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.

10 Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths in 2022

See the latest styles, finishes, features, and other faucet trends featured at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show with this HOUZZ article.   Reading through it, we think you will find that different faucets may match your lifestyle better than others as well as determine the right fit for the right style in your kitchen and/or bath remodel.  We also think that the trend toward water monitoring with your faucets is a great way to keep your remodel green.  Water monitoring lets homeowners control and monitor their water usage to conserve as needed. Continue reading for 10 of the Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths in 2022.

Latest Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Kitchen and bathroom faucets are one of the most common upgrades during a remodeling project. In fact, 81% of renovating homeowners upgrade their kitchen faucet, while 88% upgrade their bathroom faucet, according to the latest Houzz kitchen and bath research. With such high demand, manufacturers respond every year with new faucet styles, finishes, and features to align with current trends. And many of those manufacturers use the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show to launch their new faucet collections. Here’s a snapshot of fresh faucets that debuted this month at the 2022 trade show in Orlando, Florida.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Faucet Trends for the Kitchen

1. Pull-Down Designs

You’d be hard-pressed to find a kitchen faucet these days without a pull-down function. This feature allows homeowners to extend the spray nozzle to rinse vegetables, fill pots, and clean the sink basin.

Many manufacturers are updating existing collections and launching new ones that include a pull-down function in a range of styles.

Delta debuted its Monrovia collection, shown here. It’s a soft contemporary pull-down style that comes in four finishes. There’s also an add-on protective coat, called Lumicoat, that resists stains and mineral buildup.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Delta’s new Westville pull-down features a transitional design and a magnetic docking station for the nozzle. It will be available in spring 2022.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Peerless is launching its Flute collection in May 2022. The affordable, transitional-style line will include a nozzle with a rinse function that features two fan-like sprays.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Bocchi debuted its Lugano faucet, shown here in a matte gold finish, with a sleek contemporary design that blurs the lines between spout and nozzle.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

2. Commercial Style

This style of faucet, often seen in commercial restaurant kitchens, is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Several manufacturers launched or expanded commercial-style designs this year. It’s part of a broader trend emerging post-pandemic: a back-to-basics strategy that seeks to modernize industrial-style plumbing fixtures.

Moen launched a collection of what it calls spring galley faucets in three styles. The Belfield, shown here in a matte black finish, is a compact industrial-meets-modern-farmhouse style. The collection will be available in fall 2022.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Kallista launched its Juxtaposed semi-professional kitchen faucet line, shown here. Available now, it comes in polished chrome, matte black, and stainless steel.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Bocchi updated its Maggiore faucet, shown here, with new features and higher-quality parts.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Brizo’s Odin semi-professional kitchen faucet will be available in spring 2022 in several finishes, including Brilliance Polished Nickel, shown here.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

3. Touch, Touchless, and Other Tech Features

There’s been a lot of innovation in recent years in integrated tech features for faucets. It’s been a gradual progression and one that’s still getting a feel for what homeowners want.

Brizo’s new Tulham line, shown here, features the brand’s SmartTouch technology, which lets a user tap the spout to turn the water on and off. There’s also an LED light that changes color to indicate water temperature. It will be available in summer 2022.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Delta’s new Monrovia collection will feature similar technology. You can tap anywhere on the spout or handle. And it doesn’t have to be with wet or grimy fingertips. Use the back of your hand, a forearm, or an elbow to tap and activate or deactivate the flow of water. The temperature and flow will be where you last positioned the handle.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Moen’s new Smart Faucet With Motion Control offers several hands-free functions. Tap to turn the water on and off. Or motion forward to turn it on; wave left to turn the water warm; wave right to turn it cold; motion forward to turn it off. You can also connect the faucet to an Amazon Alexa or Google Home to issue voice commands, such as “Alexa, tell Moen to give me a cup of water.” It’s set to be released in July 2022.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
In fact, Moen is so confident in its wave and voice command technology, it’s coming out with a completely handle-less style, shown here, in fall 2022, for homeowners who are ready to go all-in on touchless tech.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Moen’s new Haelyn pull-down kitchen faucet will feature new ColorCue technology that features an LED ring around the nozzle dock that indicates water temperature in five ranges. Blue indicates cold below 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Purple is warm, between 91 and 100 degrees; red is hot, above 109 degrees.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

4. Mixing Finishes

One popular faucet trend emerging in recent years is the mixing of finishes and materials. This was initially rendered as dramatically contrasting finishes, such as Kohler’s black-and-gold bathroom faucet featured below. But some manufacturers are taking a more subtle approach.

