Author Archives: Mares & Dow Construction

Immediately Boost Your Curb Appeal with New Siding

Immediately Boost Your Curb Appeal with New Siding - siding contractor - Mares Dow

Interested in giving your home’s exterior a makeover? Experienced siding contractors can completely transform your home and make it look new again just by installing new siding. You can also elongate your home, make it appear taller, or grace it with the charm of historical housing. These visual tricks come down to the siding style.

The three main categories of siding are lap siding, shingle siding, and vertical siding—each with unique approaches to beautifying your home.

Lap Siding

Lap siding consists of long boards that are laid horizontally to overlap each other. It’s one of the most common siding styles in the US because of its easy installation, water resistance, and timely appearance. The boards are overlapped in a way that wicks water down your house, preventing moisture from finding its way inside and inflicting your structure with water damage. At the same time, the horizontal boards draw the eye horizontally and elongate the home.

There are many types of lap siding, made of different materials and colors. A popular siding choice is fiber cement, a rigid but flexible material that withstands a range of climates and comes in a variety of styles. James Hardie, a top producer of fiber cement siding, offers lap siding that can mimic the appearance and texture of wood, including the traditional Dutch siding of historical communities.

Shingle Siding

Shingle siding consists of individual cuts of material attached to the exterior of your home in overlapping rows. Shingles are traditionally cut from cedar wood, as popularized on Cape Cod-style homes, but wood requires special maintenance including water-resistant coatings and staining. If you want the curb appeal of cedar wood without the maintenance, you can opt for James Hardie fiber cement shingles.

A typical shingle is uniform in shape and size, but shingles can be varied for a more custom and refined look. Such varied cuts are offered by James Hardie. Their Staggered Edge Panel siding uses rectangular singles of various widths and lengths, and their Half-Rounds siding resembles the scalloped scales of a fish. They also sell Individual Shingles for an even more customized design.

Vertical Siding

Vertical siding, sometimes called board and batten siding, consists of long boards that are laid in vertical rows. The boards don’t overlap like in lap or shingle siding, but vertical trim strips are placed over their joints to block out water leakage. This makes them more effective at resisting water damage, and easier to clean.

Though vertical siding is more commonly used on farm houses and commercial buildings, it can make a powerful statement on homes by making them appear taller. It can also be combined with lap siding for a uniquely complex design. James Hardie makes their vertical siding extra unique by offering fiber cement siding that resembles cedar wood and stucco.

Ready to Boost Your Curb Appeal with New Siding?

Contact your local siding contractor Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today for a custom plan to improve your home’s curb appeal. With over 35 years of experience, we install and replace fiber cement siding that’s as durable as it is beautiful.

How to Select Flattering Colors For Your New Siding

How to Select Flattering Colors For Your New Siding - siding contractor - Mares Dow

When you work with siding contractors to upgrade your home’s siding, you choose more than the material. You also have to select the color, and that can be more difficult because you have more options to choose from. Siding is also a major investment and takes time to install. Your home can’t try on different colors like you do with clothing, so aside from looking at samples from siding contractors and using virtual simulators, you can use the tips below.

Consider Your House Style

While you don’t have to abide by traditional color palettes, certain house styles are associated with color themes that have become timely. Your siding will feature the main color, and the supplementary colors will be applied to your accent, trim, and roof. That’s a lot to coordinate, so for now, focus on the overall palette. Once you decide a palette, you can break it down into specific colors.

Historically, Craftsman homes were built to be the opposite of Victorian homes, which were famous for their elaborate designs. The humble design of Craftsman homes make them ideal for simple, earthy palettes that have rich reds, browns, and greens.

Mediteranean homes are known for their arches, columns, and terracotta roofs, which are best accompanied by sunny earth tones, such as warm browns and greens. The colors should invoke the feeling of warm weather and an appreciation for the warmer shades of nature, but Mediteranean homes also fare well with warm gray.

You might be familiar with the bright and playful colors of the Painted Ladies, the famous row of Victorian homes in San Francisco, but the first Victorian homes had softer colors because bright paint was costly. Once the production cost of bright paint lowered, Victorian homes took  on their famously bold color schemes. Historically, Victorian homes have leaned both ways, so you can use bright or soft color palettes.

