Category Archives: Insulation

The A-Z Glossary of Home Remodeling Terms

Abatement
The encapsulation or removal of building materials containing pollutants (such as lead or asbestos) to prevent the release of or exposure to fibers.

Acclimation
The adjustment to changes in the climate or environment. Some materials may need time to acclimate before they are positioned in a kitchen or bath.

Accessories
Additional cabinetry items such as overlays, moldings, etc to enhance the appearance and quality of a project. Also includes towel bars, soap dishes, hardware, etc.

Apron
Trim attached below a tabletop or window sill

Backsplash
1)The portion of the exposed area between the bottom of the wall cabinets and the top of the countertop. 2) Also, an elevated section of counter material approximately 4″ high typically part of the countertop. Backsplashes are necessary to prevent water from seeping into the seam between the counter and drywall.

Banquette
A built-in table with chairs in an alcove.

Barn door
Hardware that allows the door to slide along a wall. Useful when a pocket door is too costly or not possible.

Base cabinets
Cabinetry used on the floor to provide countertop support and typically is 34 ½ inches tall and 24 inches deep.

Bearing wall
A wall designed and placed in a position to hold more of a load above it. Usually around the perimeter of a house and in strategic locations to support floor, ceiling, and roof beams.

Casing
An enclosed frame around a door or window opening. Also called trim.

CFM
Cubic feet per minute; used as a measure of the amount of air a fan can move

Chair rail
A trim piece that runs horizontally on a wall at the height of a chair back and is used to make the transition between a wainscot and upper wall. Originally used to prevent damage to a wall from the backs of chairs.

Crown Molding
Crown molding encapsulates a large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge. Crown molding is generally used for capping walls, pilasters, and cabinets, and is used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and window hoods.

In recent times, crown moldings have generally made their appearance as mostly decorated plaster or wooden trim where walls meet ceilings.

Clearance space
The space required for a safe and clear use of an appliance, cabinet doors and safe passage.

Color temperature
The color of the lamp itself as compared to the color of a black reference substance when heated to various temperatures Kelvin, and the effect the lamp color has on the color of an object being illuminated by it. Or an index of how the light source itself looks to us, measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Compact fluorescent (CFL)
A type of fluorescent lamp with the fluorescent tube coiled into a compact shape in a size similar to an incandescent bulb.

Compartmentalized bathroom
A bathroom where individual activities, like toileting or showering, are separated by walls into individual compartments.

Concealed hinge
A hinge that is attached to the door and the inside end panel or stile of a cabinet, making it not visible from the exterior of the cabinet

Construction plan
A drawing that shows both the existing conditions of the structure and the changes to be made to achieve the design

Dormer
A structure built atop a roof to increase the usable space below or to contain windows. A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof

Energy efficiency
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.

Farmhouse Sink
A deep sink that has a finished front. Set onto a countertop, the finished front of the sink remains exposed. This style of sink requires very little “reach-over” to access the sink.

Gable Vent
Vent openings mounted in the top of a gable of a house to allow the exchange of air in the attic.

Grab bars
Safety bars installed in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls. A device, usually installed on a wall, that provide support while rising from, sitting in, entering, or exiting a bathtub or shower.

HVAC
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.

I.L.T. (Integral Light Technology) Grilles
Grilles are permanently bonded to the inside and outside of your window glass. Nonglare foam spacer in between the grilles casts a realistic shadow like individual windowpanes would. Creates the most authentic look of true-divided-light windows.

Island
An area of cabinets and countertops which can be accessed and walked around from all sides. Considered free standing.

Laminate
Any thin material such as wood or plastic glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.

Lazy Susan
A corner cabinet on which the shelves are mounted on a vertical axle such that items may be retrieved by pushing on the shelves to turn them may also be called a lazy Susan. This type is usually found in kitchens. Closed, this type of lazy Susan appears to be two normal cabinets at right angles to each other. When pushed on, the cabinet “doors” reveal the shelves, which are circular except for the ninety degree cutout where the doors are mounted.

Lead time
The time between when a product or item is purchased to the actual delivery date.

Linoleum
An all natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments; regarded as environmentally friendly flooring.

Low-E (Low Emissive)
Glass that reflect heat, not light, and therefore keeps spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Molding
An embellishment in strip form, made of wood or other structural material, that is used to decorate or finish a surface, such as the wall of a room or around a door or window

Muntin
A small vertical or horizontal strip that divides window panes from each other.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze
The Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is a chemically darkened surface designed to simulate aged bronze. This finish is very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones.

Particle Board
A panel product made from sawdust or wood particles, bonded with a resin under high heat and pressure.

Partition Wall
A wall that separates rooms, or divides a room. Partition walls are usually not load-bearing. Partition walls are constructed of many materials, including steel panels, bricks, blocks of clay, terra-cotta, concrete, or glass blocks.

Pedestal sink
A free-standing fixture with a wide top and narrow base that conceals the plumbing.

Pendant
A lighting fixture hung from the ceiling containing one or more lamps.

Peninsula
An area of cabinets or counter fastened on one side which can be accessed and walk up to on three sides.

Picture Rail
A horizontal trim piece installed high up on a wall as a means of hanging pictures without puncturing the wall with nails or brads.

Pocket door
A door that slides horizontally on a track and is typically moved inside a wall for storage.

Powder room
A small bathroom for guest near the public areas of the home. Consists of a sink and toilet.

R&R
Remove and Replace. A term describing simple remodeling project that involves removing and replacing cabinetry, fixtures and appliances without structural or mechanical changes.

Radiant Heating
An efficient heating system that warms cold objects, which then radiate heat into the surrounding space evenly.

R-Value
A measure of the thermal resistance of material, especially insulation.

Sconce
A light fixture that is fixed to a wall.

Scope
The sum of the products and services to be provided as a project.

Sheetrock™
A brand of drywall that is itself often used as a term for drywall.

Sight lines
The range or visual field in direct line with a person’s eyes, impacted by the position a person will be in when the space or product is being used. This is useful in planning heights of fixtures, fittings, lighting, windows, and more.

Sill
The portion of the door or window assembly at the bottom or floor, including the fixed and movable parts of the window or door and the fixed portion of the building into which the window or door mounts.

Site Plan (Mortgage Survey)
A drawing prepared to scale showing the placement of a proposed building(s), location of existing structures, and other lot development features — setback measurements, driveways, fencing, landscaping.

Soaking tub
Extra deep tub that allows the user to submerge to their neck.

Soffit
A lowered portion of a ceiling. The horizontal surface below the eave. A porch roof. The under surface of a lowered portion of the ceiling. A “bulkhead” in Canada. An enclosed area used to fill a space between the tops of the wall cabinets and the ceiling.

Solid Surfacing
A class of rigid surfacing materials made of acrylic and/or polyester resins mixed with alumina tryhydrate.

Studs
Framing members of the wall, usually 2x4s or 2x6s which the cabinets are fastened to.

Subcontractors
Contractors who will work specifically for another contractor or design firm

Sub-flooring
The flooring applied directly to the floor joist on top of which the finished floor rests.

Task lighting
Added lighting for specific tasks, like grooming, dressing, reading, etc. Lighting focused on an work area.

Toe kick
An indented space in cabinetry near the floor to accommodate the feet while standing next to a cabinetry.

Tongue and Groove
A method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood, in flooring, parquetry, panelling, and similar constructions. Tongue and groove joints allow two flat pieces to be joined strongly together to make a single flat surface. Each piece has a slot (the groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge (the tongue) on the opposite edge. The tongue projects a little less than the depth of the groove. Two or more pieces thus fit together closely. The joint is not normally glued, as shrinkage would then pull the tongue off.

Traffic Patterns
The normal walkway or passage a person would go from one place to another.

Transom
A horizontal window set above a door or other windows.

Underlayment
A material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under the finish covering to provide a smooth, even surface. A non-structural sheet material installed on a subfloor to provide a stable, level and smooth base for the floorcovering.

Updraft ventilation systems
A kitchen ventilation system that includes a hood over a cooking surface to capture the air borne by-products of cooking and a fan to pull air up; captured air is either exhausted to the outside or filtered and re-circulated into the room, depending on the system

Vanity
Bathroom cabinet with the sink on top.

Vapor Barrier
Any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through wall, ceiling and floor assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation.

Vessel sink
A sink bowl or basin that sits on top of the counter or ledge.

Wainscoting
An application of wood paneling up to the middle or lower half of a wall

Work Triangle
The distance between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, clean-up/prep primary sink, and refrigeration). Ideally between 12 and 26 feet in total length.

Source: Many of these definitions were obtained from the NKBA.

