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Progress Update: Insulation, Gypsum Walls and Tile Floors

It's Memorial Day weekend, and things have slowed down at the project site so that the construction crew can enjoy the holiday weekend.  But the last couple of weeks have been busy ones at Sunset Green Home.

Finishing the Insulation

Sunset Green Home's insulation has been completely installed.  And we "celebrated" by performing a preliminary blower door test to make sure everything was tightly sealed (look for an upcoming post on the topic of insulation and the important role it plays in Sunset Green Home's LEED certification).

 We are using a number of sustainable insulation products from CertainTeed, many of which can be seen in the photo below:

Insulation at Sunset Green Home
  • We started by spraying FortiCel mold prevention surface treatment on all of the exterior framing of the home (seen as a blue color on the wood framing above). 
  • CertaSpray™ Closed Cell Foam (not shown above) insulation was applied underneath the house and forms a tight air barrier that also prevents moisture from entering the home
  • In the roof rafters (shown above in the attic and in the cathedral ceiling of one of the upstairs bedrooms), CertaSpray™ Open Cell Foam provides an R-38 insulation value for the roof 
  • The blue SMARTBATT shown above and installed on Sunset Green Home's exterior walls provides R-21 insulation value and "features an integrated smart vapor retarder that blocks indoor moisture from entering when humidity in the wall cavity is low and breathes when it senses high humidity that needs to be released, reducing the potential for mold and mildew growth" (courtesy of CertainTeed)
  • Interior walls were insulated with unfaced fiberglass insulation (seen above) to reduce sound transmission between rooms.

With insulation complete and small air leaks identified and sealed, it was time to close the walls!

Installing Gypsum Wallboard

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen the photos I tweeted last week of the many varieties of CertainTeed gypsum wallboard products on site and ready to be applied to the walls of the home.  CertainTeed gypsum may contribute to the credits Sunset Green Home will earn in the Materials & Resources credit category, since the company manufactures its products within 500 miles of the project site.

The installation had just begun at my last site visit.  When I arrived this past Friday, I was happy to see that our subcontractor Ken Silver and his team had completed nearly all of the walls. 

The following are some of the types of gypsum wallboard that we're using in the project:

  • With its patent pending formaldehyde-scavenging technology, CertainTeed's AirRenew® Gypsum actively cleans the air in the home, capturing formaldehyde from the air and rendering it inert.
  • SilentFX® gypsum contains a layer of sound dampening Green Glue sandwiched between layers of M2Tech mold and moisture resistant gypsum.  Sunset Green Home is using SilentFX in areas where traditional sound-dampening insulation has been omitted, such as walls with pocket doors and ceilings with large numbers of recessed light fixtures, and in areas where extra noise reduction is desired (e.g., the walls of the laundry room).
  • Sunset Green Home is using Diamondback® GlasRoc® Tile Backer in the bathrooms where tile will be installed.  Diamondback contains embedded glass mats for moisture resistance and a polymer surface that resists tile slippage during installation.
  • Sunset Green Home has installed CertainTeed's moisture and mildew resistant M2Tech® gypsum in the basement, laundry and other areas that are vulnerable to the effects of excess moisture.

Check out the slide show below to see the different types of wallboard installed in the home.

Tile Floor Installation

While there wasn't a lot of activity over the weekend, our tile subcontractor, Frank Caputo, decided to work on Saturday and Sunday so he could have the house to himself with no dust being produced by any of the other trades.  And he made great progress on Sunset Green Home's bathroom tiling

On Saturday, Frank and his team "mudded" the floors.  That is, they installed a carefully leveled layer of mortar with metal mesh embedded into it for stability.  Considered the best underlayment for tile floors, this technique ensures that the floor tile will be completely flat and well supported - which will reduce the likelihood that uneven pressure will cause the floor tiles to break.  Having a well-installed underlayment is particularly important in projects like Sunset Green Home that use large format floor tiles.

We are installing Daltile's Veranda Solids™ Colorbody porcelain tile in "Fog" color in all of the bathrooms except for the master.  While the format will change (linear tile in the guest bath and large format rectangular tile in the upstairs bathrooms), the material selection is consistent throughout the home.

By Sunday morning, the "mud" floors had finished curing and Frank began to lay out the tile for one of the upstairs showers.  It looked like a completed floor.  But then he started to pull the tiles out of the shower.  I asked why - and his response was that he always does a "dry fit."  He lays the tile out completely to make sure everything fits perfectly before putting down any mortar.  That way, if there's a problem, he's not pulling out mortar along with the tile.

"Mud" shower floor with tile installation about to be started

"Mud" shower floor with tile installation about to be started

I watched while he installed the first few sheets of 3" x 3" tile (our choice for its non-slip properties).  He applied a layer of thinset mortar and then carefully replaced the sheets that he had removed a few minutes earlier.  Then he moved onto the next set of tiles in the shower.  By the end of the day, Frank had completed all of the upstairs bathroom floors.

Daltile's Veranda Fog porcelain tile in one of Sunset Green Home's bathrooms

Daltile's Veranda Fog porcelain tile in one of Sunset Green Home's bathrooms

Before I arrived on site, Frank had installed all of the master bathroom floor tile as well.  We selected Daltile's 24" x 24" honed Calacatta Gold marble for the floor of the bathroom.  Frank had to cut the 3" x 3" smaller tiles for the shower by hand and manually sand the edges of each tile to make sure they were smooth and uniform.  It's this extra attention to detail that makes our builder, Chris Mensch of Coastal Management, so happy with Frank's work.  Later this week, Frank will cut the tiles into 12" x 24" pieces to be run up the shower and vanity area walls.

Daltile's Calacatta Gold honed marble tile in Sunset Green Home's master bathroom

Daltile's Calacatta Gold honed marble tile in Sunset Green Home's master bathroom

Not only are the tile floors beautiful and expertly installed, but they will also contribute to Sunset Green Home earning credit toward the project's LEED certification.  The LEED for Homes green building program rewards projects that install over 90% hard flooring, which is considered an Environmentally Preferable Product.  100% of Sunset Green Home's floors will be hard flooring (either tile or wood).

When Frank finishes with the upstairs tile work, he will move downstairs to the guest bathroom and mud room hallway.  We can't wait to see the progress when we come back next week!

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