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Mark P

What is this ugly siding?

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Appears to be an asphalt based product similar to asphalt shingles. Does any one know what it is and have a name for it. You can see there was another layer that looks like brick under the top layer, but seems to be the same stuff.

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Asphalt siding. Some refer to it by its original brand names such as Inselbrick®, Inselstone® or Inselwood®. It's similar to asphalt roofing shingles, but backed with the old style Celotex. Available from the mid 1930s to about 1960.

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Same as above, except the actual name around Mich was Insulbrick and Insulstone. Made by celotex and Jim Walters Co. It carried a UL rating for fire suppression and had an R value of 1.3. Bridged lap siding very nicely, quick to install and stopped the drafts. Bugs don't like it. Some even had asbestos impregnated in the fiber board.

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Originally posted by Les

. . . Bugs don't like it. . .

They don't like the product itself, but they appreciate the shelter it provides. In my area, there are always carpenter ants under this stuff.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Nothing wrong with it per say,however I was told that insurance company's sometimes insist it be removed.Not sure if I have any documentation though it may be in the Carson Dunlop Inspection reference book. And yes it is common all over chicago as Kurt said.Amazing that it holds up as well as it does.Maybe the backing would be key to better ashphalt tile roofing.

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Ok I was right it was in the above mentioned book under siding materials.

It is frowned upon by some insurance companies and lending institutions due to its combustability and the fact it denotes low quality construction to some.Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum siding and is hard to repair since it is no longer made.It is however easy to cover .

Essentials of Home Inspection by Carson Dunlop

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There was an old Mom & Pop lumberyard on Belmont, about 3800 west. It was the last place I ever found the stuff, located out in a back barn that's since been torn down & turned into condo-moaniums.

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I am a little suprised that it is so hard to get since if you can get a hold of it you would make a ton of money.Kurt are you sure it was not Joseph Lumber.

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Originally posted by chicago

Ok I was right it was in the above mentioned book under siding materials.

It is frowned upon by some insurance companies and lending institutions due to its combustability and the fact it denotes low quality construction to some.Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum siding and is hard to repair since it is no longer made.It is however easy to cover .

Essentials of Home Inspection by Carson Dunlop

No offense to Bob, but that's why I've pretty much given up on the Carson Dunlop materials. There's no information in that paragraph that you can take to the bank. It's just a bunch of vague, negative comments without anything specific.

Kind of like a lot of home inspection reports.

It is frowned upon by some insurance companies and lending institutions id="green">

Which lending institutions? Which insurance companies? What does, "frowned upon," mean anyway? Will they not insure or loan on these houses? Will they charge more to do so? Is this a Canadian thing or does it extend to the US?

due to its combustabilityid="green">

Is it very combustible? Should this be something that a home inspector should warn his customers about? Is it more combustible than asphalt roofing or cedar siding or hardboard siding? If combustibility is a real issue, shouldn't that be what the paragraph is about instead of leading with "frowning"?

and the fact it denotes low quality construction to some.id="green">

So, "lending institutions" and "insurance companies" "frown" on it because it denotes "low quality construction to some" (among other problem, it seems). Does this ring anyone else’s bullshit meter?

Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum sidingid="green">

Really? In what way?

and is hard to repair since it is no longer made.id="green">

So it's just hard to repair? Does that mean that it can be repaired? It seems to me that the fact that it's no longer made would make it impossible to repair.

It is however easy to cover. id="green">

But is it advisable to cover it?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Well now, here's the rest of the story. The underlining is mine.

From C & D's Home referenced book:

4.13 Insulbrick

Despite its name, insulbrick has very little insulating value Various types of Insulbrick were commonly used during the thirties, forties and fifties. Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum siding.

Insulbrick consists of a fiberboard sheathing coated with tar and sprinkled with granular material. The surface is embossed to look like brick, or sometimes stone. Obtaining replacement pieces is difficult, as the material is no longer made. Insulbrick siding will eventually wear out; however, the majority of the problems occur due to physical damage, and leaking joints. Caulking and resecuring are necessary from time to time.

