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Insulating Brick

What type of insulation and thickness would be best for building a new home and I want to have the exterior brick be the finished interior walls? I live in the Southeastern Region of Missouri.

Thanks for the Help

Asked by Shelly Gresham
Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:28

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27 Answers

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1.
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If I understand you correctly the exterior wythe and the structural wall are all brick, not a brick-veneer on a timber framed structure?

If yes, building it as a cavity wall with 2" of rigid EPS foam attache to the brick on the interior side of the cavity would meet IRC 2012 code min due to the dynamic mass benefit of the interior portion of the brick wall. If it were a brick veneer on a 2x4 timber frame you'd need a minimum of 1" XPS or polyiso on the structural sheathing and R13 cavity fill. (Polyiso is somewhat higher-R and is also greener than XPS due to the more benign blowing agents used in manufacturing. EPS is lower R per inch, but uses the same low impact blowing agents as polyiso.)

But that's code-min. If you want something better than code, going with 2" of polyiso in the all-brick wall would be a significant performance bump over EPS. If brick veneer, using 2" of polyiso sheathing & 2x6 framing w/R20 cavity fill would be a similarly decent performance upgrade over code.

See: http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/irc/2012/icod_irc_2012_11_sec002.htm (southeastern MO is zone 4.)

Answered by Dana Dorsett
Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:18

2.
Helpful? 0

There are insulating bricks available. Inside - outside all the same, no need for further clutter.

What type of bricks are favoured?

Is a wufi analysis planned ?

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:37

3.
Helpful? 0

Shelly,
If you literally want the "exterior brick" to be visible on the interior of your house, it sounds like you want a single-wythe brick wall. That probably won't be thick enough to hold up your roof.

In the old days, people used to build solid brick walls. They were mutl-wythe walls -- with more than one wythe (thickness) of brick.

No one builds a wall like that any more, because they have no insulation. A building with a solid brick wall is expensive to heat.

So these days, we have walls with insulation in the middle. You need something on the outside of the insulation -- that can be brick if you want. And you also need something on the inside of the insulation -- that can also be brick if you want.

You also need one more element: a structural wall to hold up the roof. That probably won't be the bricks. It's more likely to be a concrete-block (CMU) wall, a steel-framed wall, or a wood-framed wall.

If you want to pursue any of these options, talk to an architect or a builder.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 09:20

4.
Helpful? 0

Bricks are about the best insulating and loadbearing material menkind uses for construction.
Hardly a kiln that isn't made from bricks.

Here the European top brand manufacturer of insulating and loadbearing bricks:

http://www.wienerberger.com/brands-products/porotherm-bricks-ceiling-sys...

These bricks don't burn, aren't eaten and last for centuries if not not for milleniums.
And are PHI certified , well some types.
They do not contain hazardous materials if made with virgin materials.

" No one builds a wall like that any more, because they have no insulation. A building with a solid brick wall is expensive to heat.

So these days, we have walls with insulation in the middle. "

That's completely wrong, see above

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 10:41

5.
Helpful? 0

Hein,
You claim that bricks are "the best insulating" material used for construction? That is flat-out wrong.

A common 4-inch brick has an R-value of R-0.8 (or R-0.2 per inch). That's dismal.

Even a log cabin is better. A softwood log has an R-value of R-1.25 per inch. That's 6 times better than brick.

I notice that on the website you linked to, the manufacturer of the Austrian bricks doesn't depend on the bricks for insulation. The photo shows a layer of insulation between two brick walls -- because bricks aren't insulators.
.

Austrian brick wall.jpg
Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 10:51

6.
Helpful? 0

What, insulation on the interior side of the cavity!!? Why didn't I think of that? :-)

"Bricks" like autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks have a more favorable R-value, than common brick and the durability is good, but it's not usually the most cost effective solution even for getting to code-min. In a MO location the high vapor permeability of brick may also lead to interior-paint failures during the cooling season unless there is a vapor barrier on the interior surface, which increases the cost of the interior finish for AAC (which could otherwise could have plaster applied directly to the blocks, as is common in Europe, where the summertime humidity loads are much lower than in MO.) Putting continuous foam insulation in the cavity of a cavity-wall puts the vapor retarder a favorable place, whether the inteior wythes are AAC, CMU, or common brick.

