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Let’s Solve This Insulation Puzzle

Writing from Long Island, New York, Joe C describes repairs that he’s been making to his house to correct water and insect damage. Two of the four walls of the room are exterior walls, and Joe is concerned that thermal bridging through the new framing he’s adding significantly degrade energy performance. “With all the extra studs, I’m concerned there will be a lot of thermal bridging,” he says in a Q&A post. “To counteract this I’m considering installing rigid foam [insulation] on the interior side of the wall framing.” For reference, on the outside of the studs is a layer…

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How to Look at a House like a Building Scientist (Part 1: Air)

This article is the first in a three-part series on how to use various diagnostic tools to sleuth out problems in buildings. The work I do for Building Science Corporation (Joe Lstiburek’s company, for those who don’t know) involves forensic investigations of moisture-related (or similar) building failures—in other words, sleuthing out problems in buildings. Despite the fancy name, this typically involves crawling around the bowels of commercial and residential buildings to look at the problem areas and determine the causes. These problems may include strange odors that seem to emanate out of nowhere, windows that leak water during rainstorms, indoor…

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Shipshape and Refreshed: A Considered Renovation of an 1898 Cabin on Maury Island

Maury Island, in Washington’s Puget Sound, is small. You’ve likely never heard of it before, but you may have heard of its larger neighbor, Vashon Island, to which it’s connected via an isthmus built by local homeowners in 1913. (Before then, the two islands were linked only during low tide.) Both are accessible only by ferry, the inconvenience of which has kept commercial growth at bay—and that’s how its residents like it, including designer Tim Pfeiffer (of Seattle-based architecture and interiors firm Hoedemaker Pfeiffer) and his partner, Matt Carvalho. The two had been searching for a vacation home on the…

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Expert Advice: How to Choose Paint Like a Pro

The last time I chose a paint color I was twelve. It’s a story that might sound familiar: After much campaigning, my parents let me paint a wall of my bedroom in a color of my choosing (so long as it was light enough to paint over eventually). As this story often goes, I picked a color I liked—a sunny yellow—and spent an afternoon rolling it on, slap-dash, with a friend. What I failed to consider is that liking a color and choosing a paint color for a room are two entirely different things. The yellow was almost completely absorbed…

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Fans’ Favorites from Four Decades of This Old House

More than a few of you compared choosing a favorite from the TOH gang to being asked to pick among your children, but you weren’t shy about sharing your appreciation for the entire This Old House team.“Norm Abram is the best example of what teaching should be. He’s a consummate professional, with incredible patience and the willingness to share his vast knowledge. It’s so evident he truly loves what he does, and it’s a love that is infectious.”—WILLIAM, VIA INSIDER “All my friends worship Tom Silva. We talk about our current projects and bounce ideas off of each other, but…

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10 Things Nobody Tells You About Shiplap

Advises architect (and shiplap enthusiast) Sheila Bonnell: “Because it creates texture in such a clean, unfussy way, it can work just as well in a contemporary setting. In fact, one of the things I love about shiplap is that it works both ways. Because it is handcrafted, it can add warmth to what might be a more austere modern setting. Or, conversely, because it has a very clean line, particularly when painted, it can be used to make a historical setting feel more contemporary.” Read more about the many ways to use shiplap in Expert Advice: The Enduring Appeal of Shiplap.…

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