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Helpful? 3

An ‘Insulating’ Paint Salesman Is Tripped Up By His Own Product

When Alton King built a new house, he didn’t include any insulation — instead, he trusted a ‘miracle’ product, ceramic paint

Posted on Jul 8 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

There is no such thing as “insulating” paint, as I noted in an earlier blog. However, that fact hasn’t stopped paint dealers from promoting these worthless high-priced coatings to gullible customers.

One former distributor of “insulating” paint is Alton King of Longmeadow, Mass. After setting up a company called Energy & Conservation Management Inc., King became a distributor of Super Therm, a paint manufactured by Superior Products International. The manufacturer claims that Super Therm (also spelled “Supertherm”) has an “R-19 equivalent rating” and “provides the same protection as 6 inches of fiberglass.”

The manufacturer of Super Therm has been making outlandish claims for years. Back in March 2004, I wrote an article for Energy Design Update, “R-Value Scofflaws,” debunking a claim by Superior Products International that Super Therm “provides R-19 in 7 mil thickness.”

Although the claim that a coat of Super Therm paint is equivalent to R-19 insulation is clearly false, Alton King apparently believed it. In fact, King was such a believer in the insulating value of Super Therm that he decided to use the paint to insulate his own home.

Alton King builds his dream home

In January 2001, King hired Richard McCullough to build him a new 7,291-square-foot home at 49 Memery Lane in Longmeadow, Mass. After the house was completed, the town assessed the home at $1,060,300.

The builder hired a subcontractor, Paul Tetro of Dee Service, to design and install the home’s HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system. Tetro was given plans showing a house with conventional fiberglass insulation. After performing a Manual J calculation, Tetro designed a hydro-air heating system — that is, a system using a boiler that sends hot water to a heat-exchange coil in the air handler. Space heat is distributed through ductwork. The system included a natural gas boiler rated at 183,000 BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. /h (net).

On the REScheck form that he filed to obtain a building permit, the homeowner listed R-values that complied with the building code: R-19 for the walls and R-30 for the ceiling. Tetro used the R-values given to him by King to perform the Manual J. “When it went into design, it was designed with regular insulation,” Tetro told me. “It was only later, after the house was framed, that he decided to switch to the insulating paint.”

Using paint for insulation

Once the construction was well under way, in September 2003, King informed the builder (McCullough) that he didn’t want any insulation installed in the walls or attic. Instead, he wanted to use Super Therm paint. Although McCullough strongly advised against the idea, the homeowner insisted. McCullough said that he would only proceed with the plan if King signed a waiver absolving the builder from responsibility for any problems arising from the omission of insulation.

King directed workers to apply Super Therm paint to multiple surfaces: the underside of the roof sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. , the roof rafters, the exposed ceiling joists in the attic, and both sides of the ceiling drywall facing the attic. The worthless paint was also applied to the interior side of the wall sheathing and the exterior side of the Sheetrock on the walls. King claimed that the Super Therm paint would provide an overall insulating value of more than R-19 for the walls and more than R-38 for the ceilings.

Since the stud bays and joist cavities of King’s home were empty, however, the actual R-value of his wall assembly was about R-2.9, while his ceilings had an R-value of only R-1.7.

Early signs of impending problems

King was so sure that his “insulating” paint was highly effective that he tried to obtain an Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. label for his new home. Following up on King’s request, Conservation Services Group sent out energy specialist Craig Marden, a rater for the Energy Star HomesA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to promote the construction of new homes that are at least 15% more energy-efficient than homes that minimally comply with the 2004 International Residential Code. Energy Star Home requirements vary by climate. program, in November 2003 to evaluate the house. (Craig Marden now works for Owens Corning.)

Marden told me, “He had sprayed the entire inside of the walls — the inside of the sheathing and the studs — with an off-white paint. He said, ‘This is a new paint that has a very high R-value, and I put two layers on the inside and two layers on the outside, so I have R-40.’ I told him, ‘This isn’t insulation,’ but he wouldn’t stop. I said, ‘What did the building inspector say?’ He said, ‘He signed off on it’ — evidently due to some convoluted documentation that the homeowner provided.”

