What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

What Is The Insulation Value (AKA R-Value) Of Faux Stone?

That is an interesting question - what is the insulation value, AKA R-value, of faux stone?

Faux stone, or sometimes called manufactured stone, cultured stone, and veneer stone, is a composite material made from cement, polyurethanes and high-density polymers.  The "stone" product manufacturers say that there are substantial differences in the materials comprising the different products in terms of thicknesses, weights and composition.

But they all claim that faux stone adds R-value ("resistance" value, an insulation measurement) to whatever it is put on top of.  I read claims of adding anywhere from 3.6 to 5 additional R-value with faux stone applications.  The typical insulation R-value of walls is 13.

I'm not sure what the R-value is here, but faux stone certainly seems to conduct heat!

Remember, heat seeks cold.  In the winter it is trying to get out of your house and in the summer it is trying to get in.  We wear coats and warm clothing in cold weather to retain heat, or to prevent it from leaving our bodies so quickly.  It's trying to get out of us!

Can we tell if faux stone is a heat conductor?

We can't, but my thermal camera, Mighty Mo, can!

Comparing these images is very revealing!

All three look at faux stone on a house.  You can see that the faux stone does not extend very high up the house in any location. 

In these palettes, warmer temperatures are demonstrated by orange and yellow.  Similarly, cooler temperatures are demonstrated by lavender, blue and purple.  These depths of the colors are relative to the particular image, but the color scheme is the same.

The outdoor temperature that day was 13F.  In all three images the faux stone is applied below the vinyl siding.  One would have to assume that the same insulation that exists inside the wall behind the vinyl exists also behind the faux stone.

The left image is in a corner of the kitchen, and a little from the kitchen window.  Inside of this location would be kitchen cabinetry and a counter top.  Heat is pouring out of the faux stone and the warmest spot there is 43F.  The temperature of the vinyl is 16F.

The center image is a corner just outside of a patio door.  You can virtually see the heat pouring out of the stone, particularly at the bottom where it is flaring out.  The little purple spot is a wall receptacle, better insulating than the "stone!"

Finally the right image looks at the front door.  That window above the door probably has an R-value of 3.  And look at it compared to the "stone," low on the wall on both sides of the door.  Heat is escaping.  Look at all that as compared to the vinyl.

So, I am no thermal barrier expert, or engineer, but it seems to me that faux stone has great heat conductivity!  It appears to NOT be adding 3.6 - 5 in R-value to what it is covering.  It looks to provide little insulation value at all.

People often ask why I name my thermal camera Mighty Mo.

Because I was born and raised in Washington DC, you silly!  In the 50s and 60s, long before the Big Mac and Whopper, the Marriott Hot Shoppes Restaurants served a biggie-big burger, the "Mighty Mo."  It was code to have it with fries and an A&W root beer.  The code also allowed for milkshakes.  We always obeyed the code.  It was Best Practice.

You sat in your car, ordered from a menu on the side via a microphone, and waitresses in uniforms inspected by the boss would bring huge trays of food to hook to the side of your car.  That is where you ate the food, in the car, with your family.  It's a wonderful childhood memory.

My recommendation:  when manufacturers make claims that their product will do this or that, see if you can check it out!  A thermal camera is a wonderful tool for examining the value of insulation and thermal barriers.  If the stuff works, it works!  If not, well, Mighty Mo will see it! 

And can't you imagine how cute this yet-to-be thermographer was eating a hamburger half his size?

I can.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 52 commentsJay Markanich • February 09 2014 03:57AM

Comments

Yes, it appears that the faux stone is decreasing the r-value vs. the vinyl.  Another question I'd be curious about is how faux stone compares to real stone.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 5 years ago

WoWWT Cousin - well, real stone, like the MacGregor Castle in Scotland my family used to live in, is famously conductive and inefficient as an outer skin.  I don't know what the R-value is though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago
"In all three images the faux stone is applied under vinyl siding."
 
This got my attention.  Do you mean "under" or below???
Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Below is a better word.  I might change it. 

Yeah, okay, I'll change it.

