep a sunny outlook despite the cold, we’ve compiled a list of 8 convenient DIY home repair jobs you can tackle this winter.

Though we provide 8 tasks here, there will likely be much more for you to handle around your home. We suggest taking an hour to walk around your home and make a checklist of all the small fixes you can make without the aid of a professional. Then, as you check off items on your list, your sense of accomplishment will grow. You can also keep a list of bigger home repair items that you want to discuss with a contractor.

All right, here we go.

  1. Squeaky Door Hinges. Since we mentioned them above, we thought we’d start here. Squeaky door hinges are a constant reminder that the doors in our home aren’t operating at their best. Fortunately, these are a quick fix. Grab a tube of powdered graphite or some WD-40 and add a little to the pin where the hinge turns. ‘Green’ homeowners can use olive oil instead – just be careful about drips.
  1. Loose Towel Racks & TP Holders. These tend to sag or wobble with continued use and will need to be tightened up over time. Simply remove the fixture and look for the problem. It’s likely your drywall anchor. If it is bent or not strong enough, replace it with a sturdier option. We suggest toggle bolts, though threaded anchors are effective as well.
  1. Creaky Floorboards. You walk, they creak and groan. But this is an easy DIY home repair. A small investment in an anti-squeak repair kit can solve your problems fast. An even cheaper option – though you’ll need to do this more often – is to apply some talcum powder (or the powdered graphite from #1) to the seam where the floorboards meet. This will quiet the noises by lubricated the movement.
  1. Remove Shutoff Valve Rust. Sinks and toilets are a pain when they don’t work properly, and being able to stop water to them is important. To make sure you can do this, check your shutoff valves under/behind your sinks and toilets. If they are rusted, they may not work. To ensure that they do, just apply some WD-40 and let it sit for a few minutes to an hour. Turn the valves a few times to work the oil into the threads.
  1. Repair Paint on Shower Ceilings. Heat and moisture do bad things to paint. You’ll likely see the unpleasant effects every day during your shower. To fix the paint on shower walls and ceilings, start by scraping off the old paint and sanding the wall behind it. Next, recoat with a high-quality, exterior-grade paint. To make the new paint last longer, ask your family to use the bathroom vent, and to keep shower heat reasonable.
  1. Tighten Loose Handles & Hinges. From kitchen cabinets to bathroom drawers, it’s likely that at least some of the handles and hinges in your home are loose. This quick fix just requires a screwdriver and a little patience. If you find that the screws spin, try replacing them with a larger screw for a tighter grip.
  1. Check & Replace Batteries. No one likes waking up to a blaring smoke or carbon monoxide detector signaling a low battery. To prevent this annoyance, and to make sure your family is safe, replace the batteries in these apparatuses regularly.

We’re almost there. Hopefully, these suggestions have you on the path to some serious DIY home repair. Our final project sounds a little more intensive, but it isn’t!

  1. Test GFCI Outlets. Your GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters) should be checked once a month. But if you are like 99.99% of us, you don’t. However, if it has been a while, we suggest doing it – and winter is a great time to tackle this job. You’ll find GFCIs (the two little buttons (often red and white) between the plugs on your outlets) around potentially wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Make sure they trip and reset correctly. If there is an issue, you can replace it yourself. For the less DIY-inclined, an electrician can handle the job for about $100.

Since you’re on a DIY home repair roll, here’s one bonus job to tackle that will have your home running like new.

  1. Clean the Stove Exhaust Filter. Check your stove’s operating manual to find the filter. Remove it, wash it with a good de-greaser, and reinstall. You may want to replace it if the filter is in bad shape. This cleaning will improve the efficiency of the exhaust fan and, as a bonus, will help keep the flames of a stovetop fire from spreading.

There you go! 8 convenient DIY home repair jobs you can tackle this winter. Happy fixing!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home remodeling projects, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a trusted, safety-compliant, and fully insured company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next home improvement project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Complete Wood Flooring Guide (part 2 of 2)

Morgan Contractors


Complete Wood Flooring Guide (part 2 of 2)

Welcome back to our Complete Wood Flooring Guide! In part one we reviewed the three types of flooring options: solid wood, engineered wood, and bamboo. We looked at the pros and cons of each, discussed the prices, and prepared ourselves for part two. Now, we’ll examine how to evaluate the quality and suitability of wood flooring for your home.

What are Wood Floor Grades?

When trees are harvested, and their wood is ‘lumbered’, it is graded into one of four different grades. These are prime grade, select grade, natural grade, and rustic grade.