Bruce Harley is the technical director for residential energy services at Conservation Services Group, and he remembers the case well. Harley said, “Craig Marden contacted me. He said, ‘This guy wants to build a house without insulation, just insulating paint. Does this make any sense?’ And I said no. We sent an e-mail to Mr. King, saying that we decline to certify this house as Energy Star. We also said that we expect him to have comfort problems because the house is not insulated properly.”

King's next hurdle arose when the town's building inspector — evidently regretting his earlier approval of the insulating paint scheme — refused to issue a certificate of occupancy. However, after King produced more obfuscatory documents from the manufacturer of Super Therm, purporting to prove that one coat of paint is equivalent to R-19, the inspector finally relented and issued a C.O.

What was he thinking?

In spite of repeated warnings that he was headed for trouble, King forged ahead. “He was unwilling to understand his folly because he was a distributor for Super Therm,” Harley told me.

Curt Freedman, an engineer who evaluated the heating system at King’s house, told me, “The gentleman is no dummy. Many people have told him that there is no such thing as insulating paint. I think he realizes that the product doesn’t perform, but he didn’t want to acknowledge he was wrong out of stubbornness.”

What’s it like to live in a house without insulation?

Soon after his new home was completed in June 2004, King moved in. Almost immediately, King began complaining of comfort problems. The temperature in the second-floor room was often above 90°F, even though the air-conditioner was running full tilt.

During the winter, the situation worsened. According to Associate Justice Robert Fields, who adjudicated the resulting lawsuit, “Believing the HVAC system responsible for the temperature problems, King contacted Dee. … After a multitude of complaints and repair requests, … Dee determined that the temperature problems in the home were not related to the HVAC system. Rather, Tetro informed King that the temperature problems were caused by inadequate insulation.”

At that point King contacted Curt Freedman, a mechanical engineer, and asked him to figure out why his house was so hard to heat and cool. Freedman later wrote, “During one of my site visits, with outside temperatures of 28ºF, temperatures in the home were noted only to be in the 48ºF to 60ºF range.”

Freedman told me, “I inspected his walls with an infrared gun. I was getting very irregular readings of the inside temperature of the wall surface, so I told him, ‘There is something terribly wrong here. Is your house insulated?’ It’s a big house. I went up to the attic, and I was astonished to look at all the joists with nothing in between them. There is nothing there. So I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ The owner is boasting to me, talking about Super Therm. He said, ‘This is the warmest attic in Longmeadow.’ I told him, ‘There’s a reason for that — all the heat from your house is coming up here to your attic, because there is no insulation on your attic floor.’”

“After examining the entire system, Freedman evaluated the thermal insulation throughout the home,” wrote Justice Fields. “Based on his assessment, Freedman determined that the R-value of the Supertherm was essentially zero.” Freedman determined that the actual design heating loadRate at which heat must be added to a space to maintain a desired temperature. See cooling load. of the uninsulated house was 365,133 Btu/h, so it wasn’t any surprise that the 183,000 Btu/h boiler couldn’t keep up.

Freedman later wrote, “My report concluded that although some specific mechanical systems could be improved, the overwhelming and primary reason for the home being so cold was based simply on the fact that the original home has no effective insulation.”

King builds an addition

With his heating and cooling problems still unresolved, King decided to build an addition to his new home, increasing the size of his home from 7,291 square feet to 9,563 square feet.

This time, the town building department insisted that the walls and ceiling of the new addition had to include insulation. King complied, although he didn’t install any insulation in the older part of the house.

King decided to solve his comfort problem by installing a bigger boiler. “He installed a new 400,000 Btuh boiler, at a cost of over $100,000, even though he had previously submitted that the design heat load was 50,000 Btuh,” said Freedman. “The cost of the new HVAC system was much more than it would have cost to insulate the house.”

King goes to court

A disinterested observer might imagine that it was time for King to sue the manufacturer of Super Therm for false claims. But King had a different idea: he sued the HVAC contractor, alleging “breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of express warranty, and breach of implied warranty of habitability.” To support his lawsuit, King hired a consultant who alleged that the return grilles installed by the HVAC contractor, Dee Service, were too close to the supply registers, and that the ducts were undersized and leaky.

