Monthly Archives: June 2020

Choosing Insulation for Your New Home

Building a new home is an exciting process, but the many decisions that come with it can feel overwhelming. When you’re comparing options, it may not always be easy to determine which option is the best for your family. That’s where we come in. We help you get through the process with as little stress as possible.

There are several options for home insulation. In this article, we’re going to break down the types we recommend for our North Carolina homeowners and why it matters.

Why Insulation is Important

Building insulation is material added to exterior walls, attics, basements, and crawl spaces to create a thermal barrier for the house. It’s important because it provides protection from outside conditions. It blocks outside heat when it’s warm, and traps inside warmth when it’s cold. This makes your home more comfortable and it’s cost-efficient because it conserves energy.

R-Value

The effectiveness of insulation is measured with an R-value. R-values indicate how well a specific type of insulation protects from heat transfer. Things like an insulation material’s density and thickness will affect its R-value. A higher R-value will provide more protection than a lower one.

Types of Insulation

We recommend one of these four types of insulation for our new homeowners.  They are listed below from highest rating to lowest rating.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is the most protective of the insulation types recommended for Horizons East Homes.  It is more costly than other options, but delivers these key benefits in return:

  • Highest R-value per inch on the market (R-6).
  • 40% more airtight than other insulations and provides an excellent moisture barrier.
  • Designated flood-resistant material by FEMA
Blown-in Insulation

This cellulose (wood or paper-based) product is often made from up to 85% recycled materials and can be considered eco-friendly.  It’s less expensive than spray foam and provides these benefits:

  • Also called loose fill, it conforms to spaces and provides good airflow sealing
  • Treated with Borates, a Class-1 fire retardant
  • Typically rated around 3.5, comparable to fiberglass
  • Quick and easy to install, but if it becomes wet, it’s slow to dry.
Spider Insulation

Spider insulation is a fiberglass system that is sprayed into spaces in a damp form, using a mold-resistant glue.  More economical than the two previous types, it provides these benefits:

  • Fills spaces and gaps well
  • No dry times or settling times
  • Resists mold growth
Batting Insulation

One of the most common and inexpensive options for insulating a home, this is a good option if you’re looking to keep costs within budget and have a durable solution in place.

  • Fiberglass insulation batts are cut to size and installed between studs or joists
  • Durable, moisture and fire resistant
  • Lower R-value

If you’re looking to build in North Carolina, our team is happy to help. For more homeowner tips, visit our blog.

How to Care for Your Countertops

How to Protect Your Countertops

There are some general rules of thumb you can follow to protect your countertops, no matter which type you have.

  • Wipe away spills as soon as possible, especially if spilled food is acidic or has coloring or dyes
  • Avoid standing or sitting on stone countertops
  • Always use a cutting board when preparing food
  • Use trivets to protect your counters from hot dishes while cooking

How to Clean Your Countertops

Granite

Granite is one of the most popular choices for kitchen counters. It is resistant to bacteria, comes in a wide variety of styles and colors, and is a beautiful addition to any new home.

  • Clean daily with warm soap, water, and a microfiber cloth or sponge
  • If stained, make a paste out of baking soda and water and use a microfiber cloth to remove the stain – don’t scrub
  • Don’t use vinegar, windex, or bleach on granite (this will dull the granite and weaken the sealant)
  • Plan on having a professional reseal your granite countertops every 2-4 years

Quartz

This increasingly popular option is engineered to be durable and doesn’t require a sealant because it is nonporous.

  • As one of the easiest countertops to care for, quartz resists stains and scratches, and is not negatively affected by acidic foods.
  • Clean daily with warm soap, water, and a microfiber cloth or sponge
  • Gently scrape any excess buildup of dirt or food with a putty knife
  • Don’t use bleach or harsh chemicals because it may damage the surface

Cultured Marble

Cultured marble is a more affordable counter option than natural stone and it beautifully imitates natural marble. Like quartz, cultured marble is manufactured to be durable and doesn’t require a sealant.

  • Clean daily with warm soap, water, and a microfiber cloth or sponge
  • For gloss finishes, completely avoid abrasives
  • For matte finishes, abrasives are ok when you’re trying to get rid of a stain
    • If stained, make a paste out of baking soda and water and use a microfiber cloth to remove the stain – don’t scrub
  • To maintain the surface’s shine, apply a protective coat of wax every few months

Formica (Laminate)

 The most common brand of laminate countertops is Formica. With laminate countertops, you have more freedom in choosing cleaning products and they are typically easier to maintain than natural stone countertops.

  • Clean daily with warm soap, water, or household cleaner and a microfiber cloth or sponge
  • Avoid acidic cleansers or bleach
  • If stained, make a paste out of baking soda and water and use a microfiber cloth to remove the stain – don’t scrub

If you’re not sure which type of countertop you have, regular dish soap and water will work on almost any surface. The most important thing you can do is clean spills right away to avoid long-term staining or damage to the surface’s finish. Also always avoid scouring pads if you’re unsure of your counter’s surface.

If your countertops are shiny, they are likely sealed so you should avoid using harsh abrasives. You can use baking soda and water for tough spots rather than a scouring pad, but we recommend taking it slow and being careful not to scrub.

For more home maintenance tips, visit our blog.

Homeowner’s Guide to Concrete

Concrete is composed of water, aggregate (rocks and sand), and cement which acts as a binder.

Expansion, Contraction and Cracking Concrete

All building materials expand and contract when exposed to changes in temperature. Concrete expands when temperatures rise and contracts when temperatures fall. Whether it’s a front porch or a highway, concrete expands and contracts along with weather changes and that can lead to cracks. Concrete is extremely strong, which is great for construction, but because it is so strong and the concrete cannot flex during temperature changes, it must crack. It is normal to expect some amount of cracking in any concrete project.

Homebuilders and concrete masons do everything they can to prevent the cracks from forming by placing concrete joints in each project. These joints (like the spaces you see in sidewalks) are meant to help control cracking by encouraging the concrete to crack along specific lines.

Types of Concrete Finishes

If you’re looking to use concrete for your driveway, porch, or slab foundation, there are several options for you to choose from.

Slick Finished Concrete

Usually used for garage floors, slick finished concrete has a smooth surface and like its name suggests, is slick. This option is popular for big box stores and other retail spaces because it is easy to clean.

Broom Finished Concrete

Broom finished concrete is quite literally textured by dragging a special broom across the concrete’s surface while it dries. This effect is visually appealing and provides great traction.

Exposed Aggregate

This finish exposes the little rocks used in the formation of the concrete. A solution is used to remove the top layer of cement and smaller sand particles, revealing the rocks beneath. It provides a decorative look and adds traction.

Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete is a beautiful finish that is created using large rubber mat stamps in a variety of shapes and patterns. It is a nice option for patios and around pools.

How to Prevent Cracks

Like all driveway paving material, there is some maintenance that should be done if you’re looking to extend the life of your concrete driveways and porches. The best things you can do for your driveway are to seal, clean, and reapply sealer as needed. Sealer helps keep water from seeping into your driveway and then freezing and expanding. We recommend sealing your concrete driveway every two years or so.

In the winter months, it is helpful to use sand for traction rather than deicing chemicals or salt. Harsh chemicals and salt can both cause damage of your porch or driveway’s surface.

If you’d like to learn more about home construction and maintenance, our blog has some great guides.