Prime Grade. This is the highest grade of wood flooring and often produces the most beautiful flooring. Prime grade wood is cut from the center of the log and because of this it generally has a uniform appearance, both in color and texture. Many homeowners find this desirable if they want a more formal look in their home. Thanks to the central cut, prime grade wood also carries few knots and has a low sap content, which again promotes its uniformity. Prime grade wood is generally the most expensive.

Select Grade. Like prime grade, select grade wood is cut further away from the center of the log. As such, it may contain more knots and sap and boast a wider range of color variation. You’ll find that the difference in quality between prime and select is minimal, and you may save on the cost if you choose select grade.

Natural Grade. Below prime and select is natural grade wood. Natural grade wood’s imperfections are part of why many homeowners love it. This grade often has sizable knots and a significant sap content. Color variations also occur, and finding a uniform selection of natural grade wood flooring is difficult. When it comes to natural grade wood, we suggest you embrace the variation. If you are going for a farmhouse-style look to your home, the natural grade is an excellent choice. It is often far less expensive than the prime grade.

Rustic Grade. The lowest grade of wood flooring doesn’t necessarily mean the worst. Cut from the edge of the tree just before the bark layer, rustic grade wood has knots, sap and color variation in abundance. As its name implies, rustic grade wood will remind you of the wood you see in barns and other old structures. It has a charm all its own, but you need to consider what aesthetic you want your floors to exude.

Types of Wood Flooring Finishes

When you buy wood flooring, you will have the option of selecting from prefinished or unfinished wood. Unfinished wood will need to be treated after it is installed. Prefinished wood is, as its name implies, ready for use right after installation. There are many different finishes available, but two of the most popular are oiled and lacquered. These are also the most common when it comes to wood flooring, as their properties are most desirable on a surface you walk on.

Oiled. This option produces a natural, polished look that works well for dark or light colors. An oil finish protects the surface of the flooring from mild scuffs (but not hard scrapes or direct impacts). It also protects the core of the wood.

Lacquered. This finish functions like a varnish. It protects the surface more effectively than oil and adds some shine to the wood, but won’t achieve that polished look that many homeowners desire.

What About Wood Color?

When it comes to hardwood flooring today, you have a huge selection of colors to choose from. Thanks to various treatments, there is far more variety than anything you will find in a forest. Though your options are vast, we find that staying within the natural color spectrum for wood is usually best – unless there is a specific aesthetic effect you want to achieve.

Natural. Wood the way it was made is a beautiful sight. Whether it is a rich mahogany hue or a light birch color, natural hardwood never goes out of fashion. It is also easy to mix and match your furniture and paint. You can even mix light and dark natural hardwoods throughout your home for a beautiful effect.

Color-treated. While a unique color can create a specific look and feel that is desirable at the time, we’ve found that bespoke colors don’t often please over the long term. They can also reduce flexibility when it comes to home décor and color schemes. Color-treated wood is restrictive, so unless you have your heart set on a color, choose a natural shade instead.

And that concludes our complete wood flooring guide. We hope you found the information valuable. Remember, at the end of the day, budget and aesthetic desires determine your choices. When it comes to hardwood flooring, keep a long-term view in mind, because that is what the material is made for.

If you have additional questions about the type, quality or color of hardwood, or about installation practices, please contact us today.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and wood floor installation to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can help make your need wood flooring project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

2018 Wood Flooring Guide (part 1 of 2)

Morgan Contractors


2018 Wood Flooring Guide (part 1 of 2)

Welcome to the Morgan Contractors 2018 Wood Flooring Guide. In this two-part series, we’ll explore the ins and outs, pros and cons, and important considerations around this timeless building material. In part one we’ll explore what hardwood flooring is and the basics of the 3 primary types and their installation. In part two we’ll look at the specifics, details, and even a few tips and tricks when updating your home to hardwood floors.

We hope our 2018 Wood Flooring Guide helps you better understand this popular flooring material and enables you to make the best decision for your home and budget.

Introduction to Wood Flooring

This material is popular because of its longevity, durability, aesthetic qualities and even its limited environmental impact. To give just one example of its timeless (literally) qualities, there are intact wood floors in ancient European castles and buildings at least several hundred years old!

Wood flooring is an appropriate and manageable choice for most homes. Besides its durability, it’s a great way to create a visual continuity throughout a home, even with multiple floor plan layouts.

When building or remodeling, most hardwood flooring comes in strips approximately 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide, or as planks about 4 to 8 inches wide. In the United States, the most popular species of trees that produce usable hardwood flooring are the oak, maple, and black walnut. There are also regional varieties available such as pecan and mesquite. These offer unique grain patterns, but may not be easily or cheaply available everywhere.