King’s lawsuit was heard by Associate Justice Robert Fields, presiding without a jury. Bruce Harley told me, “I took it on myself to write a letter that ended up being entered as evidence in the court case, explaining why this paint didn’t work. In that letter I quoted your earlier articles in EDU.” Harley, Marden, and Freedman were all called to the stand to testify. “The ducts were not particularly leaky,” said Harley. “Craig Marden had done a duct leakage test at one point, and he determined that the duct leakage level was typical of new construction. And the building shell was not particularly leaky either.”

Engineer Curt Freedman ended up testifying for the defendant — that is, the HVAC contractor. To demonstrate that Super Therm is ineffective at slowing heat flow, Freedman brought a modified beer cooler to court. The cooler included a 50-watt heater and a computer fan to maintain an evenly distributed temperature. “He had cut out a window in the foam box,” Harley recalled. “He had plugged the window with a film of dried paint. He peeled the dried paint off a paint roller tray. He didn’t try to make a quantitative measurement of the R-value of the paint. He just pointed an infrared scanner at the box and showed the difference in temperature between the outside of the insulated box and the window covered with dried paint film. It wasn’t an ASTMAmerican Society for Testing and Materials. Not-for-profit international standards organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. Originally the American Society for Testing and Materials. test, but the demonstration was valuable.”

Freedman helped convince the court that the HVAC contractor was not at fault. On June 8, 2011, the judge ruled in favor of the HVAC contractor. “Based on the evidence presented, I find it entirely plausible that had King’s house been insulated with traditional material, that a significant portion of the heat generated by the boiler and the cold air generated by the air conditioner would have remained in the home,” Justice Fields ruled. “Based on the foregoing, judgment shall enter in favor of the defendant, Dee Services, Inc.”

Paint can’t insulate

Of course, there is poetic justice to a story in which a distributor of “insulating” paint ends up shivering during the winter and sweating during the summer because of the ineffectiveness of his worthless paint. Unfortunately, an innocent HVAC contractor had to be dragged into court before this sad case was finally resolved.

Harley summed up, “The bottom line is, if somebody could come up with a product that can give you R-19 at 10 cents a square foot, everyone would be doing it.”

Note to readers: The blog originally scheduled for publication this week (“Job Sites in Maine, Part Three”) was bumped by the late-breaking legal decision reported on this page. Tune in next week for the last segment of my three-part report from Maine.

Last week’s blog: “More Job Site Visits in Maine.”


Tags: , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Craig Marden
  2. Curt Freedman
1.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 06:49

Poetic justice, indeed!
by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Thanks for reporting this, Martin. It looks like this guy got exactly what he deserved, but it's a shame that he tried to blame it on the HVAC contractor. Maybe he should countersue for the time and business he lost having to go to court on a ridiculous charge.


2.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 07:06

How about this product?
by John Brooks

Helpful? 0

Martin, I mentioned this to you once at the JLC forum...
I see this advertisement for "LO/MIT" often when I visit the Q&A page at GBA
Do you consider "LO/MIT" to be a scam?

lomit.JPG


3.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 08:15

Edited Fri, 07/08/2011 - 08:52.

Response to John Brooks
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

John,
I checked out this LO/MIT Web page:
http://www.solec.org/LOMIThome.htm

I found exaggerations and misstatements. They report that their two products, when applied to glass, have an emissivity of 0.22 and 0.15. Both of these emissivities are too high for the product to be considered a radiant barrier. (The maximum emissivity of a radiant barrier is 0.10.)

Therefore I think their claim that these products are "radiant barrier paints" is untrue. As far as I have been able to determine, no one has succeeded yet in inventing a radiant barrier paint.

The same Web page also contains a misleading phrase: it describes these products as "LO/MIT insulating paints." Obviously, there is no such thing as insulating paint.


4.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 10:22

Thanks
by Matt Dirksen

Helpful? 0

Martin,

Thanks so much for reporting this. Several years ago, I was asked by many clients about this stuff. In fact, there was a "green remodeling" store not far away which was selling it as a miracle product (that store has long since departed.) Being skeptical, but open to trying things out, I decided to paint my kids room with it to see if it made any difference. Other than the textured appearance, the temperature difference was very slight. I would notice in the summer, the room would initially feel cooler with no one inside it, but then become slightly warmer when the kids would occupy it. I assume it is due to it's radiant properties. Absolutely no replacement for something which slows heat transfer.

