Featured Product: Bigfoot Entrance Doors

Ontario-based manufacturer Bigfoot has made a name for itself manufacturing high quality custom architectural window and door designs. Bigfoot’s exceptional level of innovation and responsive customer service has led them to becoming one of the most respected names in window and door manufacturing throughout the country, one that Muskoka Window and Door Centre is proud to work with.

One of the best examples of the high quality architectural systems offered by Bigfoot are their Premium and Ultimum Entrance Doors. Bigfoot’s line of architectural entrance doors truly become an aesthetic symbol of your Muskoka cottage, keeping you safe without compromising your style or your home’s energy efficiency.

Bigfoot Premium Entrance Doors – A strong and impressive symbol of your property

With their elegant architectural design and high performance features, these premium entrance doors are sure to make a lasting impression on all your guests. Bigfoot’s Premium doors feature a four-folded tightness design and four-folded glazing that performs to exceptionally high thermal conductivity standards. Bigfoot Premium doors are available in aluminum and a wood look finish, making for premium quality doors that truly make you feel safe and secure.

These doors feature panels up to 105 mm thick, with a firm and rigid construction that ensures your family and property are well-guarded. Premium doors feature a 3-point safety lock that boasts two large hooks and three strong hinges, ensuring that your cottage is fully protected. Bigfoot Premium entrance doors are available in various different sizes, with a wide variety of available finishes and designs available to you, including the innovative Premium Optico, to help you match these high quality doors to the architectural splendor of your cottage. Also available are a wide selection of accessories that include handles, protective trim, LED illumination, and more.

Bigfoot Ultimum Entrance Doors – An awe-inspiring technological feat

Bigfoot’s like of Ultimum entrance doors are truly a technological feat that gives owners the confidence needed in knowing that their property is safe, secure, and aesthetically unmatched. The Ultimum entrance doors feature a maximum thickness of 14 cm, fortifying your Muskoka cottage and giving you peace of mind in knowing that you and your family are truly secure. Every aspect of these innovative entrance doors has been created to be truly groundbreaking, featuring elegant colours and designs, sophisticated LED lighting, and security features that include fingerprint scanners that can be installed in the handle or concealed.

Bigfoot Ultimum doors are handmade by engineers who have an unparalleled eye for detail, making each one a work of art. Ultimum entrance doors can be fully customized to meet your needs and preferences, with many inside and outdoor door handle and threshold details available to make these doors your own. Ultimum doors can be manufactured in a variety of sizes, each one made to feature outstanding insulation factors that keep your home energy efficient, and add to the solid nature of Bigfoot XL and XXL doors. Each door is available in a wide selection of designs, colours, and glosses, with a variety of glass, accessories, and security options at your disposal.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is an official dealer of Bigfoot window and door products, including their Premium and Ultimum Entrance Doors. For more information about Bigfoot Premium and Ultimum entrance doors, as well as the full line of Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Featured Product: Phantom Executive Screen

Since 1992, Phantom has been manufacturing and selling high quality retractable screens around the world. Phantom has earned a reputation for delivering excellent service to all of its customers, going the distance to truly make a difference in the lives of all those who purchase and use its products – and by going the distance we mean keeping bugs out of your life as much as humanly possible.

What makes Phantom executive screens unique?

With many framed screens, cottage owners don’t have to choose between functionality and good looks. Other screens excel in just one area, offering functionality at the cost of your view, or a gorgeous view at the cost of functionality. Phantom specializes in versatile screens that offer both functionality and attractive design, letting you get the absolute most out of your view while enjoying the luxuries that a functional screen offers. Phantom offers a number of screens that can be used in just about any window or door opening, helping you keep insects out, increase the airflow of your home or cottage, and open your property up to the outdoors.

Bring the beauty of Muskoka indoors

Phantom executive screens are the best way to get the most out of your cottage’s porch or patio, bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside and keeping out bugs and inclement weather. Phantom screens are also a great way to enjoy the view while enhancing your privacy. Phantom’s executive screens can be seamlessly rolled away when not in use, disappearing out of sight and preserving the clean look of your windows and doorways – these versatile screens can be easily designed to recess into cavities, or can be surface mounted.

These convenient screens are engineered to fit window and door openings of almost any size or type, available in sizes up to 25’ wide and 16’ tall. Executive screens are designed to be easily retracted and adjusted at your will, letting you get the most out of your cottage views. Phantom executive screens feature automated controls, allowing users to control their screens via smartphone app, or by using mounted and handheld remotes. Impress your guests with the cool factor of controlling your screens with your phone!

