Masonry Retrofits and Freeze-Thaw Risk – Reading List


The readings below are related to Randy Van Straaten’s March 2017 LAB Event on insulating existing masonry buildings, in particular in relation to interior insulation and freeze-thaw risk. Together, these resources provide a general introduction to this topic and related research.

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Top 5 Things to Read:

#1: Critical Freeze-Thaw Saturation Measurement of In-Service Masonry
Randy Van Straaten, Trevor Trainor, and Chris Schumacher, available from
Article from the Thermal Performance of the Exterior Envelopes of Whole Buildings XIII International Conference, Clearwater, Florida, 2016. Describes recent research on critical saturation measurement and field sampling.

#2: Expert Meeting Report: Interior Insulation Retrofit of Mass Masonry Wall Assemblies
Kohta Ueno and Randy Van Straaten, available from
This Building America report presents expert views on assessment of risk factors for premature building deterioration due to interior insulation retrofits, and methods to reduce such risks.

#3: Field Monitoring and Simulation of a Historic Mass Masonry Building Retrofitted with Interior Insulation
Kohta Ueno, John Straube, and Randy Van Straaten, available from
This Buildings XII paper reports on measured moisture and temperature data from a circa-1917 mass masonry building that was retrofitted with interior polyurethane spray foam insulation.

#4: Improving Access to Frost Dilatometry Methodology for Assessing Brick Masonry Freeze Thaw Degradation Risk
Randy Van Straaten and Trevor Trainor, available from
This paper from the 14th Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology discusses the advantages of frost dilatometry relative to other available test methods for application-specific risk assessments, and describes research aimed at refining the frost dilatometry method.

#5: Towards a Limit States Approach to Insulating Solid Masonry Walls in a Cold Climate
David De Rose, Nastassja Pearson, Peter Mensinga, and John Straube. Available at
Paper presented at the 14th Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology. Discusses the use of critical degree of saturation and temperature/relative humidity to assess failure thresholds for masonry retrofits.

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