Thee most valuable home inspection in Orlando-Central Florida.

All full home inspections include an interior and electrical panel infrared scan by a Certified Thermographer, a free mold assessment, a free safety recall check and a free Threshold Inspection for Chinese drywall.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Winter Park FL Divorce Inspection, Home Inspection, Mold Inspection

7  little known ways to negotiate a better deal when purchasing real estate.

1. Secure a professional home inspection.
A professional home performance evaluation or home inspection can net you thousands, tens of thousands and even over $100,000!  Don’t worry about spending $400 for a professional inspection if it will return you $5000, make sense?  The key here however, is to hire a professional.  Since this is a relatively small cost start up business, there tends to be a lot of "HGTV Cowboys" in both regulated and un-regulated states.  I could go on all day but my point is that you really need to be careful whom you choose to perform your home inspection because you will find persons on many different levels of competence, with varying experience, different price ranges and dissimilar tool boxes.  I have come up with a list of questions to consider when interviewing potential inspector representatives which can be down loaded from web site for free, look for the book icon at the bottom.  Now even if you plan on doing some major rehab on a house and don’t think you really need the inspection, you just might be right.  Where am I going with this?  Even the most experienced entrepreneurs pay for a professional inspection.  With a professional report in hand and lots of nasty pictures, the smart investor uses it to re-negotiate.  Ask me about the “$100,000 club”  It’s just part of the game and due diligence.
2. Prove that paint is not just aesthetic.  
My biggest pet peeve is the condition of the home’s exterior envelope.  As a home owner, if I had not lived through three large hurricanes and TS Fay, it may not make as much sense.  As a professional inspector who saw moisture intrusion evidences in 99% of the homes I inspected after these events, it may not make as much sense.  Becoming familiar with building science has made it crystal clear that in considering existing houses, the better we caulk, seal and paint, the better the house performs.  I can usually provide explanations and pictures of just about every house I inspect on the vulnerabilities of moisture intrusion.  That’s a much longer article.  Ask me for them, I’ll send you a couple.  The next thing I do is to try and identify interior manifestations of intrusion to support my exterior envelope claims.  That’s a great segway into point 3…
3. Point out signs of previous moisture intrusion.  
First thing I do is look around the baseboard of exterior walls.  I look for stains that might indicate previous or active intrusion.  I look for delaminated baseboards.  Where there is separation of baseboard and walls, moisture may have been the cause.  I will often peer behind baseboards and pull carpet to prove my point.  Look for stains around windows.  Look for rust on carpets where metal feet from furniture once rested.  Use your nose.  Musty smells are often mold metabolizing.
4. Use known defective building products to your advantage.  
Just about no matter when your house was built, there are materials of construction that have proven to historically perform less than reliable or unsafe.  Electrical components, plumbing parts, old construction techniques, AC systems, interior finishes, appliances, etc.  the list is long and distinguished.  As a matter of fact, you can go to and check out the appliances in your own kitchen tonight.  It costs you nothing, even the phone call if you find an appliance on recall, and sometimes you get free stuff.  If you do this as a result of reading this article and find that your own kitchen or furnace has been recalled for some type of safety issue and you get a new appliance or a check, please let me know!  Shoot me an email and let me know what it was and how it went.
5. Talk to the neighbors and tenants.  
People love to talk.  They will tell you all kinds of things.  One neighbor once told me about some intentionally deceptive things the seller was bragging to him about and he didn’t want to see me harmed because of the ill intent of his soon to be former neighbor.  That was much appreciated!  I always ask tenants, “Hey, if there’s anything you want me to include on my list of stuff to be fixed, let me know.  Maybe the new owner will take care of them for you.”  I also often coach my clients to tell neighbors that they are thinking of buying a house in that neighborhood but their home inspector says the house has (fill in the blank) and you were wondering if they’ve ever had any problems with it.
6. Take pictures.  
Presenting a lot of pictures of defects in a home to seller’s or bank mitigators or BPO agents can be quite impactful.  Take really really close pictures of moldy areas.  Use props for scale like when taking pictures of cracks and gaps.  Common items like a pens, pencils or pennies help put things in perspective and helps remove doubt.  Wearing a pair of latex gloves while holding a piece of moldy carpet, drywall or damaged wood evokes an unhealthy and negative emotion you are looking for.
7. Model other experts.  
WWSD?  What Would Sharon (Restrepo) Do?  Or Ron LeGrand or Dave Lyndahl?  These people are successful because they’ve done certain things certain ways.  You can read and research to your hearts content, which is always advised, but that will take a lifetime and you can get a concise answer from a local expert with a simple question.  Becoming a member or maintaining your membership in your local Real Estate Investor Association will pay for itself over and over and over.  Join a master mind group.  Hire a mentor.  Take a class, it’s tons less expensive than attending a university and only takes a few hours.  Join a webinar or teleseminar.  Don’t be afraid to purchase course material, it’s tons less expensive than trial and error.
I could go on but you get my drift.  If you’ve got other ideas or comments please don’t be shy, email me at jon@inspectagator.  If we all stick together, nobody gets burned!