Also available to cottage owners is a unique mesh and vinyl combination roll screen that perfectly complements the executive screen, giving you the option to use them in tandem or individually. Phantom’s line of executive screens are manufactured with only the highest quality materials, including fabrics, vinyl, and a variety of strong mesh options specifically designed to keep out pests, block out heat and glare from the sun, or enhance your privacy and block out UV rays. A number of signature and custom colour options are available to help match the screen’s frame to your home.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is an official dealer for Phantom executive screens. Our expert team is highly experienced in their professional fitting and installation. For more information about Phantom executive screens, as well as the full line of Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

How to Survive Black Fly Season in Muskoka

The disappearance of the snow and the arrival of warmer weather means that black fly season is on its way, driving Muskoka cottagers and tourists indoors to get away from the swarms of annoying biting bugs. Thankfully, black fly season won’t last forever and the annoyances that accompany it can be easily mitigated so that you can continue to enjoy your cottage while the swarms are out.

Facts about black flies

Though small in size, black fly bites can pack quite a punch. Black flies emerge from bodies of water like streams, creeks, and small rivers created by spring runoff. As with mosquitos, it’s female black flies that do the biting in order to take blood and thus be able to lay eggs. Black flies find their next blood meal by seeking out sources of body heat and through the scent of carbon dioxide, generally from unsuspecting humans, animals, and birds.

In addition to homing in on sources of carbon dioxide, black flies are also attracted to the smell of products that feature perfumes, including body wash, shampoo, skin lotion, and cologne. Once they’re ready to lay their eggs, black flies generally make their way back to the source of water that they emerged from and lay them in a more comfortable environment. They aren’t around for long, but they make themselves known – black flies usually plague the Muskoka region from mid-May until early to mid-June.

Make sure to maintain points of entry like screens, windows, and doors

While they’re not around for long, black flies can make the outdoors unbearable. It’s your mission as a cottage owner to keep these pesky black flies outside where they belong. The most effective way to keep them out of the cottage is to properly maintain points of entry. Because of their small size, black flies and other pests can very easily sneak into your home when even the smallest points of entry exist. This means checking every screen in your cottage for tears or damage from winter and being diligent in repairing or replacing any damaged screens. Screen repairs can be done quickly and easily with screen repair tape and other affordable methods. If necessary, replacement screening kits are also readily available at hardware stores and other retailers.

Maintaining your cottage’s windows and doors is also crucial for keeping the elements outside. This means checking for damage to your window and door units, as well as elements like weather stripping and sealant early in the season in order to tackle it proactively, and repairing or replacing damaged windows and doors wherever necessary. Investing in window and door accessories such as specially designed screens is a great way to keep the black flies outside. Integrated door manufacturers like Centor give homeowners the option to include effective pest screens that allow you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Muskoka area without being bothered by pests.

Other preventative measures you should take

It’s just not realistic to expect cottagers to stay indoors throughout black fly season, especially when there’s so much work to be done to open the cottage. Removing standing pools of water from around your property will help to alleviate the number of black flies in your general vicinity, as they won’t have anywhere to hatch or lay eggs. Using insect repellent with DEET levels of up to (but not over) 30% have also shown to be effective in keeping black flies away from you, though they’ll still be drawn to the carbon dioxide being expelled from you. Lastly, wearing long sleeves and pants when around lakefront or marshy areas is recommended, as it’ll help to minimize the amount of bites you receive.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Preparing Your Cottage Septic System for the Summer Season

With the spring season finally here, it’s time for Muskoka cottagers to start the process of opening their cottages for the summertime. This means getting supplies together, cleaning, dusting, and airing out your cottage, fixing anything that was damaged over the harsh winter, and perhaps most importantly, preparing and maintaining your cottage’s septic system for the months ahead. Getting all the maintenance and preparation out of the way will ensure that you (hopefully) won’t have to think about your septic system for the rest of the season. If you’re unsure of what steps to take in opening and preparing your septic system for the summertime, here’s what you need to know.

How to recognize that you should pump your septic system

If you’ve never had your septic system pumped or have limited experience in doing so, it can be difficult to know exactly when to go about emptying it. It’s recommended that your septic system be pumped every three to five years, though this can depend on the amount of people spending time at your cottage or the usage. The first sign that you should pump your septic system is if it’s been a while or if you can’t pinpoint the last time it was done – it might be a good idea to have it pumped just to err on the side of caution. Another more obvious sign is if there’s a pronounced odour on your property – it could be a sign that sewage has backed up into your pipes. Less obvious signs like slower drainage and gurgling sounds emitting from drains can also signal that your system needs to be pumped.

