GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Brick with balloon frame: insulation

Bcsuther | Posted in General Questions on

First of all I want to apologize if I get terminology wrong, I’m an electrician by trade and just now getting into DIY construction. I have a 1940’s all brick balloon frame home.  My question is if I would be helping or hurting myself if I applied closed cell spray foam in between the floor joists in my basement to keep air from rising from my basement through my walls. My house is like I said all brick, brick foundation also; and there’s no plate to rot away. Also there’s no insulation other than the 2 layers of brick itself, and I’ve been slowly remodeling and adding spray foam to the new stud walls I’ve been adding as I go along. Thank you and again sorry for my lack of knowledge.

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #1

    It doesn't take closed cell foam to block the air paths to the balloon framing. If there is plank sheathing between the studs and the brick veneer it can usually be retrofit-insulated with blown cellulose, which is very air retardent even at low or mid-density.

    If the joists are embedded in the brick it's a different moisture problem for the joists than if they're on iron/steel joist hangers. Some pictures might be useful. Your location / climate zone also matters.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    As you may know, insulating the interior side of an old structural brick wall (a so-called "multi-wythe brick wall") can lead to brick deterioration resulting from freeze/thaw cycles. (For more information on this issue, see "Insulating Old Brick Buildings.")

    But as long as you aren't using the closed-cell spray foam a insulation -- as long as you are simply using small amounts of spray foam for air sealing (preventing air from rising up the balloon framing cavities) -- then there is no reason you can't use spray foam that way.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |