Super-Powered Paints Take on Bacteria, Odors, and Mildew

May 16, 2016

The latest generation of interior paints focuses on indoor air quality. “We’re kind of entering a renaissance period for paints right now,” says Chris Connelly, director of brand management for Benjamin Moore. “The [paint industry] is doing one really good thing: It’s starting to put the end user at the center of its development instead of [introducing] technology for technology’s sake.”

Here are four examples from Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore, two leading U.S. paint manufacturers.

Bacteria Killer

Sherwin-Williams NEW Paint ShieldA new paint designed to kill bacteria in hospitals could find its way onto the interior walls of homes where germs are a concern.

In February, Sherwin-Williams launched Paint Shield (shown, left), the first paint registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for its ability to kill common bacteria on painted surfaces. The microbicidal paint reportedly kills greater than 99.99 percent of five harmful types of bacteria within two hours of exposure on a painted surface. The paint’s pathogen-fighting property lasts up to four years, according to Rick Watson, Sherwin-Williams’ director of product information.

Among the bacteria that the paint kills is Staphylococcus aureus, the bug that causes most staph infections. In about a quarter of healthy adults, S. aureus is present in the nose and on the skin and doesn’t cause an infection or symptoms. But when staph-associated illness does occur, it can range from skin infections to conjunctivitis to food poisoning. If Staphylococcus bacteria manage to enter the bloodstream, joints, bones, or heart, the result can be serious or even deadly. The risk is higher for people with a depressed immune system, which is why Paint Shield is often used in hospitals.

The paint also kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. This antibiotic-resistant bacteria often causes skin infections and is very tough to treat. The pathogen can infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, and the urinary tract.

Although most MRSA infections are seen in medical settings, the bug has also caused problems in the general population. Known as community-associated MRSA, it generally begins as a painful boil and is spread by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk populations include athletes, child care workers, and people who live in crowded conditions.

Paint Shield is designed to kill three other bacteria as well. Escherichia coli (E. coli), which affects people who eat tainted food or drink tainted water and typically causes fever and diarrhea. VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus), which can infect the intestines, urinary tract, and open wounds. And Enterobacter aerogenes, which can cause serious infections of the skin, abdomen, eyes, and respiratory system.

Scientists from Sherwin-Williams collaborated with microbiologists to formulate Paint Shield. The paint contains bacteria-fighting microbicides, which are sometimes prescribed as medicine to prevent infections in high-risk patients. The effort was in response to requests from hospitals, schools, day care centers, hotels, cruise ships, and similar facilities for tools to prevent the spread of pathogens on surfaces, Watson says. Paint Shield comes in 550 colors and an eggshell finish. It can be applied to nonporous interior ceilings, walls, doors, and trim.

Enhanced Mildew Fighter

Homeowners sometimes shy away from mildew-resistant bathroom paint because of its glossy sheen. “The industry was forcing people into a finish they didn’t want,” says Benjamin Moore’s Connelly. “Designers want to achieve the true depth of a paint’s color. That comes with a flat finish.”

Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa (shown, right) “tries to take that shackle away from people,” Connelly says. The interior water-based paint, formulated to resist mildew growth in humid rooms, is made without surfactants—the ingredients that help stabilize the product. Surfactants sometimes leach from the paint and can create spots and drips on the surface of the wall in a humid room. Aura Bath & Spa is a paint and primer in one, cleans up with soap and water, comes in all of the manufacturer’s colors, and offers a matte finish.

Odor Eater

Not only does Sherwin-Williams’ zero-VOC Harmony interior latex paint contain no formaldehyde, it removes formaldehyde that other products, such as insulation, carpet, cabinets, and fabrics, have released into the home’s air, the company says. The GreenGuard-certified product is also designed to reduce pet, cooking, and cigarette odors.

A study by Sherwin-Williams and the UL-GreenGuard Institute demonstrates that the paint’s formaldehyde-reducing technology can decrease those airborne VOCs by up to 45 percent. And a separate odor-eliminating technology reduces pet and cooking odors. The paint also contains anti-microbial agents that inhibit odor from mold and mildew and combat their growth on the paint’s surface, the company says. Harmony paint doesn’t lose its abilities when color is added, Watson says, as long as the colorant is VOC-free. Harmony is available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss finishes.

