Quoin Corner Winter-Spring

Posted by on March 4, 2020

Quoin Corner Winter-Spring

The Thermal Performance

of a masonry mass wall has been known for centuries. The Anasa-zi People of Southwest America¹ constructed cliff dwellings that took advantage of the ther-mal performance of masonry walls a thousand years ago. They usually built these dwellings facing the south and used the overhang from the cliff to provide protection from the direct sun in the summer, while still being able to capture the heat from the low angled sun in the winter. This method kept their homes, built with the mass of stone or adobe, cooler in the summer and using the energy stored during the winter days to warm them when the night grew cold. We can still benefit today from the thermal performance of mass walls that the ancient’s used years ago.

The modern energy codes utilize the benefits of the mass wall. The minimum requirements needed to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2016², the current model energy code for the state of Oregon, are easily found using the Prescriptive Method. Using Table 5.5-4, (see Figure 1) from ASHRAE 90.1-2016, indicates that in a non-residential application, the insulation mini-mum R-Value requirements, is R 9.5 continuous insulation when the above grade walls are mass walls. Compare this with the requirements for a conventional wood framed wall. Us-ing the same table and applications, the insulation minimum R-Value requirements are R-13 plus a minimum of R 3.8 continuous insulation or R-20. Due to the significant benefits of concrete masonry’s thermal mass, the amount of insulation required is less than the light frame equivalent systems.

The Statewide Alternate Method #19-01³ (a part of the current Oregon Energy Code) allows, prescriptively, a design using a single-wythe concrete masonry wall to meet the require-ments of the code. The requirements include providing integral insulation in a minimum of 50% of the cells and limiting the type of buildings that will comply. None the less, continu-ous insulation is not required and outlines the thermal performance of the mass masonry wall.

Cliff dwelling of the Anasazi People

There are two other methods provided to meet compliance with the ASHRAE 90.1-2016 energy code, the Component Performance and the Whole Building Performance. Both can use computer software to assist in calculating the energy performance of a building system. Using either one of these methods can provide a design using mass walls that might reveal even greater energy performance, some times without the need of continuous insulation.

The Masonry Institute of Oregon and the Northwest Concrete Masonry Association commissioned a cost study in 2019 that explored the initial cost of construction for six different wall systems that might be considered when constructing a multi-family project (4). The wall systems included conventional wood framing, light gage steel framing, load bearing concrete masonry, precast concrete construction, insulated concrete form walls and insulated concrete form walls with insulated concrete form floors. The walls were designed to meet the 2015 edition of the International Building Code and 2015 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code. The load bearing concrete masonry mass wall was only 3% higher than the least costly conventional wood frame system. And the load bearing concrete masonry wall was 3% less than the light gage steel frame system. The other wall systems were 13 to 14% higher than the conventional wood frame. The reduction in the cost of fire insurance and the savings from reduced maintenance expenses could easily make up the cost difference between the masonry and wood frame system. This cost study aids in understanding that the concrete masonry mass wall is affordable.

We can still benefit from the energy saving performance of the mass walls as the ancient people did years ago, and while enjoying the energy savings, we are also getting the added benefits of fire resistance, seismic resistance and wind resistance. A mass masonry wall can meet all of your design requirements.

A residence constructed in Portland benefiting from the mass wall of concrete masonry

Gauged Porcelain Tile

In recent years a popular design trend is the use of Gauged Porcelain Tile. “Gauged porcelain tile is a light-weight porcelain tile that is produced using less materials and energy making it a more sustainable tiling option for floors, walls and facades. The product can be made into extra-large panels or slabs while still retaining its light-weight quality (10 x 15 foot slabs with 6 -12 mm thick-ness) and is incredibly versatile for any commercial or residential application,” according to Why Tile®(5)

In the past, there has been some confusion with the terms “Gauged Porcelain Tile” and “Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels.” Using the following definitions, Gauged Porcelain Tile is tiles that measure less than 1 meter x 1 meter, while Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels measure 1 meter x 1 meter and greater, should help to remove some of the misunderstand-ing.

In 2017, after an extensive cross-disciplinary industry collab-oration, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), unveiled two new standards. One for the materials, ANSI 137.3(6) Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porce-lain Tile Panels/Slabs, and the second for installation, ANSI A108.19, Interior Installation of Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs by the Thin-Bed Method bonded with Modified Dry-Cement Mortar or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar. ANSI A137.3 regulated the minimum required characteristics for the products them-selves, while ANSI A108.19 standardized the methods for installing the products using certain setting materials and applications.

These products are innovative and allow the designer to use the tile and panels as flooring, countertops, wall coverings and even as furniture. One of the most popular looks is that of classic marble. The lighter weight of the porcelain prod-ucts may provide a quicker and less costly installation than the heavier natural stone materials.

With the benefits that are inherent with the Gauged Porce-lain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels (stain resistant, scratch resistant, durable, to name a few) these products provide another answer to the question, Why Tile?

Masonry & Ceramic Tile Institute of Oregon


We are looking forward to another fun filled event and your participation is requested. Play will be a “Four Person Scramble” with registration starting at 6:30 am. Play begins with a shotgun start at 7:45 am. There will be contests including long drive, closest to the pin, “Beat the Pro” and a putting contest. A barbecue lunch is provided, the winners will be given cash prizes and a raffle will be held. Cost is $100 per player and registration is easy. Just contact Harold Friberg at harold@mioctio.org or 503-354-7309. Please register today. Hope to see you there!

Friday July 24, 2020 7:45 am Shotgun Start

Langdon Farms Golf Club, 24377 NE Airport Road Aurora, OR 97002

Masonry and Ceramic Tile Institute of Oregon
9848 East Burnside Street Portland, OR 97216

Upcoming Events

National Concrete Masonry Association Convention
February 23-25, 2020
Salt Lake City, Utah

The Global Tile & Stone Experience
April 20-23, 2020
New Orleans, LA

The Masonry Society Spring Meeting
April 30—May 2, 2022
Charlotte, NC

Brick Industry Association Spring Meeting
May 5 – 7, 2020
Greenville, SC


The Masonry and Ceramic Tile Institute of Oregon assumes no responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of this document

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