I am often reminded in this work: "if it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Matt


5.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 11:59

Ah, an answer
by 5C8rvfuWev

Helpful? 0

Carl Seville's curmudgeon blog this week implies a core question: What will it take to make humans change our behavior (to make realistic, responsible choices as consumers)? I think you've found the answer, Martin ---

If it doesn't take us all down the drain with a world full of "King"s, Evolution will eventually sort out the fools and self-congratulating idiots. Darwin is alive and well.

And it sounds like products like SuperTherm and Lo/Mit are sort of green building's version of the "Jackass" franchise.


6.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 12:51

Insulating paint
by Doug McEvers

Helpful? 0

I am convinced the gentleman using only paint as insulation truly believed in the claimed insulating properties. He is also a good salesman to convince building officials of the same. We as observers are fortunate to see a real world test of insulating paint in isolation, the fact the owner would go after the HVAC contractor shows his belief in the product.


7.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 13:00

Response to Doug McEvers
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Doug,
Certainly when he first installed the paint, he must have believed in its effectiveness. At some point during the next 7 years, however, I would imagine that doubts must have crept into his mind.

However, if you are correct and he still believes that one coat of Super Therm is equivalent to R-19 of conventional insulation, then he is an example of a citizen who is immune to scientific argument. Such people exist, of course. They are apparently unswayed by data, research, or physics. They know what they know, and they aren't interested in being distracted by the facts.


8.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 13:51

true that. i hope the plaintiff had to pay the HVAC's legal fees
by Joe Schmo

Helpful? 0

is this paint by chance an intumescent coating that maybe achieves its claimed R value upon expansion initiated by fire or something? Such coatings do exist but they are expensive and, well, need to be exposed to fire to work. That is the only case where I have seen a painted on coating achieve a decent insulating value.


9.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 13:55

Legal fees
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Brian,
No, Alton King was not ordered to pay the defendant's legal fees. The defendant's lawyer, Steve Silverman, says that there is little likelihood of that happening due to the difficulty of proving that a lawsuit is frivolous under Massachusetts law.

Super Therm is not an intumescent coating. The R-value of a coat of Super Therm is zero.


10.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 22:38

Unbelievable
by Philipp Gross

Helpful? 0

I hope this guy did not make the money for his house by selling that paint. The building inspector should have lost his job due to incompetence and it is a shame that King was not ordered to pay the defendant`s legal fee.


11.
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 23:10

Super Therm
by Bob Ellenberg

Helpful? 1

I have experience with Super Therm and have some sympathy for the dealer (up until he sued the HVAC contractor). They tell their story so convincingly you cannot imagine anyone making false claims with such conviction (at least I couldn't as I am an honest person). I have been a building contractor for 40 years but I am not an engineer. About 6 years ago I started studying the claims of the Super Therm product. I learned of them through a lot of publicity an architect in CA was getting on a house where he used it and touted it highly. I got all of their documentation and even though I was not an engineer, after studying it, there seemed to be some holes in their claims. I took the information to an engineer who was doing some work for me who sepecialized in thermo dynamics. He read it and told me they were trying to use test results that were not valid to support their claims and that it was impossbile to achieve what they were claiming. Through continued conversations with Super Therm, they referred me to "a licensed engineer" who was one of their distributors. After many lengthy conversations, he told me to test it my self if I didn't believe it. With the help of my engineer, we planned tests and constructed 3 boxes; one with Supertherm, one with foam and one with a coating product called Weather Bloc by Mascoat. (Mascoat made very modest claims for their product and let me know right up front that insulative coatings could not do what Supertherm claimed). We documented the results but the bottom line was Super Therm performed miserably, Mascoat even better than they claimed and the foam as expected.

I highly recommend the Mascoat product for specialized uses (they are very big in the marine industry). I find it hard to believe the Supertherm people are not behind bars for what they claim!


12.
Wed, 07/13/2011 - 17:09

SuperTherm
by Kevin Hanlon

Helpful? 0

The only insulating this paint does is to insulate the consumer from reality, logic and the laws of thermodynamics. Fun, insightful article.


13.
Wed, 07/13/2011 - 17:35

Physics violation
by ta harvey

Helpful? 0

We have had to investigate these and numerous other claims for our high-performance home engineering clients many times. There is a lot of confusion around the performance of radiant insulators, and the crazy claims made by the manufactures.

However, keep a few things in mind. Even a near perfect low emissivity surface, could never achieve more than a R2-3. And that a low-E material MUST have a air space next to it to function. And no matter how perfect a low-E surface and air space is, it never is as efficient as a real insulator per inch. Which leaves low-e materials to some pretty specialized uses.

It is important to understand there is no magic product, and all of the physics can be calculated.

Troy Harvey
Principal Engineer
Heliocentric


14.
Wed, 07/13/2011 - 22:26

Ceramic bead paint
by Roger Williams

Helpful? 0

My wife wanted to paint all the rooms in the house. I wanted to test the ceramic "insulating" paint. I purchsed the additive for around $200 and she added it to the paint on the ceilings and outside wall paint. There was no change in the heating or cooling. I did find that the paint resists moisture a little better than the kitchen/bath paint I had previously used. Live and learn.
Last fall I had my two outside doors replaced with "Energy Star" insulated doors. Saw only about a 3% reduction in energy use. A few years ago I replaced all of my light bulbs with CFLs.......You guessed it, no change in my energy consumption. I live in a majority heating area so the old bulbs just added heat to the house, so it wasn't "waste" heat. Just who can you believe?


15.
Thu, 07/14/2011 - 15:16

Edited Thu, 07/14/2011 - 15:17.

Paint Ads
by Tom Gocze

Helpful? 1

I love the fact that at the top of this story are Google Adwords advertisements for Radiant Barrier Paint.

At least the attic looks clean!

Tom in Maine


16.
Thu, 07/14/2011 - 16:27

Light bulbs
by Michael Anschel

Helpful? 0

Roger,

Your discovery that the electrical resistance heaters that glow in those light fixtures was a substantial source of heat (albeit a dirty one in most instances) has actually be the subject of some debate up here in the frozen North.

Anecdotal evidence has been rolling in that replacing incandescent or halogen bulbs in SOME locations, may actually result in higher heating bills. Why? Imagine sitting down in your favorite chair and turning the lamp on next to it to read your book. You have a great little point of use heater directed right at your body. As a result the room temperature need not be as high, and human behavior is such that unless we feel cold, we don't turn up the heat. The case can almost be made that in those high use areas, especially sedentary ones, that the more energy efficient solution might be to use an old fashioned heat source... I mean light bulb.


17.
Thu, 07/14/2011 - 17:04

Easy Target
by Michael Anschel

Helpful? 0

I'm not sure how I feel about this very long and somewhat misleading article. Yes, the poor dude got duped. That sucks. But the industry wants no regulation from inside or out, and so without controls, you situations like this.

At the same time, I don't think you can lump all insulating coatings (paint) into the same bucket. There are a number of commercial coatings that perform quite well and are not duping anyone. Many of us make use of those coatings without perhaps being aware of it, particularly as it relates to steel coatings on Steel panels (roof, wall claddings), shipping containers, boats, cars, and manufacturing plants. Those NASA coatings designed to protect components that are exposed to high temperatures, solar radiation, etc. Work in the application for which they are designed. Some of those coatings do have a function in residential application.

Are they a substitute for insulation? Not at all. Can they provide resistance to energy transfer? yes. I am all for calling out the scam artists and the companies who operate unchecked. I would love to see our industry come together enough to ban those products from the market. At the same time, I think we need to be careful about painting (pun intended) with such broad brush strokes.


18.
Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:31

Radiant barrier?
by Ed Dunn

Helpful? 0

I did not believe the claims of this paint when I first heard of it because I had always understood that a radiant barrier needed about a one inch airspace next to it. How can that be achieved if you are applying on the surface of sheathing or drywall?

The next question would be, do those radiant barriers under slabs work as well as 2 inches of rigid foam. I don't use them for the same reason, how can you get a continuous airspace?


19.
Sun, 07/17/2011 - 05:36

Response to Ed Dunn
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Ed,
You are right to be suspicious of these claims.

1. The emissivity of dried paint is too high to be a radiant barrier. No one has yet been able to develop radiant barrier paint -- it doesn't exist.

2. A true radiant barrier (aluminum foil or foil-faced plastic) needs to face an air space to be useful.

3. There is no way to establish an air space under a slab on grade, so if a radiant-barrier distributor claims that their product can perform well under a slab, they are lying.

More information here: Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem.


