Some ways to avoid moisture damage in a home that's been made zipper-tight

How's good is the air inside your home? Do you have to go outdoors for "a breath of fresh air?" The problem is, as new housing construction becomes tighter, and older houses get more and more insulation and caulking to cut air flow through the structure, the indoor is not ventilated as well as it should be.

As a result, moisture, odors, chemicals, and gases remain inside for a longer period of time.

The house, simply, does not breathe.

Such tighter construction does indeed save fuel, but a zipper-tight house becomes a target for deterioration as moisture, especially from the bathroom and kitchen, invades the inner walls, causing unseen damage that may not show up for years.

Besides causing peeling paint and wall coverings, rusting cabinets and fixtures, and the warping of doors, trapped moisture can result in the rotting of wallboard, dry wall, and window frames.

Moisture also does its dirty work in the attic where it can lessen the efficiency of insulation.

To control moisture in the home, you can install a wall or ceiling exhaust fan, ducted to the outside of the house. The moisture then has an escape route and won't remain inside the walls. Window glass will not get steamed up.

A powered attic ventilator will keep attic moisture at the proper level and control the temperature in the summertime. Instead of radiating into the downstairs living areas of the house, the heat will be carried to the outside by the blower. Then the fresh outside air will be brought inside.

The result is a more comfortable house, no matter where you happen to be at any time.

If you're looking for a way to divide a room's living area without the cost of major remodeling, you might consider a room divider made of decorative wood moldings.

Wood-molding dividers come in a variety of styles and sizes, making them easy to work with even for a novice who is far from handy with his hands.

Four elements basically determine the mood of any room: light, color, texture , and pattern, no matter whether they are applied to furnishings, carpeting, windows, or wallcoverings.

A delicately striped wallcovering in a rich pastel complements the graceful lines of French and English furniture and is well suited for a traditional room setting, according to Stan Warshaw, president of the US School of Professional Paperhanging, Rutland, Vt.

If you want a "country look," a wallcovering in either a small print or a small design in a basic neutral color will provide a backdrop or early American furniture.

Dark colors make a room seem smaller, while lighter, natural colors make it appear larger. Bold stripes, checks, and geometrics are best used for visual effects.

Whatever you choose, reminds Warshaw, different adhesives. Do not deviate from the manufacturer's directions.

Also, if you plan to use grasscloths, silks, textiles, and deep pile, it may be wiser to employ a professional paperhanger. Mistakes can be costly in the long run.

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