exterior insulation

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Planning a Retrofit in the Pacific Northwest

The owner of a drafty, poorly insulated house looks for advice

Posted on Nov 13 2017 by Scott Gibson

Brad Steeg's Seattle home was built in 1915, and from the description he provides in this post at GBA's Q&A forum, it's not hard to understand why Steeg is so uncomfortable during the winter: not much insulation, single-pane windows, and lots of air leaks.

"During the winter, my thermostat reads 70° but it still feel cold because the cold walls and ceiling suck the heat out of my body," Steeg writes.


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Wolfe Island Passive: Adding the Insulation

With the shell up, work turns to installing the roof overhangs and the exterior insulation

Posted on Dec 29 2016 by David Murakami Wood

Editor's note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario's first certified Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, Wolfe Island Passive House. For a list of earlier posts in this series, see the sidebar below.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: David Murakami Wood

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Attaching Corner Trim on Walls With Rigid Foam

At outside corners, you’ll need to plan ahead by installing wide furring strips or 2x4s embedded in channels carved into the rigid foam

Posted on Aug 19 2016 by Martin Holladay
prime

Many GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers have built homes with 4 inches or 6 inches of rigid foam on the exterior side of their walls. Typically, these walls include vertical 1x4 furring strips, 16 inches or 24 inches on center, on the exterior side of the rigid foam. The furring strips perform at least three functions: they hold the foam in place, they create a rainscreenConstruction detail appropriate for all but the driest climates to prevent moisture entry and to extend the life of siding and sheathing materials; most commonly produced by installing thin strapping to hold the siding away from the sheathing by a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch. gap, and they provide something for the siding to be fastened to.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Martin Holladay

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How to Attach a Thick Layer of Exterior Insulation

A reader worried that extra-long screws will sag over time looks for an inexpensive and practical solution

Posted on May 9 2016 by Scott Gibson

Adding a layer of insulation to the outside of a house, over the wall 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. , makes all kinds of sense from an energy perspective. But the thicker the layer, the more challenging becomes the actual means of attaching it to the building.

In a post in the Q&A forum at Green Building Advisor, Burke Stoller shares some of his concerns, as well as a proposed solution. Stoller is working out the details for a 6-inch-thick layer of Roxul ComfortBoard mineral wool, consisting of two layers of 3-inch-thick panels, each 2 feet by 4 feet.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Burke Stoller
  2. Image #2: James Hardie
  3. Images #3 and #4: Steve Baczek

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An Alternative to Wood Window Bucks

On walls with exterior insulation or a rainscreen, these reinforced EPS bucks may outperform wood or plywood bucks

Posted on Apr 4 2016 by Scott Gibson

A Pennsylvania company has developed an alternative to wood window bucks, claiming the coated polystyrene bucks offer better thermal insulation, a more effective water and air seal, and better long-term performance.

Window and door bucks are used when exterior insulation, such as rigid foam, or a rainscreenConstruction detail appropriate for all but the driest climates to prevent moisture entry and to extend the life of siding and sheathing materials; most commonly produced by installing thin strapping to hold the siding away from the sheathing by a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch. is installed over 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. on exterior walls. A buck (more properly called a Rough Opening Extension Support Element, or ROESE) ensures the window or door will be aligned correctly with the insulation or rainscreen.


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Image Credits:

  1. Photos: BRINC Building Products

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Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

What we learned from updating a 16-year-old deep-energy retrofit

Posted on Feb 23 2015 by Joe Lstiburek
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I did a deep-energy retrofit on my barn 16 years ago. Building Science Corp. was young and growing, and we needed a bigger office. The barn would be that office for the next 10 years. In fact, Betsy Pettit wrote about it in “Remodeling for Energy Efficiency” (FHB #194).


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Image Credits:

  1. Daniel Morrison

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Mineral Wool Boardstock Insulation Gains Ground

Roxul ComfortBoard IS has some important environmental and performance advantages over XPS and polyisocyanurate insulation

Posted on May 16 2013 by Alex Wilson

Readers of this Energy Solutions blog may be aware that I’ve been critical of some of our foam-plastic insulation materials. I’ve come down hardest on extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.), which is made both with a blowing agent that contributes significantly to global warming and with a brominated flame retardant, HBCD, that’s slated for international phaseout as a persistent organic pollutant.


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Image Credits:

  1. Roxul
  2. Residential installation of ComfortBoard IS.

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Wrapping an Older House with Rock Wool Insulation

The designer of a deep energy retrofit project in Massachusetts specified 6 inches of mineral wool insulation for the exterior side of the walls

Posted on May 14 2013 by Mark Yanowitz

When I first met Chris Gleba and Kris Erickson in December 2011 to discuss their plans for a deep energy retrofit, Chris told me that he had been remodeling his modest two-bedroom house in Lowell, Massachusetts, for over ten years. He had painstakingly rewired and re-plumbed the house and had made energy efficiency improvements (including the installation of a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and radiant in-floor heating). He had also devoted much sweat equity towards upgrading the interior finishes of the kitchen and baths.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Mark Yanowitz
  2. Heco-Topix
  3. Architectural drawings: Verdeco Designs

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Installing Roxul Mineral Wool on Exterior Walls

Semi-rigid panels of mineral wool insulation keep the wall sheathing of this British Columbia home warm and dry

Posted on Feb 12 2013 by Shannon Cowan and Patrick Walshe

As the landscape around our building site disappears under a rare blanket of snow, the 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. on our houses has been disappearing under a thick layer of exterior mineral-wool insulation. Known as Comfortboard IS, this insulation has impressed us with its green virtues, versatility, and price.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Shannon Cowan and Patrick Walshe

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Exterior Insulation Is Like A Sweater For Your House

A layer of rigid foam will keep your wall sheathing warm and dry

Posted on Jan 11 2013 by Erik North

There are many construction and insulation approaches which allow a builder to create walls and ceilings with high R-values and low levels of air leakage, creating a much better envelope than is achieved with standard framing methods. Structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulated concrete forms (ICFs), double-stud walls, and advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope. can all produce more energy-efficient buildings than the ol' stick-built number.

The one thing they can’t do is to improve the efficiency of an existing house.


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Image Credits:

  1. Craig Hatfield

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