Check your septic tank filter

A functioning filter is an important part of a healthy septic system, making it important that you check the status of the filter prior to opening your septic tank for the season. Your filter can become clogged with scum and debris from a long winter, with snowfall and snowmelt contributing to the buildup. A clogged filter can disrupt every aspect of your septic system, making it critical that you check and clean/change your filter to ensure that the system functions as it should. If you aren’t sure how to locate and clean your filter, follow these instructions.

Check your yard for pooling and standing water

One of the most common causes of a flooded yard or large pools of standing water on your property is a flooded septic system. This is usually caused by the septic system’s drain field becoming flooded. Keep an eye on your yard throughout the early part of the spring season, as it’ll help you catch problems before they can escalate into more serious ones by knowing to pump your tank if your yard floods.

Check your sump pit pump

If your household waste goes into a sump pit first before being pumped to your septic system, check your sump pit pump for proper operation when you open your cottage. If you have to have it replaced, make sure that the pump is designed for solid waste and not grey water (water from showers and sinks). Additionally, you should choose an ejector rather than a grinder pump so that the waste is properly broken down once it gets to your septic system. Your septic is designed to handle solid and liquid waste, rather than all liquid waste as you would get with a grinder pump.

Redirect your gutters away from your septic system

With more seasonal rain on the way and without proactive redirecting, your gutters will be directing water directly into your drain field and other parts of your septic system. Redirecting your gutters early in the season ensures that your gutters won’t be feeding directly into your septic system, instead carrying water and debris away from your cottage’s vital systems.

Watch your water usage

Finally, it’s always a good idea to watch your water usage throughout the cottage season. If you anticipate that your cottage will be hosting many guests, it may be a good idea to pump your septic tank just to be on the safe side. Using too much water can very easily throw off the balance of microorganisms within your septic tank, reducing their effectiveness and creating problems for your cottage and septic system. Remember not to flush objects that may harm the septic system or disrupt the microorganisms within – things like food waste and grease especially should not make its way into your septic tank. Bacon grease or grease from roasts should be thrown in the garbage or better yet – used as firestarter.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Reduce Your Cottage’s Environmental Footprint and Your Utility Bills

Buildings are responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada – especially those that were built over 30 years ago. If you’re looking to reduce the environmental footprint of your Muskoka cottage, you don’t have to rebuild it from the ground up. There are many ways to make your cottage more sustainable, and to save yourself a few dollars in utility fees at the same time.

Go solar or change your lightbulbs

One of the most popular ways to go green is to convert to solar energy or use it to augment your current system. Installing solar panels on the roof of your cottage is an essential step can drastically reduce emissions, and will allow you to generate clean electricity to power all or some of the essentials in your cottage.

While solar panels are a long-term investment, the eventual payoff is usually enormous both in energy savings and resale value. Additionally, installing solar powered outdoor lights, or a solar water heating system is an effective way of making your cottage more sustainable, and can also make a significant impact on your electricity bill. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs is another great way to save on electricity, as they tend to use far less of it and last longer than traditional bulbs.

Reduce your water consumption

Cutting the amount of water that you use everyday is a great way to reduce the environmental footprint of your cottage, and it’s easy to do. This can mean investing in energy efficient home appliances that use less water, reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower, or finally fixing the minor leaks and drips that you’ve been putting off. Even if you are getting your water from the lake, your pump and hot water heater are still using electricity to power the process, so it’s worth taking some extra steps to save water.  

Installing high efficiency shower heads and low-flush toilets are great ways to conserve water and reduce your cottage’s footprint. Minor lifestyle changes can also be made to use less water, such as not running the tap while you’re doing dishes or brushing your teeth are easy changes to make, but go a long way when it comes to reducing water usage.

Reinsulate your home

If your home isn’t properly insulated, there’s a good chance that it’s losing a huge amount of heat, wreaking havoc on your heating bills. Good insulation goes a long way in conserving heat, holding it inside your cottage and lessening the amount of heat you’ll need to generate throughout the colder months.

Ensuring that your walls, roof, and floor are properly insulated will greatly reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home, saving you on heating costs and going a long way in improving your environmental footprint. Making the switch to cotton insulation is a more environmentally friendly option than fibreglass insulation, which typically has a much higher production cost as it isn’t being sourced from a renewable resource.