For an exotic look, there are also tropical hardwood species available in some areas such as the Brazilian cherry and African Padauk. Your contractor or another lumber supplier will be able to help you find these imported materials.

Finally, beyond the species available, there are also numerous coatings available for prefinished hardwood. These additives include chemicals and substances like aluminum oxide, ceramics, and acrylic polymers – all of which yield incredibly tough surfaces.

Next, we’ll examine the three primary types of hardwood flooring.

Wood Flooring Guide: 3 Types of Hardwood

Solid wood must be nailed to a subfloor structure or bed. One of the many benefits of solid wood is that it can be refinished many times so it looks fresh and beautiful throughout its lifespan. Solid wood flooring is commonly available in wide planks, narrow strips, and parquet squares. Your contractor should be well-versed in the installation of all three types.

Strip flooring is the most common and traditional of all wood floors. Strips run between 1.5 and 3 inches wide.

Planks come in pieces about 3 to 7 inches wide. You often see plank flooring in larger rooms and other open spaces around the home.

Parquet flooring comes in either preassembled tiles or custom-made individual strips. Parquet flooring is best used to create a unique and uniform look for your wood flooring. Example patterns include herringbone, weaves, and geometric shapes.

At most home supply centers, you’ll find prefinished and unfinished options for all three styles. Thickness for each run between 5/16 to .75 inches.

As for price, you’ll find significant variation. A safe bet for native hardwood flooring costs is about $3 to $8 per square foot, while exotic species can run to $14 per square foot or more. Typical contractor installation costs run between $5 to $12 per square foot.

There are two other options available, which are becoming more popular in today’s building projects.

Engineered Wood

Engineered hardwood flooring indicates a material that has been made with pieces of 100% real wood and laminated into a single plank. Pieces of higher-quality wood are layered over cheaper plywood before lamination.

The primary benefit of engineered wood is that it is far more moisture-resistant than traditional hardwood. This construction makes the flooring more stable and much less vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity than solid wood.

Due to its moisture-resistance, we suggested considering engineered wood for your kitchen or basement. It offers a variety of options for installation as well and can be glued, nailed, or snapped in place over a cushioned pad. You’ll find the price of engineered wood comparable to that of solid wood.

What about Bamboo Flooring?

You’ve likely seen bamboo become more popular as a material for everything from flatware to clothing fiber, and now, as a useful flooring choice. It is sustainable and tough and often thought of as wood – despite being a type of grass. Bamboo strands are layered and fused together to form strips or planks just like traditional hardwood.

Most bamboo is imported, coming from Asia or parts of Africa. While the cost is like that of equivalent wood products, you may encounter higher prices depending on the market.

Many homeowners enjoy the sustainable and ‘green’ nature of bamboo. It does cause significantly less environmental impact than hardwood, and with the right finish, can look almost identical.

Expect to pay $3 to $8 per square foot for bamboo flooring, and $7 to $12 per square foot installed.

Next time, in part 2 of our wood flooring guide, we’ll explore the fine details involved in the various types of wood flooring available for your home.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including wood flooring installation and repair, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next wood flooring project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Pick the Best Building Materials for Your Home

Morgan Contractors


Pick the Best Building Materials for Your Home

“Where do I start?” is a common question asked by homeowners when considering materials for a new home or a home remodel. It is a valid question, too. There are so many options available, it’s a difficult task to select the best building materials for your home.

While research is required, a few questions will help you narrow your options. First, ask a professional what you can expect from the different materials. Then ask how those materials work for your budget and your vision for your home.

At Morgan Contractors, we recommend reaching out to a professional right away. We’ve found that this often avoids headaches later in a project and streamlines the selection process.

Of course, if your new home or remodeling job is still just a dream, it pays to get a head start in the process. To help you move dreams toward reality, we’ve compiled a short article about picking the best building materials for your home

Start with Your Budget

For most of off, the cost is the biggest determining factor when it comes to building materials. But with building materials, even more so than other items like clothes or furniture, the lower the initial cost, the shorter the life-span will be. Essentially, to quote the adage, “you get what you pay for.”

There are always exceptions, but after almost 2 decades in the business, we’ve seen this idea prove true. When considering building materials for your home, it is often best to think about their life-cycle cost – especially if you plan to own your home for 5 to 10 years, or more. Here’s a quick example:

Life-cycle cost is the actual cost of a building material over time. If shingle “A” costs 1.5 times shingle “B,” but shingle “B” will last twice as long as shingle “A,” then shingle “B” will actually be cheaper over the timeframe of two installations of shingle “A.”

