Brick has been used for centuries to provide housing to protect humans from the elements. Though brick has natural insulating properties, this can be increased with the use of insulating materials to lower energy costs. The types of insulation used can vary depending on the age of the house and the method of construction used at the time it was built.
How Brick Insulates
Brick generally offers better insulating capabilities than other building materials. It helps to keep the interior temperature of homes relatively constant because of its thermal mass and the moisture that the material absorbs, according to the ClayBricks website. Brick absorbs and releases heat slowly during the day, keeping homes cooler during the day and warmer at night. This ability to hold and release heat can be increased by the addition of insulating materials, increasing the energy efficiency of the home and lowering fuel costs.
New Brick Construction
Current construction of brick homes generally involves the use of a single layer of brick for the facade of the structure, according to home improvement expert Tim Carter at the AskTheBuilder website. This brick is placed over a wood frame such as is used in most home construction. The wood walls can then be filled with insulation just as in other types of homes. Foam insulating boards are used for solid masonry walls that separate the outer masonry from the inner masonry walls.
Older Brick Homes
Older brick homes, constructed in times when energy costs were low, were not built to accommodate insulation. Outer walls may be 4-inch-thick bricks with inner walls of concrete brick or cinder block that is also 4 inches thick. The thin furring strips that hold the inside walls to this material leaves little room for insulation. Foam insulation is often sprayed in through holes in the interior walls that must then be filled and re-painted.
Problems of Insulating Older Brick Homes
There is a minimal amount of space available in older brick construction to allow for a sufficient amount of insulating material to make a difference in energy costs. Therefore, the costs involved in installing the insulation may not be recouped in a reasonable amount of time. In these cases, it is advisable to concentrate efforts on making other parts of the structure more energy-efficient, such as improving or replacing windows and doors, caulking air leaks and providing more insulation in areas such as attics and basements.