Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fabulous Fakes

Snow Road
Reader Mark recently commented on  the insulbrick siding in the photo I posted of John Thomson Hall in Snow Road Station.

That got me thinking about insulbrick, and wondering how much of it was still about. Time was, you'd see it often. Last weekend we did a circle tour through Frankford, Stirling, Tweed and Madoc, just to get out of the house. I kept an eye open for what I thought would be numerous examples, and noted only three. I'll try to get back for their portraits.

Insulbrick was the commonly used term for several brands of maintenance-free asphalt brick siding- other trademarked names were Insulstone and Insulwood. The tar-coated fibreboard siding with an embossed gritty surface was manufactured from the 1930's to 60's. It came in grey, brown and red 'brick' with white or black 'mortar'.

Insulbrick was a popular sheathing for the less than grand houses of ordinary folks, and persisted until recently on the occasional shed or garage. Turns out it's getting hard to find.

Mallorytown? Overlapping slate effect
Old house friend Alex recounted his recent experience rehabilitating a log structure - like an archeological journey through vinyl siding to insulbrick to stucco (with its chicken wire spine) to plank to log. Now that's perseverence - and speaks to insulbrick's place in the line of great new ideas for covering houses. Maybe that's one old log place that was really warm!

can't decide - does this house have a future
or just a past?
With the upcoming ban on asphalt roof shingles that I keep hearing about, it's a sure bet that we won't see houses sheathed in insulbrick siding, ever again. So have a good long last look at any you come across! You won't be alone. Here's a link to a bicycle tour of Ottawa area examples, and another link with a bit of technical info by a building inspector.
almost missed this example in Tweed!

a combination of light and dark 'mortar' versions


If you find any great examples, let me know!
outdoor convenience near McArthur Mills

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