NOTE: Insulbrick is frowned on by some insurance companies and lending institutions. This is thought to be due to its combustibility, and the fact that to some people, it connotes low-quality construction. It's bad reputation is unwarranted; however, the material can easily be covered with an alternative siding.

From C & D's Essentials of Home Inspection - Exterior Section Two: Cladding, Para 3.11

Description

Insulbrick consists of a fiberboard sheathing coated with tar and an embedded granular material. The surface is usually embossed and colored to look like brick or stone. It was typically nailed on to a plank sheathing. Panels of Insulbrick are often 48 inches wide and 16 to 24 inches tall. Adjacent pieces at the top, bottom and sides are connected with overlapping flaps built into the panels.

Insulbrick is a brand name that has become a generic name in some areas, like Kleenex. While it is a reasonable quality siding, many installations are now deteriorated since the product has not been used for some time. As discussed The Home Reference Book, the product has fallen into disfavor with some insurance and lending organizations. Since it is an imitation material made to look like brick, many people consider it to be a low-quality siding and unattractive. This, of course, subjective and doesn't impact on its performance.

3.11.1 Conditions

Insulbrick problems include -

1. mechanically damaged, torn, missing

2. aging

3.11.1.1 Mechanically damaged, torn, missing

The material, which is the same as asphalt shingles on the surface, is not very resistant to mechanical damage. Impact from bicycle handlebars, etc., can tear the surface material, exposing the fiberboard substrate. The fiberboard is not moisture resistant and will deteriorate quickly if the asphalt covering is compromised.

Causes This condition is caused by mechanical impact.

Implications Deterioration of the siding material itself and water and vermin entry into the building is on implication. Damage to the building skeleton and interior finishes is another implication.

Strategy Look for evidence of damage, particularly within five feet of grade.

3.11.1.2 Aging

The granular surface and the asphalt outer layer will deteriorate over time with exposure to weather, including ultraviolet radiation, wind and water. The surface will wear out in the same way that asphalt shingles do.

Causes The main culprits area -

  • sun
  • heat
  • water
Implications Insulbrick siding that has worn out will allow water to enter the fiberboard backer and find its way into the building interior.

Strategy Look for lost granular material, cracking of the surface, etc. Inspect the same as you would asphalt shingles. Pay particular attention to joints where adjacent panels overlap. Most Insulbrick walls will become vulnerable first at those joints, which can open up and curl. Edges can lift up. The other common wear area is at the to pf the foundation wall, especially if no Z-flashing is present (where the foundation is wider than the wall).

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by chicago

Ok I was right it was in the above mentioned book under siding materials.

It is frowned upon by some insurance companies and lending institutions due to its combustability and the fact it denotes low quality construction to some.Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum siding and is hard to repair since it is no longer made.It is however easy to cover .

Essentials of Home Inspection by Carson Dunlop

No offense to Bob, but that's why I've pretty much given up on the Carson Dunlop materials. There's no information in that paragraph that you can take to the bank. It's just a bunch of vague, negative comments without anything specific.

Kind of like a lot of home inspection reports.

It is frowned upon by some insurance companies and lending institutions id="green">

Which lending institutions? Which insurance companies? What does, "frowned upon," mean anyway? Will they not insure or loan on these houses? Will they charge more to do so? Is this a Canadian thing or does it extend to the US?

due to its combustabilityid="green">

Is it very combustible? Should this be something that a home inspector should warn his customers about? Is it more combustible than asphalt roofing or cedar siding or hardboard siding? If combustibility is a real issue, shouldn't that be what the paragraph is about instead of leading with "frowning"?

and the fact it denotes low quality construction to some.id="green">

So, "lending institutions" and "insurance companies" "frown" on it because it denotes "low quality construction to some" (among other problem, it seems). Does this ring anyone else’s bullshit meter?

