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Some of the best-looking and coziest homes to live in are older houses. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how much you’re getting yourself into with these old houses until you’re already moved in. From scratched flooring to drafty frames to water damage, the problems can quickly add up. The colder weather that comes with fall can prove to be especially hard on older homes.
Thankfully, some of the most common hassles with these houses actually have easy fixes, as long as you have the right supplies and know how to use them. Get a head start on your home improvement projects this fall and check out our guide to properly maintaining an older, traditional house.
Wood finishing is never finished
There’s a lot of talk out there about why hardwood floors are better than carpets, but they can be difficult to maintain long-term. Aside from flooring, many houses have wood finishing on kitchen counters, patios, porches, paneling, doors, dining tables, bookshelves and other furniture. Wherever the wood finishing is in your house, there’s a good chance it needs polishing — and it may even have a few scratches you don’t want to look at anymore.
First, start with any scratches and marks on the wood. You’ll need to find a scratch cover that works on sealed wood. We like how easily Old English Scratch Cover disguises old scratches and nicks. No scratch cover works perfectly, but Old English does a good job of keeping markings in the wood out of sight and helps protect the wood from further scratches.
Next, lather the wood with a layer of wood polish. The right wood polish will give your wooden surfaces or furniture a natural, waxy shine that just looks good. Polish prevents the wood from cracking from dryness and restores most wood finishing to its original quality.
We use Howard’s Feed-N-Wax wood polish because it also doubles as a wood conditioner. Scratch cover is great for protecting the wood, but Feed-N-Wax goes above and beyond to make your wood floors look beautiful.
Solving airflow problems
One of the biggest recurring problems in older houses is draftiness. Whether it’s because the houses have multiple floors or because the insulation has aged, many older homes have issues with air escaping under door cracks and through windows. In many cases, the best solution is to close those gaps.
For door frames, the Suptikes door draft stopper is super efficient. It uses two-inch weathering strips to block airflow from escaping underneath the doorway. If you live somewhere where it gets cold over the winter and have issues with a draft, this is an investment you’ll want to make to save on your heating bill. These under-door seals are easy to install and also provide the added benefit of soundproofing.
Drafty windows are unfortunately a bit more difficult to fix. In older homes, it’s common to have windows that struggle to keep out cold air effectively. The easiest way to get better insulation (without paying a fortune for new windows) is with shrink film.
Film insulation kits let you cover your window with a thin coat of plastic that keeps air from escaping or entering during colder months. Come winter and spring, your family will thank you — and your heating bill won't be quite as scary.
Sometimes with older windows, the problem isn’t with the airflow – it’s with what comes in with it. Bees, mosquitoes, and other bugs often fly through open windows and into your house, but then never know how to leave.
Thankfully, there’s a way to block out those pesky critters while still maximizing airflow. Magnetic screens are typically cheap and incredibly easy to install on any window. Finally, you can keep your windows open all season long without replacing the frame.
Some of the most beautiful wood is in older homes, but it can be dull when residue and dirt build up on the surface. Guardsman Deep Clean Purifying Wood Cleaner will renew the shine to your wood surfaces. The no-drip foam formula cleans without leaving any streaks. It is tough on dirt but gentle enough to use on all of your wood surfaces. Guardsman has been a favorite since 1915 so you know their brand can be trusted.
Last but not least, rust stains and watermarks are the unspoken issues in every older home. Thankfully, these are typically easier to resolve than some of the other problems in this guide. Rust stains on metal fixtures often pop up in kitchens, laundry rooms and particularly in bathrooms. For the toughest stains, we recommend Iron OUT.
Just put this powdered rust stain remover on a wet sponge or cloth and you’ll be able to buff out almost any rust. Even the palest-colored toilets should return to their original look with the right amount of elbow grease.
The tile in your old house may have lost its luster because of stained grout, but that doesn't mean you have to replace the whole thing. Instantly restore your kitchen or bathroom tile with the Grout Pen white tile paint marker. This handy little pen can paint and recolor your grout leaving you with a brighter, cleaner look. With one pen you can deliver nontoxic, water-based colorant to up to 150 feet of grout. Don’t let stained grout get you down, the Grout Pen keeps your tile looking like new for less than $10.
Give your home a little extra love
Whether your house was built in 1922 or 2022, we hope this guide to maintaining your home has been useful. While replacing a window frame or old flooring entirely may be the best solution to your problem, until you’re prepared to oversee those big projects, these quick fixes work well at a fraction of the cost.
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