Brizo’s new Tulham line, for example, features a tone-on-tone effect. The example shown here displays a mostly matte black finish with levers and bands in Brizo’s Brilliance Onyx Black finish.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Here’s a one-handle style in Brizo’s Tulham collection, with luxe gold banded with polished gold.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Brizo’s Odin semi-professional kitchen faucet mentioned earlier also comes in a polished nickel finish with a wood handle option.

 

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Faucet Trends for the Bathroom

5. Lever Handles

It’s hard to deny the abundance of widespread lever handle designs in new bathroom faucet products. And it’s interesting to see all the various interpretations of levers that manufacturers have dreamed up.

Brizo’s new Allaria collection, available in the summer of 2022, features a widespread lavatory faucet with lever handles that resemble twisted ribbons.

 

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

Another option in the same collection features square handles that are a cross between levers and knobs.

The style shown here mixes matte black and Brilliance Black Onyx finishes.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

6. Wheel Knobs

Similar to new commercial-style kitchen faucets, these are another result of manufacturers looking to modernize industrial-style plumbing fixtures. Wheel knobs were found on many of the first plumbing parts and are still used in many commercial applications. Several manufacturers picked up on that detail and introduced elegant takes on wheel knob designs.

Brizo released the Litze widespread lavatory faucet with wheel handles, shown here in Brilliance Polished Nickel.

 

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Delta expanded its popular Trinsic collection to include wheel handles, shown here.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Here’s a single-handle version of Delta’s wheel handle design in its expanded Trinsic collection.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

7. Contrasting Finishes and Materials

As with kitchens, manufacturers are mixing materials and finishes in bathroom faucet designs.

Brizo’s new Allaria bath collection features a clear lever option, shown here with a luxe gold finish.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Here’s an Allaria wall-mounted faucet with a clear square handle contrasted against polished chrome.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Kohler’s new Tone collection consists of five faucet options; there are shower and sink faucets and accessories for a coordinated look. The collection comes in six finishes, including two two-tone options: matte black with polished chrome and, shown here, matte black with Brushed Moderne Brass.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Wood is an increasingly popular detail to integrate into faucets. Brizo expanded its Jason Wu collaboration to bathroom faucets last year. Its widespread lavatory faucet is shown here in matte black with wood cross handles.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Brizo’s Litze bathroom expansion now features an option with teak wood handles, shown here with polished chrome.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

And Brizo’s Frank Lloyd Wright collection, launched in 2021, includes this single-handle faucet in teak and Luxe Nickel finish.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

 

8. Single-Handle Designs

Speaking of single-handle faucets, many manufacturers are releasing new collections in a single-handle design. Some homeowners find that this style saves countertop space and is easier to clean around than, say, a widespread design.

Delta launched Saylor, shown here, a transitional-style design with a geometric spout, gently flared base, and subtle industrial-style-inspired handle.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
In addition to the pull-down kitchen faucet shown above, Peerless’ new Flute collection, available in May 2022, features a single-handle lavatory faucet, shown here in chrome.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
House of Rohl brand Riobel’s new Ode faucet features a cylindrical base and rectangular spout that are easy to wipe clean.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Moen announced the expansion of its Dartmoor faucet collection to include a new single-handle design, shown here. It features a gently flared spout and sculpted handle with finial detailing.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

9. Traditional and Vintage Styles

While transitional styles certainly dominate a lot of the new faucet collections, some manufacturers are expanding their more traditional-leaning offerings.

Kohler extended its Riff kitchen collection into the bathroom. The company says the elegant, sturdy look is inspired by French Creole and Spanish Colonial architecture.

Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
Rohl, a House of Rohl brand, launched its new Apothecary line, which is meant to complement traditional and vintage pieces, such as ornate gilded mirrors and antique vanities.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths
The Apothecary faucet features handles and bases with elegant chamfering details that resemble antique medicine or perfume bottles.
Faucet Trends for Kitchens and Baths

10. Water Monitoring

A lot of attention gets placed on the look of a faucet, but a growing area of interest is on water conservation and usage monitoring.

