Glass has a long history. Imagine the very first glass ever to be used in a building… how wonderful it must have been to be able to see well inside your home and enjoy the many benefits of light without the negative elements of the weather.
Glass brought the miracle of sight for many people, when the first pair of optical lenses were ground from glass. Soon their scientific relatives the telescope and microscope were invented giving birth to modern science.
But after hundreds of years, is it possible that man has found a way to improve on glass? Enter the development of petroleum-based polycarbonate which occurred during the post-WWII era simultaneously by General Electric in the U.S. and Bayer in Germany. This amazing plastic is shatter and heat resistant, extremely strong and durable, and lightweight. Clear polycarbonate has the same VLT (visible light transmittance) as glass, 88 percent. What makes polycarbonate unique is its strength and protective abilities. In addition, polycarbonate has a much higher refractive index; it bends light more than glass does, making it ideal for eyeglasses and lenses. Lenses made with polycarbonate don’t need to be nearly as thick or heavy as those made from glass.
It’s true that glass originally brought us the miracle of windows, eyeglasses, telescopes and microscopes – but polycarbonate has evolved these items into technological marvels such as the contact lens, bullet and explosion-proof glazing and even the Hubbell telescope lens.
Craft-Bilt’s Northlander™ Skyview utilizes polycarbonate sheets that weigh a fraction of their glass counterparts. Our sheets give you the peace of mind that the glazing overhead doesn’t weigh hundreds of pounds and if broken will rain down on you. Another concern with glass in sunrooms and solariums is cracking of the glass from thermal expansion/contraction and shifting in the structure. With our polycarbonate sheets these concerns are washed away.
Our thick multi-chamber Silhouette Pearl sheets have an R-value equal to a high performance low-e argon unit without the concerns about seal failure that accompany sloped glazing installations since the chambers allow the polycarbonate sheets to breathe. Silhouette Pearl’s special coating keeps out the heat but lets in just the right amount of soft sunlight. Its high refractive index spreads the light evenly throughout your sunroom without the glare associated with glass ceilings.
All of our polycarbonate multi-wall sheets block over 99% of the harmful UV (ultraviolet light) that fades drapes and furniture.
Northlander™ Skyview is available with glass or polycarbonate glazing – but you can tell that we prefer polycarbonate. Space-age polycarbonate roof systems offer homeowners benefits that glass cannot, such as significantly less maintenance (chance of seal failure), pleasant lighting without the heat and glare and greater protection from falling limbs or debris.
By Bart Bremmers]]>
First impressions count, and that includes your home. Your front door should be making a contribution to the energy efficiency of your home as well as security. A porch enclosure provides an excellent aesthetic and practical enhancement, with basket aluminum railing adding a “finished” look to your property. Fabric awnings over doors and windows both improve the look and feel of your house, shielding your front rooms from the elements.
Although you can’t control the elements, you can take steps with your home improvement to limit their effect. Alongside making sure your heating and air conditioning systems are up to date, don’t rule out fitting solar shades, or even a retractable awning to shade the windows that catch most of the sun. Outdoor window shades are a year round aid to controlling your indoor environment, keeping out the worst of seasonal storms, and shielding your home interior from the sun’s glare.
Room additions to your property are frequently the stuff dreams are made of for homeowners, but adding a solarium, or a four-season sunroom to your home is a serious investment. Whether you’re looking to build a sunroom or screen room for entertaining friends, or to use as a relaxing family room, there’s no doubt that as investment in your lifestyle, it can’t be bettered.
A beautifully-maintained garden or patio area can take on the function of an extra room to your home in warmer months, even if you don’t have the means or space for a sunroom. Aluminum deck and railing gives a contemporary, designer feel, and a translucent roof for your patio covering will allow you to enjoy maximum natural light on days that whilst warm, aren’t necessarily dry! Whether you go for a paved area, natural wood, or aluminum decking will largely depend upon your budget but keep an eye out for non-slip, maintenance free products.
