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Brick is an ancient material used to build homes for centuries. But does that mean brick meets current home energy requirements and does a brick home need insulation? Insulation along with brick is the best way to insulate a home and lower energy costs. The type of insulation you should use may vary depending on the age of the house and how it was built.
New Brick Homes
Brick siding became the norm when building codes began requiring insulation inside the exterior walls. One of the best insulators is actually air. Most good insulation traps air which is why it's so light and fluffy, the exact opposite of brick. Brick's are not a very good insulator but a modern home with brick is really just a wood frame house with brick used as a siding and not a structural material. The cavity between the studs, inside the exterior walls, is what's insulated.
Brick is used differently today then it was in the past. Older homes used brick as a structural, load bearing material. However new homes use it primarily as an exterior siding.
Modern homes have frames built from wood, steel or concrete with brick used as a siding material.
A brick home usually includes a membrane, such as a vapor resistant house wrap like Tyvek or tar paper over the home's sheathing. When we install brick, we generally leave a narrow air space between the membrane and the bricks. This allows some space for air flow and an area where water can drain if it gets behind the brick.
During construction, brick siding is secured to the home's frame with metal anchors, known as “brick ties.” Mortar creates the uniform joints between bricks. Small holes, known as “weep holes,” are located along the bottom course of the bricks to allow any water that gets behind the bricks a place to drain out.
Rigid foam insulation boards can be used to insulate solid walls such as concrete block or poured concrete.
Older Brick Homes
Older brick homes that were built before modern energy codes came into effect, were not built to include insulation. This is why old homes are so expensive to heat and cool.
Outer walls were made from brick or other masonry products, held together by mortar. In some cases, load bearing brick walls were built with two layers of brick running parallel to one another with some space in the middle. The space was then filled with crushed stone and mortar. Walls were solid masonry with no extra room for insulation.
Interior walls were generally masonry or wood with lathe and plaster.
Walls were also built with concrete block or poured concrete. And with no additional insulation.
If you want to insulated a home built using these old fashioned building techniques then you have no choice but to add it onto the outside of the walls. There's no way to get it in the wall because they're solid.
Common Problems With Insulating Old Brick Homes
The main issues with insulating old brick homes are space, time and money. There's no room inside the walls to add insulation so it has to be added to the outside. This takes up a lot of space. On average you'll be adding around 4″- 8″ which include the insulation and finishing. Adding insulation in this way is both time consuming and expensive. It's no small task to add insulation to every inch of your walls and then having to finish the walls. Remember, you'll need not only the insulation but also an entirely new exterior siding or interior wall finish. Is it even worth it?
It usually makes more sense to make other parts of the home more energy efficient. Things like replacing windows and doors, sealing air leaks, providing more insulation in areas such as attics and basements and upgrading to energy efficient heating and cooling systems. In the long run making these changes could be more impactful than insulating the home.
Brick homes are a beautiful design that's maintenance free, extremely durable, lasts decades longer than any other form of siding and is proven to increase home value, if they're built the right way. But older brick homes have little to no insulation when compared to modern brick homes. Does a brick home need insulation? And is insulating an older brick home worth the money? That's up to you. It's definitely possible. However its a time consuming, expensive job and there are alternative ways of making an older brick home more energy efficient.
I hope some of this information will help you decide if your older brick home needs some additional insulation. If you are looking for a reliable merchandise of Insulating Bricks, please contact us now!