Orlando Florida Home Inspection


FPE Stab-Lok boxes/breakers have been around for about 30 years (mid 1950's to early 1980's) and so it affects quite a few people, including my own house.  The product is the Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stab-Lok electrical panels and breakers.  The very bottom line, FPE breakers have a long historical record of failure to trip or open a circuit when something bad happens like a short or overload condition.  Actual test results and field reports of failures from independent labs to the manufacturer themselves as well as improper UL listing practices grace the rap sheet of this product.  I have read stories of electricians who, upon removing the dead panels, have had breakers fall out of the box or fail to open a circuit when the handle was placed in the off position.  I have personally talked to electricians who have arc welded metal and wires trying to identify circuits because the FPE breakers would not trip.   Just weeks ago, I had my very own brush with a real big hurt.  After I had removed a dead panel (the interior panel that prevents kids and stupid people from putting their hands on live electrical stuff), I saw burn marks on the backside of the panel.  When I looked up at the breakers, I saw the two main lugs (where the power comes into the panel) sticking down just a fraction of an inch from touching this metal dead panel I was holding!  See photos.  Someone else had been bit before me!  I think that God just feels sorry for me and let me go this time.  Anyway, much publicly available information is compelling enough to warrant this warning to all real estate entrepreneurs. 
FPE is usually very easy to identify.
See the service lug sticking down at the upper left corner of the picture.
       Someone else got zapped!
Remember, I am not intending to scare or offend anyone.  I am simply relaying information I feel is vitally important to the real estate industry based on the research I 
have done and how it may affect us as landlords, real estate agents, investors and home owners.   Think positive though…you can use this information to re-negotiate a deal you’re buying OR turn a down the toilet deal you’re trying to sell into a positive experience just because you had some knowledge!
Usually the first seller’s or seller’s agent defense of FPE equipment I hear is that the panel has been there for the last 30 years and it’s just fine, they have never had a problem with it, it was code back then, yada yada yada. So was asbestos.  It’s age is the first problem Einstein.  Over time, internal mechanical components can become corroded or distorted and may not be reliable.   Electrical equipment doesn’t get better or become more reliable with age on any brand, quite the opposite.   The fact remains that standards in manufacturing and “codes back then” were not as stringent 50, 40, 30 or even 15 years ago.  Besides the rule of six issue, there are at least four other design issues that are no longer allowed.  The gutter space, wire bending space, spring mounted bus bars and breakers that are on when in the down position.  Things change for a reason.  
Consider this… as long as a circuit breaker sits uncalled for (an overload or short circuit does not occur) maybe 30, 40, 50 years, it may seem to “work” just fine.  But if it cannot be relied upon to absolutely protect you, your family or your tenants, it is a latent fire hazard.  Period.  
Engineer J. Aronstein parallels FPE panels to pennies under screw in fuses.  Test after test I read about produces similar results of breakers that fail to trip or jam internally in the closed (current flowing) position.  These are the basic, 
