nsulation materials run the gamut from bulky fiber materials such as fiberglass, rock and slag wool, cellulose, and natural fibers to rigid foam boards to sleek foils. Bulky materials resist conductive and — to a lesser degree — convective heat flow in a building cavity. Rigid foam boards trap air or another gas to resist conductive heat flow. Highly reflective foils in radiant barriers and reflective insulation systems reflect radiant heat away from living spaces, making them particularly useful in cooling climates. Other less common materials such as cementitious and phenolic foams and vermiculite and perlite are also available.
Fiberglass (or fiber glass) — which consists of extremely fine glass fibers — is one of the most ubiquitous insulation materials. It’s commonly used in two different types of insulation: blanket (batts and rolls) and loose-fill and is also available as rigid boards and duct insulation.
New windows can make a dramatic difference in any home, whether you want to improve its appearance, open up a spectacular view or simply replace worn units that seem to let in more wind and rain than they keep out.
Modern window frames cut air infiltration down to almost zero and, when used with advanced glazings, can slash up to 40 percent off your heating and cooling bills. Some windows also free you from periodic painting. Still others rival fine cabinetry in eye appeal.
Manufacturers have expanded those choices with new frame materials, glazing and installation options. Indeed, “replacement windows” are no longer limited to the kind that involve ripping out the old window and installing a new prime window.
Back in the 1950s, butterfly roofs and vertical siding made a conspicuous statement about the home of the future. But even as the Modernist movement was radically changing the outward appearance of houses, underneath, many of them were still framed the conventional way, with old-fashioned sawn lumber. That’s the way it was with this season’s TOH TV Cambridge project house.
Today, even in traditional-looking homes, the “futuristic” stuff is often the framing itself. And there’s a new language to go with it. Besides understanding the true sizes of dimensional lumber—that a 2×4 is really about 1 1/2 by 3 1/2—carpenters now need to know a host of abbreviations: LVL, OSB, I-joist. They also need to understand more about load and force as strong, efficient engineered woods and steel replace milled stock. Then there are the countless metal ties and brackets—more than 1,700 hangers alone—they’ll encounter. A house isn’t just wood and nails anymore.
A look at the framing done at the Cambridge house by TOH general contractor Tom Silva and his crew gives you a good idea of what some of these newer materials can do: allow for higher ceilings, larger open spaces, and even cantilevered rooms. And while this skeleton of studs and beams will soon be hidden inside new walls and floors, for now it’s clear that the beauty of this house is more than skin deep.