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Cottage Country Boom Shows no Signs of Slowing

Muskoka’s real estate market is heating up. With urban retirees still flocking north to lake country, pandemic-fuelled house prices look here to stay – at least in the short-term.

Buyers are predominantly coming from the GTA and while these wannabe cottage owners are concerned about affordability, they don’t mind splashing out. According to real estate firm RE/MAX, average property prices for a waterfront home in the Muskoka area rose by a whopping 15% in 2021. 

Why cottage country?

Ontario’s cottage country has always attracted interest from buyers looking to leave the city behind. Particularly retirees as they seek to escape the last vestiges of the rat race with an idyllic country retreat.

Renowned for its stunning scenery, friendly communities, outdoor activities, and beautiful homes, the Muskoka area is a no-brainer for those with the finances and freedom to relocate.

And, of course, being so accessible is another attractive selling point. Just a few hours drive from Toronto, lake country is the perfect destination to get away from it all while still staying connected.

Interest has held steady for many years, but the pandemic injected a note of urgency into the market as repeated lockdowns and the rise of remote working led to a migration from urban areas to rural retreats.

As a result, lakeside towns like Gravenhurst, Collingwood, and Owen Sound went from vacation destination to the epicentre of the cottage goldrush almost overnight.

How a hot market benefits both buyers and sellers

A surging market is obviously good news for sellers. Always a lucrative investment, lakefront property is seeing record returns. And in a competitive market, the seller holds all the cards – they can nearly always expect to take more than their asking price, and set the terms of the sale, adding or omitting conditions as they wish.

It’s also generally much quicker to close the deal when demand is high. Average days on the market for a Muskoka waterfront property dropped from 55 in 2017 to 31 in 2021, according to real estate firm Mark Benson, and, as of September 2021, that number was further reduced to 23.

Where does Muskoka real estate go from here?

Buyers may be on the back foot in peak periods, but it’s not all bad news. Record prices are dampening enthusiasm somewhat, which means there’s less chance of properties attracting a bidding war. Instead, small numbers of highly motivated buyers are drilling down on what they want, leading to quick closures and hassle-free negotiation.

In short, the market may still be buzzing, but the frenzy of last year appears to have abated – to the relief of both buyers and sellers.

In 2022, the Canadian Real Estate Association predicts the market will dip slightly from 2021’s record-breaking year, but stay high.

Whether you’ve just moved to cottage country, or need some help getting your home ready to sell, Muskoka Window and Door Centre can help you get your property looking perfect. We work with North America’s leading door and window manufacturers to offer you the most up-to-date styles, features and products for your holiday home. Contact us today to see how we can help with your next construction or installation project.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Deck?

One of the best things about the summer season is finally being able to spend sunny afternoons and warm evenings on the deck. Whether you’re reading in your favourite patio chair or spending time with your loved ones enjoying a drink or some great BBQ, there’s something magical about time spent on the deck. Unfortunately, wood decks have a bad habit of decaying over time and bringing the party to a halt, requiring repairs or replacement so that you can continue enjoying it for many more years.

 

If your deck is showing signs of aging, it might be time to consider replacing it to redefine your outdoor space and create the ultimate area for relaxation and entertaining guests. While the summer season may be over, that doesn’t mean you can’t get started on planning next year’s big deck renovation, especially now that lumber prices are finally returning to normal. If you’re unsure whether or not your deck needs to be replaced, here are some common signs that your deck needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.

 

Damaged or rotting deck boards

The first thing you should look for when analyzing the condition of your deck is also the most obvious sign that it’ll need to be replaced – damaged boards. If you notice that the surface of your deck has sustained serious or extensive damage, you should at the very least consider replacing the affected boards as soon as possible.

 

Damaged boards will feature cracks and splinters, mold growth, visible rot, and other signs of obvious damage. Boards are usually damaged by the presence of wood rot, long term water exposure, mold growth, and damage from wear and tear or weather events. If the damage is affecting a large surface area of your deck, you might not have a choice but to replace it outright.

 

Wobbly boards and unsteady railings

After you’ve given the surface of your deck a good hard look, take a walk around it to feel how steady it feels under your feet. If you can feel the boards wobbling and moving as you walk, it’s extremely likely that widespread damage has set in, requiring a full replacement. It’s also a good idea to take a look at your deck from a few feet away from it, where you’ll be able to see if it’s sagging or appears to be warped. If it is, the most likely culprit is damage to the substructure of your deck, indicating that the posts or support beams have seen better days. Like a wobbling deck, a sagging deck will require a full replacement as soon as possible, otherwise the chance of further damage and possible injuries to you and your loved ones is greatly increased.