but not the only, safety defects with this product.  We all rely on a breaker to break or open the flow of electricity in an overload or short circuit situation.  If you have an FPE panel/breakers, they may not trip.  Testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and even FPE themselves (and others) have documented that the product may not be dependable.  Testing confirmed failures in 2 pole breakers (breakers for dryers, furnaces, etc), single pole breakers (small general lighting circuits) and GFCI breakers.  J. Aronstein, an engineer whose report I accumulated lots-o-information from, points out that most breakers will never be called upon to trip (interrupt the flow of current) and the home owner’s perception is that the electrical system is fine.  This same observation could also be made if there were no breakers at all, just a hardwired system.  In the event of a malfunction, our safety depends on the reliable operation of that breaker device.  It is even reported that UL “delisted” virtually the entire line of FPE breakers. He says that unless we are willing to live with the risk, the FPE panels should be replaced entirely.
Hole burnt through dead panel, new after market breaker, hmmmm.
CPSC tests - In the 1980's era, the CPSC investigated the performance of FPE Stab-Lok 2 pole, full width breakers. 122 units were tested at standard testing intervals of 135% and 200% of rated current.  At these currents the breakers should trip within a specified time with current applied to either one or both poles.  The two pole breakers are essentially 2 single pole breakers tied together and may or may not have an internal common trip mechanism which assures that tripping one pole will cause both poles to open.  Older FPE 2 pole breakers do not have this feature.    In the 135% test, 51% of the breakers failed when the individual pole tested, and 25% failed with both poles tested simultaneously.  After repeated use, the failure rate increased.  In the 200% test, 1% failure rate on individual pole testing and 0% with both poles tested.  Again after repeated use, the failure rate increased.  Once a breaker jams it is in the open (current flowing) position permanently.  
FPE tests - FPE performed inside tests and reported to CPSC problems associated with their breakers, however will not make public their test results.  Wonder why?  They did say that the breakers will trip during most overload levels... NEWS FLASH...It’s the exceptions that cause fires genius.  I guess they are not really a neutral party are they?
Southwest Research Inc. tests - Southwest performed tests under FPE contract, however will not make public their test results.  Wonder why?
UL tests - Has never made public any test data.  Wonder why?  What I found with regards to this testing was that the rate of failure to trip greatly exceeded the tolerances allowed by CPSC standards.
Alonstein tests - Full width, half width, single pole, double pole were tested and failure rates ranged from 14% to 48% in tests as recent as January 22, 2004!  Pretty significant if it’s your family in a home with this system!  
Douglas Hansen and Dan Friedman  (highly regarded professionals) personal witness of failed breakers.  In Dan’s own words, “I personally was not a believer until I witnessed a multiple failure...”  Even lowly me, have personal contact with electricians who confirm field failures.
In 1981, FPE sent a letter to Towson University regarding a volunteer recall.  They replaced over 200 breakers on campus.  Wonder why?  On June 13, 1998 they had a major failure that caused several thousand dollars worth of damage.  “Upon testing prior to restart of the system we found that over half of the 18 breakers and switches in the panel would not pass.  We are in the process of removing all of the FPE breakers in our buildings as quickly as we can.”  Wow!
There are compatible type (after market) breakers now made under the names “American” (no longer UL listed, wonder why?), “Federal Pioneer” (No recalls listed but in the manufacturer’s own words “In some circumstances these breakers may not trip.”)  “Challenger”, “Federal Pacific Reliance Electric” and “Federal Pioneer Limited”.   I did not find any data that documented the performance of these brands, however in some cases these products have been made outside the US border and thus may not comply with some of our tougher standards.  Are you still pondering this issue?  Next month we’ll check out “Rule of Six” panels.
Email me with your questions, comments and good ideas for other articles!   If we all stick together, nobody gets burned!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orlando Fl Divorce Inspections, Divorce Inspection, Home Inspection

Chinese Drywall…urgent update.