You can think about life-cycle cost when it comes to energy as well. Cheaper windows might be…cheaper…but they may also leach heat more quickly than better windows, and lead to a higher utility bill.

Go Beyond Cost

Your budget is your budget, but you shouldn’t neglect aesthetics either. Remember, you are the one that puts a real value on how something looks and the pleasure it affords you. Some houses are also built with more expensive materials than others. If this is the case with your home, you need to consider issues that might arise from not using materials that match its core aesthetic.

For every material, try creating a matrix where you compare materials of increasing cost and their aesthetic appeal. You can often find a middle-ground that is both pleasing to your eye and fits within your budget.

Of course, there may be a few points where aesthetics wins out over budget. If you absolutely must have the high-end slate siding and will smile every time you see it, then it may be worth the cost.

Now that we’ve explored the way you should think about the problem, let’s explore the materials themselves. This may also help you visualize the massive scope of a new home or significant home remodeling project.

Choosing the Best Building Materials and Components

Basements and Foundations

Depending on the slope and soil type of your lot, a basement can be a good idea. If it’s suitable, the small added cost of a basement can give you a lot of usable space.

Framing Materials

Wood framing is most common in the United States, but steel framing is becoming more popular. Wood is more affordable, though steel is certainly more durable. Ask your contractor about the pros and cons of each.


Siding comes in many varieties, including wood siding, brick, stone veneer, composite siding, fiber cement board, vinyl siding, stucco, and masonry. Costs can vary widely, so create that matrix we suggested above!

Windows and Patio Doors

House windows are highly engineered and sophisticated building components. And, they are a key player in energy efficiency, maintenance, and the appearance of your house. Check out our window installation article for an in-depth look at the question.

Front Doors

Front doors are one of the few remaining places where you can create a unique look or your home without harming your budget. Your front door is a statement about your home. There are plenty of pre-fab and custom options available.

Roofing Materials

Asphalt shingles, wood shingles, metal roofing, cement tiles, and even rubber roofing are available. And like most building materials, the price range is wide. Of course, value and utility vary as well.


At first glance, drywall seems simple, but there is a lot to consider. Beyond the physical properties of its strength, moisture resistance, and fire resistance, there are many styles of finish to think about as well.

Hardwood Floors

Today, there is a lot more than oak to choose from. There are tropical woods, reclaimed wood, and synthetic/engineered hardwood floors that offer interesting appearances and high durability. Keep a lookout for our next 2 blog posts, which will provide a complete guide to hardwood flooring.

Tile Flooring and Wall Tile

Beyond ceramic tile, there are many choices in stone tiles and porcelain tiles available.


Another massive subject with many possible answers to fit your budget and stylistic preferences. Check out our blog posts about how to paint your home to achieve the moods you want.


Cabinets are among the materials that vary most widely in terms of aesthetics and price. We explored this subject in detail in a previous blog post about custom vs. pre-fab cabinetry.

Deck Materials

Decks are so much more than simple pressure-treated wood these days. Materials range from tropical, reclaimed, and engineered woods, as well as hybrid structures that involve stone or concrete. Of course, before you consider materials, ask yourself, do I need a deck?

Driveway Pavers

If you want to add some elegance to your home, try pavers for driveways and walks. You might be able to get the cobblestone look at a fraction of the cost. Plus, pavers can remove the risk of cracks in your driveway.

This is just the beginning, of course. We hope it helps, but don’t forget our advice to seek out professional assistance to help you pick the best building materials for your home.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including building materials consultation, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about our building materials solutions, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

5 Fast Interior Renovations to Make This Holiday Season

Morgan Contractors


5 Fast Interior Renovations to Make This Holiday Season

With the holiday season in full swing, there’s no better time to consider making quick improvements to your home to impress all your guests. If you’re hosting a party or dinner at your house, you’ll want to make sure your house is ready for all your friends and family coming over to celebrate. Here’s a list of a few quick interior renovations you can do to give your home a little more of a fresh and inviting feel.

Update your kitchen and dining room lighting.

You and your family will likely be spending a good amount of time in the kitchen and dining room, between preparing and serving all the delicious holiday dishes. Poor or insufficient lighting in a room can quickly dampen the mood, and conversely, adequate lighting and fresh new fixtures can really bring a room to life. Considering your family will be spending a large portion of the time together in these rooms, buying new and modern light fixtures and making sure there’s enough ceiling or hanging lights to properly light the whole space can be key in setting the mood for your get together.

Paint or wallpaper a room.

