May 2010 Table of Contents

Adding Underneath a Hillside Home

A steep slope and a tight lot call for some imaginative foundation solutions. Read more

Laying Block Steps

Get a cast-in-place look with versatile CMUs installed over a reinforced slab. Read more

Working On a SIPs Roof

A look at the techniques used to add skylights and thermal solar collectors to a foam-core roof. Read more

Building a High-Performance Shell for a House

Advanced framing and exterior foam reduce conductive heat loss and provide good air-sealing opportunities. Read more

Letters May 2010 Letters May 2010

More mold headaches; ice dam insurance; stair template available; choosing the right word Read more

JLC Report: EPA Waffles on Which Vacuums Can Be Used to Clean Up Lead JLC Report: EPA Waffles on Which Vacuums Can Be Used to Clean Up Lead

EPA waffles on HEPA vacs; low-E windows melt vinyl siding; drywall ruling favors homeowners; more Read more

Q&A Sealer Failure on Saltillo Tiles

A past customer purchased Mexican Saltillo tile from a distributor and had it installed by a tile installer I referred her to. The tile came presealed and was installed - per instructions on the shipping boxes - using thinset mortar. Within a day or two, the sealer began to fail, appearing as a milky white coating on the surface of the tile. There appears to be moisture in the tiles themselves: Could it be that the sealer was applied to tiles that were not completely dry? Read more

Q&A Can Fiberglass Batts Perform Well in Tightly Sealed Houses?

I understand that fiberglass batt insulation can allow air to move through it and that this air movement degrades the insulation's R-value. Two causes I've heard about are wind-washing at the eaves and convective loops that can start in a wall cavity on really cold days and wick warmth from inside to the outside wall surface. But recently I have taken pains to do a very good air-sealing job on everything I build, whether it's an addition or a new house. I'm getting blower-door readings of less than 1.5 air changes per hour at 50 pascals. I also use baffles at the eaves, and seal the sheathing to the framing before insulating. Under these conditions - with air movement cut to a minimum - will fiberglass insulation perform at its stated R-value? Read more

On the Job
Removing a Structural Chimney On the Job Removing a Structural Chimney

Two summers ago I received a call from some homeowners who wanted to remodel their kitchen and, as part of the project, remove a brick chimney that ran up through the center of the house. Read more

Business My Piano Teacher's Advice Helps Me Run My Remodeling Business

Not only do I lack any particular talent for playing the piano, but I didn’t even start taking lessons until early middle age — far too late to develop the neural pathways I’d need to play well. Read more

Products Products

Garage doors; heat-reflecting shingles; hurricane-resistant glass walls; clay plaster; decking with drainage; roof wrap; pergolas; more Read more

Toolbox DeWalt DWS535 Wormdrive Saw

This spring DeWalt introduced the DWS535 wormdrive saw. Read more

Festool Compact Hand Planer Toolbits Festool Compact Hand Planer

Full-size 3 1/4-inch hand planers are meant to be guided with both hands for maximum control, but Festool has a compact model designed to be held in one hand, so the other hand can steady the work. Read more

ModBox Storage Container Toolbits ModBox Storage Container

The ModBox storage container is made of seven interlocking panels that can be carried and assembled by a lone contractor without tools — so it can be set up in places other storage boxes can't easily go. Read more

Sortimo L-Boxx Stackable Toolboxes Toolbits Sortimo L-Boxx Stackable Toolboxes

Stackable toolboxes help you carry a lot in one load while keeping parts and tools neatly in their places. Read more

Porter-Cable 390K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander Toolbits Porter-Cable 390K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Porter-Cable's 390K 5-inch random orbit sander has a powerful variable-speed brushless motor and delivers consistently fine sanding results. Read more

Using Ship Masts for Structural Columns

Suppose you wanted some wooden columns about 20 feet tall and custom-turned in one piece from straight tree trunks? There aren’t too many places you could find such a thing. Read more

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