7 Steps to Prepare Your House for Winter

Winter will be here before we know it.  Is your house ready to handle the cold weather?  Listed below are seven things you can do to prepare.

1. Insulation inspection

You should identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams.  Adding additional insulation can also help save money on your energy bills.

2. Caulking around windows and doors

As a general rule, if the gaps between your siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you should reapply caulk.

3. Furnace inspection

You should inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and functioning well.

4. Roof inspection

Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter storms or from melting snow.

5. Gutter inspection

If your gutters are clogged, they should be cleaned to prevent water backup and damage to your roofing, siding and trim.

6. Downspout diverting

Water should be directed far enough away from the home so it doesn’t run back towards the foundation.

7. Replace Drafty Windows

One of the best things you can do is replace your drafty windows with the new, triple-pane, energy-efficient windows that are available today.  You’ll be amazed at how much lower your energy bills will be this winter!

Get an Energy Assessment from Kopke!!!  Our regular price is $99 but we are offering it now for $49.  We have a heat detector gun that we use to test your windows and walls to see where heat is escaping.  When you have us out for an Energy Assessment, we will inspect all of the items above (plus more, potentially!).  We will be able to fix some of the problems on the spot, but ultimately we will give you our honest recommendations and a price quote.

Call us at (586) 777-6633 or click here to fill out our online form and we can meet with you at your convenience.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Understanding Attic Insulation

Today’s rising energy costs are leading to an increase in energy-saving home improvements such as attic insulation, window replacement, wall insulation, etc.  If you are considering taking on one of these projects, make sure you first understand the facts!

When considering attic insulation, remember that not all types of insulation perform the same.  The three most common types of attic insulation are: traditional fiberglass, blown-in cellulose and spray foam insulation.  (Spray foam insulation is better at sealing against air infiltration from the outside, and is mainly used for insulating stud walls.)  For attic insulation, professionals are using either rolled-out fiberglass, or blown-in cellulose.

Attic floor insulation is vital to a comfortable, energy-efficient home.  The goal, in the winter time, is to keep the heat that your furnace produces within the envelope of the home.  Since heat rises, the majority of heat lost within the envelope is not lost through the walls, but through the ceiling and into the attic.  Attic ventilation plays a significant roll in this process as well.  If the attic’s exhaust ventilation exceeds the amount of intake ventilation, then the exhaust components (ridge vents or can vents) will draw their intake from the envelope of the home, literally pulling warm air from the home only to be exhausted through the vents!  Proper attic insulation will help to keep the warm air in the envelope in the winter, and keep hot air building up in the attic during the summer from radiating through into the living spaces below.  Read our article: “Tips about Roofing and Attic Ventilation” here.

When choosing the right type of attic insulation for your home, you should understand the math behind your options.  Insulation is rated by an “R value” (R stands for resistance); the higher the R value, the more resistance to heat transfer, and therefore a better insulator.  Traditional fiberglass insulation has an R value of around 3.2 per inch, while blown-in cellulose has an R value of 3.9 per inch. Blown-in cellulose is more energy efficient because it creates a monolithic blanket, whereas fiberglass leaves gaps where heat can still seep through and into the attic. For northern climates, such as Michigan, Energy Star recommends a R-55 for attic insulation. 

What does this mean for you?  First determine how much insulation you have currently.  Most homes today have at least 5″ of fiberglass rolled out on the attic floor  So for example, if you have 5″ of fiberglass, you have about R-16 currently.  So to reach R-55, you would need to add at least 10″ of cellulose (R-39).  Most professionals will exceed the minimum amount by a couple of inches to account for settling of the cellulose over time.  Cellulose will rarely settle more than an inch or two over a period of 10 years.

The most common mistake made when blowing in attic insulation is poor preparation.  Professional installation should include boxing off/around things in the attic such as recessed lighting, vents, duct work, etc.  This will prevent the cellulose from falling through the ceiling into the living spaces below.  Also, make sure baffles are used to prevent the cellulose from covering intake ventilation for your attic (usually at the soffit).  The last thing you want to do is to suffocate your attic; you need to maintain a constant flow of air along the entire underside of the roof decking.  If you don’t install baffles when blowing in cellulose, you risk blocking the flow of air into your attic.  This can result in premature shingle deterioration, shingle curling and mold/moisture issues in the attic.

To talk more about your specific attic insulation needs, call Kopke today at (586) 777-6633.