External Insulation of Masonry Walls and Wood Framed Walls

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


The use of exterior insulation on a building is an accepted and effective means to increase the overall thermal resistance of the assembly that also has other advantages of improved water management and often increased air tightness of building assemblies. For thin layers of insulation (1' to 1 1/2'), the cladding can typically be attached directly through the insulation back to the structure.For thicker insulation layers, furring strips have been added as a cladding attachment location. This approach has been used in the past on numerous Building America test homes and communities (both new and retrofit applications), and has been proven to be an effective and durable means to provide cladding attachment. However, the lack of engineering data has been a problem for many designers,contractors, and code officials. This research project developed baseline engineering analysis to support the installation of thick layers of exterior insulation on existing masonry and frame walls. Furthermore, water management details necessary to integrate windows, doors, decks, balconies and roofs were created to provide guidance on the integration of exterior insulation strategies withother enclosure elements.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages124
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Building Science Corporation, Somerville, Massachusetts

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-54643

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102013-3571


  • cladding attachment
  • expanded polystyrene
  • extruded polystyrene
  • furring strips
  • insulation
  • polyisocyanurate
  • retrofit
  • rockwool
  • thermal bridging
  • XPS


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