Traditional cottage homes are painted with bright airy colors to invoke charm. Typically, their color palette features white as the main body, but cottage homes also work well with palettes that are earthy, neutral, or contemporary.

If you’re part of a Home Owner Association, make sure your new color scheme won’t violate color codes. And regardless of your house style, you can’t go wrong with neutral colors.

Choose a Theme: Warm vs. Cool

A quick way to split your color choices in half is by choosing warm or cool tones. The “heat” of your tones can impact the overall mood of your home, whether energizing or relaxing. It’s best to stick to warm or cool, because using both might be a visual clash that makes your home appear pieced together.

Warm tones include earthy and sun-based colors, while cool tones include blue, gray, and black colors. 

Use Color Harmony

All homes look best with multiple colors, which bring out dimensions and frame unique features. Your siding can be a single color that is complemented by the trim and accent, but if your home is larger, you might opt for a secondary siding color to add complexity to your design. Your siding color(s) should harmonize with the other colors of your home, including your roof.

To identify colors that harmonize with each other, refer to a color wheel. Colors located next to each other are analogous, and reduce contrast. To get the most contrast, use complementary colors, which are located on opposite sides of the wheel. You can experiment with different color harmonies, such as monochromatic, for additional combinations.

Ask Siding Contractors for Advice

Shifting through countless colors for the right one can be daunting, especially if you’re not adjusting the colors of your roof, trim, and accents. Using house styles, color themes, and color wheels as guidance can point you in the right direction for a pleasing exterior, but your best bet at making the right choice is with siding contractors.

Siding contractors are experts at choosing the right siding colors for homes of all styles and sizes. They can help you choose colors that make your home pop, blend in, or however you want your home to appear.

Contact your local siding contractor Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today for custom advice about the color of your home’s siding. With over 35 years of experience, we install fiber cement siding that’s as durable as it is beautiful.

Commercial Skylights: How to Inspire Your Workers

Commercial Skylights: How to Inspire Your Workers - Commercial Skylight - Mares Dow

One of your responsibilities as a business owner is to keep your workers motivated. Businesses do best when their workers are inspired to work hard. While there are a multitude of ways to inspire your workers, you can always count on the fundamentals of well-being.

A basic fundamental is access to natural light, particularly during the daytime. If your office doesn’t have many windows, or is large enough that your workers are seated beyond daylight’s reach, you can contact commercial skylight installers to open up your ceiling and allow light from above.

If you’re uncertain about how commercial skylights, such as sun tunnels,  can contribute to well-being, know that they can inspire your workers in two key ways:

Natural light helps them stay awake

You can’t control when your workers sleep or if they get enough rest at home, but you can influence their sleep schedules with natural light. 

A lack of natural light interrupts the circadian rhythm, which functions as the body’s internal clock and helps determine when to fall asleep and stay awake. Relying heavily on artificial lights, which can be 250 times dimmer than natural light, further throws off the circadian rhythm. A worker who spends their eight-hour workday in an artificially-lit office might be sleepier, because their body clock doesn’t have natural light to prompt its understanding of time.

Exposure to natural light can align the body clock with the daycycle, prompting your workers to stay awake. If your workers consistently work in natural light, their circadian rhythms will shift into a more natural pattern. They’ll be inclined to sleep in the evening, and wake earlier in the morning. Some workers might reduce their caffeine intake and use your skylight as a natural energy boost.

Natural light increases their comfort 

Another way to inspire workers is to make their work space comfortable. A Cornell University professor found that people who work in daylight offices have significantly lower incidences of eyestrain, headaches, and drowsiness. People have a harder time focusing on work when they’re uncomfortable. If their discomfort is continuous, it can compound into an overall decrease in their well-being and a poor employee experience.

Unhappy workers don’t stay at businesses for long, and while they’re still working for you, they won’t be inclined to work hard for your business. By adjusting your office to increase your employees’ comfort, you show workers you care for their well-being. This can inspire them to work more productively, and to speak well about your business to job candidates.

Ready to turn your daylight office dream into a reality? Contact the commercial skylight installers at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today for information.