20.
Tue, 07/24/2012 - 23:04

Insuladd
by Mike Snow

Helpful? -1

I am looking into purchasing Insuladd Insulating Paints & Additives. I've read that they are the original NASA partners and that other companies just claim to use NASA technology.


21.
Wed, 07/25/2012 - 06:36

Response to Mike Snow
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 1

Mike,
If you are looking into purchasing insulating paint, you aren't paying attention, and I guess you failed to read the article. I'm sorry to hear that you intend to waste your money.


22.
Mon, 06/03/2013 - 10:44

Investigation
by Jerry Chandler

Helpful? 0

Perhaps this deserves some further investigation. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/green_paint.html


23.
Mon, 06/03/2013 - 10:53

Response to Jerry Chandler
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Jerry,
That press release from 2008 is a thinly disguised advertisement for InsulAdd. I have made repeated inquiries over the years to the NASA public relations department, trying to locate the author of the deceptive press release and urging NASA to review the accuracy of the technical information in it. NASA has never answered my questions or gotten back to me on the issue.

Although low-e paints may make sense in space, where radiant effects dominate, conditions differ on earth. Houses are surrounded by air, not a vacuum, and we don't have to worry that adding insulation the the walls of our houses will make the houses so heavy that they are difficult to launch into orbit.


24.
Tue, 06/04/2013 - 16:21

Hi I came across your article
by Ray Satiro

Helpful? 0

Hi I came across your article after googling supertherm. I just read an article on bobvila's website that mentioned SuperTherm in a positive light: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/316-home-sweet-container/pages/1
The article has no publish date. The author says: Supertherm is a high-performance, four-part ceramic coating that carries an R value of R-19 and adheres to the steel surface of the shipping containers.

Aren't products like that supposed to be sprayed externally to keep a building from heating up instead of internally to keep heat from escaping? I do a lot of work with Habitat for Humanity and it has come up a few times over the years, with some debate, that a light colored roof would save energy. And several months ago when I was doing disaster relief I was at a conference where the mayor of NYC said that when a roof is coated in white paint it will lower the building's energy cost. What do you guys think of that?

Are there any objective studies to compare SuperTherm to white paint when it is sprayed on a shipping container or building? I am not a builder but I am curious. Thanks


25.
Tue, 06/04/2013 - 16:45

Edited Tue, 06/04/2013 - 16:48.

Response to Ray Satiro
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Ray,
When you spray white paint on the exterior of an uninsulated shipping container, the paint can help keep the interior of the shipping container cool in sunny weather. However, the paint will have almost no effect on a house with an insulated wall assembly.

So -- if you are building homes with uninsulated walls in a hot climate, go ahead and use white paint. Otherwise, I advise you to pay attention to air sealing, and use plenty of insulation in your walls.

The same advice applies to roofing. If the house is poorly insulated or uninsulated, you might consider installing roofing with high solar reflectance (that is, a high ability to reflect sunlight, measured on a scale of 0 to 1) and high thermal emittance (that is, a high ability to emit thermal radiation, also measured on a scale of 0 to 1) -- but only if the house is located in a hot climate. The advice doesn't apply to homes with well insulated attics or well insulated roof assemblies, and it doesn't apply to homes in cold climates.


26.
Fri, 08/30/2013 - 17:08

Edited Fri, 08/30/2013 - 17:10.

Insulating Paint
by Paul Jacobs

Helpful? 0

I must admit I am skeptical about insulating paints but in the article on the NASA website mentioned above I do not think it is an advertisement of any kind. At the bottom of the article is a link to a NASA PDF document. Now I am familiar with this document because I will read it from time to time. It was originally published in 2007 and it describes the background, the premise and the outcome of Insuladd and how the creator contacted NASA for assistance. Please read it and decide for yourself. Maybe some independent research by a reputable organization needs to be completed


27.
Fri, 08/30/2013 - 17:23

Response to Paul Jacobs
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Paul,
The PR department at NASA briefly hired marketers to send out press releases trumpeting products that were spin-offs from our country's investment is space exploration. The hope was that taxpayers would realize that every dollar invested in NASA had multiple benefits.

The Insuladd press release was one example of this policy. It was written by marketers, not building scientists. My repeated phone calls and e-mails to NASA asking for more information on this press release, and requesting to speak to someone involved with it, have gone unanswered.


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