What’s the Difference: Primers
Learn what the difference is between latex, oil-based and shellac-based primers and how to choose the right one for the job.
For most paint jobs, both inside and outside the house, latex paint is preferred. Latex emits fewer odors and VOCs than oil-based paint, and it cleans up much more easily. In one area, however, oil-based products still hold their own over latex: primers. With interior applications and exterior spot-priming, there’s another option: shellac-based primers. All three primers can be used under latex topcoats. Choose a primer based on the condition of the substrate to be primed and its location. Before you open the can, though, be sure to prep the surface you’ll be priming. No primer will perform its best if the surface hasn’t been thoroughly scraped, sanded, or otherwise readied for painting. Continue reading
Ducts, Furnaces, & Air Handlers Belong Within Conditioned Space
Ducts, furnaces, and air handlers belong inside a house’s conditioned space. The best locations for ducts are insulated basements, sealed crawlspaces, or unvented conditioned attics. If placing ducts in these locations won’t work, they can also be installed in open-web floor trusses (in a two-story house with a centrally located mechanical room) or in some type of soffit, dropped ceiling, or chase. Continue reading
A whole-house fan is an attic-mounted fan that exhausts air from a home at night, when the heat of the day has passed and the outdoor temperature has dropped enough to feel comfortable. The main advantage of using a whole-house fan instead of an air conditioner is to save energy. A whole-house fan usually draws between 200w and 700w, in contrast to a central air conditioner, which draws 2000w to 5000w. Continue reading
In recent years, with the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and now Harvey, resiliency has become a “buzz” word. Resiliency branches off from the “sustainability/green” movement and aligns with many aspects in the newest thought process with “regenerative” and living buildings. As we deal with issues of extreme weather and changes to our climate many are realizing that a key survival is to design new buildings and landscapes with resiliency in mind. But what is resiliency and how can we incorporate it into our designs? Continue reading
Smart house technology concept with centralized control of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security locks and video surveillance, energy savings and efficiency.
So-called smart homes take advantage of automation technology and modern building techniques to give homeowners a new level of control. Smart homes may be built from scratch with automation as a key design goal, or constructed from existing homes during a major renovation. In both cases, smart homes offer several advantages over conventional homes. Continue reading
Ever since the 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago was called the first “skyscraper” in 1885, architects have been striving to create ever-taller buildings. Ten stories quickly became 20, 20 became 50, and on and on. In 2009 the Burj Khalifa in Dubai became the world’s tallest building, with its 154 floors towering above ground level.
So why is the mayor of Portland, Oregon, calling a modest 12-story tower set for completion there next year “a true technological and entrepreneurial achievement?” It’s not the affordable housing the building affords, nor its dozens of bike racks or even the roof farm that has Ted Wheeler gushing. It’s that the Framework apartment building will be made almost entirely of wood. Continue reading
What is self-cleaning glass?
The first thing to note about self-cleaning windows is that they’re not, in fact, “simple pieces of glass.” They have a very thin outer coating of titanium dioxide, a white, powdery titanium compound best known for giving that dazzling gleam to paint, toothpaste, and all kinds of other bright white things.
Now if titanium dioxide is, essentially, the white in white paint, it might seem ludicrous to splash it all over a window—something we naturally want to be transparent. But the coating really is ultra-ultra thin. We’re talking about putting a layer 10–25 nanometers deep on glass that might be 4mm thick, which is like sitting a dime on top of the Empire State Building! It reduces the light passing through the glass by no more than about 5 percent. Continue reading