What low maintenance really means for the owner: How to create a low-maintenance home
A low-maintenance home and low-maintenance landscaping mean more free time for you to spend quality time with your family, or a little ‘me-time’ to unwind and enjoy hobbies.
Taken further, a low-maintenance home can also save you money down the track. Consider NOT having to buy petrol for a lawn mower – let alone not having to do the mowing regularly – and NOT having to re-sand and re-seal a deck or wall cladding, or having to trim back rose bushes and pull off dead heads on a daily basis.
So many aspects of home living require a lot of time and money to upkeep, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 10 tips to get you started and create a low-maintenance home:
Choose Quality & Durable Materials
Whenever you build new or renovate, choosing quality, durable materials right from the start will often save you time and money in the long run. Whether you are looking at wall cladding, screen doors, kitchen cabinets, or flooring, you want something that will stand the test of time and be low maintenance.
Remember the old adage, you get what you pay for. The price tag on the cheaper item might be very attractive now, but in five years’ time when it is showing signs of being worse for wear and no amount of cleaning, polishing or painting helps, you will likely regret your budget purchase. For example, you might love the marble bench top idea for your new kitchen, but marble stains easily and requires maintenance to keep it looking good. A quartz countertop, on the other hand, is more resistant to staining, as well as scratching and chipping, so will prove to be the more cost-effective and low-maintenance option.
Declutter your home outdoor
Whether it is inside your home, around your patio and garden, or inside your garage/shed, the less visible clutter you have, not only the tidier will it look, but the less there is to clean and maintain. So, decluttering is the first step in creating a low-maintenance home.
Do you really need all those knick-knacks and ornaments lying around, gathering dust? Time to be ruthless. Display the things that really matter most and store the rest away or sell them. (Time for a garage sale, maybe?)
Find a storage (for the clutter!)
A place for everything and everything in its place. Have you heard that one before? If you aren’t blessed with plenty of inbuilt storage, you can buy cupboards and shelving. Also, think creatively. That empty space under your staircase can become a cupboard. A beautifully crafted cabinet can house your clutter while providing an attractive furniture piece along an empty wall. Alternatively, you can buy DIY shelves and store things in protective plastic tubes and containers in your shed, or even hire some storage space.
Everything you own doesn’t have to be on display, at least not all at the same time.
Some traditional and older style homes have intricate and ornate features, like filigree column brackets and fretwork, that while looking spectacular, are also notorious dust gatherers. If you have the time and inclination to dust these special features then that is not a problem, but if you don’t, then forgo these for more clean and simple lines. This also applies to fixtures like claw foot baths. Yes, they do look beautiful, but they are much more time-consuming and fiddly to clean beneath and around than traditional inbuilt baths.
One of the next biggest-time consumers is floor maintenance. You need to clean your floor regardless of type, but some flooring types are easier than others to maintain.
Tiles and timber floors are easier to maintain than carpets. However, timber floors scratch and are more prone to moisture damage and warping, and eventually need re-sanding and re-polishing. New Vinyl and engineered timber floors are easier to clean and maintain and don’t require regular polishing. Many of the modern styles are difficult to tell apart from real wood.
Tiles are an easier option, but choose larger tiles that require less grouting and opt for a darker grout that won’t show the dirt as much. If you want white tiles, you are asking for trouble. Choose darker tiles or those that have a natural stone-like appearance, which again, will hide dirt more easily.
Walls-interior and exterior
Whether you have pets or grubby-fingered children, walls have a way of gathering dirt marks and chips, and vacuum cleaners are notorious paint and plaster bashers.
Plain open brick might not go with your design plans or tastes, but there are other options. Cladding protects your walls and creates a visually pleasing décor that is easier to maintain than a painted plaster wall, and you don’t have to worry about paint wearing off from constant washing.
Consider a modern cladding material rather than natural timber, which will eventually require re-sanding, oiling and staining or painting. Natural timber can also warp, crack and fade, showing signs of age much earlier, hence why we can’t really call it low maintenance.
Fortunately, there are many new options of cladding that do away with the need for maintenance. Many of these new options include aluminium and composites that are available in different styles and colours and never need oiling, staining or painting. For example, NewTechWood’s range of Shadowline and Castellation Cladding which adorns homes and businesses globally and can be used both internally and externally.
Windows and door frames
The same principles apply to your window and door frames. Why choose high-maintenance timber, when you can have a more cost-effective option like aluminium, which is virtually maintenance-free and won’t warp, fade, peel or splinter.
Low maintenance landscaping
Who doesn’t love a lush green lawn! But by the same token, who loves the cost of watering and feeding it and mowing and weeding it?
Unless gardening is your hobby, then consider other low to no maintenance ground cover options and make watering and mowing history.
- Artificial lawn – the industry has come a long way, and today you can buy varieties that are soft to walk on, do not retain as much heat, and last longer than their predecessors.
- Mulch – mulch is natural and makes a great ground cover for smaller areas.
- Native gardens – Found in smaller garden beds through to large expanses. For example, some entire front yards consist of rockeries with native ground covers and succulents that need very little water and no maintenance.
- Paving – is an obvious choice, but not for everyone, especially if you want to replace a large lawn area at the front of your home. The only upkeep will be weeds springing up between the pavers.
- Stamped Concrete – Again, not something you’d choose for the front of your home but for large outside areas that require no looking after, concrete is another excellent choice, providing sturdy surfaces for entertaining and somewhere for the kids to ride and skate.
- Decking – No longer found just under patios, people are using decking to cover areas of the backyard that they don’t want to maintain and to provide a more attractive entertainment space. Decking now also features frequently in low-maintenance pool landscape designs.
Remember the drawbacks of wood, though. Natural timber attracts termites, fades, warps, splinters and cracks, and eventually, nails will pop up. Plus, you have to re-sand and re-oil or paint over its lifetime. There are many composites on the market now that have none of these problems. You simply choose your colour, install it and that’s it. For example, NewTechWood composite decking comes in an array of popular modern colours and different finishes, such as the Terrace and Coastal boards. You know these low-maintenance boards are a good choice when you discover they are also backed by a 25-year warranty.
Garden plants and pot plants
You can further save yourself time and money by installing a reticulation system that will deliver just the right amount of water at the right time.
Of course, if you have chosen water-guzzling or high-maintenance plants, then you haven’t made life easier for yourself. Roses, for example, are beautiful, but require ongoing clipping and daily dead flower head removal for their upkeep.
So, select your plants carefully. Some plants thrive in cooler, moist climates, while others do better in the tropics. Choose plants appropriate to your climate and preferably those that require little watering and maintenance, like succulents and Australian natives.
The beauty of gutter guards (a mesh that is placed in your roof gutters), is that they help save your gutters from filling up with leaves, which is bad news in wet winters. And if you live in a fire zone, then it is also bad luck in hot, dry summers. A gutter guard doesn’t mean you never have to clean out your gutters, but it does mean you don’t have to do it so often.
So, if you’ve got better things to do, have a good look at your property and make a list of changes that can help to create a low-maintenance home – and make life easier.