Insulbrick can be considered the forerunner to aluminum sidingid="green">

Really? In what way?

and is hard to repair since it is no longer made.id="green">

So it's just hard to repair? Does that mean that it can be repaired? It seems to me that the fact that it's no longer made would make it impossible to repair.

It is however easy to cover. id="green">

But is it advisable to cover it?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Funny how much the CD-attributed text reads like a supermarket tabloid. There's nothing attributed to a legit source, there's just fabricated semi-plausible disinformation aimed at gullible readers.

We need a Snopeslike site for HI bullshift. Maybe I'll set that up, and charge 10 bucks a lick to destroy the bullshift. I could probably retire in about a year...

WJ

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It is interesting that the book would discuss the heresy only to disclaim it by calling it unwarranted.This was my original training Manuel.(insert joke here)

Got to give them some credit though, since that is the only real printed info anyone has come up with as of yet.

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I ain't Carson Dunlap, but most of that piece is just crap. Sure there are some tidbits of correct information, but mostly folklore and result of limited information and research.

Let common sense prevail - throw a piece of insulbrick on the ole campfire and see what happens.

Jim K is right about the material provides a nice environment for bugs, but not in the material its self, usually behind the material.

I have repaired small areas with celotex, wet surface roofing cement and scronged granules.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I guess I am not willing to condemn every building material that fell out of fashion.

Ya, it ain't no good and a fierce fire hazard, so cover it with stapled on vinyl siding and make a real mess out of it! Whoopeeeeeee!

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Originally posted by chicago

It is interesting that the book would discuss the heresy only to disclaim it by calling it unwarranted.

That's a fairly common HI-writing style. I call it the "it's screwed up but it's all right" style. In one paragraph -- if not one sentence -- the writer engages in Orwellian doublethink and states that something is both excellent and wretched at the same time. Amazingly, people who write this way apparently think readers will take them seriously.

Even dumb people aren't that dumb.

WJ

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No argument with any of the above.

I don't want such a training manual (although I own it). There is too much shallow knowledge out there already, and such a text propagates information without knowledge. I know, it's great for the six-week courses. But the six-week courses are yet another problem!

Shallow knowledge is the source of all HI folklore (IMO). Look at Katen's list. Simple questions scratch the surface, making the surface look entirely different.

Too many are attracted to this work who do not want to see beneath the surface. They love folklore and will proudly share it with their grandkids.

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Ok..now what about actual opinion on the stuff.

Fire hazard yes or no

Better than vinyl yes or no

Does it belong in the scrap pile of history or would a smart guy manufacture a simular product in the future? yes or no.

After all I do still see it in good condition on a lot of homes in some areas.

Maybe it just needs an update.

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Originally posted by chicago

Ok..now what about actual opinion on the stuff.

Fire hazard yes or no

No more than wood, IMHO. I like how Carson Dunlop is worried about damage from bicycle handlebars.id="blue">

Better than vinyl yes or no

Fifty years ago, it was likely better than the current crop of vinyl.id="blue">

Does it belong in the scrap pile of history or would a smart guy manufacture a simular product in the future? yes or no.

If there were a demand now, there would be a supply now. It's hideous, but not much more so than EIFS.id="blue">

After all I do still see it in good condition on a lot of homes in some areas.

Me, too. But like vinyl, it hurts the value/curb appeal of the property.

It's gone. Like formstone.

WJid="blue">

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In Chicago, the stuff is almost always installed over wood lap siding. I've stripped dozens of these houses over the years, and there's always perfectly good beveled wood siding underneath.

It's primary problem is it's butt ugly.

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I agree with Les... more than anything it fell out of style and it is butt ugly.

But, it sure seems to last a long time and I'll bet that the majority that was removed or covered was because of it's appearance.

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That's it ,I feel sorry for the poor bastard material and now feel I must go looking for an example that is pleasing to the eye.

If I find it I will take a photo and put it right here.

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