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New ThermalBuck Sizes Available – Up to 4″

NEW BETHLEHEM, P.A. — (September 2017) — BRINC Building Products, Inc. has recently expanded it’s ThermalBuck product offerings to include additional sizes up to 4.0″, to meet the needs of architects and builders constructing walls with greater depths of continuous insulation.

With the rapid adoption of advanced energy codes across the U.S., and the increasing demand by consumers for energy-efficient homes, the market for exterior insulation and higher R-value wall assemblies is growing exponentially. 


ThermalBuck Continuous Insulation

“Builders have been so receptive to ThermalBuck because it’s such a simple, effective solution to the challenges of installing windows with foam,” said BRINC President, John Brooks. “But we kept hearing from customers in the net-zero and passive house markets who wanted to use ThermalBuck, yet are building walls with above-code exterior insulation and needed more sizes.” High-performance builders generally utilize a combination of interior and exterior insulation to achieve the desired R-value of the wall assembly.  

ThermalBuck is a proven solution for builders trying to solve the challenges associated with installing nail flange windows with continuous insulation. It extends and insulates the mounting points of windows & doors to create a flush plane for cladding.

The unique “L” shape goes inside the rough opening, and extends outward to match the continuous insulation and/or rainscreen depth. It supports the window and allows structural attachment, transferring shear and wind loads to the framing. Made of a high-density EPS with a waterproof coating, ThermalBuck comes in 8′ lengths and is cut to fit on site. ThermalBuck also acts as an additional air & water barrier at the rough opening, simplifying flashing with exterior insulation.


Expanding our product line up to 4″ to accommodate wall assemblies with thicker insulation allows us to better serve high-performance builders.”

-John Brooks, President, BRINC

ThermalBuck R-Value Range 4.4 – 17.6

ThermalBuck originally launched in the fall of 2015 with depths of 1.0 ”, 1.5”, 2.0”, and 2.5”.  The additional sizes, 3.0”, 3.5”, and 4.0”, allow more architects and builders to incorporate ThermalBuck into their plans for high-performance wall assemblies. To view detailed drawings of each of the seven sizes of ThermalBuck, see product dimensions

“Our customers appreciate the additional opportunity to increase the R-value of their wall assemblies by adding up to 17.6 (R-value) around rough openings”, Brooks continued. “Utilizing ThermalBuck has significant impact on the energy-efficiency of the entire building envelope, reducing the thermal transfer through rough openings by 2:1 over traditional wood bucks.”

To learn more about energy-code adoption by state, visit the Building Codes Assistance Project. To read more about continuous exterior insulation, see what the experts at JLC online recommend as best practices. For great advice on choosing the right wall assembly, visit greenbuildingadvisor.com.


ThermalBuck to Present at 2017 PCBC High Performance Home Theater


The largest homebuilding trade show on the West coast, the PCBC, will be held June 28th-29th in San Diego, California.

Originally known as the “Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference“, this event has grown since 1959 to attract over 10,000 attendees from all over the world.  

High Performance Home Theater

One of the unique features of the PCBC is the High Performance Home Theater. Held right on the exhibit floor, it focuses on educating attendees about multiple compliance methods for changing energy codes, particularly the 2016 Title 24 Standards mandating High Performance Walls & Attics. 

ThermalBuck presents Solving the Challenge for Builders: Window Installation with Continuous Insulation” as part of the High Performance Home Theater on Thursday, June 29th, 2017. Mark your calendars for 11:30 am, and join us to learn more about how ThermalBuck can simplify your window installation with continuous insulation, and limit thermal bridging in the building envelope.

View a complete listing of High Performance Home Theater presentations here

PCBC – The Art, Science + Business of Housing

Thousands of homebuilders, architects, contractors, remodelers, engineers, and manufacturers from the US, Canada, Mexico (and more than 25 other countries) will meet in California to discover the latest trends in homebuilding innovation.

