6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Having an air conditioner is a near-must in climates where months-long heat waves are a summer norm. And with that comes an equally scorching energy bill. Even in regions with gentler climates, homeowners can still experience enough hot days in a row to nearly go mad. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Whether you want to save money by running your air conditioner less or brave the heat without one, here are six ways to cool off without air conditioning.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

SALA Architects

  1. Block the Sun From Reaching Your Windows  Energy-efficient houses depend on well-designed shading systems because the best way to avoid summer heat is by blocking the sun’s rays from ever reaching the windows. It’s a simple concept that we regularly employ with beach umbrellas to protect our skin and carports to shade our cars. Yet when it comes to houses, for some reason people tend to believe that interior drapes are as effective as exterior shading. It’s simply not true.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

The Landing Company

The more shading you can include on the outside, the better. If you can’t afford a new matching set of shutters, consider a simple overhang made with brackets and timber slats to block your windows from the intense summer sun.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Sun Control of Minnesota

Solar-control window films can offer UV protection and reduce the amount of heat gained from solar radiation. Compared with some elaborate shading systems, these could be a less expensive alternative.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

CMB Construction

Even simple and very inexpensive bamboo blinds can block a good portion of sunlight without completely sacrificing daylight.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning
Charles Di Piazza Architecture

I can’t stress enough that the best way to beat the heat is to block the sunlight before it reaches your house. Whether you do that by hanging shades, installing awnings, or even planting trees, the most effective use of the funds in your home-cooling budget is in this first step.

When you’re planting trees for shade (or installing any kind of shading), think about the sun’s path through the sky. It may help you to check out an app called Sun Surveyor (or a similar one) that can help you track the sun’s path and how its rays hit your house.

Sarah Dippold Design

  1. Add Interior Drapes, Blinds, or Shades  Once the heat from the sun’s rays passes through the glass of a window, that heat is in the house and will need to be ventilated to escape. To keep your floors and walls from soaking up that heat from direct rays and emitting it throughout the day, it can help to add another layer of protection between the window and the main thermal mass of your home. Sheer window treatments are a nice way to mitigate direct sun rays to the floor but maintain soft, natural daylight. Plus, white reflects sunlight better than colors.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

MSiegel Design

There are a couple of tricks that you can employ with sheer drapes that you can’t pull off with interior blinds or shades.

My favorite thing to do is throw my sheer drapes in with my laundry the night before a really hot day. (They don’t take up much room, because they are super thin, but you could just as easily dunk them in a bucket of water and ring them out.) I set my machine to finish about the time I get up in the morning, and I put four or five drops of tea tree oil in with the load. When I get up in the morning, I take the drapes directly from the washer (still damp) to the rod and clip them in place. The open windows let the morning breeze pass through the drapes, cooling the air before it reaches me and filling it with the fresh smell of tea tree oil.

By the time the drapes have dried out, it’s about time to shut my windows anyway, before the intense heat of the day starts. You could do the same routine in the evening, but I wouldn’t recommend the washing machine version because of the heat it generates (see No. 4).

Allen Construction

  1. Get the Air Circulating  Air will flow only if it is forced (via a fan of some sort) or if there is a large temperature difference with a neighboring body of air. Night cooling is a great way to naturally decrease the temperature in your house and exchange hot interior air for cooler outdoor air. As I mentioned before, I have my windows open only in the early morning, at night, or late in the evening when it is cooler outside than my ideal temperature indoors. You may need to do some testing to see what works best for you, depending on your climate and the orientation of your house toward the sun. For this to work, there needs to be a substantial difference in temperature between the inside of your house and the outside. Once the outdoor air starts to heat up, I close my windows to try and keep as much of that heat out as possible.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Jette Creative

Ceiling fans and standing fans placed near windows at night can help force air movement when there is no breeze and a small temperature difference. During the day the added air movement from fans can help the perception of heat, which is tied to humidity.

Peter Dolkas

The reason everyone loves misters in the summer is not for the humidity of the water in the air, but for the evaporative cooling effect of water being lifted off the skin. In fact, I always keep a couple of plant misters around the house, hidden near the fans, for a quick spritz as I pass by (our dog loves it too).

Another evaporative cooling tip, borrowed from history, is to set a big chunk of ice (or ice packs) in front of a fan with a tray underneath to catch the water as it melts. It makes for a really cheap and fairly effective DIY air conditioner for small rooms. I recommend closing off the space as much as possible, so you don’t lose that great cool air.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Adams + Beasley Associates

  1. Turn Off Major Appliances During the Day  To help maintain those cooler temperatures during the day, reduce anything that generates heat in your house or apartment. For example, don’t use the dryer or oven and try not to open the fridge too often. The more you open it, the more the motor has to work to cool it down again, and the heat generated from that work will be released back into your apartment.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Steve Masley Consulting and Design

Try fresh summer salads to avoid using your oven and stovetop.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Kasha Paris

  1. Transition Your Bed Into Summer Mode  I don’t know about you, but I feel summer heat the most when I’m trying to sleep. Reduce the amount of bedding you have and stick to natural fabrics like linen or 100 percent cotton. Synthetic blends don’t breathe enough to release all the heat we generate during the night.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC

Sleep on the porch or balcony. “Outdoor sleeping has come to stay, so let us recognize the fact and build our houses accordingly.” This declaration appeared in the magazine Decorative Homes of Moderate Costs in 1921, responding to the widespread fad of sleeping on screened porches. Sleeping al fresco was considered, in the time of diseases like tuberculosis, to be a reasonable health measure. As such, for many years, sleeping porches were an integral part of home designs.