3 Ways Home Remodeling Can Increase Your Resale Value

3 Ways Home Remodeling Can Increase Your Resale Value - siding contractors - Mares Dow

Whether you plan to sell your home soon or in the distant future, it’s worth remodeling your home to increase your resale value and attract a crowd of interested buyers. If a total home remodel isn’t in your budget, smaller upgrades such as installing siding from professional siding contractors, updating appliances, and adding rooms, all help increase the resale value of your home. You’ll also get to enjoy some of the benefits before you sell.

1. Increasing your curb appeal

Your home should look well maintained and welcoming from the outside. The exterior is the first thing buyers notice, and if it doesn’t pull their attention away from other houses on the market, they’ll walk past. This isn’t to say your home needs to be the most impressive property in the neighborhood, but it should be on par with others.

You can improve your home’s curb appeal by adding a front porch to accommodate outdoor seating, upgrading your front door, or better yet, installing new siding. New siding can be expensive, but the Cost vs. Value 2020 report says it can increase the value of your home by approximately 77.6% of the cost to install. A great siding option is James Hardie fiber cement siding, which combines durability with long-lasting colors, two features prospective buyers find attractive. 

Another feature worth looking into are new garage doors, which recuperate a nationwide average of 94.5% of the cost. But if your home is in the Pacific region (West Coast), new garage doors recuperate about 117.1% of the cost. Installing stone veneer into the walkway or siding of a Pacific region home will also recuperate 119.5% of the cost.

Overall, revamping the exterior of your home will increase a buyer’s willingness to step inside. Here is where the rest of your home remodeling steps in.

2. Assuring buyers your home is functional

When you remodel for the purpose of attracting buyers, the key word is keep it simple. You don’t know everybody’s preferences or lifestyles. Not everybody needs a high-end chef’s kitchen, and minor remodelings can make a larger difference in value. Also keep in mind that major remodelings can price you out of the neighborhood.

Most buyers are looking for basic functionality. They want their new home to have dependable essentials so they can focus on their own upgrades. Helpful remodelings pre-signing include new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, energy efficient windows, and a new water heating unit. Upgrading your siding to one that is more appropriate for the climate of your home’s region is also a great show of functionality. Home remodeling contractors might recommend the top selling James Hardie siding, which is formulated to protect against specific climate regions.

Any large issues such as a roof that needs replacement, leaky pipes, and a basement that floods, should be taken care of before you list your home. Damaged siding should be replaced to assure buyers that the elements won’t damage their new home. Most buyers won’t look past huge repairs without a significant cut into the offering price.

3. Making your home larger (or appear larger)

If you’ve wanted an additional bedroom or bathroom for some time, you should add at least one or two. Additional square footage bumps up your resale value, and if you add a bedroom that can be pitched as a “flex room,” or a room that can serve multiple purposes, you’ll appeal to a variety of buyers. Adding a backyard patio or deck also helps.

It’s not always possible to expand your floor plan, but you can still make it appear larger by knocking down walls to create a trendy and open living space. Avoiding knocking down walls between bedrooms, because two small bedrooms can add more value than one big bedroom.

Ready to remodel?

When you have an image of your dream remodeling, however vague or detailed, reach out to your local home remodeling contractors for further guidance. They know the best way to update your home and increase your resale value.

If you’re located in the Bay Area, you can contact your trusted contractors at Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights for best options in resale value improvement. With over 35 years of experience, you can feel confident you’re choosing the best in business.

Landscape Hack: How to Grow Your Garden with Retaining Walls


These days, you might find yourself staying at home for longer stretches of time. If you’re bored of the indoors, but sitting in your yard isn’t appealing either, your landscape might need freshening up.

A simple way to transform your yard is to grow your garden in new ways. You might think that’s too basic of a change, but what if you added depth to your garden by incorporating a retaining wall? Retaining walls can free up valuable gardening space at and above ground level. If you don’t already have a wall, retaining wall contractors can install one to create a tiered landscape for you to decorate.

Drape Plants Over the Wall

You can drape retaining walls with cascading plants, such as deer grass. Its long-arching plumes will drape over the wall in the summer, partially obscuring it for a peek-a-boo effect. 