Not only does the trade show floor feature over 350 exhibitors, the Parade of Products and the High Performance Home Theater, it also offers purchasing agents two different buyer events to maximize their time and focus on meetings with the manufacturers of their choice. 

The National Buyers Circle is an invitation only event, while The Key Buyers Club is open to all exhibitors. To learn more about the differences between these two programs, click here.  

Unique to the PCBC, is the endorsement by the Leading Builders of America (LBA). Teams of national and regional buyers from 20 of the largest publicly and privately held homebuilders in the US meet with PCBC exhibitors, and collaborate to develop the high-level programming for members in the invitation-only, Leader-to-Leader Forum.

The show is sponsored by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), a statewide trade association dedicated to “building California’s economy by providing quality environmentally responsible housing, creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs, and generating billions in state and local revenues”.


Join ThermalBuck on the Exhibit Floor

Consider attending the 2017 PCBC, and see for yourself how this event provides unique opportunities for homebuilders and manufacturers to connect.

Get your FREE exhibit floor pass (use promotional code HANK17), and visit us at Booth #120 June 28th & 29th. You’ll leave the PCBC feeling inspired about the future of energy-efficient building.

View a complete schedule of events, and register to attend the 2017 PCBC here. Plan your visit to the San Diego Convention Center by viewing this complete list of exhibitors on the 2017 PCBC floor plan.

Professional Builder Names ThermalBuck “Best of 2017 PCBC: Parade of Products”

ThermalBuck is proud to announce our selection as one of the “Best of PCBC: 2017 Parade of Products” by Professional Builder Magazine.

Each year, exhibitors for the PCBC are invited to submit new products to a distinguished panel of judges for consideration as one of the 15 winners of the Parade of Products. Awards are based on innovation, practical application, and design. Panel members represent a variety of backgrounds in homebuilding: engineers, designers, architects, and product curators.  

ThermalBuck, the high-performance window buck, made the cut along with an innovative roof deck insulation by Knauf made from sand, a rollable furring strip recently launched by Keene Building Products, and several wi-fi connected products, all designed to reduce energy usage. POP winners will receive highlighted media coverage in advance of the show, as well as on the exhibit floor.

View the complete listing of winners from the Professional Builder Best of PCBC 2017 Parade of Products here.  

PCBC – The Art, Science + Business of Housing

Professional Builder is the official media sponsor of the PCBC, the largest homebuilding trade show on the West coast. Over 10,000 homebuilders, architects, contractors, remodelers, engineers, and manufacturers will converge in San Diego June 27th-29th, 2017 for this year’s event. Originally known as the “Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference“, the PCBC show has grown since 1959 to attract attendees from all over the world. 


Professional Builder magazine has been a staple of the home building community for over 75 years. 100% of the home building professionals who value Professional Builder as a resource have authority to specify and/or purchase building materials, products, and equipment.  Product submissions for the POP awards must have been launched within the last 18 months, or be available the upcoming fall.

Net Zero Deep Energy Retrofit – Energy Conservation Specialists

Bill McKnight is no rookie when it comes to energy-efficient building. His company, Energy Conservation Specialists, is a leading New York residential and commercial energy-efficiency consulting firm, specializing in the field of historic preservation and restoration in the Hudson Valley.

Bill and his wife, Melinda Terpening McKnight, are passionate about history, their community, and energy efficient building. With over 20 years in the field of deep energy retrofits, Bill has achieved both BPI Accreditation and Energy Star Certification, teaches building science at Ulster University in NY, and has been featured in Home Energy Magazine.


Vibrant History, Energy-Efficient Future

We had the opportunity to work with Bill  and Melinda on a recent net zero deep energy retrofit of a historic Port Ewen home that will soon become the new ECS company headquarters.

Originally built in 1850, the house has been in the Terpening-McKnight family for nearly 40 years, and was in danger of being torn down after a devastating fire. Bill and Melinda decided to restore it, and move their company into the space. The building will not only be energy-efficient, it will achieve net-zero certification, meaning it will consume only as much energy as it produces.