Allergen-Resister

Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint has been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America as “asthma and allergy friendly.”

“It’s the company’s most environmentally friendly paint,” says Connelly, noting that it contains no VOCs and produces zero emissions. Even the painter will not be exposed to harsh fumes, and the company calls the paint “virtually odorless.” Natura has zero measurable emissions at the time it’s applied and zero emissions three days later. And the company achieved this without sacrificing quality, Connelly notes. “Historically, when you made a choice that you want a greener, safer paint, you made a compromise in durability and washability. If we were having this conversation in 2000, we would be talking about a reduction [of those things].”

Since then, however, Benjamin Moore has developed resins using greener, safer raw materials, officials say. Natura comes in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss finishes.

 

About the Author


Sharon O’Malley has covered the home building and remodeling industries for 20 years. She is based in College Park, Md., where she is a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

How to Make Drywall Airtight

May 15, 2016

An air barrier stops air from leaking into exterior walls. That not only keeps heat from escaping, but it also prevents moisture from entering into stud, joist, and rafter bays where it could condense and cause hidden mold and rot.

Drywall can be an effective air barrier, but only if you are careful to stop air from moving through electrical outlets, light fixtures, and other holes that connect living space to wall and ceiling cavities. The combination of the drywall, framing, and caulk, foam, and sealant make up the air barrier assembly. Here are five areas where a little bit of extra effort during drywall installation can prevent potential leaks.

Electrical Boxes

Sealing the holes created by electrical boxes eliminates a major source of air movement into exterior walls. Because of the stack effect—the tendency of air to enter low and exit high in a building due to the difference in density between warm air and cold air—isolating fixture boxes in ceilings is even more important than in a wall.

One solution is to apply caulk or low-expansion foam where wires and fasteners penetrate the box. Or you can install EnergyBlocks (energyblock.com), foam boxes that can be sealed in place around outlets, switches, or light boxes after the wiring is in place [1A, 1B]. EnergyBlocks come in three sizes and cost between $3 and $5 each (less when purchased in quantity).

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drywall repairs

Complex Drywall Corners

Drywall covers a large surface area of the visible interior of most buildings, which means details matter if you want to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. Something as minor as a screw pop can raise concerns about the quality of the finished job. Similarly, corner beads cover a very small square footage of a drywall job and dramatically affect the overall appearance of the completed drywall work.

Thankfully there have been many innovations in corner beads over the last few years, presenting many options that offer superior performance compared to more traditional metal beads, and paper tape.

The “complexity” of drywall corners refers to the attention to detail that is necessary to complete the job. Corners are a focal point in a room, and often require a greater level of technical knowledge skill and persistence to finish to the customer’s expectations.

Outside corners in high traffic areas

You may not consider an outside corner in a high traffic location “complex”, but considering the challenges high traffic corners pose, they are far from simple. When considering outside corners we first think of corner protection and durability. As a professional installer, I want to install a corner that can endure moderate abuse and impact with minimal cosmetic damage—something that stays in place even when structural movement occurs. For best results, I typically look for a bead product that attaches to the drywall with joint compound or an adhesive and not to the framing underneath. The end result is a finished corner with nice crisp straight lines; this is especially noticeable on off angles. Your customer expects perfectly straight corners, and leveraging more innovative products will help deliver the corner protection and durability they need.

Long Soffit Runs

More than ever, floor plans are more open and often incorporate long soffit runs and outside corners on high walls. These areas are especially complex because they are very visible, they are designed to draw the eye up and showcase the grandeur of the space. Any waviness in the corner line will be noticed, and not in a good way. The challenge here is these soffit runs are often not framed perfectly straight and are longer than a typical stick bead in length. For this type of job, I recommend a roll type corner bead product. I have been using these products for years to finish this type of off-angle inside or outside corner, and I consistently get better results when installing one long piece of bead.

Always improving

I have been in the drywall business for over 30 years and I have seen a lot of changes in corner beads and I have tried them all. Corner beads today make my life easier and make my work look better by eliminating the complexity of corners.