 

Thanks Lenn...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

There!  Changed!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I feel better.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Less heat escaping now?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Morning Jay with my knowledge or should I say lack thereof I'll take our word for it. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 5 years ago

Do the orange and yellow look warm James?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

 

Hi Jay,

Not sure the R- factor for the stone. But probably similar to cement stucco R-9 less 30% for grout lines. That leaves a R- Factor of around 6.

Just an estimate.

Have a nice day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

 Good morning, Jay. Thermal imaging cameras are really neat! They reveal what the eye cannot see. Interesting post.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

Faux stone is very popular here....does the tyvek wrap...also popular compensate for the heat loss ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

The proof is in the pudding, you'll know if the castle is resisting warming up when the mercury in the tube sinks lower and lower. Insulation is great for year round living, not just winter. Have R 59 in properly vented attic and zip for icicles hanging off it like some homes that get the blue ribbon for heat loss. The cold spikes dripping ice spikes. Which translates into (beep beep beep backing up oil truck entering yard with long hose, brass screw on coupler) more Texas tea please. The river of black liquid gold your home's furnace loves to guzzle, you enable it to develop an expensive drinking problem.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 5 years ago

Yes, well that's what I figured since real stone conducts heat (we can feel that on a hot summer day with our bare feet. But, which is better/which is worse?

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

Might Mo provides clear evidence. Even if faux stone did add a little r value, that could just be lost depending on the size of the mortar joints between the stones. With so many differenent manufacurers of faux stone, the thickness and density would be a factor as well.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 5 years ago

It's logical. The denser the materail, the more mass it has for the thickness, the greater a conductor (of heat) it will be. Or stated conversly, the worse an insulator it is and the lower it's R value.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 5 years ago

The Marble Institute has a table.

See it HERE

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Jay, how come the ground is so warm too---very interesting.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Might Mo, a winner then and a winner now. Being vegan for over a year now, I sure miss a good cheeseburger. Thanks for reminding me. I also wondered about the warm color on the ground. South face sun maybe?

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 5 years ago

Jay, I don't see where faux stone hardly adds any R-value at all. Hot Shoppes! That goes way back in this area. The last one I remember seeing was in Fredericksburg on Route 1 several years ago.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

It looks as though the R-value is less than 0!!!!   Cute baby picture; think that was before the eating of burgers though!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 5 years ago

A few things I would want to know. First is or was the stone in the sun? Also keep in mind vinyl is invisible to IR. You are seeing what is under the vinyl, with the stone you are reading surface temperature. What is the stone covering? Foundation or framing. I suspect because the material is of a different composition, density, therefore it is displaying a different heat signature. I am not sure the product is in fact "defective". 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Shouldn't the real insulation worries be focused on the inside of the walls,not the exterior finishes of the home? If it's insulated properly inside, who cares about the outside?

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 5 years ago

I have never heard such claims about r-value. In fact I know that this type of stone is typically .35-.4 R per inch. ICC report of Eldorado Stone was .43 for 1.5". The tricky thing about thermal and products that retain heat is that it doesn't tell you if the heat is coming from the house or was absorbed by the sun, this is where the one holding the camera comes in. Great images and nice post.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 5 years ago

Inside temperature would seem to be the end result.  When showing houses and the subject of insulation comes up, I tell them to put their hand on the outside wall and then an inside wall.  Area around outlet boxes are often drafty.  Windows, doors, etc

Posted by Dwight Puntigan, Dwight Puntigan (DRP Realty, LLC) over 5 years ago

It's hard to know Clint.  The companies I investigated for my client said 3-5 in R-value.  And there are different manufactured products too, which claim different things.

And bummer we can't see it all Michael!  Would be fun.  The wavelengths are way too long for us.

S&D - Tyvek keeps moisture out of the house, and provides a wind shield of sorts.  It does let moisture out however.  No R-value though.

Andrew - the more insulation the more the thermal barrier, in all seasons.  You are right.

What you are feeling on your feet is probably retained heat Debbie.  The stone would not be passing heat from another source to you.  Once in the scouts I got the idea to heat up a stone to put it in our tent for warmth, and it stayed hot for about 2 minutes!  The grand theory no worko!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jeff - apparently heat passes right through it!  Densities are relevant, I think, but I have no way to calculate one product from another.