If you want your plants to waterfall over the wall, consider plants with long stems, such as Silver Falls. It’s also hardy and can tolerate both full sun and partial shade. Golden Creepy Jenny tolerates similar sun levels and is a great choice if you’re charmed by gardens with a touch of wild growth, but don’t underestimate its ability to spread. You can mitigate its growth by maintaining dry soil around it.

Grow Plants Up the Wall

If you want plants to climb the retaining wall and soften its appearance, plant evergreen vines like Creeping Fig at the base of the wall. Keep in mind that climbing plants can cause rot in wooden walls by blocking out the sun during rainy seasons, so they are best for studier materials like brick and stone.

You can also direct your vine growth by anchoring a trellis to your brick or stone wall, or anchoring a freestanding trellis in front of the wall. If you’re uncertain about whether your wall can support an anchored trellis or if it needs repairs, contact retaining wall contractors for assistance.

Layer Plants On Top of the Wall

Turn your retaining wall into the foundation of a multi-layered garden by coordinating cascading or climbing plants with hedges, bushes, and flowers. You can top off a wall with a double hedge, growing the shorter hedge in the front. If you have room, you can grow flowers or cascading plants in front of the shorter hedge.

While plotting out your layered garden, consider the following:

  • Plant theme – Do you want your plants to have complementary or contrasting colors?
  • Seasons – Do you want an evergreen or seasonal garden? Fine Gardening recommends using evergreen plants as a focal point, and purposefully growing perennial and annual plants low.
  • Scale and Size – How do you want your plants to play against each other? Try not to outline your garden with taller plants, or you’ll obscure the plants within.

If you’re ready to grow your garden with a retaining wall, contact Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to discuss how to turn your dream into reality!

Installing New Siding: What Are The Best Options?


Exterior siding has two key jobs: protect your house from the elements, and improve your resale value. The ideal siding looks good and is durable, but the scale of durability depends on the material and your needs.

Investing in new siding can be difficult, especially if you’re unfamiliar with house construction. The easiest way to learn about your siding options is to contact your local siding contractors. We have years of experience in determining the best material to protect and brighten your home.

If you’d like an overview of three common siding options, read below.

Vinyl Siding

One of the most common siding options is vinyl. It is low cost, easy to maintain, and its high durability makes it immune to termite and pest damage. It doesn’t need to be painted, so you won’t have to worry about flakes and scratches. However, it’s not completely impervious to damage. It can crack and melt, and if improperly installed, it might leak and expose your house to elemental decay.

Vinyl comes in many colors and styles, but can look plastic under certain conditions. For example, vinyl can mimic natural wood at a distance. Up close, vinyl is harder to pass as a different material. You don’t have to sacrifice your dream siding for low-cost and durability. Vinyl has improved over the years, and experienced sliding contractors can help you find the right design.

Wood Siding

A more traditional siding option is wood, which can give your home a cozy, classy appearance. Wood siding comes in various styles, including clapboard, shakes, shingles, and solid wood. Clapboard wood consists of horizontal planks overlapping each other. Shakes are panels hand-cut from logs, while shingles are machine-cut from wood blocks.

Wood siding can cost more than other materials, and requires additional maintenance to prevent rot and other weather damage. More durable is engineered wood, which is more cost-effective to install. It’s made of wood chips and resin, is lighter than natural wood, and is more resistant to rot and termites. Though it can mimic the appearance of wood, it might look too uniform if you like the natural inconsistency of wood. 

Fiber Cement Siding

A newer option is fiber cement, a paintable, durable, and low-maintenance mix of cement and cellulose fibers. It is especially durable in the Bay Area’s rainy climate, and is resistant to fire and pests. Similar to vinyl siding, fiber cement doesn’t warp or twist, and can mimic natural wood, making it a neat intersection of the durability of vinyl and timeliness of wood. It’s also highly customizable, offered in a spectrum of thicknesses and densities, and shapes and sizes.

That’s why fiber cement siding is the choice of your trusted contractors at Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights. Contact them today to discuss the best siding options. With over 35 years of experience, you can feel confident you’re choosing the best in business. 