Newsflash!  According to Channel 13 News… “In Central Florida 1 to 5 cases each have been reported in Orange, Polk, Brevard, Flagler and Marion County. In Lake County, officials have received 6 to 20 reports of the tainted drywall.”  CPSC stats as of December 3, 2009, lists 1522 “drywall incidences” in Florida.  The next 2 closest states are Louisiana with 417 and Virginia with 86.  Comforting huh?  One friend of mine, Robert Brown found it in Celebration.  Another friend of mine, Thomas Battoe found it in Seminole County.  Kelvin Eder built a house with it in Lake County.  We have found it in Osceola County.  Comforting huh?  Want some more comfort… 
It’s not all Chinese!
It has been reported that American manufacturer’s have used the same processes to manufacture the same reactive drywall commonly known as “Chinese drywall”.  This has been confirmed to me by friends that have identified conditions consistent with Chinese drywall yet exhibited American nomenclature.  
Despite some claims that your home inspector is responsible for finding or identifying “Chinese” drywall during your inspection, I respectfully say “NOT”.  For one, there is no current federally recognized protocol for the inspection nor the testing of “Chinese” drywall.  Also, it is very possible that just one or even a few boards exist but not the entire house.  Thirdly, the physical manifestations may be undetectable at the time of your inspection because the triggers that amplify those manifestations were not set in motion.  Therefore, it is unreasonable and may even be impossible for a home inspector to positively identify the presence of any “Chinese” drywall in a dwelling.  
Let me make some things clear.  The age of your home does not determine that reactive “Chinese” drywall exists.  The term reactive is more accurate than Chinese as we learn more about this problem.  “Chinese” is analogous to “Coke” or “Kleenex” and quite understandable because of the way this drama is unfolding.  “Reactive” simply refers that the smell and corrosion are triggered or are reacting to certain conditions like heat and humidity.  Hello Florida.  In some houses like the one we saw in Clermont, FL, the weather conditions were such that heat and humidity were low and the AC system was installed quickly thereby limiting the obvious and sometimes widespread evidences associated with other houses where these conditions did not exist.  Think about this…summer time…hurricane season…no power…high heat and humidity…reactive drywall, oooooh.  Count on this problem not disappearing like your Christmas bonus anytime real soon.  
One of the physical manifestations we as home inspectors look for is nomenclature or the names “Tianjen” or “China” stamped on the back side of the drywall.  In an existing home, this advantage is not necessarily accessible.  Most of the drywall in the attic that offers us a chance of directly observing these stamps is buried in insulation.  Now, even if we were to expose a portion or portions of ceiling drywall above the living area or that insulation was absent still does not exclude the possibility of Chinese drywall elsewhere in the house.  So…since removing one side of the drywall throughout the entire house could get you shot, this is not a practical solution during a home inspection.  
Additionally, the time it would take to “inspect” (term used loosely) for reactive drywall, write an indication report, sample (destructive testing) and obtain test results from a lab would in most cases far exceed a buyer’s due diligence timeline.  
Now from what I understand, if a house was built before 2004 only 2 indicators need be present to warrant further investigation.  If the house was built after 2004, 3 indicators are necessary.  Hypothetically, should these indicators all exist in a home you are interested in purchasing, proper testing could easily absorb $100,000 from your wallet.  That will get you one heck of a report.  If the report is negative, you’re only out say 100G’s.  If the report is positive for reactive drywall, now you will need to go back and remove ALL the drywall, ALL the wiring, the AC units and any other affected metal components.  Then…you can put it all back together.  That would be one heck of house.  This ain’t Graceland nor the White House.  Be prepared to dump a truck load of money or…count your blessings (all 400 of them you spent hiring a professional home inspector) and simply move on my investor friend.  
In summary, home inspectors may be able to “screen” for the physical manifestations of high sulphur content (reactive symptoms) drywall but can in no way be expected to positively identify the presence OR the absence of such a product in a simple home inspection.  Call us with questions or concerns, 407.678.HOME or  If we all stick together, nobody gets burned!  Sie sie!
We offer the most valuable home performance inspections in all of Central Florida. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Orlando Florida Home Inspection

Caulk  - Seal - Paint


Any structure we live in needs 4 primary defense shields.  One for keeping rain out, one for keeping air out, one for keeping vapor out and one for keeping temperature out.  The best place to position these defense shields is on the outside of the structure so those things don’t damage all our stuff, duhh.  When we alter this basic concept and practice, bad things happen.  If rain water gets in, if we can’t separate the outside air from the inside air, if we can’t stop the migration of water vapor and if we can’t keep the hot air out in Florida, bad things happen.  Obvious to even a Darwin Award winner. 

