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Masonry Wall Insulation

Installed correctly, masonry wall insulation can cut your utility bills, make your home more comfortable, and increase its value.

The walls shall be inspected for any evidence of bulk damage from bulk water intrusion, moisture, or pests. A list of any potential problems shall be provided to the homeowner before proceeding with wall insulation so remediation can be fully addressed as necessary, including improving exterior flashing details as needed, before starting the work.
Option 1: Exterior Insulation with Rigid Foam Board Insulation
Rigid insulation shall be attached to the exterior side of the existing masonry using fasteners or glue, as recommended by the manufacturer. All seams shall be tight fitting and the insulation shall completely cover the masonry without any gaps or voids, and all joints shall be fully sealed with tape, spray foam, or caulk.
New window and door flashing shall be installed including pan flashing at the sill.
The door and window jambs and sills shall be extended if needed, based on the thickness of the foam. This may require removal and re-installation of the windows and doors.
Furring strips should be installed over the rigid foam to provide a drainage and ventilation space between the foam and the new siding.
Option 2: Interior Insulation with Spray Foam and Batt Insulation
A steel stud wall shall be constructed 2 inches away from the masonry wall. (The space allows complete coverage of the wall and reduces thermal bridging.)
Window sills and door jambs shall be extended and electrical boxes relocated as needed for increased wall depth.
High-density closed-cell or medium-density open-cell foam shall be sprayed directly on the entire surface of the masonry at a thickness of 2 to 4 inches.
Finishing material (e.g. drywall) shall be attached to the studs. No vinyl wallpaper or any other kind of Class I vapor retarder shall be used on the inside face of the wall.
Option 3: Interior Insulation with Rigid Foam Board Insulation
Rigid foam insulation boards with an R-value that meets or exceeds the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code prescriptive requirement for the home’s location shall be attached to the interior of the wall with construction adhesive applied in a serpentine pattern. When using two layers of foam, the seams shall be staggered.
The rigid foam boards shall completely cover all exposed interior wall surfaces with no air gap between them and shall be fully in contact with the wall.
Panel seams shall be fully sealed with caulk, foam, mastic, or flashing tape specified as acceptable by the rigid foam insulation manufacturer.
Furring strips shall be installed to create a nailing surface for the drywall.
Vinyl wallpaper or any other kind of Class I vapor retarder shall not be used on the inside face of the wall.

BASC Guides

Information guide describing how to perform a thorough visual evaluation of walls, windows and doors before proceeding with renovation projects.

Guide describing how to apply an air control layer directly over existing wall sheathing, and cover by two layers of insulating sheathing held in place by vertical furring strips.

Guide describing how to insulate the walls of an existing home with spray foam insulation.

Tips to Sell Quality Installed Home Improvements

Home Improvement Expert (HIE) is a valuable tool for organizations committed to quality installed work. The following tips help optimize the value of this tool when selling home improvements:

  • Be the Expert: Take advantage of Building America Solution Center comprehensive guidance on ‘Existing Home’ retrofits.
  • Earn Trust: Inform homeowners how your work conforms to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) world-class expert guidance and recommend homeowners visit the DOE website as evidence these are indeed official best practices.
  • Clarity with Contrast: Tell prospective homeowner clients to compare your expert recommended best practices with other contractors.
  • Ensure Equivalent Pricing: Tell prospective homeowner clients to insist other bids also include DOE checklists to ensure equivalent quality work.
  • Translate Value: Note your company uses DOE HIE Checklists based on world-class expert recommendations for home improvements on all your public-facing communication including websites, advertising, and signage.
  • Create Emotional Experiences: Provide visual evidence contrasting the difference between poor and high quality work such as infrared images for good and bad insulation and air sealing; pre- and post-energy bills following quality installed work; short and long warranties for standard and high-efficiency equipment; and charts showing amounts of contaminants in homes that can be reduced with effective fresh air systems.

Masonry Wall Insulation Background

Masonry Wall Insulation

Older homes without effective wall insulation allow excessive heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Insulating walls is a highly effective way to improve your home’s performance. Adding wall insulation can reduce your heating and cooling bills, improve comfort, reduce drafts, and help your home meet increasing performance expectations. However, insulating masonry walls involves unique challenges. The traditional “drill and fill” approach of drilling through the exterior siding will not work if the exterior is masonry brick or concrete. Options for insulating from the exterior include covering the existing brick with rigid foam or removing existing siding from concrete block, then installing rigid foam and new siding. Alternatively, drill and fill can be used on the interior if a cavity wall exists, or rigid foam or an insulated cavity wall can be constructed over an existing concrete block wall.