5 Ways New Skylights Will Expand Your Business

5 Ways New Skylights Will Expand Your Business - commercial skylight - Mares & Dow

Commercial skylights are not only beautiful, but create a positive and pleasant work environment as well.  There are also several energy-efficient styles to choose from, so you can’t go wrong. As many studies show, natural lighting benefits not only employee wellness, but company growth, too!

So why, exactly, are commercial skylights a great option for your business? 

  1. Increased Productivity: It’s true. Well-lit spaces foster productivity, and commercial skylights provide just that. Imagine working in a dull, dim office; it sounds like a recipe for fatigue. Instead of promoting nap time, encourage efficiency. Natural lighting enhances mood, creates a cheerful environment, and even reduces eye strain. Employee wellness should be a priority, and by investing in natural light, you’re showing your employees you care.  
  2. Improved Mood: There’s no doubt about it, sunlight is a mood enhancer. It’s proven to increase the release of serotonin, aka the “happy hormone”. Responsible for regulating mood, Serotonin can decrease anxiety, improve focus, and support an overall pleasant state. Happy employees make happy customers!
  3. Welcoming and Bright: Dark and dingy, or bright and cheerful? Sounds like a rhetorical question, right? The latter creates a more inviting atmosphere for employees and clients alike. Spaces look larger, and rooms appear more open. (Hint: there’s a reason homeowners opt for light paint!) 
  4. Higher Resale Value/Lease Potential: Natural light is a hot commodity that comes at a cost. Brightening things up using skylights can not only make your space appear larger, but also make it a sought-after property. Think it’s a sham? According to New Day Office, properties with ample natural lighting can lease for $2-$4 more than their dark alternatives! 
  5. Cost-Efficient: Allowing an abundance of natural light to flow through, this is often reflected in decreased electrical bills. Buildings equipped with skylights luck out with natural heat, and light without having to flip a switch! It’s also worth noting, Mares Dow uses only the highest-quality materials when installing commercial skylights. With their impenetrable water barrier, you can be confident that the skylight product you receive can stand up to the elements. 

If you’re ready to transform your space and experience the advantages of natural light, commercial skylights are a fantastic addition. Remember, you can’t put a price tag on employee satisfaction. As productivity grows, so does your business. 

Contact your trusted contractors at Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights today to discuss the advantages of commercial skylights. With over 35 years of experience, you can feel confident you’re choosing the best in business.

Three Ways a New Home Office Will Boost Your Business

Three Ways a New Home Office Will Boost Your Business - home remodeling contractor - Mares & Dow

It’s no secret COVID-19 has changed the way modern business looks. If you’re like countless others, you may have ditched the daily commute in exchange for your home office. You may be saving on gas, but is your home office conducive to productive work? 

As your circumstances change, so do your needs. What once was a dining room may have been repurposed into a work space, or perhaps you’ve had no choice but to stick a desk in your bedroom and call it an “office”. As you navigate these changes, you may be considering home renovations. It’s normal to wonder where to begin, and this requires an experienced home remodeling contractor

How remodeling a home office will boost your business:

  1. Increased Productivity: Designating a space specifically for work can reduce distractions and increase productivity. Adjusting to working from home can be just that, an adjustment. Add pets or children to the equation, and it can feel downright impossible. But many of those challenges can be offset if you organize your space properly. Check out these productivity tips from Forbes. A key takeaway: a designated space promotes focus. Skip the couch, and opt for an office chair. 
  2. Ultra-Convenient: Less time commuting means increased availability and time to grind. Skip the traffic and take a walk to your office; lucky for you, coffee no longer requires a trip to Starbucks or the community kitchen. Just remember to get dressed (at least from the waist up, for the sake of other Zoom attendees)!
  3. Happiness: Odds are, you spend around 40 hours a week at work. It’s important to have a space you feel comfortable in. After all, it’s your home away from home (or in this case, within, your home). Little things- such as lighting and decor, can make a stark difference in your workspace. Designing a personalized office area will let your creativity flow and allow you to get more done! 

The main benefit of a designated home office is organization and minimized distractions. Remodeling is a great option worth exploring if you’re in need of extra living space or a home addition

If you’re considering building a new home office, a trusted home remodeling contractor is key. Contact Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights today to turn your ideas into reality!

