Monthly Archives: March 2014

How do I properly insulate a Brooklyn Brownstone against draft ?


Image courtesy of  upholsterysupplier.co.uk

Winter of 2014 will definitely remembered. So many snow showers, shoveling twice a week, -50 degrees, now that is extremely cold.

Living in Brooklyn in a Brownstone you have another issue, draft. There is not a single Brownstone owner who can say their house is perfectly insulated. Even if you gutted it  there is allays a crack where a little bit of draft is coming in. (like under the doors)

When temperatures are in the 30’s the heating systems is just working a bit harder but when temperature drops to the teens cold just creeps in.

Naturally most of the draft comes through windows and doors and there are many ways to deal with it.

You can start with caulking but when the holes are over 1/4″ its gets messy.

You can put plastic over the window but then you cannot open the window all winter long.

what you really need is to replace the window itself. Well… now you have a real project! you have to research what types of windows are best for your house, find an installer not to mention the mess of construction and the cost. If you have a 20 foot wide house those windows are quite big.

A middle ground between all those options would be to use Window Treatments.

Keeping your house warm is all about having some air caged in, between the window and  the shade. Just like waring a sweater. The air acts as an insulator keeping cold out and warm in. (It actually works the same way in the summer too)

The trick with draft is not to let the cold air pass through, so whichever Window Treatment you choose must be air tight around the edges.

Surprisingly enough even a simple roller shade can help. Though it works much better with a double layer. You can use a combination of sun shade and blackout shade. Those can work well to control the light and the air enclosed between them will insulate the room.

A step up from Rollers are honeycomb shades also called cellular shades. They have enclosed air built into  the shade itself. And they come with one, two or even three cells. They work better than Roller shades because the gaps on the sides can be very tight up to 1/8″ (as oppose to 1/4 – 1/2″ with roller shades)

The best way to solve draft issue is to use thick insulating curtains. They are made of three layers lining, interlining and decorative fabric. The lining acts as a protection for the fabric from harsh sun and can be use to darken the room. (blackout lining vs translucent lining).

Using interlining is the key here. Interlining is typically made of thick cotton. It is sewn in between the lining and the front fabric. Since it is a thick material it helps lock the air inside the curtain.

Custom Curtains would be superior to most other window treatments in solving draft issues since there are made of flexible fabric that can compensate if the window,floor or ceiling is a bit crooked. You can always make the curtain to overlap the wall (a good idea also when you wish to have a clear window and let the curtain gather on the wall) to block draft around the windows.

What is also nice about curtains is that you can use them in the summer too to cut the heat. If you are tiered of the fabric you choose, you can replace the front fabric reusing the lining and interlining. People may also choose to remove the curtains in the summer clean and store them for the next winter.

There are two drawbacks to having curtains made.

One is cleaning them. Most often fabrics are dry clean only. You can take them down yourself or have a professional company come to take them down and re hang them. To keep the curtains in good shape this should be done once a year.

And the second is that you have to like them.

I really hope this winter ends soon and that we would have a winter like this once in a blue moon and not every year.