Moen’s Smart Water Network lets homeowners control and monitor their water usage to conserve as needed. It can also detect leaks and notify you. If you’re away on vacation, you can remotely shut the water off and flush the pipes to prevent bacterial contamination or freezing in the winter.

Kohler’s H2Wise system performs functions similar to Moen’s Smart Water Network. It also features AI capabilities that learn your water use over time so you can make more informed decisions.

Article found on Houzz by Mitchell Parker, Editorial Staff,  February  2022

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.

Green Remodeling Trends in 2020

Green Trends focus on indoor air quality

Making Homes Healthier

Green building has been a hot topic in the remodeling and design industry for quite a while, especially in older homes. More recently, making homes healthier is just as important as sustainability in making green choices.  Older homes are typically inefficient and provide unhealthy indoor air. The basics of building science and designing for the environment are necessary to consider and the knowledge is there in making homes healthier.  As a Green Certified Professional remodeler, Steve Shinn and the team make sure sustainability, performance, and design come together.

“We need to look at the home as a system and not just a bunch of little parts,” Shinn says. Homework Remodels help homeowners figure out which enhancements promote healthy indoor environments – without breaking their budgets.  Below are some things to consider when planning for your next remodel and creating a healthy home.

First, test for potential issues

A healthy indoor environment free from VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), formaldehyde, mold, and other pollutants not only makes your home more enjoyable to be in, but it can also help prevent asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

Make sure your home is not harboring mold, radon gas, carbon monoxide.  There you can test with kits available to consumers.

Be green in your home improvement practices

One of the best ways to ensure good indoor air quality is to think ‘green’ when taking care of your home.  Using green cleaning supplies, minimizing the use of sealants and purchasing furniture with low risk of off-gassing can help you keep the air you breathe healthy.  Choosing environmentally sound green flooring and countertop materials will help you manage air quality as well.

Deconstruct instead of demolishing

When remodeling your home, think strategically about what to deconstruct and what items to keep.  Demolition has an immense impact on the environment due to material waste.  It also can save you money when you find materials within your own home to reuse in new ways.  Light fixtures, molding, cabinets and even doors can be repurposed.

Refresh instead of replacing

Repurposing items and materials are still an ongoing trend. Saving natural resources and reducing the emissions from the manufacturing and transportation of these materials saves the environment.

Cut down VOC’s

Environmental concerns include surface finishes for building products.  Choose products that are low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds).  VOCs are emitted by a variety of home products. As people become more aware of what is in the products that surround them in their homes, they care about how much their paints or carpets are off-gassing.  From cabinetry to flooring, these products often have added urea-formaldehyde, which emits gases and harms healthy living. Glue, sealant, paint, and coating may also have toxins. By moving away from the look of surfaces embalmed in smooth polyurethane, you are also improving the indoor air quality.

Amp up ventilation

To suck bad air out of a home and bring fresh air in, you need to install adequate ventilation. Add a fan in your kitchen and bathroom and it will help remove odors, bacteria, humidity and cut down mold growth.

If your home is sealed tight, you will also need to install a small reverse fan that introduces fresh air into the house.  This improves air circulation and helps stop the growth of mold.

And, open your windows more often in general, and let fresh air circulate in your home!!

Add air filtration

According to the EPA, the air inside your home could be up to five times more polluted than the outside air. But there’s no need to hold your breath—air purifiers can help clean the air by capturing microscopic contaminants. The filters remove irritants like mold spores, pet dander, cigarette soot, and dust, making it easier for people with allergies to breathe.

“A lot of new air conditioning manufacturers are providing high-efficiency HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems that are built into the ductwork,” Shinn says. “It will help reduce heating and cooling bills and keep your home cleaner.”

Another option is to build a green wall, setting out plants or growing herbs in your home creates more oxygen and filters out pollutants.  Making design choices that respond to the human inclination to seek connection with nature – can be as simple as adding some literal green to your living room with a plant or two.

Making your home healthy

Wellness-focused changes can include paint, flooring or cabinetry with non-toxic materials, touchless faucets that reduce germ spread, circadian lighting that improves sleep, water, and air purification systems.  Ready to make your home more healthy?  Let us do your homework for you!  Call (480) 895-3442 for a free 60-minute consultation.  Learn more about us here.

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