Just as important as lighting, the color and style of the paint in the room can change the mood of the setting. First decide whether you’d rather go for paint or wallpaper; paint is easier to apply and cover up with more paint or wallpaper in the future, but certain wallpapers can provide a unique and festive style to a room where you’ll be gathering with your guests. Brighter, warmer colors promote good mood and can really set the perfect vibe along with the new lighting.

Update your kitchen hardware and appliances.

Spice up your cabinetry and counter space by replacing or adding new, modern hardware and appliances. Replace factory-issued handles and knobs on cabinets and drawers with designs that reflect your personal taste to give your kitchen a feel that fits your style. Update any of your old, ugly appliances with new, stainless steel appliances to clean up the look. If you’re looking for a unique or eclectic look, consider checking out local antique stores for eccentric hardware pieces.

Redo your kitchen counter backsplash.

Building on the theme of improving the look of your kitchen, a new counter backsplash can change the mood just as much as lighting or paint. Ceramic or glass tile laid in a staggered pattern is a common modern backsplash style, and with the right color pairing between your counter and backsplash, it can really tie together the theme and feel of your kitchen to give it a little more semblance.

Switch to energy saving windows.

The holiday season is the worst time of year in terms of energy usage. Between the frequent use of heat, powering decorative lights, and guests opening and closing the door to let the heat out, you’ll want to take every measure you can to save energy and save on your utility bill. If you have old, inefficient windows, replacing them with new energy saving windows to help keep your energy costs as low as possible.

Need professional help for your holiday home improvement projects? Morgan Contractors has years of experience in high-quality construction, design, and remodeling. Contact us at our website today to see how we can give your living space new life.

How to Optimize Home Energy Efficiency

Morgan Contractors


How to Optimize Home Energy Efficiency

In our articles about preparing for summer and winter, we touch repeatedly on the concept of home energy efficiency. This important aspect of homeownership is common knowledge, but few people take the time to really optimize their home for it. By addressing a few keep aspects of home energy efficiency, you can reduce your monthly utility bills – drastically in some cases. The secondary benefits are that you’ll create a healthier environment in your home and that you’ll be contributing to less pollution outside of it. In this article about home energy efficiency, we’ll look at 5 direct steps you can take, as well as 5 energy efficient habits to cultivate.

The big moves toward home energy efficiency

Ask several contractors what they will say their most important energy efficiency suggestions are, and you’ll get a handful of different answers. The most common one, however, will be, “it depends on your home.” We agree. To get the most bang for your buck, contact your contractor or home energy auditor to look at your home and make a specific energy update project. You’ll likely receive one (or more) of the following suggestions.

Replace outdated weather stripping

Consider that old weather stripping around windows and doors is the most common offender when it comes to heat and energy loss in your home. Check all your doors and windows for a tight – and we mean airtight – seal. If you notice even a slight escape or intake of air, it may be time for new stripping. You can find weather stripping online or at any hardware store, and installation is simple. We advise you check your weather stripping on a yearly basis because the constant use of windows and doors can cause wear and tear.

Insulate your walls and attic

While weather stripping is the most common energy efficiency issue for homes, it is the insulation that has the biggest impact. Put simply, good insulation can reduce your heating and cooling utility bill by half or more, while poor insulation will see you paying big money each month.

Most modern homes will have fiberglass or cellulose insulation on their walls and attic already. However, if insulation is absent or sparse, you should check into the cost of adding it. When installed properly, insulation will last for the entire duration of homeownership. You can install insulation yourself, but we generally recommend using a contractor for this work. A contractor can also advise you on the best types of insulation for your home, and ensure that the installation is done properly. If you do make this a DIY-project, make sure you take all the proper safety precautions such as a respirator with a particulate filter, overalls, and safety glasses.

Get new appliances

You’ve probably seen the EnergyStar logo on everything these days. Most new appliances are incredibly energy efficient, especially when compared to older models. Older models are an energy liability and will cost you more each month and newer ones.

Replacing bigger appliances can be a costly undertaking, so choose the worst culprits first. These include your washer and dryer, refrigerator, and hot water heater. Pool pumps are also a big one for homeowners with pools. We advise you to replace these items over time unless a total overhaul is within your budget.

To make sure you are making the best decisions, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website to use their energy calculator and home energy audit tools. Replacing old appliances with more energy efficient ones can even earn you take credits in some places.

Replace inefficient windows

The energy-efficient materials used in windows these days are incredible when compared to their predecessors – even recent ones. If you haven’t had new windows installed in the last 5 years, or didn’t choose the most energy efficient ones, you are probably spending close to 20% of your heating bill just on the heat that seeps through your current windows.

