Some of my favorite things

Bob Borson —  March 30, 2010 — 22 Comments

And by my favorite things, I’m going to say that these are materials and products that I would like to use on my own house (yes, I am aware that if I used them all it would look like a student project but I might try anyways).

Cor-ten Paneling

After installation and exposure to normal weather the surface of the panel develops a gorgeous rustic finish and texture. Cor-ten contains copper, chromium, manganese, and nickel which makes this material more expensive. Cor-ten resists the corrosive effects of rain, snow, ice, fog, and other meteorological conditions by forming a coating of dark brown oxidation over the metal, which inhibits deeper penetration and negates the need for painting and costly rust-prevention maintenance over the years. Cor-ten will last longer and would be more desirable in harsh climates. Metal roofs in a galvanized, galvalume, or painted finish are normally 24GA to 29GA but with bare (untreated), cold rolled, or Cor-ten products, never use a gauge lighter than 22 GA.

Polycarbonate Paneling

Made from polycarbonate resin and is inherently stronger than both glass and acrylic. Polycarbonate is 200 times stronger than glass, and 30 times stronger than acrylic. If you specify sheets in thicknesses greater than 16mm, it meets most thermal requirements (i.e.SHGC of .25). This product is inexpensive when compared to other assemblies and I just love the ethereal qualities you can achieve. I am currently looking to use this product in a tenant finish-out project for ballroom dancing.

Walnut

Really not too much to say on this. I think walnut is beautiful and when properly sealed and finished looks as though it’s internally illuminated

CaesarStone Quartz Surface (Blizzard)

I like the way white countertops look in modern kitchens and bathrooms but I am nervous about specifying marble due to the maintenance and chemical exposure they receive (acids like lemon juice will etch marble). There are several composite countertops available on the market, CaesarStone is my favorite because the aggregate used in the resin base are small and it makes the product look more refined to me.

The Random Light by Bertjan Pot

Glass-fiber drained with resin was coiled around a big balloon. Sounds simple but it took 3 years to develop. (Sold through distributor Moooi in three sizes)

modwalls glass tile (Brio Blend Gimlet)

I’ve written about glass tiles before, this brand is my favorite for the balance they have between quality and cost – it’s a great value. The glass tiles are well made and the pitting in the glass is fairly minor. This means that when you grout the tile, the color of the grout stays off the tile allowing the color of the tile to remain front and center in your design.

Hybrid Stucco

Stucco, when done correctly, takes on a monolithic finish that is hard to achieve with any other product. We use a hybrid system in my office so it’s a true 3/4″ masonry 3-coat stucco but we set it set on top of a 1″ polystyrene insulation board. To finish it off, we apply a thermoplastic top coat finish similar to those used by Dryvit or Sto on EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) so that the texture and finish is consistent across the surface. The insulation board helps isolate movement across the surface so fewer expansion and control joints are needed.

Standing Seam Metal Roofing

We do a lot of standing seam metal roofs in our area (Dallas, Texas). They are practical in our climate, durable, lightweight, weather-tight and you could argue that they are environmentally friendly since the roof material can be reclaimed and reused. I like the way they look and compared to other roofing products, they aesthetically fit in well with the modern style residences we design.

Ipe Wood

Also known as Brazilian walnut, ipe (pronounce ee-pay) wood is typically reddish-brown, sometimes with a greenish tinge, often with lighter or darker striping. Much of what I have seen looks similar to a teak wood. Ipe wood comes in good long lengths with limited warp. Ipe wood products contains no added harmful chemicals so it can be used near water without potential contamination, although its dust can cause a number of respiratory and contact dermatitis allergic reactions in humans. Bugs don’t eat it, it doesn’t rot, and if left untreated it will weather to a beautiful iridescent silver. It can be difficult to work with, especially with hand tools.

Burnished Block from Featherlite

I feel like I’m giving away a secret with this one  – burnished block. You can get these units is several sizes and all 3 5/8″ thick. The product is remarkably consistent and due to its size (we used it here in a 12″x24″ module, stacked bond pattern) people frequently mistake this utilitarian product for something far more luxurious. You can also get this product in a very dark grey, almost black color. Since this product isn’t seen very often, people don’t know what it is and the perception is that the material can’t be a large brick. Oh, but it is.

even better

  • wabisabi

    intrigued by polycarbonate panels. would they work in zone 5 boston. gets to -5F. more importantly would they yellow.. (because yellow is so 20 Century dahhling.

  • Jim

    I have an unfinished (it is framed with 4 sets of 3 I^I telephone poles spaced at 12′, southeast facing 36×12′. It’s an addition on the side of an old (recycling) mobile home. Do you have a contact in polycarbonate or other panels would you recommend for this?

  • http://twitter.com/TheDecorGirl Decor Girl

    I knew great minds think alike!  Great suggestions.  I have and love standing seam metal and Ipe – both awesome and maintenance free.  Metal wall panel is a good one too ( in Lisa Blue of course).  I was going to use the poly carb panels on a exterior wall staircase addition but couldn’t find ones which would not yellow over time.

    Excellent suggestions!

  • Nicholas Williams

    I love Ipe…have you seen the work of Sebastian Mariscal? he uses the material on all of his custom homes.

  • Pim_love

    love it

  • Rudy

    why would it look like the work of a student? I find that very strange and conceited.