 

Another less severe sign of damage is loose or unsteady railings. Unsteady railings can be extremely dangerous, making it a serious safety risk for loved ones and guests. While this can be quite an easy fix, unsteady or loose railings often come hand in hand with other serious issues, generally making it easy to go about replacing the deck entirely instead of repairing it each and every season.

 

Deck posts just aren’t cutting it anymore

Your deck posts are the most important part of your deck – if they’ve become damaged by rot or age, they’re not going to do an adequate job holding up your deck. If your deck posts have begun to lose integrity and are showing signs that they could fail in the near future, it’s critical that you replace your deck immediately. Failure to do so will mean that your deck is sitting on an unstable foundation, greatly increasing the chances of catastrophic failure and injury to anybody who uses the deck.

 

If your posts are still in good working order but you notice water pooling around them, it’s highly recommended that you consult a deck building professional to help you divert the water away from the posts to avoid future rot and damage.

 

Choosing the right replacement materials

If you’ve decided to rebuild your deck, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of the different decking materials available. The type of materials you choose will decide how long your new deck lasts, how practical it will be, how much it’ll elevate the look of your backyard, and how budget-friendly it’ll be.

 

For an inexpensive and classic deck feel, you can choose to use natural wood materials for a durable deck that’ll look beautiful for years to come. Alternatively, pressure-treated lumber is a budget-friendly option that will resist moisture and rot for some time.

 

For those looking for something a little different, composite decking and plastic decking materials offer a unique look using recycled plastic and wood fibers or just plastic materials, offering a long-lasting, but less affordable, option. Both of these materials are durable, easy to maintain, and don’t require time consuming staining, sealing or sanding.

 

Finally, some homeowners have turned to aluminum decking materials for the same long-lasting and low-maintenance appeal, but these decks typically carry with them a highly industrial appearance which may not suit your backyard area.

 

While redoing your deck, think about your windows too! Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s number one provider of high quality window and door products. Our showroom is home to some of the industry’s very best brands, including products by Andersen, Ostaco, BigFoot, Centor, and other leading names in doors and windows. To find out how our talented team of installation experts can help put that finishing touch on your home or cottage with high performing energy efficient windows and doors, get in touch with us today.

Keep Your Muskoka Windows Beautiful: Stop Wood Rot Before it Starts

Your beautiful Muskoka cottage deserves to look its best, but in lakeside conditions it’s not always easy to keep things ship shape.

Unsightly invaders like wood rot are unfortunately a common issue in Ontario’s cottage country. All those lakes might make for stunning scenery, but they’re not kind to wooden window frames which can buckle, swell, and rot in the damp air.

The tell tale signs of wood rot

Newer homes are increasingly using rot-resistant materials to combat this problem, but older cottages still tend to favor wood frames for their beautifully natural look.

Your Georgian Bay getaway or Huntsville home may look the part with its cedar sills and oak frames, but vigilant homeowners know that wood requires careful upkeep to maintain its glossy finish.

Knowing you have a problem, or the beginnings of a problem, is the first step. Watch your windows for any sign of decay – prompt action can prevent the rot from spreading and doing long-lasting, severe damage.

It’s not always easy to spot wood rot. Damage frequently starts from within the frame so by the time it’s noticeable, you may have a bigger problem than you think. Start by gently pressing a screwdriver or other tool against the frame. If the wood appears soft or spongy, it’s likely rotted.

Another red flag is chipped or peeling paint. As the first line of defence against the elements, this coating is the first thing to go and leave your wood vulnerable.

Pay particular attention to the corners and bottom half of the frame, especially if they’re exposed to the elements i.e. without a covering or overhang. This is where problems frequently start.

If in doubt, book a consultation with an experienced window installation firm as they can assess the damage and provide options about how to treat and protect your frames.

Window repair and replacement

 

If rot’s the culprit, it’s time to act. Rotted frames won’t just ruin the look of your house, they can also cause your frames to warp, leak and develop mold. They’ll also drive up your energy bills, making it harder to heat or cool your home.

And don’t forget pests – crafty critters can exploit the holes made by rot to come inside and cause havoc in your home.