Fortunately, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, it also becomes cheaper, and there are many energy-efficient windows available that won’t hurt your budget. Ask your contractor or hardware store expert about which models are right for you. And when you are ready to install your new windows, remember to pick the best time of year to do so. As an added bonus, new, energy-efficient windows are also a perk that many prospective homebuyers will notice.

Get a smart thermostat

Forget the days of setting the thermostat in the morning, when you get home from work, and before you go to bed. That is inefficient, both for you and for your home’s heating and cooling. Plus, if you forget, you might find that you are heating your home when no one is in it! Therefore, we recommend installing a smart, or at least programmable, thermostat.

Smart thermostats can learn your behaviors, and notice when you are home and when you are out. They can adjust the temperature accordingly, and can even be monitored by apps on your phone. This important tool will save you money with you even needing to think about it.

Home energy efficiency habits

While the projects above cost both time and money, there are several things you can do today that will make your home instantly more energy efficient. These habits should be adopted by everyone in your home to derive maximum benefit.

  1. Turn off and unplug your non-essential appliances. It’s a simple trick to avoid the risk of ‘phantom energy drain’, which can add anywhere from 5 to 10% to your total electric bill each month. Don’t turn your refrigerator off, of course!
  1. Give your heating and cooling systems a break. A difference of as little as 3 degrees in your home’s temperature during the summer and winter can save you hundreds of dollars each year. This means that keeping your thermostat at 75+ (rather than 72) during the summer, and at 65 (rather than 68) during the winter, will shave significant money from your bill each month.
  1. Lower your shower temperature. Yes, a near-scalding shower sometimes can be a real treat, but is it necessary? Probably not. And heating water to that temperature consistently takes a lot of energy, whether it is gas or electricity. Turn it down a bit, and you’ll see the savings. There are also surprising health benefits to cold showers!
  1. Go easy on the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher. Wash clothes with cold water (tap) unless specifically called for. Dry clothes on low or, even better, hang them to dry if space allows. Finally, skip the dishwasher unless there’s a big load to do. Dishwashers don’t save that much more time than washing by hand and don’t always do a better job.
  1. Turn out the lights when you leave a room. It is likely that you learned this from your parents. However, if your house starts to resemble the surface of the sun with lights on in every room, even empty ones, then you are wasting energy and money. Teach your kids this good habit, and you’ll save some money (more than you think) on your bill each month.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including efficient home energy projects, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your home remodeling project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

5 Crazy Halloween Home Construction Projects

Morgan Contractors


5 Crazy Halloween Home Construction Projects

Halloween is a major holiday in the United States. Some people go over the top with their costumes and really get into the ‘spirit’ of things. But even more exciting, fun, and spooky than great costumes are the crazy things people do to their homes on Halloween! To help you get into the Halloween spirit, we’ve compiled 5 of our favorite Halloween home construction projects that are sure to thrill!

Giant spiders and cats

Spiders and black cats are staples of Halloween décor. But when they are on a massive scale, they become truly frightening! Grab some bales of cobwebs from the store, find an inflatable cat or oversized spider decoration and place them on your home. The roof is a particularly creepy spot, but make sure you exercise proper caution before adding your spiders to it!


An army of the dead

Spirits are restless on Halloween, but when you see someone’s Halloween home construction project release an army of ghouls and ghosts from their front yard, it’s time to run! You can buy or make your own grave markers and inscribe strange (or humorous) epitaphs and sayings on them. Grab some plastic skulls, Halloween masks, and bones, and place them around the yard in varying degrees of ‘unrest’. When night rolls around, the effect is quite chilling.


Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere

We love carving pumpkins and displaying them on the porch, but things get a little eerie when there are dozens of Jack O’lanterns spread over the lawn! This is a great opportunity to exercise your carving skills. However, if the effect you want requires a lot of time, you can always paint or buy the pumpkins too. You can also make this a community effort, and enlist friends and neighbors to each donate a carved pumpkin to your scary pumpkin patch.


The classic haunted house

There’s a haunted house in almost every Halloween tale. When they spring up in your town however, it’s rather spooky! The creative use of sheets, cobwebs, colored lights, scary signs, and other materials can transform your home’s exterior in a flash. There’s no limit to the ways you can dress up your home, so just make sure you plan ahead – these projects can take time!


Just plain strange

Sometimes the spookiest part about Halloween is the weirdness it brings out in people. If you can’t decide on a Halloween home construction theme, then just go with whatever scares you most!