Depending on your home or apartment and security concerns, you may have a little exterior screened-in space that can be used like a sleeping porch. You could have a little daybed with light linens for nights when it’s comfortable enough to sleep in the open air.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Phi Builders + Architects

Or, hey, forgo the linens altogether and sleep in a hammock for the summer!

Beckwith Interiors

  1. Stay Hydrated  Everyone knows that staying hydrated in summer is extremely important. But did you know that drinking water also helps regulate your body temperature?

by Mariana Pickering  July 27, 2022, Houzz Contributor; Owner/CEO of Emu Building Science; LEED AP BD+C. After spending many years as an architectural designer in the high-efficiency residential Italian market, I now run a company that specializes in advanced construction science and Passive House design. We are located in Denver, Colorado, and Northern Italy, and we work internationally with builders, designers, and manufacturers of high-performance projects and products.

Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

Pros Share 6 Must-Have Kitchen Design Features

Design and remodeling pros recommend focusing on these must-have kitchen design features to create a functional and stylish kitchen

Countless decisions go into designing a beautiful and functional kitchen — so many that it’s hard to know what to focus on. We asked several design and remodeling professionals what they consider the must-have kitchen design features, and the following elements came up again and again. Give these areas adequate attention when planning a kitchen and you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a space that makes you happy.

must-have kitchen design features

Stonington Cabinetry and Designs

1. The Right Storage

Your kitchen cabinets make up the bulk of what you see in your kitchen, so your choice of cabinet color and style is a major, consequential decision. But the components inside your cabinets are equally important, if not more.

Your storage solutions determine how functional your kitchen is. When you’re at the peak of cooking a large meal, you care less about the look of your cabinets and more about the ease of grabbing the right tools, spices, pots, and other supplies.

A kitchen designer will often take an inventory of all the utensils, dishes, small appliances, and pantry items in your kitchen to figure out the right storage components for you. Pullouts, rollouts, and swing-outs will efficiently organize your stuff and make things easier to find and grab.

“When budget allows, we always, always recommend drawers or pullout shelves on the lower cabinet level,” designer Lisa Janzen of KC Interior Design says. “There is nothing worse than having to get on your hands and knees to see what is shoved to the back on your bottom shelves. Drawers make it so much easier to access and more efficient use of space.”

The New York kitchen shown here by Stonington Cabinetry & Designs is a good example of how hard your kitchen cabinets can work for you.

must-have kitchen design features

Yancy Interiors + Home, LLC

“I always recommend custom cabinetry with pullouts, built-in cutting boards, etc. to keep the jumble of everyday life to a minimum,” designer Yancy Dearinger Bonner of Yancy Interiors + Home says. She included a pullout cutting board next to the range in the kitchen shown here.

must-have kitchen design features

Innovative Construction, Inc.

must-have kitchen design features

BSW Design

2.  Hardworking Sink

Designers often recommend giving extra consideration to elements that you interact with the most. In a kitchen, that can be a lot of things, but the kitchen sink is one area that always sees a lot of action. So it makes sense to put a little more effort into designing the sink area and choosing components. These days, many sink manufacturers offer designs called workstations, which feature add-ons such as cutting boards, strainers, and prep bowls. “I always recommend a sink with gadgets,” designer Brittany Steptoe-Wright of BSW Design says. “For example, the sink in this project [shown here] is a single, large under-mount sink, but it has a colander, cutting board, and drying rack that sit inside on a small lip and provide so much function. It’s a game changer.”

must-have kitchen design features

Kitchen Design Gallery

The Galley Workstation shown here is a popular hardworking sink that includes several inserts for prepping and cleaning.

must-have kitchen design features

KE Interior Solutions

3.  Layered Lighting

Different tasks in a kitchen call for different kinds of lighting. Cooking at the stove, chopping vegetables, washing dishes, chatting with friends, doing homework, displaying collectibles — these all require a specific light source. “I recommend layers of lighting and multiple fixtures to cover every area,” designer Debbie Turner of Debbie Cahill Turner Design says. This might include recessed ceiling lights for ambient light, spotlights to illuminate important work areas like the sink and range, pendant lights to light an island or peninsula, and windows to let in natural light during the day. Designer Donna McMahon of KE Interior Solutions used a layered lighting approach in her own kitchen in Denver, shown here. Several recessed ceiling lights provide overall lighting, while undercabinet lights help with cooking tasks. McMahon even installed light strips below the base cabinets to create ambient lighting at night.

must-have kitchen design features

Ourso Designs

This New Orleans kitchen by Ourso Designs is another example of good lighting design. There are recessed ceiling cans, a pendant over the sink, pendants over the island, under cabinet lighting, and sconces over the floating shelves flanking the range hood.

must-have kitchen design features

Stonington Cabinetry & Designs

Of course, you shouldn’t forget to factor in natural lighting whenever possible. Architect Chris Dorman of Dorman Associates recommends that homeowners consider reducing the number of upper cabinets if needed to allow room for more windows to bring in natural light. “The kitchen is a place where people can spend hours, so maximizing natural light is key,” he says.

