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Article idea?

AlanB4 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Perhaps this has been done already but i am interested in an article that lists expected lifetimes of the different building materials, brick (frame and veneer), wood, EPS, XPS, cellulose insulation, fiberglass, drywall, plaster/lath, OSB, roxul, plywood and all the rest (with caveats about what shortens and increases their service life and i’m sure different formulations are available, i see many brick frame buildings in the ares over a century old and its easy to see some are looking very good and some are breaking down).

I wonder if the different foams would last as long as the rest of the building and where i can make substitutions for a more durable building. Having a list for every commonly used material with details would be a nice reference article.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Q. "How long does wood last?"

    A. The oldest wooden building in the world, the Horyuji Temple in Japan, is over 1,200 years old. The Urnes Stave Church in Luster, Norway, is a wooden church that is 850 years old. But it's fairly common for remodeling contractors to find rotten studs and rafters that are only 3 or 4 years old. I have seen mud-brick walls in Syria and Iraq that are over 2,500 years old. But a 50-year-old brick wall can be destroyed by just two or three years of freeze/thaw damage.

    In other words: it's not the materials. It's the quality of the assembly and the quality of the installation. If you want building materials to last a long time, the first rule is to try to keep them dry.

  2. AlanB4 | | #2

    Thats very impressive, thanks
    I know plaster/lath will easily last a century, will drywall approach its longevity?
    And the different foam insulations, are some more long lived then others?

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    The situation with drywall is similar to the situation with wood and bricks. If you keep the drywall dry, there is no reason it shouldn't last longer than you will.

    Rigid foams don't rot. EPS and XPS can be riddled with tunnels chewed by ants, however, and polyiso can absorb water. Joe Lstiburek thinks that ants prefer damp EPS to dry EPS, so if you believe Joe, the "keep it dry" rule remains useful. (Note: some builders say that they have seen lots of ant tunnels in dry foam.)

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