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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    Hello- I'm looking for advice on updating the exterior of our old brick home. There's minimal wall insulation and thought insulating the exterior under new siding would be the easiest way.
    Are there any potential issues to this? Is there any documented projects like this?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    To me, that will devalue your house some. Brick is always worth more. But from an energy efficiency standpoint, it does have advantages. The foam can be applied with an adhesive. then furring strips over that and then the vinyl siding. You need a minimum of 2" of foam to be worth the effort, 4" would be better.

    Except for windows and doors, the foam will provide a continuous blanket of insulation, no heat paths from studs etc. The brick will provide a thermal mass under the insulation that will store heat by day and release it at night. This will further help with utility bills.

    If you do this, you do need to provide a path for air to enter the weep holes in the brick. The weep holes are little voids between the bricks where the mortar was left out and are just below the floor level of he foundation. There should be one every two feet or so all the way around the house. They allow the walls to breath and help remove any excess moisture. If these are blocked, you could have structural issues later due to wood rot.

    Now for the economics. If you are doing this for energy efficiency, it does help, but do not expect a large payback. Walls typically account for about 20% of the total heating and cooling costs. Heating and cooling are typically about half of your total energy bill. About the best that you can expect is that this will reduce the losses through the walls by about 50-60%, thats 50-60% of the 20% of your heat/cooling costs or 50-60% of the 10% of your total energy bill. In other words, your total savings from this project will be about 5-6%.

    Greater ROI's (return on investment) can be found in weather stripping and caulking, upgrading the attic insulation, upgrading the windows and upgrading the heating and AC systems to higher efficiency units. In addition to the low payback, there is the offset to the value to your house.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    Keith,
    How on earth is glued foam on brick gonna hold the weight of the siding?
    I'd say, leave the brick alone and work from the inside.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    Keith,
    Thanks for the reply. I understand the building science your describing. The home is an old steel mill cape cod with dated, ugly brick. A neighbor with a similar home has tastefully pulled off a project like this and it looks great.
    I haven't opened the walls yet but believe there is only settled horse hair for insulation. The walls are very cold in the winter.
    The home is heated with an old fuel oil burner and radiators.
    I thought about opening all the exterior walls to insulate but I am fairly certain the radiator pipes are wrapped in asbestos and didn't want to open that can of worms.
    The brick does not have any drainage holes.
    We plan to replace the old burner with a high effiency gas burner as well.
    The house needs an updated exterior. Maybe painting the brick like some of the historic homes in town will help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    271

    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    You could look into using an Exterior Insulation and Finish System. ( EIFS )
    Before this type system is used chech on the following.
    1 Trapped moisture.
    2 Type of adhesive for EPS to brick.
    3 Do you need a moisture barrier?
    4 It should be a drainage system.
    5 How will it effect the existing opennings?
    Contact a Tech. Rep. for the system selected and have that company furnish details and approval for installation on your House.
    Samples of manufactures:
    STO Corp
    Dryvit
    Sono Wall
    Master Wall
    Plus about 25 others

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    Before you do anything to the brick, consult with a real estate agent to find out what the impact on the homes value will be. Those old bricks are irreplaceable and some are very desirable. A restoration gone bad is a crying shame, so be careful here.

    I would look at ways of removing as much of the old insulation as possible with minimal disturbance of the wall. Maybe it would be possible to remove a band of plaster near the floor and pull/vacuum out the old insulation, patch the plaster or at least put a barrier over the ban, then drill holes at the top of each cavity and fill the voids with minimally expanding foam.

    I understand your concern over the asbestos issue so you are right to be concerned. For this, it might be worth calling in a spe******t. It is expensive, but then what is peace of mind worth.

    Another option, if you feel you can afford the loss of space is to cover the present plaster with 3/4" or 1" foam boards, glued or tacked in place, then a vapor barrier and sheetrock. Use longer sheetrock screws to account for the thickness of the foam. Of course that means moving outlets outward and maybe moving radiators, but it shouldn't mean disturbing those pipes.

    A lot of the cold air that people feel flowing down a wall is actually coming from the windows. Insulated windows or inside storms or interior insulated shutters will help a lot with this. Interior insulated shutters are a homemade option, I don't think they are commercially available. Make from 1x1 material and use a foil backed paperboard with the foil surfaces facing each other to form the insulation of the cavity. Decorate the outside surfaces of the shutter as you see fit.

    A 3/4" airspace between two foil surfaces is about an R-3. A single pane glass outside the shutter creates another dead air space worth about another R-1. A total of R-4 for an old window is pretty competitive compared to a new high efficiency window at a fraction of the cost. Interior shutter idea courtesy of "From the Walls In" by Charles Wing. I hope he doesn't mind my putting it here, the book is no longer in publication.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Installing foam insulation and vinyl siding over a brick exterior

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Keith,
    How on earth is glued foam on brick gonna hold the weight of the siding?
    I'd say, leave the brick alone and work from the inside.
    The furring strips will hold the siding. The furring strips should be attached with fasteners (screws or nails, screws preferred) through the foam and into the brick. I did not go into this much detail, my bad. But I absolutely agree with your last sentence, that was the point that I was trying to make.

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