Are brick houses hotter in Florida?

Friday, September 21, 2018

There is not a simple answer to this question because there are several different construction details that can affect the level of insulation in a brick house. The first variable is the type of construction. Although most people assume that the brick walls of a home are the structure that is holding up the roof, that is not usually the case. 

    Most homes in Florida with brick on the exterior are actually constructed with wood stud framing and the brick is applied as an exterior finish. The wood-framed wall behind the brick is the structure and the brick just provides a pleasing facade, as shown in the photo below of a home under construction. 


    This type of construction provides space between the studs for insulation—either four or six inches deep, depending on the size lumber used. It has a good level of insulation in the walls to ward off the summer afternoon heat, especially in houses built after the Florida Energy Code went into effect at the beginning of the this century.

   But another type of brick home uses larger “structural” brick, and the masonry is the wall structure. We don’t see structural brick homes too often, and they have minimal or no insulation in the wall itself. However, the brick provides a thermal mass, similar to concrete block homes, that slowly absorbs the heat during the day and releases it at night, smoothing out the temperature changes. The photo below is the garage of a structural brick house, with brick exposed on both the inside and outside of the wall.

   Because the walls are only one part of the insulation envelope that makes a home energy-efficient to air condition on hot days, the amount of insulation in the attic and whether the windows and sliding glass doors have insulated glass will also affect the overall comfort level of a brick home on hot summer days.

   Your home inspector can tell you if the brick home you are considering is wood stud framed or structural brick, and the level of other insulation provided.

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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

Why is my stucco cracking?

There's cracks running along the home's concrete tie beam. What's wrong? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

What is engineered wood siding?

Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

What is a "continuous load path”?

Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

How can I tell if cracks in the garage floor are a problem or not? 

What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

Why is housewrap installed on exterior walls under the siding? 

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

What causes cracks in the walls and floors of a house?

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

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