must-have kitchen design features

Wills Design Associates

4.  Island   

Perhaps no design feature in recent memory has changed kitchen design more than the island. Indeed, it’s hard to deny the benefit of a kitchen island. It adds an extra countertop surface and storage and creates a spot for conversation, homework, and meals. It can be a location for a cooktop, a dishwasher, or a prep sink, and it often provides that crucial touch point that completes an efficient work triangle. An island is a must-have kitchen feature for builder Kenneth Keating of Camlin Custom Homes. “A large kitchen island is a fantastic gathering place in any open-plan kitchen and gives the homeowner a flexible space to use for dining, entertaining, or cooking,” he says.

must-have kitchen design features

SV Design

An island is also a favorite feature for designer Tina Rodda of Eyder Curated Kitchens. “My must-have amenity is a workstation on the island for food prep and serving and a large butcher block at the end for carving and serving fabulous roasts,” she says.

This Boston kitchen by SV Design shows an example.

must-have kitchen design features

BASCO Builder’s Appliance Supply Company

5. Quality Cooking Appliances 

A kitchen is meant for cooking. And your range — or cooktop and oven — will be the most important component for cooking meals. Think about how often you interact with a range and how its function affects the quality of your meals and the ease with which you create them. That’s why many pros suggest you don’t skimp on quality when it comes to selecting a range and other cooking appliances. Designer Karen Parks of Associate Interiors puts a lot of focus on selecting high-quality ovens and cooktops. Shown here is the GE Cafe series.

must-have kitchen design features

Dorman Associates, Inc.

“I think that having a good stove is critical,” architect Dorman says. He used a Monogram Pro range in this Northern California kitchen.

must-have kitchen design features

Julia Chasman Design

Designer Julia Chasman makes vintage stoves a key component in her kitchen designs. For her own kitchen, shown here, she used a vintage O’Keefe & Merritt stove built in 1952 that provides function and style. “I have often used vintage stoves in homes of different eras,” she says. “They require some extra love and care. This one needed to be converted for use with propane gas as well, but the amount of charm and warmth they provide is incalculable. I also find them to be excellent stoves to cook on — perfect for cooking meat. It’s become one of my signature looks, and when I’m asked to source a vintage stove I know exactly what to look for to find one that will continue to serve its owners well for another 25 or 30 years.”

must-have kitchen design features

Julie Rootes Interiors

6.  Custom Vent Hood 

A ventilation hood removes cooking odors, steam, and grease from the air in your kitchen. But because the appliance sits at or just above eye level, it’s also an important visual element in the space. Many designers take it as an opportunity to create a stylish focal point, and going custom is often the way to go.“I am a big fan of a custom metal hood,” says designer Julie Rootes of Julie Rootes Interiors, who used a custom hood in the San Francisco kitchen shown here. “There are so many details you can pull in. It is one of the most important features of an elevated kitchen design. It’s like the jewelry of the kitchen.”

must-have kitchen design features

Heritage Homes of Jacksonville

Designer Jason Ulm of Heritage Homes of Jacksonville created the custom maple hood shown here in a kitchen in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Arched molding coordinates with the arched mullions on the cabinet doors to create an alluring focal point.

Written by Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis, and humor.

 

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For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

How to Build a Color Palette in 5 Simple Steps

Color palettes are the secret to giving every makeover that tied together look, but how do you build one? We’re sharing some simple steps to help you build a color palette of your own for your next project.

STEP 1: START WITH THE SPACE

Unless you’re doing a floor-to-ceiling overhaul, the first place to start when building a color palette is figuring out what’s staying. You can easily switch up blankets and throw pillows to match your new look, but fixed pieces like floors and countertops need to be worked into your palette if they’re not going anywhere. Paying attention to existing colors and tones in your room will help you create a coordinating color scheme that all flows together.

STEP 2: FIND INSPIRATION TO BUILD YOUR COLOR PALETTE

Inspiration is everywhere, so where do you start? Sometimes you might have a style you already gravitate toward – if that’s the case, the colors and patterns you love are probably already in your home. If you’re starting with a blank slate, you can find inspiration anywhere from artwork and magazines to Pinterest and Instagram. No matter where you look, these sources are the perfect way to get an idea of the colors and styles that speak to you.

Build a Color Palette

A laptop and mobile device showing inspiration images

TIP: Want to pull colors from a picture you love? Our ColorSnap® Visualizer app matches the colors in any photo with a coordinating paint color.

STEP 3: PICK A COLOR SCHEME

You can always lean on classic schemes like monochromatic or complementary, but did you know an emotional side comes into play too? Color is a powerful way to infuse a space with personality, so it’s just as important to think about the mood you want to create. If you love a space that feels dramatic, you can explore a color scheme that’s bold and saturated, but if you’re looking to create a natural color scheme, soft and earthy hues can help you get the look. This simple trick helps narrow down the color families and tones you want to stick with for your palette.

Build a Color Palette

 Colors include Woven Wicker, Urbane Bronze, Shoji White, and Evergreen Fog.

TIP: Check out our guide on Color Theory to learn more about tones and each color family.

STEP 4: CHOOSE YOUR BASE COLOR

The foundation of every palette starts with your base or primary color – aka the color you’ll use the most. Since your base makes up the biggest part of your palette, it’s important to choose something relaxing to the eye. Neutrals offer the most versatility because they go with anything and are easy to build off, but that doesn’t mean you have to go white or gray either. Shades like Evergreen Fog, Urbane Bronze, and Naval all have neutral undertones.

