Q We want to convert our cinder-block summer home, located in southern New Hampshire, into a year-round house. In order to do so we would need to insulate the exterior walls. What would be the most practical method for doing so? Mrs. H.B. Bross
The simplest and most economical method is to add a wood-stud wall to the inside face of your exterior walls. You would then place batt insulation between the studs and finish the job with drywall. The new wall would intrude into the room from 4 to 6 inches, depending on the thickness of the insulation used (R-11 is 31/2 inches thick and R-19 is 51/2 inches thick).
The same thing could be done on the exterior of the building, but the finish materials become more expensive, and the trimming and weatherproofing around the openings are more difficult.
I have found two manufacturers of panel systems with a rigid foam core and a stone aggregate face, but there may be others. They are Thermalbar, made by Keystone Systems, 22 Denlar Drive, Chester, Conn. 06412, and Aggreboard, made by MMI Industries, PO Box 3180, 1000 South Second Street, Plainfield, N.J. 07068. Q The 11/2-inch-thick seats of my 30-year-old maple dining room chairs are beginning to crack open. I live in an apartment house with electric heat; thus, I wonder if that is causing the wood to dry out. Will a humidifier be of help?
Mrs. George Weller
A humidifier can certainly help to stabilize the moisture levels in a home. Extreme dry weather can cause wood to dry out and split.
To rectify the problem, carefully split the seats apart and clean the old glue off the surfaces of the joint. Reglue, using a white vinyl glue or marine glue which comes in powder form and is mixed with water (this being the strongest). After applying the glue to both surfaces, tightly clamp them together, cleaning off excess glue.
The next step is to thoroughly varnish or shellac the chairs, as this sealing process helps to stabilize the internal moisture in the wood.
If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, send it to the Real Estate editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Richard A. Kent is a practicing architect and general contractor in southern California.