For a complete line of corner solutions, please visit CertainTeed.com/Drywall/Products.

bathroom remodeling

Biggest Kitchen & Bath Trends For 2016

Amy Albert, Editor-in-Chief, Professional Builder

The hit TV series Downton Abbey was an entertaining reminder of many facts of history, including that, even in the grandest English homes, the kitchen was once a humble workroom (ample counter space for elaborate meal prep by Mrs. Patmore and Daisy notwithstanding). In American homes, the kitchen was long seen as humble, too: It had low-quality finishes, little daylight, and was isolated from the rest of the house.

“Now, you can’t get your guests to leave it,” says architect Mark Larson, principal of Rehkamp Larson Architects, in Minneapolis. Living room, command central, and the place where the best gabfests always seem to happen, the kitchen’s importance endures as gathering spot and showplace, even if its owners are less than diehard cooks.

Now the ante for baths has been upped as well. No longer just a room for life’s necessities, baths are a place to unwind, escape, and indulge. They feature soothing lighting, sculptural soaking tubs, amply sized showers, and cozy places to sit. High-end designers in warm-weather climates report increased demand for master baths that connect to a private outdoor shower. Tech, which entered the kitchen years ago, has made its way into the bath, too, with steam showers that can control temperature, lighting, and sound, and toilets with integrated bidets and adjustable settings. For holding the attention of new-home seekers, kitchens and baths both loom large. Here are the trends worth knowing about for their beauty, practicality, and appeal to buyers.

Kitchen Cabinets: Trends to Watch

October 27, 2015

There was broad consensus among our sources—both manufacturers and industry pros—on current and coming cabinetry trends. To begin with, some trends, such as concern for sustainability, aren’t really trends at all. When it comes to the role of sustainability in consumers’ cabinetry purchasing decisions, most manufacturers we spoke with say that environmental stewardship is just good business and is now assumed to be the norm rather than being a brand differentiator. But, as several industry experts pointed out, consumers are aware of making healthy buying decisions and want products that are low-VOC. Cabinet manufacturer Cabico’s business development manager, Marco Robert, says that environmental considerations are a selling point in the growing popularity of laminates, too.

Though consumers are starting to loosen their purse strings as the economy rebounds, they aren’t necessarily channeling that money into fancier cabinets, remodelers told us. As Normandy Remodeling designer Liz Reifschneider points out, “We’re far from the heyday of 2005,” and rather than splurging on kitchen cabinets, the Chicago-area remodeler’s clients are opting to do more extensive renovations on their homes. At RI Kitchen & Bath, in Warwick, R.I., Tanya Donahue, VP of sales and marketing, says that clients will make concessions on cabinetry quality to afford the overall look they want.

Top 3 Cabinetry Trends

1. Light neutrals: White is still going strong (for example, Merillat’s Dove White finish continues to be one of the company’s best-selling paints and dominates all markets in the U.S.) and neutral hues continue to be an anchoring color trend in cabinets, with grey gaining more ground as a “new neutral.”

2. Contemporary style: Even in more traditional markets, modern styling, such as slab and Shaker doors, is growing in popularity, reflecting a preference for less molding and a sleeker aesthetic.

3. Rustic modern: Mixing materials and textures, pairing streamlined looks with rustic accents, such as reclaimed wood, to create a clean yet rich, textured effect.

Residential Green Products Continue to Evolve , But Do They Matter?

PRODUCTS_logo_finalAsk anyone—pro or consumer alike—for a definition of “green” products and you’ll likely get a hundred different answers. To some, it’s all about raw materials. To others, it’s solar power. For many, resiliency is No. 1.

But in reality, it’s all of those definitions and many more. In a general and broad sense, green products today categorize a range of materials that have a lower impact—or, even better, positive impact—on the planet, on human health, and on our social fabric. This broad scope encompasses everything from recycled content to products that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, along with products that are fully recyclable and last a long time, materials that do not emit harmful chemicals, and materials that don’t have detrimental effects on the people who make them.

Regardless of the definition, evidence shows that interest in green building continues to rise.

The 2015 Green and Healthier Homes Smart Market Report from Dodge Data Analytics and the NAHB found that 31 percent of home builders are building more than 60 percent of their projects green, and 51 percent expect to be building to that level by 2020. “These findings demonstrate that home builders still see green as an important trend in their industry, and one to which they need to commit,” the report stated.

But which component of green building matters most? It all depends upon whom, where, and when you ask.

– See more at: http://www.residentialproductsonline.com/green-products-continue-evolve-do-they-still-matter#sthash.YjHWlR2v.dpuf

How To Photograph Your Home Like A Professional

There are several different reasons a person may have for wanting to take a fantastic, magazine-worthy photograph of their home. A recent remodel or renovation has possibly left you breathlessly impressed with your own creative skill and now it’s time to share the final result with the virtual world.

Perhaps,  you’re reaching out to an interior designer who has requested shots of the space in order to aide his/her planning and design. Or maybe you are selling your home and want to take stellar photographs to post online.

Regardless of your reasons, the task of taking professional-looking photos of your home sounds easy enough, but the reality is —amazing pictures take amazing effort.  Luckily, even if you don’t have all of the professional equipment and skills, it doesn’t mean a professional-esque picture of your home is out of the question.

Here are few simple tips and tricks for making your home photos magazine-worthy:

 

Clean Your Home First

Before snapping any photos, you must de-clutter first.  Especially if the home is for a real estate ad, you’re going to want to clean up and eliminate anything that takes away from the space in an effort to give prospective buyers a clear view of the potential.

If the photograph is being taken for a rental as or Bed and Breakfast that you run out of your home, these pictures need to be extremely tidy. Clients will be looking for clean lines that indicate order within a homey space. This may require the hiring of a home staging expert—they know how to make your home look open and welcoming.

Additionally, it may be necessary to create a focal point where one didn’t before exist. Sometimes, capturing the entire room isn’t the most effective choice. It can create an overwhelming visual that doesn’t give the viewer a real chance to focus in on what’s great about the space. Consider picking a corner or specific set up, such as a dining room or fireplace, to focus on—this will help you photograph your home like a true professional.

Above all, take enough care with your photograph to keep blurriness at bay. Nothing screams amateur like a well-staged interior photograph of a home with blurry edges or lines. If you’re going to do this the right way, make sure you put as much care into the actual picture as you do setting up for it!

Lighting Livens Your Home (Inside and Out)

One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to photographing your home like a professional is lighting. This ever-changing dynamic can make or break a picture. Similarly, it can alter the feel of a photograph drastically within a matter of minutes depending on the time of day.

Go into your photography session with a plan. If you’re looking to create a softer feeling around your photograph, consider taking the majority of your shots in late afternoon as the sun filters dimly through the room. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bright and airy photograph of an interior room, mid-day is going to be your best bet for the clearest light. And don’t forget to turn on all the lighting sources in the room such as lamps, overhead fixtures, and wall sconces—layered lighting creates an overall sense of warmth and openness (and gets rid of any dark corners in the room).

If you are taking exterior photos, then be sure to take them when the weather conditions allow for a clean and clear shot—without any harsh sun glares. You will not want to take a shot of the front facade when the sun is on its way behind your house as this will create glare and dark shadows.

If all else fails, it may be necessary to turn to technology in order to achieve prime results. Sometimes, no matter what angle you attempt, the best-laid shot of a room is only going to happen with a wider lens or with the help of photo-fixing software.

Invest In The Right Photography Equipment

It would definitely be convenient to just pull out your smart phone and snap a perfectly professional shot of your home or business interior. However, this just isn’t a realistic expectation. Without a little assistance, homemade shots just aren’t going to make the cut.

Professionals in the industry spend extraordinary amounts investing in the right equipment to get the perfect shot every time. While it’s not recommended that one spend their life savings on equipment for a single picture, it is highly beneficial to invest a little into buying (or possibly borrowing) the proper equipment— no matter what, it will be less expensive than hiring a professional photographer for the project.

When it comes to the right camera, there are plenty of choices to be considered on the market. One that often finds its way into homeowner hands is the SLR, or single lens reflex camera. Many agree that this type of camera gives a very stabilizing effect and creates very clear shots overall.

Even if you’ve invested in the right type of camera, don’t be afraid to spruce up a photograph when all is said and done with a little photo editing. While you don’t want to create a falsified image, giving your photo a slight face-lift is all the norm in the world of interior home photography. There are several apps available that can help you erase any flaws out of a photo— and it’s really not cheating.

Take Time Playing With Angles

While the end goal is obviously to get an amazing shot of any given room, many people make the mistake of stopping the photo shoot too early. In order to get the perfect shot and angle, you’re going to have to invest a significant amount of time and memory card space.

When it comes to photographing your home like a professional, you’re going to have to buckle down and think like one. This means you’ll need to take more pictures than seem necessary and be willing to play up all the weird and funny angles you can find. As lighting changes and angles change, the best photo can be born out of the most unexpected of shots!

Similarly, it’s important to be brave with your setup choices. If getting a stellar photo means taking the time to set up some helpful artificial lighting—so be it. And don’t be afraid to move furniture and accessories around to improve the space, even if it’s only temporary.

If you find yourself struggling with the final results, never hesitate to reach out to friends and family—they are sure to give you an honest answer. Run some of your final pictures by them and ask them what type of feeling it invokes. If you get the answer you’re looking for, great! If not, it’s time to keep on clicking because after all, you’re out to do this like a professional.

While doing your own home photography can be a challenge, the results are often worth the risk. It gives you a chance to not only create your own space, but put your personal touch into the final product in nearly every way.

If you’re willing to invest a little in order to save a lot, photographing your own home can be an extremely rewarding experience. Why not challenge yourself to take one professional looking picture of each room in your home in 2015? Even if you never use the photos for anything other than memories in your scrapbook, at least your photos will be a lasting keepsake of your glorious home.

Let’s talk about Maintenance

Are you wondering what home improvement project delivers the best return on investment?  In a word: maintenance.

Hiring a professional to catch small problems before they balloon into major expenses, will allow you to breathe easy, knowing your residence is in good hands.

Exterior - Rear Deck - Partial View

At Rule4, we understand that most people are simply too busy to maintain their home themselves with any regularity.  But, it is vitally important that your home’s interior and exterior be preserved.  Lack of time, cost considerations, and a general misunderstanding of what jobs are the most important for home longevity and good health, rank among the top reasons why homeowners look the other way when presented with home preservation items.  Most of us endeavor to lead a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise to ward off premature illness.  Why not adopt the same philosophy for your home?

Unfortunately, some homeowners have been led to believe that there is a specific home maintenance time clock.  Paint the house exterior every 5 years; pressure wash your deck every 2 years, etc…  The fact is, the more often you maintain, the less you need to do, each time.  Do know that the period of time between these projects varies, depending on some important factors.  Consider the following:

1.  The quality of the previous job.  Were corners cut?  Were items inadvertently overlooked?  Were repairs properly made before finishing?

2.  The products used.  Inferior products, inferior job.

3. Experience and expertise of the contractor.  Did the contractor come with references?  Did you follow up on them and ask them how many years between maintenance the workmanship allowed?

deck-1

Rule4 Group prides itself in being Your Contractor.  We want you to feel that we are a team, looking out for the best interest of your dwelling and your bottom line.  We want your business for life.  We are not your typical home improvement contractor.

Think: Quality workmanship.

Think: Long-term association.

Think: Worry-free relationship.

 

Could we low bid a project, just to get your business?  Sure, we could.  But, we won’t.

Could we use inferior products to save you money up front, but that will cost you more down the road?  Sure, we could.  But, we won’t.

Could we cut corners where you won’t notice, just to get the job done more quickly and to save time?  Sure, we could.  But, we won’t.

Lastly, could we send out workers who are inexperienced or untested, just to save you money?  Of course, we could.  But, we won’t do that, either.

At Rule4, our main goal is to do things properly.  During our first visit, our experienced maintenance contractor will evaluate the job and give you a thorough cost-considered estimate.  Initial pricing will guarantee a job well done, requiring fewer – though regular – future maintenance visits.  Just ask our former customers.

Consider signing up for a yearly maintenance contract.  Allow our team of qualified service workers to take care of everything, before it becomes a problem.

Call today for a consultation, (443) 757-0431.  Spring is just around the corner.

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