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Air & Moisture Barriers

  • Tree Roots and Foundation Cracks

    Can the roots of a tree actually dry out the soil beneath a foundation enough to cause the concrete to crack?

     
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    Innovative Products 2009

    A roundup of tools and materials found on the floor at JLC Live in Providence, R.I .

     
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    Glass Tile and Kerdi Membranes

    The manufacturer of the glass tile my client chose for her shower recommends that it be installed with modified thinset mortar. But Schluter, maker of the Kerdi waterproofing membrane I typically use, specifies unmodified thinset mortar for both installing its membrane and setting tile. Does this...

     
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    Installing Exterior Insulation in Cold Climates

    Airtight construction and a thick layer of exterior foam save energy and reduce the risk of rot and mold.

     
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    Letters

    Leak-free chimney; stainless steel screws and copper; subslab vapor-barrier details; credit card warning

     
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    Products

    All-in-one flashing panel; spray-foam insulation; shower seat; lightweight steel beams; grass driveway mats; push-fit fittings; more

     
  • Soundproofing Drainpipes

    Is there a way to dampen the sound of a PVC waste pipe, other than tearing out the plastic and installing cast iron?

     
  • Removing Kerdi Epoxy Grout With Heat

    Q: Using a heat gun is an approved method for removing cured epoxy grout from tiles and fixtures [see Q&A, 5/08]. But can the same technique be used when the tile has been installed over Schluter’s Kerdi waterproofing membrane, or would the heat damage the membrane?

     
  • Is It Safe to Retrofit Exterior Foam Insulation?

    Q: I built a lot of homes in upstate New York in the 1980s using 2x6 studs, fiberglass batts, and a poly vapor retarder for the shell. Given the rising cost of heating and cooling, the owners are asking about energy upgrades to their walls. I'd like to suggest adding 1 or 2 inches of rigid foam on...

     
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    Rescuing a Manufactured-Stone Wall

    A properly flashed water-resistant drainage plane is essential when installing stone veneer over a wood-framed wall.

     
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    Brick Veneer That Works

    Despite the inherent strength of brick, a brick veneer wall is not invulnerable during a storm. If the wind blows hard enough, poorly secured brick veneer can literally crumble. And because bricks and mortar are porous, they can transmit moisture to the main wall if that wall has not been properly...

     
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    Waterproofing A Rooftop Deck

    A kitchen bump-out provided the perfect opportunity for a small terrace off the master bedroom.

     
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    Adding Under

    With nowhere to go but down, this basement addition carves out extra living space from within the home’s existing footprint.

     
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    Gluing Wood Flooring to Concrete

    A successful job starts with a moisture test.

     
  • Overdriven Fasteners in ZIP System Sheathing

    Q. When fastening ZIP System sheathing to wall and roof framing with our pneumatic nailers, we've found that it's difficult to keep nail heads from penetrating the applied protective barrier on the face of the panels. Won't these holes compromise the moisture barrier's integrity and lead to...

     
  • Do Precast Foundation Walls Need Waterproofing?

    Q: Are precast concrete foundation walls subject to the same dampproofing or waterproofing requirements as cast-in-place and block foundations? I've heard that because these walls are made of a high-strength concrete that's virtually nonporous and impervious to water, they don't require extra...

     
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    A Close Look at Common Energy Claims

    Understanding energy consumption and moisture movement in the homes we build is hard enough; rampant half-truths and misconceptions only make it harder.

     
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    Products

    Housewrap; asphalt roofing

     
  • Vapor Retarders and Building Inspectors

    Q: I'm building a house in North Carolina, which has a mixed-humid climate (climate zone 3). My local building inspector - backed up by his boss - requires a polyethylene vapor retarder on the interior side of cellulose-insulated walls. My insulation contractor says that interior polyethylene is...

     
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    How to Reduce the Risk of Mold Claims

    Mold has been around for millennia, but in recent years public concern about its presence in homes and buildings has metastasized into near hysteria. This has spawned a legal atmosphere in which it's relatively easy for unscrupulous owners to fabricate huge mold lawsuits against contractors.