October 31, 2023 Bailey Strobel

7 Exterior Upgrades You Should Make Before the Cold Weather Sets In


Maintaining a house requires practical upgrades alongside aesthetics. With frigid winter temperatures rolling in, you must prioritize exterior improvements to keep your space warm and energy-efficient. Otherwise, everything from mold, flooding and winter critters may find their way into your living room.


An unsealed door or outdated insulation may be the reason behind soaring bills and excess shivering. Put these exterior upgrades in place before the worst winter freezes.

Why Exterior Upgrades Motivate Homeowners

Undergoing a massive house project is expensive and sometimes disruptive to daily life. Having a hole in the wall where a window should be is not ideal if a blizzard comes. Unpredictable weather circumstances and extreme temperatures are why you must prioritize exterior upgrades before the colder months.


Your home’s envelope repels unconditioned environments to prevent tampering with its condition. The building’s life span reduces if dampness and cold cause cracks, gaps or pressure to its structural integrity. Consider how several feet of snow puts a 40-year-old roof to its limits, causing leaks and drafts. Exterior upgrades eliminate preventable deterioration and incite preventive maintenance.


The effort keeps you happier in your home for longer and makes future residents content with their purchase. The structure’s strength increases its value. Houses have a higher market value if outfitted with formidable winterization, primarily in regions known for brutal cold spells. The financial benefits show during a sale and on your monthly electricity statement.


Exterior enhancements mean you don’t exert your heating system as much. It uses less energy, makes your house more sustainable and preserves your appliances for longer.


Each upgrade compounds the value of the ones before it, so here are the most impactful and accessible improvements to retain precious heat and the home’s quality.

1. Get an Energy Audit and Checkup

Home inspections come in a few varieties, including ones from your energy provider and the American Institute of Inspectors. Auditors from various organizations provide jumping-off points for the most meaningful repairs, including suggestions for:


  • Drainage systems
  • Roofing
  • Land management
  • Gutters and roofing
  • Leaks and drafts


If you don’t know where to start for winter repairs, get a professional to weigh in on what they think is the most critical to-do for freezing temperatures. They may inform you old kitchen windows and the pet door compromise the bottom floor’s temperature and humidity. Sometimes, a patch job like recaulking or weatherstripping is enough until you can save money for complete replacements. Discuss options with contractors or energy providers.

2. Clean Gutters

Gutter cleaning is a free and easy way to prevent some of the most costly repairs to a home. They collect debris more easily in winter. Torrential winds blow leaves while chunks of snow and dirt gum up the works. The worst-case scenario is the weight harms the roofing and tears the siding or water seeps through the siding and into the foundation.


To avoid the nightmare:


  • Set a schedule for cleaning the gutters.
  • Check for puddling rainwater, cracking and obstructions preventing flow.
  • Maintain proper safety precautions when reviewing.


You can also pick up heating cables and other helpful supplements to simplify the job.

3. Check the Roof and Fascia Board

Review roofing for broken tiles, cracks in the seams and even the most minor pest-induced holes. For a cheaper option, patch them with weather-resistant materials. If it’s time to undergo a total roof replacement, consider naturally insulating and eco-friendly options, like rubber, or durable, weatherproof materials, like metal. Timely roof replacements incur long-term financial benefits, raising curb appeal and buyer interest up to 14% more than competition.


Many overlook the fascia board, the part under the roof. It predominantly helps with moisture control. If it is in poor condition because of rotting or damage, it will cause more issues — no matter how high-quality the roof is. Repair what is necessary or add a drip edge to divert water.

4. Install Outdoor Lighting and Safety Features

Keeping the home warm and secure is one aspect of winterizing. Your yard and driveways need attention before ice covers them, too. Sturdy outdoor lights keep pathways alight and warm when days get shorter. It makes walking safer at night, when unexpected ice patches or fallen branches may cause an injury.


Inspecting walkways and driveways for pavement repairs is essential since ice is a powerful force in making cracks worse. Other safety considerations include railings, nonslip mats and salt.

5. Prune Trees and Nourish Landscaping

Blizzards and heavy snow harm many fragile, brittle trees. Low-hanging branches and piling leaves are a few concerns, while some may need to consider chopping down trees altogether for fear of falling. Review the landscaping for old, weak ones posing threats before the worst weather appears.


You may also do a few landscaping projects to defend your home against chilling winds. Outside water faucets and pipes may need clearing and insulating to prevent them from bursting and damaging the landscaping and envelope. You can also plant robust shrubbery or evergreens, which are prime defenders for deterring gusts. Surround them in mulch to protect and ground their roots.

6. Give the Siding a Glow-Up

A paint job is a subtle and understated exterior winter upgrade. The wrong color holds onto cold temperatures, and chipped and peeling areas invite water to seep. Consider repainting areas and finishing them with a strong seal.


You can also look at the siding more holistically. You may not know how aging siding or old insulation hurts your home’s environment without an inspection. Replace sections with flexible yet sturdy materials that hold up to fluctuating temperatures. Expansion and contraction occur during these erratic periods, so you’ll want siding that’s up to the challenge.

7. Do a Chimney Inspection

It’s tempting to throw logs on the fire and settle back with hot cocoa as temperatures drop, but an uninspected chimney can instigate a few internal problems. Check the chimney’s exterior for structural issues and the entry point for blockages if you use it for in-home heating. Neglecting this essential home maintenance task can lead to fires and even carbon monoxide poisoning. If a chimney is no longer operational, ensure you seal the top.

Shielding Your Home Against the Cold

Exterior upgrades are like adding a sweater, scarf and mittens to a building. Cleaning gutters or adding weatherstripping saves money and your appliances while keeping the house standing for years. The more layers and defenses you have against snow, ice and rain, the more comfortable you will feel indoors and about your home’s durability.