Featured Color: Evergreen Fog SW 9130

Featured Product: Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint

STEP 5: BUILD YOUR COLOR PALETTE

You’ve planned, prepped, and picked your base color – now it’s time to layer in some more hues. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on how many colors to use, a great place to start is choosing a secondary and accent color. If you stick with a palette of three colors, keep the 60-30-10 rule in mind – 60% of the space should be your primary color, 30% should be the secondary color and 10% should be your accent color. If you want to add more than three colors, you can build a bigger palette with varying shades of complementary colors to give yourself a few more hues to work with.

Once you have an idea of how many colors you want, the key is to mix and match until you’ve found a combination you love. Color chips are our favorite way to mix and match when you’re building a palette, and you can order them online for FREE!

TIP: A color palette goes beyond the walls by helping you find decor and furniture in similar shades to create a seamlessly styled space.

Ready to try building a color palette? Drop a comment below to share which room you’re making over, and if you need a little extra guidance along the way, you can also request a FREE Virtual Color Consultation to work with one of our Color Experts.

From Tinted: a blog by Sherwin Williams

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

 

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Kitchen

Get the ideal kitchen setup by understanding spatial relationships, building dimensions, and work zones

Whether you are moving into an existing kitchen, remodeling the one you have, or building a new one, understanding a few key building measurements and organizational guidelines can help your culinary life run more smoothly.

Kitchens provide storage for your food and cookware, give you room for prep and cleanup, and of course, also provide a place where you can cook and bake. When it’s thoughtfully arranged, these functions operate logically, making working in your kitchen a better experience. Here’s how to get the ideal kitchen setup.

Designing the Three Main Areas of a Kitchen

Ideally, refrigeration and dry goods storage should be located nearest to the kitchen’s entry point. The cooking area should be located toward the dining spaces, and the sink is best positioned between those two functions. This creates what’s called a work triangle. The best work triangle is less than 21 linear feet (6.4 meters). Work triangles that exceed 26 feet (7.9 meters) make moving from one function to another inefficient in most cases.

Everyone has personal preferences for what works best, so consider this a guide and not a rulebook.

ideal kitchen setup

Blu and White

  1. Storage. Designers recommend putting refrigeration and dry-goods storage at the kitchen entry point. Putting your pantry on one side and a countertop that’s 15 to 24 inches (38 to 61 centimeters) on the other is a good idea. This will allow you to easily set down items that have been taken out of the freezer and refrigerator. The pantry can hold dry goods plus brooms and supplies like paper towels. Use drawers in this area to hold plastic bags, foil, and anything that can contain food to be stored. For the cabinets in this area, you will want to have mixing bowls, cake pans, measuring utensils, and any other items that aid in assembling meals.

ideal kitchen setup

Wheelhouse Design

  1. Preparation. Ideally, prep and cleaning space is best located around the sink. Within these areas will be everyday glasses and dishes, along with trash receptacles and the dishwasher. Allow 18 to 36 inches (45 to 92 centimeters) of countertop space on one or both sides of your sink. Preparation areas are best kept clear of other items since you will always be taking out bowls, plates, and utensils there. Allow at least 36 inches (92 centimeters) of uncluttered countertop space for preparation in a small kitchen. Larger kitchens will have much more. This is one reason that islands are so popular. They provide broad and well-lit surfaces on which to perform the majority of kitchen tasks.No room for a built-in island? Add a cart instead

ideal kitchen setup

Diane Waingrow Architect AIA

  1. Cooking. The cooking centers should be arranged around the range, cooktop, and wall ovens. Place pots, frying pans, and baking sheets in the vicinity of your burners and ovens. It is a good idea to place small appliances such as toasters and coffeemakers in this area also, as it will leave your preparation areas unobstructed. Allow 21 to 36 inches (53 to 92 centimeters) of countertop on either side of your cooktop. If possible, place wall ovens with a free countertop immediately next to them so that you can set down hot food immediately. Place seasonings, breadboards, and potholders in nearby drawers and cupboards. Keep serveware toward the dining area.

ideal kitchen setup

Cindy Aplanalp & Chairma Design Group

Other Kitchen Measurement Considerations

The dimensions of all the pieces in your kitchen are important to get right to make the best use of your space.

Refrigerator depth. A common refrigerator width is slightly less than 36 inches (92 centimeters). The problem is often the depth. In recent years some manufacturers have designed them to be much deeper than a 24-inch (61-centimeter) base cabinet. You can still buy shallower freestanding refrigerators, but you have to pay close attention to the dimensions listed in its specifications to be certain. The other option is built-in configurations, but they are significantly more expensive.

Look for a depth of 30 inches (76 centimeters) or less, excluding handles, unless you can design your kitchen space to accept a deeper unit. Another thing to consider is the swing of the refrigerator door. Always examine the swing direction to see if it will meet an obstruction.

Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Cabinet height. Here you can see how the height of the cabinets plays an important part in the configuration. Upper cabinets are normally positioned at 18 inches (46 centimeters) above the countertop and are 30 to 42 inches (76 to 107 centimeters) in height.