If the damage is still relatively small, you can do a few DIY fixes like plugging holes with wood filler, repainting and/or adding a wood insert. Just be sure to completely clean out the area, as leaving any rot behind will derail your home improvement efforts.

In situations where the rot has progressed, it might be time to call in the experts. Replacing your windows is often the best option but it’s important not to choose a retrofit solution. Putting new panes into damaged frames is obviously a risky proposition.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre doesn’t just install windows, our team of experts also replaces rotted frames so you can be sure your new windows will last for years to come. We work with the industry’s top manufacturers to offer you the latest styles, products, and materials that don’t just look great, they’re also weather-resilient and reliable. Contact us today to see how we can transform your holiday home.

Now’s the Perfect Time to Plan your Cottage Renovation for 2022

Savvy Muskoka home and cottage owners know it’s never too early to plan their next renovation project. From choosing designs to finalizing the small details, home improvement takes time. Starting well in advance will keep you from rushing into upgrades that’ll leave you with a bad case of the reno regrets.

Book early to secure your spot

Ontario cottage country is a busy place even in a normal year, and 2021 has been anything but normal.

Urban dwellers flooded to the lakes in 2021 as pandemic restrictions limited most Canadians to staycations. Seeking respite from the city, cottagers embraced Muskoka’s natural charms but not everyone was content to lounge by the lake.

Many turned their attention to upgrades and improvements, giving the local construction industry a much-needed boost, but contributing to the rising demand for labour and materials. Ask anyone in the area who wanted a job done this year and they’ll tell you – the best in the business were either completely unavailable or working through a huge backlog of clients.

That heightened demand shows no signs of slowing, so it’s a good idea to prepare now if you’re looking to spruce up your Muskoka cottage for 2022. In addition, lumber prices are plummeting, so locking in a price with a contractor now for anything which involves lumber is a good idea economically. 

If you’re looking to redesign your doors, update your windows or simply keep up with the latest styles and specialty products, we can help. 

Muskoka Window and Door Centre has been helping cottage owners with their renovations and home improvement projects for over three decades. Family-owned and operated, we have the experience and know-how to help you realize your vision and bring your dream cottage to life.

We partner with leading North American manufacturers such as Andersen, Bigfoot, and Ostaco to give you a range of choices, from on-trend awnings to the latest sliding door technology. Industry trendsetters, these partners are carefully selected by us to deliver the highest quality products for your home, no matter the size or scope of your project.

 

Off-season opportunities are abundant

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is very well established in the area, so our slots fill up quickly. Most clients book in fall for spring projects, or contact us in early spring for summer jobs. Book with us now, however, and you can have your pick of installation dates in 2022. 

You can even get a jump on renovations by starting in the off-season. Our team works year-round to suit your schedule. We’ve the resources, the experience, and the expertise to fit your windows and doors even in the depths of winter when the snow’s falling. In fact, some homeowners prefer to book upgrades when they’re not at home, finding it more convenient to have the work done in their absence.

If you like the sound of stepping through a new and improved front door in spring, get in touch with us today to talk dates and get started on your Muskoka home or cottage makeover.

The Best Windows for Your Cottage’s Architectural Design

Whether you’ve a cozy farmhouse on the shores of Georgian Bay, a sleek and sprawling mansion in Huntsville or a classic cottage in Bracebridge, you need windows that perfectly complement your home’s architectural style.

 

Creating a distinct style or theme for your Muskoka getaway means getting every detail just right. But with so much choice on the market it can be tough to know where to start. 

 

The below list gives some guidance on matching your windows to your home’s signature design so you can realise your vision and create the cottage of your dreams.

Speciality styles

Modern and contemporary

 

The modern look is characterised by sleek surfaces, expansive spaces, and a clean, unfussy feel. 

 

To create this airy atmosphere, windows in contemporary homes are all about letting in the light. Oversized panes with dark frames give a bold but simple look, allowing for plenty of natural sunlight while showing off the Muskoka landscape in all its picturesque splendor. 

 

Casement windows are a great option for homeowners with modern taste. These windows are side hinged, opening out to the right or left. They can be installed side by side to cover entire walls so you can replicate the open contemporary look and enjoy sweeping views.

 

You may also want to consider bi-fold windows for sunrooms and outdoor areas. These fold away and discreetly stack against side walls to open up living spaces -again, giving that expansive feel.

