Archive for the 'Building Science' Category

Oops, Water in Painted Stucco

February 10th, 2017

With stucco, you can either let it show its natural color, or you paint it. The problem with painting it is that if any water gets in behind the paint, there’s no way for it to get out. And paint cannot reliably keep water out in the first place—there are always cracks forming in the […]

Oops, Wrong Ply

February 2nd, 2017

A marine-grade plywood would have been a better choice for these backboards. Even an exterior-grade ply with its phenolic binders would have held onto the laminations, though edge protection is always a wise safeguard.

Oops, No Ventilation

November 22nd, 2015

Peeling paint in only some areas of this exterior suggests vapor was gradually making its way through from the inside, loosening the bond between the paint and the wall. Behind the peeling areas you’re likely to find a bathroom, kitchen, or other humid area without a good vent. If this were new, tightly-sealed construction, but still […]

Cheap Bling

November 22nd, 2015

All the gold on this façade was done with one and a half packages of leaf, or about $22. Amazingly thin stuff at around 7-millionths of an inch—the same as gold plate—it’s thin enough sunlight can pass through.

Oops — No Wind

January 21st, 2013

If we learn from our mistakes, students at Sanchez School will certainly benefit from the placement of this fence-top wind turbine.  As anyone walking by could tell you, the generator would do better on top of this 40-foot edifice than at the sidewalk. But would that be enough?  Industry rule of thumb suggests placing turbines […]

Building Science for Owners

January 4th, 2013

For a basic understanding of building science, here’s a powerpoint presentation from EnergyStar. Click on “Crash Course in Building Science” to download it.

Tech Note: Radiant Barriers

March 5th, 2010

I’m always looking for “no-brainers” in construction — things to do that just make too much sense not to do. Here’s my experience with radiant barrier: Radiant barrier is a heavy-duty aluminum foil that reflects 97% of the infra-red spectrum. It’s available on the underside of plywood roof sheathing for new construction, or in rolls […]