Where to go to see the best Halloween construction projects

Not ready to transform your home into a haunted mansion, graveyard or nest of spiders? Not to worry, you can check out plenty of ghastly haunts all over New Jersey! Here is a list of some of the best Halloween homes, courtesy of

Bordentown: Frank Rios and Pat Patrizio lead the charge on Thompson St. each Halloween, making sure the entire block goes completely over-the-top with spooky decor!

Bridgewater: Every year, the Adam’s family pulls out their collection of 13 skeletons and decorates their Rt. 202/206 N. home in a different seasonal theme.

Lambertville: This town knows a thing or two about getting in the Halloween spirit! Just ask the filmmakers of Halloweenville, a documentary inspired by Lambertville’s spooky seasonal transformation. Check out North Union St. and Buttonwood St. for some of the most creative decorations.

Madison: There is a well-decorated house on Ridgedale Ave. between Park Ave. and Madison High School, plus the Dead & Breakfast Inn at 100 Ridgedale Ave.

Mantua: Trick-or-treaters, beware! If you come to 203 W. Salem Ave. for some sweet treats, you’ve got to walk through this home’s frightening “graveyard” first.

Maplewood: 19 Clinton Ave., between Wyoming and Ridgewood, has an amazing pirate display that includes both a boat and an alligator. Argh!

Ridgewood: 124 Sheridan Terrace is open every dry day between October 2-31. This maze is completely free, and creepy crawlies come out a night.

Roselle: Halloween on Bender Ave. gets better and better every year thanks to one home’s super scary Halloween display that’s gained much popularity over the years!

Sayreville: Head to Stella St. for the annual Beetlejuice-themed show, which plays every 30 minutes. For a sneak peek, check out this video.

Succasunna: The homeowners of this Alcott Way home have been treating visitors to a Halloween spectacular for the past 28 years. Expect to be amazed by an out-of-this-world Pirates of the Caribbean-themed display

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home remodeling projects, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a trusted, safety-compliant, and fully insured company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next home improvement project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Essential Autumn Maintenance Tips

Morgan Contractors


Essential Autumn Maintenance Tips

Winter is around the corner, which means at least 4 months of cold, wet weather for homeowners in the northeast. Though many of us love the cold season, it poses unique challenges for your home inside and out. Special precautions must be taken to avoid costly damage to your home and possessions. Much like your annual spring cleaning, we advise a comprehensive autumn maintenance routine. In this article, we offer our favorite autumn maintenance tips to prepare your home for winter.

Autumn Maintenance Tips for Outside

This section of the checklist covers your home’s exterior as well as a few other items that should also be addressed, such as lawn maintenance equipment and plants. Start at the top and work your way down. You should be able to manage all of these tasks in a few weeks.

  1. Seal the air leaks around your home. This will keep cold, wet air out, warm, dry air in, and reduce your utility bill. This is a simple DIY job that only requires a couple tubes of caulk (make sure you pick the right color). Start outside and check your home’s exterior, sealing any cracks you see between door and window frames, trim and siding, and wherever pipes or wires enter your home.

Pro-tip: do this on a warmer day (above 50 degrees) to make the caulking process easier.

  1. Clean your gutters. This job gets a lot of bad press, but it’s one of the most important maintenance steps you can take. Clogged gutters in the autumn and winter can lead to water damage and ice dams, which can require expensive repairs. The ideal time to do this is after all (or most) leaves have fallen from the trees near your home. Grab a ladder and some gloves and get going! Remove twigs, leaves, and other gunk. Once they are clear, look up close and from a distance. Make sure the gutters are straight and trapping water (you can test them with a gallon jug). You’ll want to tighten brackets and hangers with a screwdriver to make sure the gutters can stand up to the weather. Replace anything that looks worn out.

Pro-tip: keep your gutter outflows at least 5 feet from your home. This will help avoid foundation problems. Extensions are cheap and should be added as needed.

  1. Check your roof. Be thorough, otherwise, you might need a roof replacement sooner than you think. If you have a steep roof, this task is best done using binoculars – don’t risk a tall ladder! Warning signs are easy to spot. Look for missing, cracked or buckled shingles. Check for rust spots on metal items. Replace loose, damaged, or missing shingles before winter sets in. Also, check your plumbing vents. The boot (rubber collar) can loosen or crack over time. Replace this if it needs it. Finally, if you see anything growing on your roof, such as moss, you may want to get an evaluation from a professional.

Pro-tip: use this time to assess your chimney (if you have one) for similar signs of damage.

  1. Drain your sprinkler system and hoses. Pipes and hoses will burst in the winter, so you want to protect your investments – especially those underground. When outside water is no longer needed, turn off the system using the main valve and then turn off the automatic controller. Open drain values to drain. Make sure you drain and shake out any above-ground components. Finally, remove the hoses from valves and stow them in your garage or basement.