Robert - that's physics way above my pay grade!

Thanks Lenn!  That is a super table.  I will sock it away for future client use!  I didn't have time before church to go looking around.  Glad you did!

It's relative Charlie, only warm by comparison.  But it is apparently taking some heat from the source(s) nearby.

I loved eating Mighty Mos, Scott!  What better meal for a kid in a car?  And you have teeth that prove you are an omnivore...

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

It appears not Michael!  There was one for a long time at Monkey Mall.  The last I remember was at Wheaton Plaza.  I doubt they still call it that.

Not sure that's possible Kat, but you might be on to something!  That little fellow is two months old.  I'm sure he's thinking hamburger at that moment.

Jim - the images were taken just after 6pm on a cloudy day.  But they are all on the side of the house that did not get any sun during the day.  I wanted to be pure as possible in investigating heat loss due to their complaints. 

The foundation is a slab, which was interesting in itself.  Here is the slab under the trim member over the rim joist and the beginning of the vinyl siding!  Look at that heat escaping from under the trim!

I made your exact point about the vinyl in this post:

http://activerain.com/blogsview/4313552/thermal-imaging-using-different-palettes-can-lend-more-information

That was the day before on a condo building!

I don't know where the product is defective, and tried not to lend that perspective.  It just doesn't seem to offer the R-value that the manufacturers tout.

Suzanne - insulation is totally relevant!  And in this spot it isn't working well OR what heat is there is passing right through the faux stone.  The physics I am sure I don't understand!

Rob - I ran into all kinds of manufacturer claims when I was researching my report for my client.  Here is one:  http://www.genstoneproducts.com/faq.  They say 3.6+!  The highest I read was 5.  As to heat retention from the sun, see what I said to Jim above.  THAT is really relevant too!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Dwight - inside they were feeling cold in a variety of areas.  Which is why I was there.  Modern construction!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good afternoon Jay,

More information for the file.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 5 years ago

I'm glad that Mighty Mo helped you prove the point that faux stone does not add to the R-Value.  And I also remember those drive-up hamburger joints where they skated out to your car and attached a tray to your window!!

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 5 years ago

Sock it away Raymond!

Maureen - it sure doesn't seem to!  I love old-time joints like that.  Not many around any more.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

HI Jay,

Very Cool to see things the Thermal way, it eliminate just about any doubt as to what is and or isn't working as intended....

Great stuff.

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) over 5 years ago

Well, those walls aren't holding in heat, are they Peter?  Obvious now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay, thanks for the analysis and the very cool memories! We had a place in Elmhurst IL called Hamburger Heaven. I'll never forget those burgers and fries with my folks!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 5 years ago

Tom - glad you enjoyed it!  We remember the good stuff, the essence of nostalgia.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, great information I did not know about r-value of faux stone. It is very popular on exteriors in California, especially on the Craftsmen style homes. In summer here, it's important to keep the cool air in.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 5 years ago

Jay - good explanation and pictures. Cool, very cool. 

 

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Jay, me thinks that anyone claiming that faux stone has any meaningful R-value IS stoned

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Smooth explination from what I can tell! :)

 

Love and light,

Laura

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

Be careful about heat vs. temperature.  Each entity is distinctly different.  The IR film/camera from Polaroid was availalbe long ago, so the IR camera is certainly not a new technology.  Be careful when using IR to discuss heat.

As we all know the IR image of an incandescent light bulb will show a significant temperature, yet very little heat is transferred. 

For some interesting reading without a course in thermodynaics simply google or bing or whatever search engine you prefer "thermodynamics heat vs temperature"

The heat transfer properties of the material are what they are, so you can show the heat transfer during cold weather or hot weather.

Isn't it interesing that the heat transfer images seem to be absent during the warm months when the Central Air Conditioning system is running?    Yet the heat transfer properties of the materials do not change significantly.

Posted by Jim Mushinsky (Centsable Inspection) over 5 years ago

Pamela - I did not either until I was researching things for my client's report and began reading manufacturer claims about their product.  Seems to me there is little R-value with the product I was looking at!