WATCH:  Net Zero Deep Energy Retrofit with ECS and ThermalBuck  

A signature of deep energy retrofits, is both interior and exterior insulation on the walls and roof, completely eliminating the thermal bridge through the building envelope. Thorough air sealing is crucial to achieving the desired performance. Having worked for years installing windows with rigid foam, Bill knew the challenge they presented in creating a thermal break at windows and doors, as well as potential moisture damage in the building envelope.

“You wouldn’t be able to seal a wood buck like that. We can feel confident that everything on the outside is completely sealed.”

-Bill McKnight, CEO, Energy Conservation Specialists


ThermalBuck Integration with The Building Envelope

Bill chose to install his triple pane Earthwise windows with ThermalBuck because it extends and insulates the mounting point to reduce thermal bridging, and create a flush plane for cladding. It also acts as an air and water barrier, and completes the continuous insulation of the building envelope. With his background in building science, he knew it would do a better job preventing moisture than a wood buck in the building envelope.

WATCH:  ThermalBuck Installation with Energy Conservation Specialists  

The proper integration of building materials is critical to an efficient building envelope. Take a look at how simple the installation of ThermalBuck is, and how easily it integrates with the WRB.  You’ll see why Bill McKnight feels a lot more confident keeping moisture out of his building envelope with ThermalBuck.


Behind the Scenes in Port Ewen


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For more information on deep energy retrofits, read “Planning is Key to Net Zero Deep Energy Retrofit”.


Continuous Insulation – Making the Right Choice

If you’ve made the decision to include continuous insulation on your building, it’s time to pat yourself on the back.

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) has required continuous insulation since 2012. When the building envelope is insulated on the outside, it not only improves the energy efficiency, it also helps to reduce the possibility of moisture damage through thermal bridging.

WATCH:  ThermalBuck installation using polyiso CI  

Which type of continuous insulation should you choose? Good question.

Each type of insulation has different thermal properties, costs, features, and installation requirements, so you really need to consider what matters most in your application.

ThermalBuck is compatible with all types of continuous insulation, and will simplify the installation process.  It solves many of the common challenges builders find when installing windows with continuous insulation, and make the installation more energy-efficient by insulating the rough opening – typically a source of energy-loss in the building envelope. 

Types of Continuous Insulation

There are three main types of continuous insulation: rigid foam, mineral wool, and cork. The most widely used is rigid foam, which is split into three main categories: EPS, XPS, and Polyiso.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS):  R-4 per inch

EPS is the most commonly used rigid foam. While it has the lowest R-value, it’s also the least expensive around .31 cents per sq. ft., which makes it a favorite for code compliance within budget. EPS does absorb water, and has the lowest compressive strength of the rigid foams.

Structured Insulated Panels (SIPS) and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFS) are comprised of EPS. Insulfoam, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials, is largest manufacturer of block-molded expanded polystyrene (EPS) in North America.

It is important to note that EPS should be used over housewrap, and supported by OSB or plywood when used as sheathing.  


Extruded Polystyrene (XPS):  R-5 per inch

Many green builders discount XPS right off the bat, because it is the least environmentally friendly option. It contains the flame retardant HBCD, and its blowing agents have high global-warming potential.

However, with it’s higher R-value and moderate pricing at .47 cents per sq. ft. it is widely used. It’s stronger than EPS, and more water resistant, making it a preferred choice for under-slab and below grade applications.

XPS is available faced or unfaced, which affects the vapor permeability. Owens Corning Foamular “pink board” is some of the most widely recognized XPS on the market.


Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso or ISO):  R-6.5 per inch

Polyiso is the most expensive of the three types of rigid foam, as much as .70 cents per sq. ft. for a 1″ thick panel. However, the higher R-values often make the added expense worthwhile in the long run.  All polyiso is faced on both sides, most often with foil.

Polysio is considered the most-environmentally friendly of the three foams. It does absorb water, and generally cannot be used below grade. Johns Manville is a leading manufacturer of polyiso foams.  