I paraphrase Dr. Joe Lstiburek, we can’t control air until we enclose it.  The more breaches in the envelope, the less we can control it.  Duhh.  Besides the air conditioning battle, air is a good transporter of water vapor (water).  Transport water into the structure/interior environment, bad things happen.  The air transfer barrier must be inside of the insulation barrier though so the temperature won’t change along this thermal gradient.  Still with me?  Don’t worry, read on.


If we put the insulation on the inside we don’t protect the structure system/components from heat/cold.  Results of uncontrolled temperature are expansion, contraction, condensation and the like.  Results of those results are corrosion, rot, decay, biological growth and the like.  Simple right?!  Now structures built with metal studs assist/promote thermal transfer from the outside to the inside because metal is a good conductor.  So hmmm, wood frame construction is better than metal frame construction?  From a thermal transfer point of view, yeah.  If the insulation layer were on the outside, the thermal transfer would be drastically reduced.  Results of controlled temperature are greater and easier control, reduced moisture issues, structure longevity…ya know, good things.  Try to convince the building industry is something Lstiburek and Straub have been trying for years.  There is an absolutely amazing article called The Perfect Wall by Dr. Joe Lstiburek I would encourage you to check it out at  As a matter of fact, much of this material I refer to was learned from various articles from this author and/or this web site. 

Need an example?  Case in point.  Recently and quite often I get the ol’ “I’ve got a moisture intrusion issue, can you help me identify the problem” call.  I love this stuff.  From the client’s front door, I was being briefed on the problem, symptoms and home owner diagnosis.  At first glance, the problem was obvious to me.  Following the physics…a visqueen vapor barrier was installed on the interior of the wall assembly which is a bad thing to do in hot humid climates (in case you Yankees were wondering).  As water would diffuse through the wall, water vapor would condense on the visqueen, gravity would pull it down, capillary action would cause horizontal and vertical migration, water and cellulose (carpet/baseboard/tack strip) would enable mold growth which was Le Grande Manifestation on the interior.  Ouila,  diagnosis easy…cure simple too but big pain in the butt!  BUT…now it can be fixed.   


OK, that’s all well and good and interesting but most houses we buy/rehab are already built.  Duhh.  Since we’re not constructing, lets deal with the construction.  Let’s start with the all mighty rain barrier, the paint job.  I coined the phrase “The better we caulk, seal and paint, the better the house performs.”  Period.  Try taking one of those items away if you don’t believe me.  In realty world, paragraph N of the FARBAR contract states “Working Condition means operating in the manner in which the item was designed to operate” and “Cosmetic Condition means aesthetic imperfections that do not affect the Working Condition of the item, including, but not limited to :…chips or caulking in ceilings, walls, flooring ….”  Now that sounds kinda vague to me but if we were to interpret it literally, failing caulk and paint that does not keep the rain out is by definition not operating in the manner in which the item was designed to work.  I disagree with realtors who defend that paint and caulk are aesthetic.  Science and physics also disagree.  Besides, if paint and caulk were purely aesthetic, no production builder would ever paint a house.  Paint, sealer and caulking is a function of the building envelope.  Since the 2004 hurricanes and the 2008 TS Fay, most practical people understand the value of a good quality paint job.  (There are now sounds of cheering in my head.)


Now barring other things we do to screw up the whole science thing, a quality caulk, seal and paint job will provide a great rain control mechanism.  Florida Building Code also has an opinion, FBCR 703.1 states "Exterior walls shall provide the building with a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope.”  Cracks, gaps and a poor paint job don’t provide a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope.  Water penetration to a substrate then causes other physical damage besides a cornucopia of other fun stuff. 