When looking to enhance and invest in your home, attention to details – big and small – will ensure that you are more than content with the end result. Taking the outdoors indoors with your perfect sunroom will give you a new showpiece space, and awnings, railings, and patio covers will take your home to magazine perfection.
By Bart Bremmers]]>
Beautiful 24″ x 32″ posters with snap-tight anodized aluminum frames. A great advertising piece for your showroom wall, $30 each. We have posters for Grand Vista, Luxury Gazebo, Railing, Roof Systems, Betterliving Shade Products and Betterliving Sunrooms.
In addition to our existing selection, we have added roll up banners for the Betterliving™ Gazebo. We are pleased to announce to our French speaking customers that all roll up banners are now available “en français”!
Double Sided roll up banners are available for Grand Vista / Roof systems, Railing / Shade Products, Betterliving Sunrooms / Shade Products. They cost $100.
Gazebo roll up banners are single sided and cost $75.
These poster and banner prices are far less than you would normally pay. Be ready for home show season with these great marketing bargains!
Available Posters and Banners:
There are three season sunrooms and all season sunrooms, and there are solariums and conservatories. Most sunrooms are added to the house without removing the patio door to the house, although sometimes the door is removed, and sometimes an entire section of house wall is removed to open the sunroom completely to the house.
Heating Your Three Season Sunroom
Although all-season sunroom sales are growing, most sunrooms sold today are three season rooms. The windows are single pane glass. Three season rooms are great for sun worshippers because the smaller sashes (window framing) allow for maximum glass area and maximum ventilation. A three season room does not alter the existing building envelope. In other words, the existing door to the home must remain, or if replaced must be a properly installed exterior door. To extend the use of their sunroom, many people will employ a space heater or even a more permanent solution like baseboard heaters. This can be a touchy subject when obtaining your building permit. Your building permit will say something like “unheated sunroom”, which to many of us means the sunroom is not open to your home and you are not using the heating system of the existing building. After all, it is your business whether you decide to heat your three season room, no one has fooled you into thinking it has the insulation of an addition or an all-season sunroom. Heating a three season sunroom is something you only do while you are using it.
Can your three season room be comfortable in the colder months? Think of the glass in your car, it is single pane like your three season sunroom… when the sun is out in the winter, the car is warm inside. At other times, once the engine is at running temperature, the heater warms the car up pretty fast. But a car has good weatherstripping, and so should your three season patio room. Look for well weatherstripped windows with features like concave grooves in the frame that grip the weatherstripping on the sashes or mylar reinforced weatherstripping.
In the winter the single pane and even insulated glass will be cold to the touch, so try to keep humidity out of the room. Moisture laden air will condensate on the cold glass. Your furnace has a humidifier, so keep the patio door closed! I recommend a dry source of heat, like a ceramic, baseboard or convection heater. Stagnant or slow moving air near the windows has more time to cool increasing the potential for condensation, so if your heater has a fan, try to aim it in a way that provides maximum air movement along the windows. A regular fan or ceiling fan can also be employed to promote air movement. When it’s cold outside, keep sources of humidity in your sunroom to a minimum.
The government of Canada has detailed information about humidity in your home.
Cooling Your Three Season Sunroom
Personally I have never seen a cooling unit in a single glazed sunroom, but I’m sure they are out there! In a well designed three season sunroom, each wall section contains an operable side sliding window. On hot days, you’ll open all those windows and enjoy a nice breeze as well as the sounds and scents of the outdoors.
Heating and Cooling Your Solarium or Conservatory
The difference between a sunroom and a solarium or conservatory, is that sunrooms typically have an aluminum roof system that does not contain any glazing (although in recent years we have been utilizing polycarbonate glazing which filters out a great deal of the UV and harsh sunlight). Solariums and conservatories are typically more expensive, have much more fixed glass in the walls and they are typically open to the house. This lack of operable windows, combined with a transparent roof, and opening up the house means that heating and cooling of the existing house as well as auxiliary heating/cooling in the solarium must be carefully planned.
Very sophisticated and expensive glass must be specified in your solarium, otherwise you will not be pleased with the glare and heat gain. I have seen solariums that were so uncomfortable, the owners installed a retractable awning above it. In the past, we had customers who called about removing glass panels and replacing with solid aluminum panels, to stop the heat.
Do not confuse a single glazed curved enclosure with a real solarium. They can be unbearably hot, condensate, and since plastics have high level of expansion & contraction, they can be prone to leakage.
Acrylic Room Condensation
All season sunrooms, also referred to as four season sunrooms, are meant to be enjoyed all year. Many sunroom contractors recommend electric heat/cool units which fit in the kneewall underneath one of the windows. These are modern units often with a remote control. The old wisdom was to place the unit at the last section next to the house, on the least visible side wall, so that the room looked it’s best when viewed from the outside. The problem with that is the heat is blowing across the back of your house, which is already warm, and the front of your sunroom is now a cold area. Instead, place the unit in the side wall so that it blows across the front wall. Ahh… that’s better.
Until recently, all season rooms had the same issues with three season rooms. Even when the door to the home remained in place, some building officials would apply the insulation minimums of conventional construction to the wall and roof panels of the sunroom. The walls and roof panels of an all season enclosure are not thick enough to meet those minimums. The minimum insulation value for glass however is quite low, so you could install an all glass solarium to your home, and even permanently open up the wall to the house. This was very unfair, since all season sunrooms had far more insulation than solariums.
All that changed, at least in Ontario, with recent clarifications to Supplementary Bulletin 12 (SB-12). SB-12 dealt with sunrooms and solariums but inadvertently gave an unfair advantage to solariums. The recent clarifications allow sunroom wall and roof panels to meet the same insulation criteria as the glazing. So now you can have your all season room open to the house, heat it, cool it, enjoy it! Say thanks to the Canadian Sunroom Manufacturers Association (CSMA) for their efforts in this matter.
In the End…
To me, an all season sunroom isn’t better than a three season, it suits a different purpose. People who have a three season room may be more of the outdoors type, preferring the summer breeze to air conditioning, to hear the birds and view their garden. People who purchase a four season room may have requirements that dictate a more controlled environment or more year round living space.
Typically you will put in some nice flooring, maybe some wicker furniture, and you will enjoy it no matter which style of room you have… as a play room… with a coffee and the morning paper… with kids or grand kids… watching the golf game… as a room for your pets… it will quickly become the favourite room of the house.
By Bart Bremmers]]>
No matter what the weather has brought this summer , your backyard is likely to feel almost like an extra room to your house. Barbecues, family gatherings, and even just enjoying the cool of the late evening are likely to have featured large in some of life’s simple pleasures over the warmer months.
As the season turns, the beautiful Fall colours of the trees make your backyard a living work of art. However, the unfortunate flip-side is that to continue to enjoy your garden late into the year, you’re likely to be bundled in layers of clothing, and stamping your feet to keep warm. It’s certainly no fun to sit outside in sub-zero temperatures.
An ideal way to bring the outdoors indoors, and to enjoy your backyard all year round, is to invest in a Patio Cover or Sunroom. In addition to being a beautiful “outdoor” room for your home, it will add value and appeal to your property, especially if you take the plunge, and go for the high-end Northlander Skyview Patio Cover or an All Season Sunroom.
The best thing about a patio cover or sunroom is that you can customize it exactly to what you need – either as an extra room for your home, or – if you don’t have a backyard at all – as a balcony cover. Skyview is constructed from tough, multi-walled polycarbonate panels, the solar-reflective layer guarantees that you are safe from damaging UV rays, whilst letting in maximum light without the usual “oven” effect of cheaper materials. The exclusive 1 1/4” thick Silhouette Pearl panel also guarantees extra insulation, so that your sunroom is never too hot or too cold.
Your covered patio won’t become a bind in terms of upkeep either – the strong aluminum frame is maintenance free, and the polycarbonate sheets carry a 10 year warranty, making the Northlander Skyview Patio Cover a market leader above more fragile and flammable acrylic materials.