Answered by Dana Dorsett
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 12:25

7.
Helpful? 0

Hi, This is Shelly and I appreciate all your help. Yes, I am aware that I need to insulate in between the two brick walls. I will most likely be using the polyiso insulation. Does that pose a problem? Due to the cost of having two different brick walls I will be using a standard brick. After, researching special bricks they run about twice the price of a standard brick. I truly do appreciate the picture that demostrates the two walls and the insulation.

Answered by Shelly Gresham
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 14:45

8.
Helpful? 0

I forgot to ask what is your preference in a structural element to hold the roof? Thanks Shelly

Answered by Shelly Gresham
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 14:50

9.
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Using 2" foam in masonry wall cavites is pretty common stuff in commercial building in my area. Using polyiso rather than XPS or EPS presents few issues, but the bottom edge of the foam needs a bit of space between it and the foundation or it can wick moisture. Using half-inch spacers to keep a clearance during installation and using FrothPak or similar closed cell foam to seal and fill in the gap prevents the iso from wicking. Using two staggered-seam layers of 1", and taping the seams of both layers with FSK tape is recommended.

The issue of type & material of masonry ties usually comes up in this type of construction. While common steel ties are cheap, a building that is intended to last a century or more is better off with (far more expensive) stainless.

Answered by Dana Dorsett
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 17:01

10.
Helpful? 0

Here again the link showing the monolithic wall at the first picture with the side text :

" Monolithische Wand
The monolithic external wall
consists of just one wall construction material (other than plaster and mortar). Here, the POROTHORMclay blockfulfils the requirements forthermal insulation, sound insulation, fire protection and static as well as ensuring a pleasant indoor climate. "

http://www.wienerberger.com/brands-products/porotherm-bricks-ceiling-sys...

There are many types of bricks and many types of constructions.

Here the PH certified types of monolithic walls for Northern Europe:

http://www.wienerberger.co.uk/blocks/project-reference-testimonial/proje...

These blocks are filled with perlite.
The non-filled ones are good for PH in middle and southern Europe, about the climate zone the OP is looking to build.

@ Shelly Gresham:

Have you figured out the price difference between a monolithic wall and a mixed material wall including all costs?

Hollow bricks are the standard material used in middle and southern Europe for home construction because of their price and thermally insulating properties.

Contact Wienerberger or the other monolithic wall construction brick makers. There is plenty of choice.

Bricks aren't the same as autoclaved blocks, btw..

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 18:45

11.
Helpful? 0

Here the loadbearing, insulating monolithic brick wall which Martin did not see:

About 10-20 % of the privat homes in Germany use this type of brick for the outside walls as the only insulant, plaster and render added.

As said, the PHI certifies buildings made with this type of construction method.

Monolithische_Wand___1122448610204,0.jpg
Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 18:52
Edited Thu, 02/14/2013 - 18:56.

12.
Helpful? 0

Here a home using the monolithic brick wall:

Porotherm_Perlite_6___1326388859163.jpg
Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:03
Edited Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:05.

13.
Helpful? 0

Hein,
First of all, I think you totally misunderstood what Shelly wants. She wants her interior walls to consist of exposed bricks -- exposed American bricks with mortar joints. She is not looking for hollow blocks that will be covered with plaster or drywall. She also wants her exterior walls to consist of exposed bricks.

Second, Shelly isn't going to be importing hollow blocks from Austria.

Third, what is the R-value of a wall built of these Austrian hollow blocks -- a wall without any insulation? Do you know?

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:13

14.
Helpful? 0

Well, Martin, I think you haven't understood the issue with brick construction.

The R-value depends on the type and thickness of the walls. There are many different types of bricks out there to build a solid monolithic PH wall.
Only a minority of these PH bricks is made in Austria btw..

The walls made with (perlite,mineral wool, etc.)- filled bricks can be left exposed, they are wind tight.
Unless of course one builds in an area where the rain comes horizontal , like Ireland or the like.

That there is a national issue with the laws of physics and economics is new to me.
I think you are interpreting a lot without looking at the facts.
Nowhere Shelly said "American bricks" are the only material looked for.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 07:47
Edited Fri, 02/15/2013 - 08:09.

15.
Helpful? 0

From passipedia:

"Monolithic systems of porous concrete or brick have recently appeared on the market but at the moment they are applicable only for the upper limit range of Passive House U-values."

( http://passipedia.passiv.de/passipedia_en/planning/thermal_protection/ex...)

To discuss the science behind monolithic walls maybe here:

http://www.donau-uni.ac.at/de/department/bauenumwelt/forschung/projekte/...

And for the 'American problem' here:

" Resistance to projectiles
The following resistance class is assigned to the
POROTHERM T9 365mm: DIN EN 1522 FB7 LV
Under the topic “Interesting to know,” security is briefly
mentioned: Where materials/constructions are shown to prevent
penetrating projectiles (euro standard DIN EN 1522). The office
for bombardment Ulm carried out different firing tests at blockwork
built with POROTHERM T9 365mm. Due to the
outstanding results the following resistance class is assigned to
the POROTHERM T9 365mm: DIN EN 1522 FB7 LV - this
corresponds to the highest class for testing with long weapons.
(Calibre: 7.62 x 51 mm, projectile: Solid metal jacket, pointed,
hard core, 9.75 g, Range of fire: 10 m)
Therefore the POROTHERM T9 fulfills the highest leading
resistance to Long weapons. "

( http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/var/uploads/exhibitor/1961/6zgsc5ijwl.pdf )

As said, there are other manufacturers as well, ask them for the data sheets.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 08:06

16.
Helpful? 0

Hein,
I wish you would give me the R-values for a typical brick wall -- of a typical thickness used for European residential construction. Perhaps you know the R-value for (a) a wall without perlite, and (b) a wall with perlite. I imagine that the R-values of both types of wall are low --and are nowhere near "the best insulating material used for construction."

Concerning my reference to American bricks: I am not being jingoistic, I can assure you. I was looking for a shorthand way to say that the bricks in the photo you provided are intended to be covered with plaster and don't look anything like exposed brickwork on old American buildings -- the look that Shelly wants. I'll include a photo below, and leave it the Shelly to determine if she likes the look.
.

Austrian brick wall 2.jpg
Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 08:29

17.
Helpful? 0

Oha, Martin....

" Hein,
I wish you would give me the R-values for a typical brick wall -- of a typical thickness used for European residential construction. "

There is no "typical thickness used for European residential construction"

The U-VALUES, dimensions (you are looking for), load bearing capacities for some of the filled bricks are shown in the brochure I have posted:

( http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/var/uploads/exhibitor/1961/6zgsc5ijwl.pdf )

And again: there are many more bricks out there which insulate and are loadbearing. Looking totally different from the pictures shown here so far.
Wienerberger (the pictures) is only 1 company out of many, although about the largest.

From your last posting I see you aren't aware of the difference between bricks and clinker, is that correct?

( " Concerning my reference to American bricks: I am not being jingoistic, I can assure you. I was looking for a shorthand way to say that the bricks in the photo you provided are intended to be covered with plaster and don't look anything like exposed brickwork on old American buildings ")

Well, bricks are kiln fired at around 950 degrees Celsius and clinkers above 1050 degrees Celsius. Just to explain.

Twice you have in this thread misquoted me:

"the best insulating"

"the best insulating material used for construction."

You propably are refering to my first sentence in this thread:

"Bricks are about the best insulating and loadbearing material menkind uses for construction."

Mind the little word "and" in conjunction with " loadbearing". Joining "insulating" with " loadbearing".

In this combination modern brick (and not clinker!) shows the best performance.
We could build bigger and higher with concrete and steel, with clinker. But not as well thermally insulating.

Mind the bullet test: no rubber foam stick-frame-house would resist the Kalashnikoff-test. Which is published to impress the Americans :)
No one on the EU-continent asks for this,well, some Mafiosis maybe :)

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:20
Edited Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:23.