So hopefully now your convinced.  And I bet your wondering what my paint recommendations are.  According to the Phd’s at UCF (Mullens, Hoekstra, Nahmens, Martinez-  UCF Housing Constructability Lab August 2006) who did the water intrusion studies after the 04 hurricanes, their paint recommendation is…


-Use a premium, high build, acrylic coating with the following characteristics:

        • Meets Federal Specifications for resistance to wind driven rain (TT-C-555B).

        • Allows water vapor transmission (high perm rating) permitting water to evaporate from the wall to the exterior.

        • High flexibility/elongation to cover existing and new cracks.


Now primers are always recommended whether on wood or masonry.  They help contain “bleeding” of materials and assist with adhesion.  Oil-based primers are typically used on wood while latex or water-based primers are typically reserved for masonry.  Sean King, paint specialist with Sherwin Williams, almost always advises use of a primer, they call theirs a conditioner.  It helps assist with the adhesion and gives a smoother, not-so-splotchy look.  The random splotchy are usually the affects of chalking and different porosity of spots. 

Speakin’ of, ever wonder why paint chalks?  More pigment than resin or… more of the less expensive color than the glue that makes the paint stick to a substrate.  With a breakdown of the paint, a wood substrate would suck, so would concrete block and so would stucco.  As a matter of fact, in ASTM 926 (standard for stucco application) A2.1.1 states that “Plaster shall not, however, be considered to be water proof.”  Once the water gets past the paint, all those bad science things happen.


According to Dr. Joe in his article “Painting”, as he refers to paint vs stain, “Gloss paints have more resin than semigloss paints, and semi-gloss paints have more resin than flat paints.  Gloss paints have the most resistance to ultraviolet radiation and moisture; flat paints have the least.  Stains are not as hydrophobic or resistant to ultraviolet light as paints but are more vapor permeable. Since stains break down more rapidly due to ultraviolet light than do paints, re-coating more frequently with stains will be likely.” 


For wood frame veneers, wood decays/deteriorates with exposure to water, UV and heat so Dr. Joe recommends a paint “that is hydrophobic (sheds water), vapor permeable (breathes), resistant to ultraviolet light (sunlight), has good adhesion (sticks to wood) and cohesion (stretching) properties. Acrylic latex top coats coupled with premium latex primers are recommended as they are more vapor permeable than other paint finishes while providing similar hydrophobic, ultraviolet

resistance, adhesion and cohesion properties. Two coats of acrylic latex paint over a premium latex primer are recommended.”  Now this means ALL sides of the wood.  What happens when the carpenter cuts wood to fit in a certain space?  Now you’ve got bare wood on one or more ends.  Exposing bare un-primed wood invites moisture absorption and subsequent decay regardless of the quality of paint on the exposed surfaces. 


For masonry veneers the same paint is advised, one that repels yet breathes.  A quick science lesson may make sense.  Water and water vapor travel along pressure, thermal and concentration gradients.  It’s almost always hot outside because it’s Florida and cold inside because we run our air 11.5 months a year.  Well there’s more rain outside than inside.  As typical in Florida, when it rains the wall gets wet, the sun comes out and now the exterior surface of the wall is wet and “hot” from the rain and sun.  So…water/water vapor always wants to naturally migrate toward the interior of the house like world wide refugees headed for the US.  Now since the ambient air will most likely be a little “cooler” than the wet/hot surface temperature of the wall, there will also be some drying to the exterior.  If there is a vapor barrier (impermeable paint like elastomeric), that vapor barrier (impermeable paint) will tend to blister.  That’s why exterior acrylic latex paints are recommended for almost all stucco applications.


But, but, but my painter, my friend, my handyman recommends elastomeric to cover all the cracks.  Pure elastomeric paints may stretch (elongation if you want to sound smart) and span but typically give up some/all of the permeability that allow water vapor out, hence you are vulnerable to  blistering.  But, but, but my painter, my friend, my handyman says water/vapor can’t get in.  Hmmmm, what if water enters the stucco at joints, penetrations, transitions or other flaw?  According to the Grand Puba Dr. Joe, elastomeric paints “should be reserved for special conditions where substrates are severely cracked and crack spanning coatings are necessary and no other coating approaches are practical.”  Sean King adds, coastal areas may benefit from a good elastomeric. So as long as you “get it”, that walls “breathe”, you get it.


Ok, this perm thing.  Materials that allow for easy migration (diffusion) of water vapor would be considered to have a higher permeability rating, referred to as perm rating.  Building materials such as block and drywall have a higher perm rating (allow for greater water vapor diffusion).  Contrasted with materials like visqueen, rolled foil or vinyl wallpaper that resist diffusion and are considered vapor retarders.  I found some examples of perm ratings in an article titled Not in my building, moisture and mold growth by Larry Gelin, Research Engineer with Johns Manville.  Don’t get stuck on the numbers, those may vary with testing method or other factors, just “get it”. 


          ½” Gypsum Wallboard                        38.0 – 42.0 perms

Latex Primer                                       7.0 – 10.0

7/16” Oriented Strand Board              0.77 – 3.48

1” Thick Extruded Polystyrene            0.40 – 1.60

Kraft Paper Facing                                       1.0

2-mil Polyethylene Film                      0.06 – 0.22

Alkyd-based or vapor retarder paint    < 0.05

1-mil Aluminum Foil Laminate             < 0.05


Sean King also offered some rule of thumb numbers for perm ratings of paint.  Remember, don’t get stuck on the numbers, those may also vary with manufacturer, just “get it”. 


            Elastomeric paints                              7 -12 perms

          Hi-build acrylics                                  12-15

          Standard paints                                 18+


I heard a building scientist suggest that stucco is a 14-15 perm product. 


Now as you would expect, the thickness (mil- if you wanna sound smart) will be greater as ya move on up the price ladder.  For the standard stuff, 1-2 mils dry.  The high build maybe 8-10 mils. 

The next obvious question is which color is The Best?  Let me tell ya.  Orange-n-Blue of course.  Ok, ya knew that was comin’. 


How ‘bout caulk.  Let me tell ya, again there’s a lot to know about caulk.  First thing, the 99¢ stuff, well, it is what it is and shouldn’t be expected to perform well in anything but an interior environment. 


Polyurethane caulk products have become pretty popular.  They are excellent for exterior jobs as they adhere well to dissimilar products (like window frames and stucco) and really stretch with even structural movement.  Polyurethane is the thick rubber looking caulk lines you see on many commercial buildings.  There are even “green” versions that have low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions.  They are, however, subject to UV degradation and must be painted soon after full cure.  Silicone, on the other hand, tends to perform very well with regards to UV degradation and mold/mildew growth due to their inorganic dna.  Porous products like stucco…well not in the list of preferred substrates for adhesion.  At the bottom of the list is your basic acrylic latex caulks.  Multi-purpose as long as you don’t need it to move much.  Interior use best, not exterior apps that would be subject to elongation, expansion and contraction.  Now there are more caulk flavors than Baskin Robbins but those are good rules of thumb, maybe we’ll cover the other stuff in another article.         


Special thanks so Sean King of Sherwin Williams, he has graciously offered to answer your questions if you give him a call.  407.468.9671.  And if Sean’s boss is reading this…the man knows his paint and caulk, I say he deserves a raise.  


So, somewhere along the way, if I haven’t insulted every realtor/painter/handyman reading this and been referred to as “who’s this idiot” by now, I’d be surprised.  Now hey, there are always exceptions, new techniques or new products that may contradict stuff I have said or quoted so spare me the finger pointin’.  Like the talk master Boortz says, never believe a word I say, confirm it for yourself.  This is information based on the opinions of top professionals in the building and painting world as well as what Jon has confirmed with his own eyes.  Your welcome to try things on your own but going through life via trial and error sucks.  You don’t have to.  If we all stick together, nobody gets burned.  Call me or email me with other questions/concerns.  407.678.HOME or