Gotta tell you Eric, it was darn cold that night!  Wind chills made it feel really cold!  Mighty Mo needed a hot chocolate when we were done.  I shared mine.

Sure seems that way to me too Charlie.  However, the faux stone manufacturers all claim different things with their different products and to be fair I did not look at all of them in this same context!  This stuff added lit'l ta nuttin'.

Laura - you would like my post last week about using different color palettes to try to derive more information. 

Jim - I guess I need more physics than I got in those four classes in IR that I have already had.  It seems to me that seeing wavelengths and bonding an image onto film are two different things and are not the same technology, but I've never thought about it before.  I've actually done comparison images of light bulbs, and find it fun and fascinating.  Halogens get up to around 480F and if you touch them I expect you'll feel a little heat transfer.

Here the temperature registered was certainly caused by heat transfer as it surely was not generated from anything outdoors, in the dark, around 11F.  The sun had never hit any of those surfaces during the day.  The one manufacturer's claim that faux stone adds "3.6+ in R-value" (there's a link to one claim in my comment above) must not follow as it seems to provide no thermal barrier whatever.

I have noticed that heat transfers indoors during the AC season.  I have not looked inside behind a faux stone wall however.  That would be a good experiment to arrange this summer.

I'm getting a new camera this week.  Might Mo turns 10 this spring.  He/she/it may be ready for some retirement...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

What is the temperature of the stone compared to the wall? I'm sorry, but I am just having a very hard time wrapping my mind around your theory. Also did you check the wall from the interior. If insulation was left out of the wall because it was thought the faux stone would substitute the wall insulation, I would believe you would see the inverse of the exterior. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thanks for the info!

Posted by Drick Ward, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) over 5 years ago

Jay, have not seen these thermal cameras yet, but this looks pretty cool to see where it is warmer.    Had not heard stone can add R-value.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) over 5 years ago

Love your posts with your thermal camera - very cool! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jill Saddler, Draper Utah Real Estate Professional - 25 years+! over 5 years ago

Jay, forget about the insulation value!  Faux stone is just plain ugly!  

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 5 years ago

There was a lot going on here Jim.  General cold is the complaint.  Behind the left image above are kitchen cabinets.  They are cold inside, but the wall above is warm.  Due to insulation or faux stone?  The floors are cold near the exterior walls, and outside is faux stone and vinyl.  My previous post was about that (the image of the warm foundation in my last answer to you was in that post).  The high walls themselves have lousy insulation.  I never saw where they skipped the insulation behind the faux stone, but placed it higher on the wall. 

I'm not sure I have a theory here, except, perhaps, that faux stone isn't adding 3-5 in R-value as touted by the manufacturers.  It's glowing warm for a reason.  The vinyl siding all over was virtually the temp of the outside, even in that post with the different palette colors where you could see heat "dripping" out.  The faux stone was warmer.

You're welcome Drick.  This was my first time seeing such a dramatic thing with faux stone, and it was consistent all over.

Well, come to my house Joan!  Or go go Jim's house above (in the comment above) - he's pretty good with his!

It is a fun tool Jill.  My wife still calls it a toy.  She's just jealous of all the attention it gets from me.

I agree Pat!  There are many kinds too.  Some aren't terrible looking, but they are seldom installed properly.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I myself would think that the wall behind the stone is not insulated. How else can you explain that? You say there is insulation. That is just plain weird. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

That might be very true behind the kitchen cabinets Jim!  I have seen that more than once, including yesterday afternoon' inspection - seeing right into the wall under the kitchen sink! 

8am and 1pm today - hopefully home before the glacial snowfalls begin! 

Abandon your cars now...  then, maybe, two days of fun!  At least one.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

The cameras seem to come and go. Saw lots of thermal images a few years ago. Not so much today here but certainly a great tool.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 5 years ago

I have been one of the few thermographers around here for 10 years Bill.  Very few inspectors use them in this area.  The mental paradigm for their use by consumers has not shifted, so I don't know so much about them coming and going.  But I sure get a lot of calls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments