Brick Wall Lining Served as Insulation, Wind Barrier, Fire Blocking Brick Lined Walls in Wood Framed Homes
How to Detect Brick Wall Liner, What to do About "Brick Insulation" in Building Walls

  • BRICK LINED WALLS - CONTENTS: What is brick wall lining or brick "insulation" or "brick nogging" in buildings? What are the insulating properties of brick used in wall cavities? Why were bricks used to line the interior of some wood-framed buildings? How to identify the presence of brick wall lining materials and how to inspect this system for defects. How to repair brick-lined walls. What to do if part of your brick lined wall has fallen into the attic.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the properties, identification, & repair of brick nogging or brick-lined building walls.
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Brick filled cavity walls in wood frame buildings:

This article describes brick wall lining or "insulation" in buildings, why it was used, what problems may occur, and the inspection methods and clues to detect brick lined walls in older homes (sometimes called Brick Nogging) and discusses the implications of brick wall liners in buildings.

Non-structural bricks were used to line the exterior walls in some pre-1900 wood frame buildings primarily an air infiltration or wind barrier, possibly as "insulation" or for thermal mass, and possibly as a "sound proofing" method.

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Brick Wall Lining in Older Homes: how to identify brick nogging

Brick Wall Lining Served as Insulation, Wind Barrier, Fire BlockingBrick wall "insulation" or brick nogging may be found in wood framed buildings built up to about 1900. Usually these homes have exterior clapboards and interior plaster walls.

Often these brick-lined wood-framed homes were built with balloon stud framing, no exterior sheathing (they used diagonal bracing), and exterior clapboards right on the studs. In homes framed in this manner, if the exterior wall cavities were left empty, the walls were drafty and uninsulated.

Some homes, such as the Weisman home in Montgomery NY (shown above) and another home photographed by Arlene Puentes (shown below), were built with brick-lined walls, bricks being mortared in between the studs on all floors and even extending into the attic.

Other benefits of this design included fire stopping effects and added thermal mass to the building, making temperature changes less rapid and thus the house more comfortable. The presence of brick in wood frame wall cavities, such as in the photograph shown at the top of this page (Courtesy Joe and Beth Weisman) may help determine the age of a building.

The condition of the brick "nogging" may also be an important indicator of the building leak history.

Also see BRICK VENEER WALL AIR LEAKS for a discussion of modern insulation methods for brick veneer walls.

An owner of such a home usually finds out about the brick in the home walls at the first renovation or wiring or plumbing project. But a home inspector and home buyer might also be able to detect brick-lined walls and should be interested in what this construction method might mean to the new owner.

These bricks are not structural, and they were simply mortared in place between wood framed wall studs and rested on the sill plates of each floor. It would be unusual to find brick wall linings in interior walls unless at one time the "interior" wall was at one time a building exterior wall structure.

Visible in the attic, Brick Wall Lining Served as Insulation, Wind Barrier, Fire Blocking

Brick Nogging was generally not intended to be exposed to view, and served the purpose of blocking wind that blew through older homes constructed without an exterior sheathing - clapboards were nailed directly to the structural frame. Typical wall construction was stud framing, 16" o.c., diagonal wood bracing in walls, clapboard exterior, rough masonry wall filler on all floors and extending into the attic. Interior walls were covered by plaster on wood lath.

Opening walls filled with brick nogging or other masonry will often reveal rough and varying styles of masonry (as it was not intended to be seen) that went in fast. The masons may have used a variety of bricks and rubble. I [DF] suspect that this construction method may have been adopted by builders who had observed the short life and pest infestation problems that followed colonial and later attempts at wall insulation using natural materials like straw and corncobs.

Websters Dictionary gives this definition: "Nogging: (?), n. Rough brick masonry used to fill in the interstices of a wooden frame, in building."
Wordnet Dictionary gives this similar definition: "Noun 1. nogging - rough brick masonry used to fill in the gaps in a wooden frame". "Nogging" is a term also used by some to describe exposed brick lining in timber framed walls in which the brick is left in view on the building exterior for aesthetic reasons.

Because brick (or other masonry) placed in building cavities as a wind barrier and thermal mass source was in that use not intended to be exposed, you can expect to see the workmanship quite rough in appearance and inconsistent from one building area to another (as any and various masonry material at hand might be used) compared with masonry intended to be left exposed to view.

Some Considerations for Homes with Brick Lined Walls - Brick Nogging

Where Will You Find Clues Suggesting the Presence of Brick Lined Walls


What to do if Portions of Your Brick Wall Lining Have Fallen into the Attic


Continue reading at THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



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