18.
Helpful? 0

A few more pictures, Shelly was asking

" I forgot to ask what is your preference in a structural element to hold the roof? Thanks Shelly "

The insulated or non-insulated brick U-blocks are used as a ring anchor on which the roof or floor can rest. This U-block will be filled with reinforced concrete:

http://www.juwoe.de/en/index.php4

uschale.jpg
Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:40

19.
Helpful? 0

Hein,
Thanks. The POROTHERM T9 365 mm has a U-value of 0.23 W/m2K.
365 mm = 14.37 inches
0.23 W/m2K = U=0.040 Btu / ft2*h*°F = R-25
So, the wall has an R-value of R-1.7 per inch. That's a bit better than a log wall -- but not much better.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:45
Edited Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:45.

20.
Helpful? 0

Here another small selection of insulating bricks and blocks:

http://www.archiproducts.com/en/258/insulation-thermal-insulating-masonr...

There are corner pieces available, flat or combed structure, in different angles as well.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:45

21.
Helpful? 0

Most manufacturers go up to 500mm wall thickness.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:47

22.
Helpful? 0

Here an insulated brick U-block :

http://www.juwoporoton.com/products/thermoplanublock/

And the rest of the catalogue of this particular company:

http://www.juwoporoton.com/products/

There are many more manufacturers out there.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:55

23.
Helpful? 0

" Thanks. The POROTHERM T9 365 mm has a U-value of 0.23 W/m2K.
365 mm = 14.37 inches
0.23 W/m2K = U=0.040 Btu / ft2*h*°F = R-25
So, the wall has an R-value of R-1.7 per inch. That's a bit better than a log wall -- but not much better."

Check the T7 as well.

There could be lower U-values available , I don't know.

Answered by Hein Bloed
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:59

24.
Helpful? 0

Hi, This is Shelly, I'm really sorry my questions have posed such conflict. I do not think it necessary to compare brick walls with AK-47 research. I just wanted to know what the best method was for double brick walls and the insulation process. I am also quite intelligent and understand most all the technical talk about construction and the Kalashnikoff Test. Please, understand this question and answer blog is to help people or guide them in a positive direction not to get caught in the cross fire of who knows better. I do appreciate all the help but when you start batting back and forth all the positive gets lost and only confusion occurs. Instead of helping someone you have caused alot of confusion. What I thought was clear is no longer. Dana thank you for remaining neutral and I do believe your input was quite helpful to me. Thank all of you for your time Shelly

Answered by Shelly Gresham
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:38

25.
Helpful? 0

Shelly, here is a primer. I hope it is of some help.
http://www.maconline.org/tech/design/cavity2web.pdf

Answered by Malcolm Taylor
Posted Sat, 02/16/2013 - 00:06

26.
Helpful? 0

Malcolm, Thank you so much!!!!! The data was great. I understand it and the diagrams are perfect for greater understanding. This is how I initally thought I understood the brick wall system. Again, Thanks Alot!!! for the confirmation. Shelly

Answered by Shelly Gresham
Posted Sat, 02/16/2013 - 10:50

27.
Helpful? 0

Hello Shelly, I've been watching this thread with interest. If yours is a single-story home with wide eaves you will probably be OK with the cavity wall masonry construction outlined in Macom's pdf, though you will be unlikely to achieve the thermal performance available with a carefully constructed frame wall. Be aware though that a frequent failure point with multistory cavity walls is at window and door heads, and in places where this building technique is common (e.g. the UK) specialized flashing techniques have evolved (over decades of trial and error) to address this problem. In a setting where local builders are unlikely to be familiar with these issues please proceed with caution.

Be aware also that an exposed brick interior wythe will be unfamiliar territory to your electrician except in the context of commercial construction where surface conduit wiring may be considered acceptable. UK builders commonly use plastered AAC for the inner wythe, a material which is easily routed for electrical work. Exposed face brick, not so much. Attempts to install wiring behind the brick will almost certainly compromise your air and water barrier. To achieve the look you want it would be smarter to use nonstructural veneers on both sides of a standard framed wall. I'd also suggest you only use the inner veneer on the walls of those spaces where an aggressively textured surface is appropriate, e.g. not in closets, powder rooms and small bathrooms.

Answered by James Morgan
Posted Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:35

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