Consider that your average maximum reach over and into an upper cabinet is 70 to 80 inches (178 to 203 centimeters) above the floor. Cabinets set at above 7 feet will likely need to be accessed with a step ladder. Cabinets above 8 feet are not practical for the majority of people; however, they may serve as storage for seasonal or decorative items, to be reached with step stools and ladders.

The standard dimensions for base cabinets are 24 inches (61 centimeters) deep and 36 inches (92 centimeters) high. In general, people are getting taller, so some homeowners are bumping up the counter height to 38 inches (97 centimeters).

Visual Jill Inc.

Distance between cabinets. Another important dimension to consider is the distance between cabinets. Entry points can be as little as 36 inches (92 centimeters) when there is a cabinet on only one side. Stay at least 42 inches (107 centimeters) from the face of a cabinet to the one on the other side; 48 inches (122 centimeters) is even better, but going beyond 60 inches (152 centimeters) is too wide in most cases. However, if it is a U-shaped kitchen, you could get away with up to 96 inches (244 centimeters).

Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Kitchen Layout Ideas

This cutaway plan illustrates arrangements and dimensions for a modest-size kitchen. Note that the preparation area is split between the island with the sink and the corner of the kitchen. The work triangle is compact. There will always be a few tradeoffs in any space.

This blog found on Houzz by Steven Randel, Houzz Contributor

Visit our site on HOUZZ here to learn more about what we offer and all the information you can find on their site

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Insulation Basics: What to Know About Spray Foam

Learn what exactly spray foam insulation is, the pros and cons of using it, and why you shouldn’t mess around with installation.

While we all wish there were a single answer for any given problem, oftentimes that’s just not the case. This is true for material options for home spray foam insulation. Despite what the market says is the most popular insulation material or method at any given moment, the truth is that each individual project has its own set of circumstances that call for a recommended set of options. And within those options, the specifications and installation can have a massive impact on the result.

It’s important to understand each material and how it works within your home’s construction and the environment in which you live. In this blog, we’ll take a look at various thermal insulation types and materials to help you figure out which is the best one for your project. We’ll begin with spray polyurethane foam (SPF), which, at least in North America, is fast becoming one of the most popular options.

spray foam insulation

EcoTech Spray Foam

What is SPF? Spray polyurethane foam is a heat-activated polymer that is just what it sounds like, foam insulation that is sprayed into place. It is made by mixing two ingredients on-site using special equipment. The mixture is then sprayed through a heated hose onto the surface that needs to be insulated. As the chemical reaction between the two ingredients takes place and the substance heats up in the hose, the liquid turns foamy, expands, and then eventually hardens in place.

Closed-cell and open-cell spray foam. These are the two kinds of spray-foam insulation. Open-cell SPF is the lighter, less dense option; it is the cheaper of the two but has less insulating power (or a lower R-value). Closed-cell SPF is denser and more expensive, can provide a bit more rigid support to certain structures, and can act as a water vapor barrier, because it is less permeable.

spray foam insulation

WJM Architect

 

Why is SPF so popular in the United States? Spray foam has the potential to tackle air leakages better than many other insulation options. Because it is sprayed into place, the foam can fill up cavities and block any small holes that could compromise your building envelope. It can be applied to vertical or horizontal surfaces to act not only as thermal insulation but also as an air barrier. It’s synthetic and does not attract rodents or insects. When applied properly, spray foam can contribute to a successful energy-efficiency strategy.

As with many aspects of the building market, there are variations in what is considered common around the world. Here in Italy, for example, spray-foam insulation has not taken hold of the market as it has in the U.S., for a variety of reasons outside the scope of this idea book. As a result, it is more difficult to find installers here, although there are versions of SPF available on the European market.

spray foam insulation

Before Photo

GreenEdge Spray Foam Insulation

The relative ease of installation. This makes it a popular choice for contractors (although see my notes on installation difficulties below). Plus, even though it can be expensive, its relatively high R-value per inch makes it a competitive option. It’s particularly interesting for renovation projects where traditional batt or board insulation may be difficult to insert. With spray foam (as with blown-in insulation), it’s possible to inject the insulation into a wall cavity, for example, or apply it to a sloped surface.

spray foam insulation

Apex Building Company

spray foam insulation

Spray Foam Systems LLC

Challenges of installation. As with many building technology solutions, the increasing popularity of a product or method means an increase in misuse and misunderstandings. Unfortunately, nowadays it is quite common to find examples of spray-foam insulation that have been specified or installed incorrectly.

The most common problems with spray-foam applications are:

  • The chemicals were not mixed correctly, and the foam starts to pull away from the neighboring surface
  • The chemicals were not mixed correctly, causing lingering odors and health problems for the occupants
  • The installers rush through the installation, leaving gaps and holes that reduce the efficiency of the product
  • A sufficient thickness either was not specified or was not executed as specified during installation
  • The local climate was not taken into consideration, and the temperatures or humidity levels were outside of the manufacturer’s specifications
  • In cold climates, a vapor barrier was not installed over the spray foam, sometimes causing roof rot

Remember, installation is a key factor with any kind of insulation you chose and can be the difference between insulation that works or causes problems.

spray foam insulation

Wedge Roofing

Be aware of greenwash! Closed-cell spray foam in particular, which uses HFCs with high carbon dioxide content, has a very negative impact on global warming. Some manufacturers are claiming that their spray foam is ecologically friendly because it is based on soy or castor. Don’t be fooled by this marketing gimmick. The percentage of soy legally required for them to be able to make this claim is very low. SPF is still very much a fossil-fuel-based material (as are many other insulation options).

