Tag Archives: building technology

Solar Shading Devices: What You Need to Know

When the ambient temperature within a building is within or above the comfort zone, any additional heating of the interior due to solar gain will result in discomfort. Architects therefor design solar shading devices to prevent this. However, at cool times of the year, it is generally desirable to allow solar radiation to pass directly into the room to provide a useful heating effect. This response – between blocking excess gain in summer vs optimizing gain in winter- can be provided either by the shading device being moveable, or by it being geometrically selective. Continue reading

What is the Optimal Roof Pitch?

It’s no exaggeration to say that the roof is the most vital part of the building envelope, and therefore, the most critical investment.  It’s also no overstatement to say that we now enjoy a wider range of roofing materials and roofing system than at any other time in history. However, not every roofing system works in every application.   Finding the right system involves weighing a multitude of variables including cost, weight, lifespan, maintenance requirements, and most importantly, aesthetics. Of all these variables, roof slope (a.k.a. “pitch”) is perhaps the most important. Continue reading

Smart Homes: Pluses and Minuses

This is the era when everyone is leaning towards smart electronics. Mobile phones have been smart, computers have been smarter and there are new inventions and improvements to electronic devices and gadgets every day. Many people have already come to know of smart homes and many have already transformed their homes into smart homes. However, smart homes or automation of your home comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

Rising upward more than a century now, skyscrapers have emerged to become the symbol of urban style and might. And what started in the late 1800s continues dynamically into the 21st century as we build higher and higher. Continue reading

How to Glaze a Window

building technique

Single pane windows can last for a hundred years or more if properly maintained. Learn how to preserve your windows and keep them draft-free by replacing old glazing putty.

On older single-pane windows, the glass is usually surrounded by putty called “glazing compound,” which holds the glass in place and seals out the weather. This putty often lasts decades, but over the years it becomes rock-hard, cracks and even falls off the window. Loose or missing compound lets wind and rain leak in around the glass.

Replacing the putty around one pane of glass will take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the pane and the stubbornness of the old putty. Replace broken glass while you’re at it. This adds only a few minutes and a few dollars to the job—much cheaper than calling a glass repair service.

It’s possible to replace glass and putty with the window in place, but you’ll save time and get better results if you can remove the window and clamp it down on a flat surface.

If you have broken glass, get it out of the way before you remove the old putty. Put on heavy gloves and eye protection, place a cloth over the broken pane and tap it with a hammer. With the glass thoroughly broken up, pull the shards out of the frame by hand. Pull out the old glazing points with pliers. If the old glass is in good shape, leave it in place. Plus, learn how to wash your windows the fastest way with crystal clear, streak-free results.

Step 1
Remove the old window glaze putty. The next step is to get rid of the old putty. If the putty is badly cracked, you can pry away large chunks quickly with a putty knife. Putty in good condition takes longer to remove. With a heat gun in one hand and a stiff putty knife in the other, heat the putty to soften it and gouge it out. Wear leather gloves to protect your hands from burns. Keep the heat gun moving to avoid concentrating heat in one spot. Otherwise, the heat will crack the glass. if your heat gun doesn’t have a heat shield attachment, protect the glass with a scrap of sheet metal. When the putty is removed, prime any bare wood inside the window frame. A shellac-based primer such as BIN is a good choice because it dries in minutes.

Step 2
Old window panes: Replace the glass and putty the window. If you need new glass, measure the opening, subtract 1/8 in. from your measurements and have the new glass cut to size at a full-service hardware store. Take a shard of the old glass with you to match the thickness. Also, buy a package of glazing points to hold the glass in place while the new compound hardens. Glazing compound is available in oil-based and latex/acrylic versions. The latex products, which usually come in a tube, have a longer life expectancy and you don’t have to wait days before painting them as you do with oil-based putty. But they often begin to dry before you can tool them smooth. If neat, smooth results are important, choose an oil-based putty.

Step 3
Old window panes: Set the glass in place. For installation of new glass, the directions on glazing compound may tell you to lay a light bead of the compound inside the frame and then set the glass over it. That works well with soft latex compound. But if you’re using stiffer oil-based compound, lay in a light bead of acrylic latex caulk instead. Set the glass onto the caulk, then wiggle and press down to firmly embed the glass. Press glazing points into the wood every 8 in. Let the excess caulk that oozes out under the glass harden and slice it off with a utility knife later.

Step 4
Cover the perimeter of the glass with a heavy layer of compound. Be sure to completely fill in the recess; don’t leave any gaps or hollow spots.

Step 5
To complete the job, smooth out the new glazing compound. Dip a putty knife in mineral spirits to lubricate it and smooth out the compound. Wet the knife again and run over the compound as many times as it takes to create a smooth surface. Oil-based putty is easier to work with when it’s warm. To heat it, set the can in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Remember that oil-based putty remains soft for days, so be careful not to touch it after smoothing. You’ll have to wait several days before you can prime and paint oil-based putty; check the label.

Step 6
Old window panes: Clean the excess. Drag the ridge of excess compound away from the finished joint and scrape it up. Be careful not to touch the smoothed surface.

Step 7
Applying a smooth, perfect bead of window glazing compound is fussy, time-consuming work. So when good looks matter, consider wood moldings rather than putty to hold the glass in place (1/4-in. quarter round works for most windows). Set the glass in place over a light bead of latex caulk. There’s no need for glazing points. To nail the moldings in place, you can carefully drive in tiny brads with a hammer or carefully shoot in brads with a pneumatic brad nailer. But the safest method is to use a brad pusher. A brad pusher is simply a metal tube with a sliding piston inside. Drop a brad in the tube, push hard on the handle, and the piston pushes the brad neatly into the wood—with little danger of breaking the glass. Most hardware stores and home centers don’t carry brad pushers, but you can find them at woodworker supply stores or online.

Floating Architecture

AntiRoom II, a Floating Pavilion in Malta

From New York to Shanghai, coastal cities around the world are at risk from rising sea levels and unpredictable storm surges. But rather than simply building higher seawalls to hold back floodwaters, many builders and urban planners are turning to floating and amphibious architecture — and finding ways to adapt buildings to this new reality. Some new buildings, including a number of homes in Amsterdam, are designed to float permanently on shorelines and waterways. Others feature special foundations that let them rest on solid ground or float on water when necessary. Projects range from simple retrofits for individual homes in flood zones to the construction of entire floating neighborhoods — and possibly even floating cities. Continue reading

Comparing Window Materials: Which Is Best?

As with every window replacement project, the better informed you are about the window materials, accompanying products and services you will need, the more closely the project’s outcome will meet your expectations. Because of constantly changing replacement window technologies, it’s important to let go of your preconceived notions about the best window materials to use. What was once considered standard “go-to” materials for window manufacturers in the past, may no longer even meet today’s stringent energy certification requirements. Continue reading