 

Ontario manufacturer Bigfoot specialises in high-end contemporary design, offering extra large windows in a variety of glazes and finishes. 

Traditional

 

From cutting-edge to back in time, traditional styles take inspiration from the past with nods to the Colonial era. A traditional design offers flexibility as you can borrow from many different decades to see what suits your home’s structure and setting.

 

Bow and bay windows are popular in traditional styles, giving a classic curved look. Window grilles and lattices can add to the antiquated feel, especially those using old world materials like wood or metal.

 

Door and window manufacturer Andersen offers custom classic styles, made in a range of materials from wood to vinyl. They specialize in energy efficient products, so your old-fashioned windows don’t add to your modern-day heating bills.

Rustic/ farmhouse

 

Buying in the Muskoka backcountry is the perfect chance to get a taste of high-end homesteading – turning your property into a mid 1800s farmhouse. 

 

This look is practical but elegant. Classic wood shutters, high accent windows, awnings, and casements feature heavily in farmhouse styles. Color palettes are generally neutral, with black frames making an eye-catching statement piece out of simple vertical panes.

 

Toronto-based Ostaco has a wide selection of made-to-order casement and awnings that can be designed with your rustic nest in mind. Made with ultra-thick vinyl and available in their ‘true triple’ pane, they’re highly durable and leak-proof.

Long-lasting luxury

 

Style isn’t everything of course. You don’t just want windows that match your look, you want low-maintenance windows that will last.

 

Muskoka Window and Door Centre works with a variety of leading North American manufacturers to provide the best quality products available. They’re made with durable, energy-efficient materials and expertly installed by our professional team – giving you peace of mind that they can withstand any weather or wear and tear.

 

A family-owned business, Muskoka Window and Door Centre has been operating in cottage country for over three decades. Give us a call today to see how we can transform your home.

What is “Energy Star” and Why Should I Look for It on Windows?

Energy conservation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when building or renovating your Muskoka dream cottage or home. But if you’re not using energy efficient windows and doors, you’re missing out on some serious savings.

You can lose up to 25 percent of your home’s energy through leaky windows and doors. So whether you’re trying to cool your lakefront cottage or warm up your Huntsville home, it pays to go green.

Look for the logo

You can easily spot an energy efficient home in the Muskokas from its windows. Just look for the Energy Star logo.

This blue symbol lets you know that the product has been tested and certified to ensure it meets the highest standards of energy efficiency. The Energy Star program is a collaborative effort between government and industry to make manufacturing more energy aware. It’s recognized in both Canada and America, so all North American manufacturers can take advantage of this rating.

For cost-conscious cottage owners, choosing these accredited products is a no-brainer. Energy Star windows are around 20 percent more efficient than the average window, while Energy Star doors are 15 percent more efficient.

And if you really want to bring down your bills, look for Energy Star’s ‘Most Efficient’ label. These windows and sliding glass doors offer up to 55 percent more energy efficiency than average models.

Use any of these products and you could even qualify for Energy Star rebates or incentives to further offset your cottage costs.

Style, sustainability and savings

At Muskoka Window & Door Centre, we want to make sure your lakeside getaway isn’t just beautiful, it’s also taking advantage of the most up to date and reliable energy-saving technology. That’s why we partner with manufacturers who can provide elegant yet efficient windows and doors.

 

In fact, one of our long-standing suppliers, Andersen Windows & Doors, has been working with the Energy Star program for over two decades and, in 2017, received the program’s Partner of the Year award for Sustained Excellence.

From specialty windows to sliding doors, we carry a wide-range of Energy Star-rated products that keep the weather out and the energy in – without sacrificing style for savings.

And, of course, choosing your windows and doors is only the first step. Shoddy workmanship and poor installation can sabotage your efforts to seal up your home, leading to leaks and soaring bills. Our team is very experienced in installing, maintaining and (when necessary) replacing Energy Star products so you’re guaranteed longstanding and secure windows and doors.

Reducing your energy use isn’t just good for your wallet and your home. It also benefits the beautiful Muskoka environment – less energy wastage means more sustainable energy use. 

Boost your conservation credentials with a beautiful set of energy-efficient furnishings and you’ll be indirectly helping to preserve the picturesque beauty of cottage country for generations to come!

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is one of the region’s oldest and most established suppliers and installers of high quality windows and doors. Contact us today to talk to a member of our team about how we can help make your home more energy efficient.