Pro-tip: For jobs, you can’t see, like underground pipes and hoses, a professional is worth the fee to make sure the job is done well.

  1. Prune your plants. DO this in the late fall when the growth cycle stops for the season. Clip to keep limbs and branches away from your home, which can fall on your home, or drip water on it.

Pro-tip: If a tree looks unsteady or in danger of falling, always call for an inspection from the town!

  1. Get your pool ready for winter. This is a big job, so you should take the proper steps to close it for winter. This will take a few days to a week to do, depending on your experience with the process.

Pro-tip: do this early in the fall, right after summer ends.

  1. Stow your mower. You probably won’t be cutting the grass for a few months, so you should take the time to clean your mower and store it properly. You can either drain the mower (or let it run out of fuel) or add a fuel stabilizer to preserve it over time. These methods will prevent gas tank deterioration. Make sure it is dry and cool before you clean out any excess grass clippings.

Pro-tip: If you have a riding mower or push mower, follow the maintenance tips given by the manufacturer.

Autumn Maintenance Tips for Inside

Now that you’ve taken the major steps to prep your home’s exterior for winter, let’s move inside. First, it’s time to get organized. You’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the winter, so making sure it is neat and clutter-free will keep stress levels to a minimum. It will also make the autumn maintenance tips below just a little more convenient. Here is a useful organization guide for your home. Now it’s time for your autumn maintenance tips checklist.

  1. Examine your furnace. Unless you are in the industry, this job is best left to a professional. A checkup will cost between $50 and $100 from a pro but is well worth it. They’ll be able to review your system and give it a tune-up if necessary. Ask them about replacing your furnace filters (if you don’t already do this). You don’t want to lose heat during the holidays when the whole family is there!

Pro-tip: ask about annual maintenance contracts for your home. You’ll likely get a discount (around 20%), and you know your home will benefit from professional inspection at critical times each year.

  1. Do a fireplace checkup. If you have a fireplace, you must do this at least once a year. Using a flashlight, look up and inside your flue and make sure the damper functions properly. Open the damper and look deeper into the flue. It should be free of all obstructions, which means you should see daylight at the top! If you spot any obstructions or damage to the brick and mortar, call for a fireplace inspection.

Pro-tip: do not ‘test’ your fireplace by lighting a fire before you check it!

There you have it. If you take care of all the items on this list, your home will be well-prepared for the winter season!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and home remodeling services. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can help make your home more comfortable in the winter, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

3 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Winter

Morgan Contractors


3 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle this Winter

If the cold has you stuck indoors, you can still make the most of your time by starting one of those home improvement projects you’ve been thinking about!

For a number of reasons, winter is a great season to do some work on your home. Not only do most of us have more time, but contractors are generally less busy than in the spring or summer, so you’ll get some scheduling flexibility. There are also no bugs to deal with and no hot and humid days that make jobs more difficult.

Think of winter as your time to take care of the most pressing interior home improvement projects. Below are 3 ideas to get you started (they can be either winter DIY jobs or contractor projects, based on your skill level).

Start Painting

Nothing freshens up a space quite like a new coat of paint. Whether you want to tackle the dining room or just one wall of the kitchen, adding some color to your home this winter will have you smiling all year round. Depending on your time and skill level, you may want to hire a contractor to do the job. For those taking the DIY approach, make sure you check out our blog article on how to paint like a pro!

Upgrade your Bathroom

This project can be as large or small as you want it to be, so it’s a perfect winter job no matter what your time and budget are. Jobs like re-grouting your tile or replacing a faucet, are quick and easy DIY projects to consider. More ambitious jobs such as replacing the tile or toilet bowl may require professional help but will do wonders to improve the quality of your bathroom.

Get Organized

Maybe this isn’t a major home improvement project, but it is an important step that will get you ready for bigger jobs like finishing your basement, installing new windows, remodeling your attic. Start with closets and drawers, and then move onto big storage spaces. You’ll also be surprised at how fun and rewarding organizing and/or getting rid of excess stuff can be. You can even get the kids involved in a productive indoor family activity.

Do You Need a General Contractor?

Assess the projects you want to accomplish this winter. Are they small winter DIY jobs, or will you need professional help? If you decide to go it on your own, make sure you do some research on the best ways to tackle a project. For jobs involving a contractor, use these tips to find one that’s right for you.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home remodeling work to the Tristate area. If you are looking for a safety-compliance, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about our home improvement services, to request an estimate or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.