 

spray foam insulation

MJW DryWall & foam Insulation LLC

Consider your climate. There are too many climate-specific considerations for insulation to include in this idea book. With SPF, for example, a vapor retarder layer over drywall may be required when using open-cell spray foam (seen here) in cold climates.

spray foam insulation

Before Photo

Cutting Edge Spray Foam Services, Inc

Potential health risks. Some people have reported health reactions to the lingering odor that can occur with certain mixes of chemicals, and the Environmental Protection Agency has issued information to make consumers aware of potential health risks, particularly during installation. There is still very little known about the off-gassing potential of this relatively new product, but a standard has been developed to start monitoring it.

It is absolutely essential that anyone working on the construction or renovation of a home using SPF follow the recommended health guidelines. Please don’t think that you can install this in your shorts and T-shirt on the weekend. Consult a professional or do your research.

 

spray foam insulation

EcoTech Spray Foam

The good news. Learning the pitfalls is just part of being more aware of the consequences of a certain decision. Each and every insulation material has advantages and disadvantages. SPF is a viable solution for certain homes and can offer substantial energy savings if installed correctly. You just need to be aware that, relative to other materials, the installation can be easier to execute but also easier to rush through. Knowing what questions to ask your installer can go a long way toward obtaining optimal results.

Tips for working with an installer:

  • Hire someone reputable with verified recommendations.
  • Make sure the work is monitored by someone other than the installer.
  • Do a quality control check before issuing the final payment.

Article found on Houzz and written by Mariana Pickering, Houzz Contributor

Visit our site on HOUZZ here to learn more about what we offer and all the information you can find on their site

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

How the Design/Build Concept Works

You’ve been dreaming of your remodel for a long time and the time is right for you to finally go for it!  Now, that you are ready, do you know what the best process is for a successful remodel?  Tri-Lite Builders has developed a proven Design/Build concept we go through with all our clients that spans from the initial design consultation, through construction, and on to the finishing process.

We start by asking several questions to get to know you and your style.  We listen carefully so we can weave our knowledge and creativity with your hopes and dreams to enhance your home.  Our principal objective is to guide you through every aspect of the remodel: from room layout/space plan to the most important detail of your new kitchen, bathroom, or home addition.

Each design phase has similar elements that we craft uniquely to you and the variables involved in your design concept. Your project may include creating hand-drawn renderings or computer-generated 3D views of your new kitchen, bathroom, or floor plan. Each rendering or 3-D view is drawn so that you can preview the feel of your new kitchen or bathroom before construction starts. Throughout project development, your designer is there to lead you through each step.

INITIAL CONSULTATION IN THE DESIGN/BUILD CONCEPT

During our initial phone call, we discuss the remodeling project you want to do.  We answer the questions you have about our design/build concept process, construction, project management.  Then we ask several questions, to get to know a little about you, your home, and what you envision for your remodel. Next, we schedule a no-obligation in-home consultation.  During this consultation we:

  • Explore your space
  • Define the initial Scope of Work
  • Learn more about your lifestyle and preferences
  • Answer the design questions you have
  • Discuss comparable budget ranges from similar projects

If you find we are a good fit: personality, design concept, and estimated budget, we begin our design and pre-construction phase.

DESIGN PHASE

The Design Phase will take our preliminary concepts and budget to the finished design and fixed budget with all selections made. We work hand-in-hand to collaborate with you on all details of the design to include:

  • Floor plan options
  • Appliance Selection
  • Cabinet styles and color choices
  • Countertop material and slab selection
  • Tile selections including decorative accents for backsplashes, floors, or showers
  • Plumbing features including styles, finishes, and locations
  • Electrical features, lighting fixtures, and their placement
  • Coordinate color choices for all features and walls

Our goal is to create a kitchen, bathroom, or addition that you will be proud of and your family and friends will enjoy.  At Design Phase completion the plan is in place: every product is specified, each trade partner is on board, the drawings are ready and the budget is set and approved by you.  Time to execute the plan.

BUILD PHASE

The Plan, our specification documents that itemize all product selections, the scope of the remodel work to complete, drawings of the particulars, and budget amounts become part of the Construction Contract.  These documents encompass “The Plan” and serve as the guide for our Production team.  They work together with the Designer during the Design Phase to ensure that all construction requirements are met. Throughout the Build Phase, our Project Manager is there to execute the details of the plan.  The Project Manager is your day-to-day hands-on leader of your remodel and point of contact. Learn more about Tri-LiteBuilders here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Tri-Lite Builders will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

 

How to Ensure a Smooth Project

In our continuing blog series, “Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Professional for your Renovation Project”, we tackle how to ensure a smooth project. Knowing these guidelines will help you navigate your renovation project and give you confidence in your contractor!

Good Communication

It is essential that you have an excellent flow of communication with your contractor. Do they return calls promptly? Do they listen intently to your likes and dislikes? Do they take notes? Can you reach them when needed? This will be even more important once your project begins.

Right Fit

You’ll most likely be spending a good bit of time with your contractor, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them. You should also have a good sense as to whether the same holds true regarding the members of their staff. Like any good relationship, a strong rapport and close communication with your contractor will help any job go more smoothly.