The green-thumbed will enjoy the opportunity to keep delicate plants growing healthily all year round. With the regulated climate offered by the solar reflective layer, letting in maximum light all year round, the polycarbonate panels offer a practical alternative to glass – less chance of breakage, lighter, and with minimized glare and heat build-up.
If you’re keen on the idea of extending your “outdoor-indoor” life at home, but unsure how a patio cover or sunroom might work for you, visit the attractive photo galleries at our Sunroom and Patio Cover pages to see how similar homes to your own have been transformed.
It’s always worth going to the market leader when making extensive improvements or alterations to your home. In terms of the attractiveness and versatility of the finished product, and the pleasure that it will give you and your family for years to come, the possibilities are almost endless – let your imagination run riot, and enjoy the beauty of the Fall season from your covered patio.
By Bart Bremmers
Think of the places where you know aluminum is used, places where durability and strength are important… aircraft, space shuttle, truck trailer bodies, store fronts, skyscraper wall systems etc.. Now think to yourself… would you use a plastic, wood or composite material for any of those applications? The answer is a resounding NO.
Low maintenance- aluminum railing does not need to be painted every year unlike wrought iron and wood. The aluminum channels, referred to as “extrusions”, are given a chemical wash so the paint will bond. The paint is baked on at over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly coated aluminum extrusions will last many years with only periodic cleaning required. The beauty of aluminum is that even if the paint is scratched to the base metal, the aluminum will not corrode in most environments. In fact, unpainted aluminum forms an invisible oxide on its surface that prevents corrosion.
Safety - From a structural point of view, aluminum railing will not rot or decay like wood, it won’t rust away in the critical joints like steel or wrought iron and it won’t crack in the cold like PVC. Another safety concern with wood railing is splinters, which is an even greater concern when you consider the chemicals used in pressure treated lumber.
Esthetics- The designer of an aluminum railing system has a great deal of flexibility in the way he or she wants it to look. Once the dies are created, the aluminum shapes will be produced for years with unwavering tolerance. Wood and wrought iron railings are limited to the availability of stock shapes. The wood you buy today will shrink, warp and twist over the years. Because PVC is not a structurally sound product, those railings will have steel stiffeners hidden inside, and all connection points need to allow for the expansion/contraction of the PVC extrusions. PVC and wood railings will always have a bulky appearance, vinyl’s inherit weakness mandates large shapes. With aluminum, the designer can create fine shapes akin to wrought iron, or wider shapes similar to wood. The consumer can create, mix & match to their heart’s content. Of course, the durability of aluminum means it will be looking good and fulfilling it’s function long after the other materials would have begun to show their age.
Recyclable- Aluminum is completely recyclable. It is one of the most recycled products in the world. It’s high scrap value means that factory cut-offs, job site left overs and demolition railings are carefully saved for sale to scrap yards. With almost no value, wood, PVC, steel and composites are destined for the dump.
Corrosion Resistance- Rusting of steel railing is an obvious point, and covered elsewhere in this article. Even when steel is galvanized, the ends, weld and drill locations are doomed to rust. With time, even galvanized steel will begin to rust. Also, it is difficult for paint to stick to galvanized steel, and you may find your paint peeling off in the not too distant future. Vinyl railing and fencing products will typically use galvanized steel inserts, but the cut ends are at risk for rusting. Rust is not only unsightly, but slowly reduces the strength of the guard. As already mentioned, aluminum will not corrode in most environments.
Expansion / Contraction - The aluminum alloy used in railing has a thermal expansion coefficient of .000013 inch per inch. To put this in perspective, a 20′ continuous railing installed on a summer day of 75 degrees Farenheit (24 C), then measured on a chilly winter day of 0 degrees F (-18 C), will have contracted less than a quarter of an inch! Vinyl and composite systems can not achieve the continuous handrail design, a favourite of Craft-Bilt customers, due to their huge rates of expansion and contraction.