Replace or repair your windows and doors

One of the leading causes of heat gain and loss in your cottage is having old windows and doors – they can be responsible for up to 30% of residential heating and cooling. Often they have developed drafts, have lost much of their structural integrity, or weren’t designed with energy efficiency in mind.

Replacing your old windows and doors with products that have been Energy Star or NFRC certified and feature lower U-factor ratings is a surefire way to greatly reduce the amount of heat that is lost in your cottage. New windows and doors go a long way in keeping your warmer in the winter months, and cooler in the hot summer months, and even have a major effect on dampening the amount of outside noise that makes its way inside your cottage.

If you’ve recently had new windows or doors installed in your Muskoka cottage, it may be a good idea to ensure that there are no air leaks. If you find that the weatherstripping and caulking around your windows has been damaged since its installation, re-installing it can be a quick and easy DIY project that will help to reduce your cottage’s footprint. During the summer months, window treatments and coverings can be an effective way to keep your home cool, and to minimize your use of air conditioning or electric fans.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

The Pitfalls and Benefits of Renting Out Your Cottage on Airbnb

Since 2008, Airbnb has been helping users find or host short-term home, room, and cottage rentals around the world. The service currently lists millions of properties in nearly 200 countries, operating more than a dozen offices all around the world. Renting out your Muskoka cottage can present opportunities for earning extra supplementary income, but comes with its own unique drawbacks and pitfalls that you may want to consider before publishing your listing.

Extra income: the only “pro” to being an Airbnb host

The biggest – and only – advantage to owning a rental property is the amount of supplementary income you can earn. This is undoubtedly the main motivator in listing your property on a service like Airbnb, or hosting any long or short term tenant. This extra income can go a long way in helping you pay for mortgage and insurance expenses, or for paying for much needed improvements and repairs to your cottage. Depending on the success of your listing and the frequency of rentals, the extra income earned can greatly improve your quality of life, helping you pay off your mortgage or add new additions to the cottage.

Your time is valuable, make sure you can commit

The first major drawback to listing your cottage on a service like Airbnb is that it can very quickly start to eat up a great deal of your free time. The online nature of Airbnb means that you’ll have to be checking in frequently to respond to inquiries, as well as messaging back and forth with guests about details like arrival information and other important details.

Should your guests experience issues during their stay at the cottage, you’ll need to be on-hand or have someone lined up to solve them in a timely matter, or else be faced with a negative guest review. Another time-consuming aspect is that you may feel it’s necessary to be around the cottage when guests arrive, which can very quickly become disruptive and erratic. This can, however, be eliminated by installing a keypad for entry. You’ll also have to check the property after the guests have left in order to conduct a quick clean-up and inspection, which can take up a good deal of time if you host guests on a regular basis.

While cleaning services can be hired to do this, they are often few and far between in Muskoka and booked in advance; they aren’t available on a moment’s notice like they are in the city. If you can find one that can regularly clean your cottage after guests, it will be expensive but worth it if you can’t be there yourself.

Insurance implications can get complicated

Let’s be honest. Hosting complete strangers in your home or cottage will always bring with it at least a minor amount of risk. Your property can be damaged, guests can get unruly, and mistakes can happen. While the Airbnb Host Guarantee provides protection for up to $1,000,000 against property damage, it doesn’t cover cash, collectibles, jewelry, pets, or personal liability. You’ll also want to look into property insurance that covers short-term rentals, as standard property insurance doesn’t apply to these situations. Airbnb is very clear that the Host Guarantee program isn’t designed to replace homeowners or renters insurance, and strongly suggests that hosts understand the terms of their insurance agreement before hosting guests. While this insurance is available as an extra rider, it is usually not in a regular homeowners policy.

Not a consistent source of income

Finally, Airbnb is unfortunately nowhere near as consistent as hosting a long-term tenant is, although it does bring with it the advantage of you not having to be a landlord and therefore subject to the tenant-favouring Residential Tenancies Act in Ontario. Guests come and go, and dry periods are almost inevitable during seasons that don’t see a heavy influx of tourists. With Airbnb and other short-term rental services, you’ll never be certain just how much income you’ll be able to generate, although if you have a property on one of the major lake systems in Muskoka you can pretty much bank on it being filled during the summer months.

If you’re looking to use Airbnb as a long-term income supplementation strategy, you may want to consider other avenues that are more consistent or easier to predict, unless you have a second cottage in the area that you can stay at regularly and don’t have to work too far away during the summer months when you will have the highest volume of guests. One way you can make the property more attractive in the fall, winter, and spring is to ensure that it is nice and toasty inside. If you have windows that are getting old, this can be difficult, and that’s where we come in.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.