Scheduling

The scheduling of your project is something that should be discussed upfront. A responsible and reputable contractor will do their best to keep you informed both in the initial stages and as your project progresses.

A Clear, Well Written Proposal/Contract

Getting it in writing is essential! Nothing is worse than a disagreement because the terms weren’t written down. Frequently, one person remembers something differently. Every part of the job from the general conditions and demolition to the final trim and clean up should be clearly described. General terms like “install windows and doors” are too vague and should be clearly spelled out indicating exactly what window, what door, including make, model, size, features, location, color, style, etc. A detailed contract should include:

  • A visual representation such as a blueprint, floor plan, drawings, sketches, that clearly shows what work is being done and where.
  • The timetable in which the project is expected to be completed, including approximate start and end dates.
  • The price, along with payment terms and schedule.
  • Detailed specifications for all products and materials.
  • A list of work and/or things not included.
  • Insurance information.
  • Permit information (e.g., whether it’s required and who will get it)
  • Procedure for handling change orders.
  • Notice of your right under the FTC’s rule to cancel the contract within three business days if it was signed in a place other than the contractor’s place of business.

Details, Details, and More Details

There are several things that should be discussed prior to starting your project. What time will work start and end each day? Where will materials be stored? What special circumstances need to be taken into consideration? Discussing details like these upfront saves a lot of aggravation and eliminates misunderstandings.

Flexibility

Remodeling can be disruptive to your normal lifestyle. Remember to be as flexible as possible.

Change Orders

Changes are inevitable when it comes to home remodeling. There are often changes made to the design, the materials, and the scope of work once work begins.

It’s a good idea to set aside an additional 10% or more beyond the contract amount to cover these changes.

The bottom line is: Almost all changes will affect the budget and the schedule. Make sure all changes are in writing and are kept current to avoid any surprises in the end.

Written Lien Waivers

Often your remodeling professional will work with other tradesmen or subcontractors who specialize in certain aspects of your project. It is your contractor’s responsibility to make sure these people, as well as material suppliers, are paid for services and materials related to your project.

Make sure your contractor is willing to provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of your project in trade for the final payment. This is a document that proves that you have paid for the project in full, thereby eliminating the chances of the contractor’s subcontractors or suppliers placing a lien on your property due to not being paid by your contractor for the work performed on your home.

Establishing good communication and walking through each of these topics with your contractor will ensure a smooth project!

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

Twenty-one Questions You should Ask to Choose the Right Contractor

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions, project costs beyond labor, and what to look for when hiring your contractor.  In this blog, we give you the essential questions to ask so that you can confidently navigate choosing the right contractor for your remodeling project.

Choose the Right Contractor

Any reputable remodeling contractor should be able to answer all the following questions positively.  If they cannot, it would be wise to continue your search!

  1. Are you properly licensed on both the state and city level?
  2. Do you require all change orders to be in writing to eliminate any misunderstandings and unexpected cost overruns?
  3. Do you carry general liability insurance?
  4. Do you carry worker’s compensation insurance?
  5. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver at the end of the job?
  6. Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? Do you subscribe to their Code of Ethics?
  7. Are you certified as a CR, GCP, CKBR, CGR, or UDCP?
  8. Are you a member of the local Better Business Bureau?
  9. Will you pull any necessary permits?
  10. Do you offer a written warranty on all workmanship?
  11. Who will oversee my job? May I meet this person or persons?
  12. Have you been a party in any construction litigation?
  13. Will you provide me with references?
  14. What percentage of your business is repeat, or referral-based?
  15. How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year or two?
  16. How do you plan to reduce dust and protect the rest of my home from the effects of other work? (Good contractors erect dust barriers and use drop cloths and other protective material to protect your home.)
  17. How is daily and general clean-up handled?
  18. Will you provide means of communication that is checked daily for any questions or concerns you may have thought of after working hours?
  19. Will you provide me with a written contract that clearly spells out exactly what you will do, what your price includes and does not include, and specifies a guaranteed price, payment schedule, and completion date?
  20. Will a professional designer and/or architect design my job? (For projects that warrant this level of service.)
  21. Do you provide realistic renderings, sketches, and perspectives to allow me to clearly visualize my project early in the planning stages? (Again, for projects that warrant this level of service.)

We hope knowing what to ask will help you choose the right contractor who is a professional in remodeling and renovation projects.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

 

Motivating Factors to Renovate Your Home in 2021

Life is always evolving, and this past year, the Coronavirus Pandemic saw the entire world adjusting to new ways of doing life and experiencing their homes differently. The desire to remodel homes went beyond just making a dream into a reality but created a feeling of necessity.  While the pandemic certainly holds strong motivating factors to renovate your home in 2021, many of the motivating factors have stayed the same.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Effect.

Many people found that their living space was no longer meeting their needs. Last year homes became our schools, offices, gym, and recreational area. When we had to shelter at home, homeowners began seeing their homes differently. Home renovation saw a rise in adding pools, home gyms, and space. People are cooking and eating more at home making kitchens the center of family life. Thus, kitchen and bath remodels have become even more popular. Working from home created the need for office space or a “Zoom Room” so that we could get away from distractions. Students being educated at home or online needed learning rooms for the same reason. And even with the pandemic seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel, life has dramatically changed in how we live it.  Those home offices and expanded family nights are not going anywhere.