Effect of Weather - UV rays of the sun break down wood and PVC based products. This process is known as photodegradation. Although PVC products have additives (UV stabilizers) to resist the damaging effects of the sun, we have all seen what happens to plastic as it ages, especially when it is exposed to the outdoors. Thanks to global warming, ozone and chemical related damage will increase for plastic based products. Heat and humidity can compound the UV damage on plastic products. For wood, once the UV has caused sufficient photodamage, heat and humidity will allow microorganisms to flourish and biodegrade the wood. While UV eventually causes any paint to fade, the aluminum underneath is unaffected by weather. Your aluminum hand rail will never loose it’s structural integrity, in fact, aluminum gets stronger with age.
By Bart Bremmers
Please visit Craft-Bilts Aluminum Railing page to view some outstanding railing jobs.]]>
Although house prices are beginning to rise once again, the real-estate market is still a very difficult one, and homeowners are increasingly looking to improve and add value to their current properties rather than go through the financial and emotional upheaval of moving house.
Listed among Remodeling Magazine’s top 10 projects, adding a sunroom, and particularly an all-season sunroom to a home, effectively adds an extra space with multiple purposes, and aesthetic as well as financial benefit. With all-season sunrooms being durable enough to provide all year round comfort, even in heavy snow, the appeal of bringing the outdoors inside is irresistible. Just covering a patio with an awning, or leaving an open wall to your sunroom will mean that you cannot use the space during inclement weather, so anything other than an enclosed space will not have the financial benefits you may require.
For the family that maybe wishes to spend more time at home, and enjoy all the benefits of a “staycation”, the extra space to entertain family and friends, or to use as a sunny and bright breakfast room or family room, makes a sunroom almost an essential part of the home. With many different designs on the market, there is bound to be something that is an ideal fit for your property, and the size of your family.
Quality is as important a consideration as cost, and you should make sure that you see full-size models of example sunrooms at showrooms, or even visit a display home, or request photographs of previous work before committing to a contractor. Make sure your contractor sees your home, and the space they will be working with, before you agree to any final costs for the project. Other questions you should ask are whether your contractor will be doing the work themselves, or whether they plan to sub-contract the work out. Your checklist should also factor in essential workmen such as electricians to make sure the space is safe and fit for purpose. Proper preparation will prevent a possible headache later on.
It is important to get the best quality materials available, and with companies such as Craft-Bilt, who have been manufacturing top-quality home improvement products since 1946, you know that you are in safe hands with a trusted name.
Once your dream sunroom is finished, all you have to do is enjoy it – rain or shine, winter or summer. Adding an all-season sunroom, and the extra equity to your home, makes perfect sense.
By Bart Bremmers
Craft-Bilt has been distributing Thermapan panels for many years. Homeowners benefit from the added features while dealers benefit from having more value added options.
Advantages over a conventionally framed deck:
Our sunroom deck panels are made with OSB skins and EPS foam core. This is referred to as SIP technology (Structural Insulated Panel). The SIP panels join together with standard dimensional lumber, screws and construction adhesive. Please note that updated installation instructions are available. Contact us for more information.]]>
Dress up your Betterliving or Grand Vista sunroom ceiling with our Woodhaven ceiling panels. Each plank has a tongue and a groove edge that fits easily together. It is a great way to add the look of wood, for those customers that were considering a conventional stick framed addition.
Add warmth and pizazz to your three or four season sunroom. There are many different colours and woodgrain styles available. Please visit the Betterliving Sunrooms photo gallery for more pictures.
Craft-Bilt’s Aluminum Railing system can be used as Wind Protection, Pool Fencing, Privacy Panels or Balcony Dividers. The system can be manufactured to any height, typically 6 feet high around pools, outdoor patios or privacy walls between neighbouring decks.
Privacy glazing is accomplished in two ways: frosted tempered glass usually around 1/4″ thick, or, 5/8″ thick multi-wall polycarbonate sheets. These are the very same high strength 5/8″ polycarbonate sheets used in our Northlander Skyview roof system. Choose from opaque or bronze colour sheets.
Visit Aluminum Raling for pictures and more info.