Bricks are a common building material for homes across Canada. Not only do they add curb appeal, but they also serve a practical purpose to help protect your home and keep it comfortable. Masonry has come a long way in the past decade, providing the beauty of natural stone without the expense. Here’s how masonry makes a home more energy-efficient.
What Is Masonry?
Masonry is a building material/technique consisting of brick, stone, or concrete blocks that are held together by mortar. It has long been a construction technique used globally because it looks good and is energy-efficient. It also comes in a wide variety of materials that can be configured in different ways, allowing homeowners to customize the exterior style of their homes.
Masonry is considered a “passive design” element because it helps manage energy from the sun naturally. Passive design is based on four elements:
- Orientation to help manage the heat from the sun
- Importance of natural ventilation to help cool the home naturally
- Insulation in the walls and ceiling to reduce heat loss
- Thermal mass using wall materials such as bricks to absorb the sun’s heat which keeps it from entering through the walls of the home
Bricks offer excellent thermal mass, which means brick homes tend to be very energy-efficient.
Benefits Of Masonry
There are many benefits to choosing masonry for your home, including:
- Increased fire protection because it is non-combustible
- Resistance to rot, pests, weather, and wind
- Curb appeal for any home style and to create interesting architectural features
- Able to withstand large amounts of compressive weight loads ideal for buildings
- Increased thermal mass for the home that translates into improved energy-efficiency
- High durability
- Improved resale value
- Less expensive as a building material
- Less expensive for labour costs
- Low maintenance
Overall, masonry is one of the easiest ways to improve the look of your home while enjoying the benefits of improved thermal mass.
How Masonry Makes A Home More Energy-Efficient With Thermal Mass
As mentioned, thermal mass refers to how a material reacts to heat. Brick is able to absorb and store heat, providing excellent thermal mass for your home. This is important because thermal mass found in brick homes increases comfort while decreasing energy use. Energy-efficient masonry absorbs heat in the daylight and releases it in the cool of the night providing a very efficient exterior material.
Also, in the wintertime on sunny days the brick continues to absorb the heat provided by sunlight which provides a warming effect while you sleep. It acts as its own little heater, taking and storing the sunlight throughout the day and releasing it at night. Knowing this, it might be hard to imagine how brick can help in the heat of summer.
However, the bricks actually help store warmth inside your home which is then released outside. Although you need to help manage thermal mass in the summer months, adding shady trees, bushes and awnings can help keep the bricks cooler.
What Types Of Masonry Are Available?
There are basically three types of masonry available for your home:
- Brick: Despite what you might think, brick is quite affordable. Once the configuration is determined, the bricks are easy to lay because they are all of the same shape. They are also cheaper to produce, especially when compared to natural stone products. Brick walls come in many different textures and colours, allowing you to create a unique look whether classic, rustic, or something more contemporary. Bricks are also easy to work with for complicated areas such as doorways or windows while still creating a very polished look.
- Stone: Natural stone is the most durable and weather-resistant material since it occurs naturally outdoors. As a result, you’ll enjoy longer life with your home exterior when choosing a natural stone. However, the beauty and durability of stone also make it much more expensive. It is also very expensive to dig and shape building materials. Although it is low maintenance, you’ll pay far more up front for both the stone and the installation. The good news is that today there are many man-made stone materials available, allowing you to get the look and texture of stone without the high cost.
- Concrete Blocks: These blocks were traditionally only used for practical purposes. However, today they are available in many colours and finishes. They can even be ordered with customized looks which of course can get very expensive. However, as a building material for the home, they are less practical than other brick and stone options. Most homeowners look to concrete blocks for their outdoor living space such as patios, walkways or steps. Cultured stone is the latest material ideal for home exteriors, and as mentioned above offers a beautiful alternative to the high cost of natural stone.
With these options available you are sure to find the ideal look for your home and budget.
How Is Masonry Maintained?
Masonry work is designed to last, with the average brick home lasting over 100 years with proper care. However, exposure to the elements over time slowly deteriorates the joints. Therefore, regular inspections of your brickwork are the best way to avoid costly damage. Looking for signs of loose, cracked, or missing mortar and bricks allows you to head any further damage off at the pass.
Professional masonry services such as parging help seal small cracks. Mortar joint restoration is also a skilled form of masonry maintenance, removing and replacing damaged mortar to restore brick wall integrity. In some cases, the bricks themselves can also become brittle and might require replacement. An expert brick mason will match your brick and mortar to maintain a uniform look, so the repairs are seamless.
Masonry makes your home more energy-efficient by offering excellent thermal mass to help manage the sun’s heat. If you are in need of masonry repairs or would like a quote on a brick or cultured stone exterior, click here for a quote today.