    • Anonymous

      Rudy,

      Let me guess – are you a student? That’s all right, I can still appreciate your sentiment. I only meant to say that since most college projects exist without a consideration towards zoning, known construction techniques, gravity, etc. there is still a bit of maturity and focus that gets developed as designers get adept at working with restrictions. This is a period of additional development that all designers will acknowledge once they’ve actually gone through it.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment – I do appreciate that.

  • Dbroering

    Thanks for replying. I really like the effect there. It makes perfect sense that you used a 2×6 for support. I really appreciate your feedback and hope to use the pre-cast concept next spring!

  • Anonymous

    Those as cast in place concrete pads. As they get closer to the house, we put in a pronounced “toekick” to accentuate the look that the pads are floating. We did this by adding a 2×6 along the edge of the formwork that was removed later.

  • Dbroering

    Bob, in the last picture are those large steps pre-cast concrete slabs? I am looking to design a hardscape in the back of the renovation i am doing in combination with an ipe deck. Would love to hear what you used there.

    Thanks

  • Janice

    Ipe wood. Have you made anything with that before? It is so incredibly dense and difficult…but beautiful, it is. When you finish your house, I hope there are more than enough pictures to express this combination of materials!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      I use Ipe wood all the time for the decks on our projects. Several years ago I did a huge landscape wall out of it (I think it was 28′ tall). It was a exterior shell building remodel – the previous tenant was a BBQ joint and the tilt-wall building was entirely painted pink. Since it was just a square box, to give it a little more street presence, I put this cantilevered wall out in front. I’ll email you a picture.

      Thanks for commenting, I am glad you took the time.

  • Janice

    Ipe wood. Have you made anything with that before? It is so incredibly dense and difficult…but beautiful, it is. When you finish your house, I hope there are more than enough pictures to express this combination of materials!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      I use Ipe wood all the time for the decks on our projects. Several years ago I did a huge landscape wall out of it (I think it was 28′ tall). It was a exterior shell building remodel – the previous tenant was a BBQ joint and the tilt-wall building was entirely painted pink. Since it was just a square box, to give it a little more street presence, I put this cantilevered wall out in front. I’ll email you a picture.

      Thanks for commenting, I am glad you took the time.

  • http://mowerymarsh.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Marsh

    Love the list… cor-ten, walnut, white ceasar stone, ipe, standing seam, stucco… you sure hit all my favorites too. And thanks for the burnished block tip… I’ve used it in schools but hadn’t thought about a residential application. I could find some good use for the 4 x 16 module I found on the website. Thanks!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Jennifer,

      Isn’t this every architect’s list of favorite materials? We use it all the time and the 4×16 modules are amazingly awesome – particularly so when used in a stacked bond pattern. They have a color called “onyx” which is really dark gray with little orange flecks in it. It looks like black lava rock. It’s hard not to try and find a reason to put it in every single project.

  • http://mowerymarsh.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Marsh

    Love the list… cor-ten, walnut, white ceasar stone, ipe, standing seam, stucco… you sure hit all my favorites too. And thanks for the burnished block tip… I’ve used it in schools but hadn’t thought about a residential application. I could find some good use for the 4 x 16 module I found on the website. Thanks!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Jennifer,

      Isn’t this every architect’s list of favorite materials? We use it all the time and the 4×16 modules are amazingly awesome – particularly so when used in a stacked bond pattern. They have a color called “onyx” which is really dark gray with little orange flecks in it. It looks like black lava rock. It’s hard not to try and find a reason to put it in every single project.

  • http://www.food-sparks.com Food*Sparks

    I have always wondered about that damn light, and now I know! I see them everywhere now! And at $1,100 bucks, it will stay everywhere, except my place! lol When will IKEA make a knock-off? :)

    -K.

  • http://www.food-sparks.com/ Food*Sparks

    I have always wondered about that damn light, and now I know! I see them everywhere now! And at $1,100 bucks, it will stay everywhere, except my place! lol When will IKEA make a knock-off? :)

    -K.

  • http://www.concretedetail.com/blog Rich Holschuh

    Bob – I see no glass block on this otherwise comprehensive list!

    The Blizzard surfacing by CaesarStone is spiffy – I know others hereabouts are partial to it as well. You make a point about marble’s vulnerability to acids in a kitchen (that has been disputed also by some of the aforementioned “others”). I was struck in a post about Blizzard (on another blog recently) with how much it resembled white concrete with an as-cast finish – concrete is often compared to marble with regard to staining and etching susceptibility (both being calcium based). There are sealers available now (and used by the more progressive fabricators) which negate this likelihood and make it entirely suitable (even white!) for food prep surfaces. So you can have it both ways.

  • http://www.concretedetail.com/blog Rich Holschuh

    Bob – I see no glass block on this otherwise comprehensive list!

    The Blizzard surfacing by CaesarStone is spiffy – I know others hereabouts are partial to it as well. You make a point about marble’s vulnerability to acids in a kitchen (that has been disputed also by some of the aforementioned “others”). I was struck in a post about Blizzard (on another blog recently) with how much it resembled white concrete with an as-cast finish – concrete is often compared to marble with regard to staining and etching susceptibility (both being calcium based). There are sealers available now (and used by the more progressive fabricators) which negate this likelihood and make it entirely suitable (even white!) for food prep surfaces. So you can have it both ways.