Thermal bridging occurs when one part of a wall conducts heat faster than another. It not only reduces the walls R-value, but it also makes the home uncomfortable and reduces the home's efficiency in the winter, Jennifer Goodman reports in an article originally written for Builder.

Materials such as wood, metal, and concrete act as thermal bridges, conducting more heat than the insulation on either side of them. Builders have a few options to combat this effect: insulation, thermal break pads or tape, advanced framing techniques, and avoiding metal fasteners.

Coating manufacturer Tnemec Co. has come up with another choice for mitigating thermal bridging that it says is relatively simple and inexpensive. When sprayed onto structural steel elements, the firm’s aerogel-based coating reduces condensation risk that can cause a building to lose energy.

Series 971 Aerolon Acrylic insulating coating works by keeping structural members’ temperature above the dewpoint, says Andy Hoffman, Tnemec market support manager. “It is a simple solution that provides condensation control while being cost effective when compared to thermal pads that require a physical break in the steel beam.”

The product has been specified in dozens of architectural applications, such as high-rise apartment and office buildings, airport terminals, museums, and sports facilities, and its effectiveness has been confirmed by thermal modeling analysis. The water-based, low-VOC product can be used on metal decking, concrete slab edges, metal studs, canopies, and window frame systems and is compatible with a wide variety of primers and topcoats, says the company.

What do you think? Are you concerned about thermal bridges in your houses? Could a commercial-based product like Aerolon work for residential builders?

Read more >