EHH week 35: painting

As the project nears the end, the walls and ceilings get painted.  To assure optimal indoor air quality, Model Remodel used a zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paint manufactured in nearby Portland, Oregon.  The painter had never used Yolo Colorhouse paint before, but was pleased that it went on smooth and leveled well.


The homeowners’ preference was for a simple color palette, so most of the paint is a creamy white.  A few rooms received accent colors, such as green in the master bedroom.  As is customary, each color choice was painted on a piece of wall before making the final selection.


Besides low VOC paint, all of the other finishes, sealers, caulks, and adhesives used in the interior of the house were specified to be low VOC.  This meant that there was no unpleasant chemical smell inside during the finishing phase of the project.


The house really looks sharp with the paint in place.  The white acts as a muted backdrop for the warmth of the wood floors or the cool grey of the concrete floors.  The dark window frames provide a bold accent, as does the powdercoated steel at beams and railings.  The absence of wood trim at windows, doors, and wall base is most noticeable now, and the spare detailing really makes for serene rooms.


EHH week 29: indoor air quality

In all houses, but especially in an airtight one like this house, it is very important to manage indoor air quality (IAQ) during construction.  That means three practices the builders must make habitual:

1)    prohibit volatile chemicals inside

2)    minimize dust generation

3)    blow dust and chemicals out


Model Remodel has done a stellar job of managing IAQ.  Every tube of caulk, can of sealer, or jug of adhesive has been policed by the superintendent to assure that only low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) products are used inside (and outside for that matter).  Fans are turned on whenever dusty or wet work is underway to blow contaminants outside.


Two operations in particular are notoriously dusty.  Cutting and sanding gypsum board can leave a house covered in a fine layer of noxious white gypsum dust.  Blowing cellulose insulation can make the interior feel like a Dust Bowl storm.  On a visit to the job site after each of these tasks, I was amazed at the clarity of the air and absence of dust.


The benefit for the workers and the homeowners is clean air inside to protect their lungs.  Once the house is occupied, all incoming air will be filtered to MERV 12.  Only particles 1 micron or smaller can get in.  That is almost as good as a hospital surgery room.