Home Equity and Increasing Market Value.

Homeowners are getting an extra incentive from the record high amount of home equity they now have as home prices continue to gain and demand for housing soars.  People also have saved money over this past year from not going out to restaurants, not eating out, not going on vacations, and they are putting that value back into their homes.

Your home is an important investment.  Making smart decisions about renovation can have a positive long-term effect on the home’s market value.  We can help you research your options and know what the best return on your investment will be.

Having Time to Remodel your Home.

Remodeling your home takes time and we seem to have more time as life has slowed down.  Many people are no longer waiting until retirement to remodel.  While a major remodel can require months of effort, from the design and selection phase to the on-site construction, the rewards are worth it.

Remodeling for a Changing Lifestyle.

While the Coronavirus Pandemic may have changed your lifestyle, there are still other common motivating factors to remodel.  Whether your family is growing, or you have become an empty nester, your home needs to adapt to your lifestyle.  As you grow older, capabilities change which means your home needs to have an accessible design. We can help you plan for that.  With home renovation, your lifestyle is also enhanced by creating the space you want in your kitchen or upgrading your bathroom. This can have profound results in your everyday routine.

Remodeling Due to Deterioration.

Stuff happens! Kitchens, bathrooms, and exteriors remain the most frequent renovation projects because replacing them eventually becomes a necessity. Making the repairs is also the best time to expand into a remodel since the experts are already on hand. This can include updating for style as well as functionality. It is also a good time to make your home more efficient and sustainable which also helps reduce overhead and maintenance costs while decreasing your home’s impact on the environment.

And,

Sometimes you just want to freshen things up. Whether it is changing the flooring, opening the floorplan, repurposing an existing room and its functionality, or finishing the basement, home renovation can change things enough to make you excited about loving your home again.

Award-Winning Home Remodeler in Greater Phoenix

If you’re feeling motivated to remodel your own home, Tri-Lite Builders is a smart place to start, as we’re an award-winning design-build remodeling firm. Explore your options by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or contact us here. We also invite you to follow Homework Remodels on Houzz.

How the Design/Build Concept Works

Renovating your home starts with your dreams and vision for your living space. Most likely, you’ve been envisioning your remodel for a long time and are ready to get started but are unsure of what that is all going to look like.  In this blog, we help you understand how the design/build concept works, our proven process, and what to expect along the way.

HOW THE DESIGN/BUILD CONCEPT WORKS

We have developed a proven process we go through with all our clients that spans from the initial design consultation through construction and then on to completion.
We start by asking several questions to get to know you and your style.  We listen carefully so we can weave our knowledge and creativity with your hopes and dreams to enhance your home.  Our principal objective is to guide you through every aspect of the remodel: from room layout/space plan to the most important detail of your remodel.
Each design phase has similar elements that we craft uniquely to you and the variables involved in your design concept. Your project may include creating hand-drawn renderings or computer-generated 3D views of your new kitchen, bathroom, or floorplan. Each rendering or 3-D view is drawn so that you can preview the feel of your new kitchen or bathroom before construction starts. Throughout project development, our professional designer is there to lead you through each step.

INITIAL CONSULTATION

The initial consultation usually occurs with a phone call where we will discuss your remodeling project.  We answer the questions you have about our process, construction, project management.  Then, we ask several questions, to get to know a little about you, your home and what you envision for your remodel.
Next, we schedule a no-obligation consultation safely in-home or virtually if preferred.  During this consultation we:
  • Explore your space
  • Define the initial Scope of Work
  • Learn more about your lifestyle and preferences
  • Answer the design questions you have
  • Discuss comparable budget ranges from similar projects
If you find we are a good fit: personality, design concept, and estimated budget, we begin our design and pre-construction phase.

DESIGN PHASE

The Design Phase will take our preliminary concepts and budget to the finished design and fixed budget with all selections made. This includes collaborating on all the details which include:
  • Floor plan options
  • Appliance Selection
  • Cabinet styles and color choices
  • Countertop material and slab selection
  • Tile selections including decorative accents for backsplashes, floors, or showers
  • Plumbing features including styles, finishes, and locations
  • Electrical features, lighting fixtures, and their placement
  • Coordinate color choices for all features and walls
Our goal is to create the space(s) that you will be proud of and your family and friends will enjoy.  At Design Phase completion, the plan is in place: every product is specified, each trade partner is on board, the drawings are ready, and the budget is set and approved by you.  Time to execute the plan.

BUILD PHASE

The Plan – our specification documents that itemize all product selections, the scope of the remodel work to complete, drawings of the particulars, and budget amounts – become part of the Construction Contract.  These documents encompass “The Plan” and serve as the guide for our production team.  They work together with our professional designer during the Design Phase to ensure that all construction requirements are met.
Throughout the Build Phase, our Project Manager is there to execute the details of the plan.  The Project Manager is your day-to-day hands-on leader of your remodel and point of contact. As with all the phases of your remodel, communication and collaboration continue until the project is complete.
For high-end home design, build, and remodeling that reflects your vision, our NARI Certified Designers will work hand in hand with you to create a space that not only adds value to your home but brings you joy! Call us at (480) 895-3442 if you would like to discuss your remodeling project with our award-winning designers and builders.
You can view our portfolio here.

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