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Posts Tagged ‘dining room’

Though it is basically a rectangle, you could say our house has five sides: the east side, the north side, the south side, and the two front sides, which are really just the front side bisected by our indented front door.

Well, as of today, one of our front sides is no longer.

Though it’s hard to believe, that is actually the front right side of our house. The vinyl siding, the ashphalt siding, the rotting wood–it’s all gone. Those vertical beams that look like a wall are actually just a temporary supporting wall set back about two feet from where the front of the house used to be. You could drive a car through that space. In other words, our future dining room looks more like a garage right about now.

Nick took his photo (below) this morning on his way to work. I’m dying to see what it looks like as of this afternoon. I’ll snap a photo and post it tomorrow–because you’re dying to see, too, right?

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CIMG0268

In a previous post, I talked about the faux brick asphalt siding that’s hiding out under our vinyl siding. Well, now we get to see more of it. The whole front wall of our house–to the right of the front door–is coming down, and it starts with the vinyl siding.

Why would we tear down the entire front wall of our house? Well, when we took down the drywall in the porch/soon-to-be-dining room, we discovered that the wood underneath the drywall and around the windows was rotten. The only way to fix it was to take down the entire wall and start over–new framing, new windows, new everything.

Had we not ripped out the many old layers of drywall covering the rotting wood, we might never have known about our disintegrating front wall, and might have lived there for several happy years blissfully ignorant of our deteriorating exterior. But once we knew, we had to do something about it. Chuck, the new lead carpenter who ripped down the old wood today and nailed up new framing and temporary plywood, said our rotting wood was about as bad as he’s ever seen.

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On Friday morning before Labor Day, the insulator came to blow in sucrose-based spray foam insulation in our kitchen and dining room floors. Spray foam is apparently the next big thing in insulation. It creates a much tighter seal than fiberglass batts ever could, by starting out as a liquid then expanding to fill in every nook and cranny of your old, drafty house.

Proponents of spray foam say it will seal up your house’s envelope so tight you can expect to see up to a 50% reduction in your heating expenditure. (I hesitate to simply say “heating bills,” because I like to think green building is as much about conserving resources as it is about saving money.) It has an R value of some pretty high number, like R-21, I think. Detractors say you have to be careful when calling spray foam insulation green, because it is a petroleum-based product. But because our house is so old, it has smaller than average stud bays, which means the contractor would have had to build out the framing on the house by up to 2 inches, all over the house, to make standard blown-in cellulose insulation have the proper R-value. So you I suppose one could argue that by using the spray foam, we’re saving trees by saving on the lumber we’d need to do all that extra framing.

Anyway, spraying this stuff is a pretty big job. The insulator parked a truck outside our house, ran a thick hose through the front door, and suited up in a pretty serious-looking spacesuit. The fumes, I have to say, did not smell pretty.

Spray foam insulation truck

Spray foam insulation truck

Ben, our contractor, told us that according to the insulator, 99.9% of the petroleum product off-gasses within the first 24 hours, so indoor air quality is relatively unaffected. The petroleum base of the insulation is mixed with either soy or sucrose, in varying percentages, which means some formulations are more “green” than others.

To be honest, we don’t know how much sucrose and how much petroleum is currently insulating our floors. We do know that in previous years the winter air in the crawlspace underneath the kitchen must have made winter mornings pretty darn cold.

Spray-in foam insulation

Spray-in foam insulation

The subfloors in the kitchen and dining room should be down soon, and will cover up all that pretty green foam. Once the carpenters finish the interior framing, the insulator will come back to fill up the stud bays in the walls.

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