How To Use Siding to Transform Your Interior


When you think of home siding installed by professional siding contractors, you probably picture clean and dry home exteriors. Your mental image might include some nice shingles and shining windows. But did you know that siding can be used for so much more? Specifically, there are many uses for fiberboard siding, including uses on the interior of your home

Fiberboard, also called hardboard or Hardieboard if referring to the brand name, is an engineered wood particle board. The moldable particles are pressed into a durable panel with a wood grain finish stamped on the exterior. This product provides a versatile and durable barrier to your home exterior, but it can also be easily shaped and added to the inside.

Fiberboard Furnishings

Much of the furniture you’ll find from assemble-yourself box stores is made of engineered wood. Usually, this wood is particle board of some sort that is pressed with adhesive and then covered in a more durable and attractive laminate veneer. You can substitute fiberboard siding for many of these uses, and if you ask your siding contractors which is more durable — many will say the siding. 

Consider skirting a bed with a fiberboard surround, building a DIY bar with fiberboard siding exterior, or enclosing a bookcase with prebuilt panels. There are so many ideas – ask your expert siding contractors for advice.

Interior Panelling

You’ve probably seen wood paneling on many houses, but have you ever tried to paint it? Instead, try paneling with an exterior siding. Save on home remodeling costs by having your siding contractors replace your interior flimsy panels with custom colored and durable fiberboard siding. You can create paneling along your vertical walls, or even add panels to the ceiling. The switch in materials can add a great organic feel to your home without the addition of multiple expensive tools and materials – creating an affordable upgrade to your tastes.

Interior Accents

If you just want to add a decorative look, you siding contractors can still help. Consider adding a single accent wall or decorative fiberboard wainscotting. You’ll be surprised at how different your interior can look with these simple additions. Add a pop of texture and color to brighten your living room or line the lower wall with durable, spill and dent-resistant materials to get that clean-looking kitchen. You can add a lot or a little depending on your final vision.

Contact your local siding contractors at Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights to learn more. Industry experts in the San Francisco area, Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been providing home improvement and remodeling services for over 35 years.

3 Important Signs You Need to Fix Your Retaining Wall

3-Important-Signs You Need to Fix Your Retaining Wall retaining wall contractor Mares Dow

Retaining walls create an impressive addition to your curb appeal, as well as offering practical landscaping improvements. When you work with experienced retaining wall contractors, your wall should last for many years to come. Yet, while it’s easy to make the decision to hire the best retaining wall contractors for a new build, what happens if you inherit a wall that wasn’t built to such standards?

In that case, your retaining wall contractors may help you to repair or replace your wall as needed if it’s showing these three important signs.

1. Large Wall Slippage

Safety always comes first, so the most important thing to check is if a large section of your wall is experiencing slippage, toppling, or overturning. Think of this type of damage in terms of percent of the wall affected, rather than in total square feet. If your wall is experiencing flaws in a large area you could be at risk for a wall collapse and should immediately call retaining wall contractors to come and evaluate the damage. 

Fortunately, this large-scale damage is not common and rarely part of normal wear and tear. Once the safety of your home or business has been established, you can look at managing simpler repairs to get your wall back to looking and functioning like new.

2. Water Leaks

Properly installed retaining walls should have drainage. The exact amount and placement of this drainage will depend on your location, but if you see water trickling down at random spots — you probably need to fix things. If poor drainage systems are left unrepaired, you may end up with bowing, cracking, and crumbling walls.

3. Disconnected Bricks

Another sign that you should fix things now is if the bricks in your retaining wall start separating, or falling out of the wall. A quality wall will be designed to stay in place, but sometimes the foundation is not packed tightly enough or the bricks or bench components aren’t sealed correctly. Shaking earth from large scale construction or even small earthquakes may also cause wall damage. Fix this damage as soon as possible to save money and preserve the life of your retaining wall. 

Whether looking for a brick wall, lumber-based build, or even concrete — Mares & Dow Construction & Skylight has extensive experience as retaining wall contractors in the Bay Area. Contact us to learn more.

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