Do Brick Houses Stay Cooler in Summer

People choose brick for a lot of reasons. First of all, brick houses and commercial properties look premium. There’s no better choice for a property’s exterior than brick if you’re going for something upscale.  But do brick houses stay cooler in summer?

Brick lasts long, is weather-resistant, relatively easy to repair, and more. However, one of the best benefits of brick relates to its ability to regulate temperatures. Brick houses stay cooler in the summer than many other building materials. It retains cool air and keeps your home or business temperatures lower for longer. That means lower utility bills and more comfortable people inside. 

When built correctly, brick does a beautiful job of stabilizing indoor temperatures. No one wants to think that the cold air they’re paying for and pumping around their home is escaping due to their exterior build. 

With brick, that cold air stays in longer. Adding insulation between the brick and beams creates an even better barrier that combats outdoor heat to keep things nice and cool inside. Even in buildings and homes without, brick does a terrific job of retaining cool air. 

When it’s frighteningly hot out in the peak of summer, people in brick homes are more comfortable because the brick facilitates cool air and keeps it inside. 

How Do Brick Houses Stay Cooler in Summer? – Thermal Mass

Old brick homes will still be there when all of the siding homes and log cabins are gone and replaced. If you walk around old cities in Europe, you’ll see brick buildings and storefronts lining streets that have been there for hundreds of years. 

Brick lasts for generations. Its durability is one of the main reasons why people choose brick when they build or replace exteriors. 

Additionally, brick has a thermal mass that helps it retain heat. This both helps keep things warm in the winter and retains cold air better than siding, stucco, or wood. 

Thermal mass is anything’s capacity to store heat. Typically, lightweight materials have a harder time retaining heat. These materials include things like:

  • Aluminum
  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Artificial Stucco

They are often more affordable than something as durable and performance focused as brick but come with certain drawbacks. Their thermal mass isn’t as capable as a brick. 

Brick, on the other hand, offers advantages due to its high thermal mass, including:

Heat Retention – Your brick will soak up the heat from the sun and hot air inside of a building much better than vinyl siding, for example. The heat will then radiate out or escape brick much slower than with other materials. With brick houses, the home stays warmer for longer because less hot air escapes outdoors. 

Faster Cooling – On a hot summer day, your bricks soak up most of the hot air. Warmer bricks act as a protecting barrier to keep cool air in. It takes more energy to heat up the bricks than other materials, so people inside normally feel smaller swings in temperature. Your HVAC system and air conditioning work faster and not as hard in brick structures. 

Should You Insulate Brick Homes?

Sure, brick is an incredible natural insulator. However, brick has been the go-to material for insulation for centuries. 

Still, adding a layer of insulation along with your brick can kick things up a notch depending on where you live. 

Almost every quality homebuilder or commercial property developer will tell you that insulation along with brick is the way to go if you want to regulate indoor temperatures a cut down on utility costs. 

Whether you add insulation to brick also depends on when and how you’re doing it. Here are some things to consider before you do:

  1. New Builds – On new builds, it’s often easier to install insulation along with brick because you can plan accordingly. Sometimes, you can save on building costs because you don’t need to purchase as much brick to accomplish the same goals when it comes to insulation. The insulating layers take up more room, so there is less brick to lay. 
  2. Older Homes – Are you trying to install insulation in an older home after the fact? Installing insulation in an old brick home is possible; it just presents more of a challenge. There needs to be enough room to work the insulation in, and it could require extensive remodeling, depending on your home.
  3. Build Quality – Solid brick buildings are robust and durable. However, build quality matters a great deal when considering whether to install insulation. You need to confirm whether the brick build quality is good enough to make it matter. Depending on your property, you could be dealing with insulation challenges related to cracks and holes that you’ll need to check. 

PRO-TIP: As a general rule, adding insulation to your brick home will improve its ability to manage temperatures, stay cooler, and retain heat in the winter when you want to stay warm. 

How to Insulate a Brick House

Insulating brick houses or commercial property is most often best left to professionals. Knowing the general process is a good place to start if you’re trying to understand how insulation layers work. If you’re an enterprising DIY homeowner, then these steps will give you a foundation where you can begin to think about whether it’s a project that you want to take on yourself. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Install Framing – You’ll need framing behind your brick walls where you can place the insulation or foam. Framing, of course, usually shrinks the available space you have for living or working. Typically, you’re going to want a 2×4 frame up against your brick where you can insert insulation.
  2. Purchase Desired Insulation – Insulation foam or fiberglass comes in a variety of thicknesses based on your desired performance level. Ask your local store or search online for what people often use in your area. 
  3. Add Flashing to Windows & Doors – You’ll need to install flashing to prevent any leaks or gaps around your windows and doors. Flashing will prevent water from getting in when it rains, and it will also prevent cool air from getting out too fast. 
  4. Insert Insulation – Apply insulating foam around edges and corners. Then, insert your fiberglass insulation into the framed areas. 
  5. Install Drywall – Once your insulation is in, then you can install drywall on the other side of your framing to trap the insulation inside. Your drywall seals the insulation in place and creates a good barrier to keep in heat when it’s cool and lower temperatures when it’s hot outside. 

Tips for Staying Cool in a Brick Home

Do brick houses stay cooler in summer? Yes. However, it’s not magic. 

While it’s true that you’ll probably notice a difference in a brick home versus a vinyl siding home, there are other things you can do to feel cooling in a brick home when it’s hot outside. Here are some tips. 

  • Stay in the basement – Or, if you don’t have a basement, stay on lower floors when it’s super-hot outside. Hot air, as you probably learned in elementary school, rises. It will be hotter upstairs and in the attic than it will be in the basement. So stay low to stay cool. 
  • Go for Natural Shade – If you can, plant trees or install awnings in your house to provide as much shade as possible during the summer. The more you can do to prevent direct sun exposure on your walls; the cooler your house will be when it’s hot outside. 
  • Close the Blinds – The same goes for your windows. Stop the sun from heating up the glass in your windows and the bricks surrounding them by pulling the shades. White pulldown shades do a decent job at reflecting the sun as well. 
  • Check for Cracks – In some brick homes, especially older ones, cracks are a problem. The bricks settle in a way that lets cool air escape around windows and doors, leaving your cool air shooting out into the yard. Seal up any cracks you have with caulk and other practical measures. If necessary, buy a door that better fits the frame. 
  • Invest in Good Windows – Higher-quality windows will protect against large fluctuations in weather. They can cost a bit of money, but they are well worth it if you consider the long-term costs of heating and cooling your house. 

The Bottom Line

All things being equal, brick is an excellent insulator. Its thermal properties mean your house will stay cooler in the summer than other types of homes in your area. If you’re looking for better performance, you can add insulation as an extra layer to get improved results. When in doubt, talk to expert contractors in your area with plenty of positive reviews online to get some free quotes on insulation installation.