One of the primary benefits of polyiso, is that it can often be used as a WRB behind your cladding. While it may cost more upfront than EPS or XPS, not installing a separate WRB component can save a considerable amount. It really depends on your climate, if this feature will be a long-term benefit, or present a building science challenge. 


Mineral Wool:  R-4 per inch

When you think mineral wool, you think of Roxul, easily the best known brand on the market. Mineral wool is also known as stone wool because it is made of basalt rock and steel slag, making it a favorite choice of green builders.  Easy to work with, fire-resistant, sound resistant, and water resistant. It’s the only insulation recognized by code as a firestop.

ComfortBoard is Roxul’s exterior insulation.  With an R-value of 4, it is lower than most rigid foams, however, there is no reduction in R-value over time, which will happen with foam insulation materials that rely on lower-conductivity blowing agents that slowly leak out or allow air to leak in.

Mineral wool is highly vapor-permeable and easy to install. Roxul is approximately .64 cents per board foot. 


Cork:  R-3.6 per inch

Thermacork, is the most widely recognized an all-natural rigid insulation material made from expanded cork. It offers excellent acoustic control, is highly durable, has high vapor permeability, and meets fire-safety requirements without flame retardants. It is labeled Red List Free for use in Living Building Challenge projects.

Cork is by far the greenest of the green in the insulation category, but it’s significantly higher cost and limited availability make it more of a niche product.

It’s important to take your specific climate into consideration when evaluating building materials.

EPS and XPS increase in R-value as the temperature drops.  A great thing if you’re in Wisconsin. However with Polyiso, the R-value actually decreases when the temperature drops. Not such a great thing when you’re in Wisconsin.

To choose the best continuous insulation for your project, analyze all of the variables: performance needs, climate, building codes, and budget.

No matter which continuous insulation you choose, proper installation is critical to achieving the desired performance.

Our energy-efficient homebuilders in Utah, Thomas & Melissa Griffiths, did extensive research on the features and benefits of the different types of exterior insulation, and decided on Atlas EnergyShield Polyiso for their dream home.

Thomas wanted the highest R-value his budget would permit, and appreciated the fact that he could use the continuous insulation as his WRB. To eliminate the thermal bridge around their Alpen 525 Series windows, they chose ThermalBuck. Take a look at their recent ThermalBuck installation below.

ThermalBuck simplifies the installation of windows with all types of continuous insulation, making a truly high-performance building envelope.  To see additional installation steps, strength and installation challenges, view the ThermalBuck Installation page.

For an in-depth conversation about rigid foam types, we recommend the experts at Green Building Advisor. For additional videos of polyiso installation, we recommend this one by Synergy Construction.  Of course we would recommend the use of ThermalBuck over the plywood bucks, to limit thermal bridging and improve the performance of the window installation.

While written in 2010, this piece from Green Building advisor about Using Rigid Foam as a WRB, still has merit.  Updated in January of 2016, ICC document AC71 Foam Plastic Sheathing Panels Used as Weather-resistive Barriers establishes guidelines for evaluation of foam plastic sheathing panels used as water-resistive barriers in combustible construction. See your rigid foam manufacturer specifications for more information.  

ThermalBuck Outperforms Wood Bucks 2:1 – Thermal Transfer Testing

Improving the energy-efficiency of new and existing construction has long been a focus of the building industry. When it comes to insulation, exterior is the choice of many architects and builders, because it eliminates the thermal bridging through the studs.

However, continuous insulation presents its own unique challenges with installing windows and flashing the rough openings. The mounting point is no longer flush with the sheathing, it must be extended out to meet the exterior insulation depth. Rough openings are always a weak spot for potential water infiltration – and extending the mounting point for windows compounds the problem.

Until ThermalBuck hit the market, there really wasn’t a good way to insulate and create a thermal break around the mounting points of windows & doors. The traditional method to bump out windows was to build a wood window buck. Wood does extend the mounting point, but it doesn’t hold up well to moisture, and it has a low insulating value. With an r-value range of 4.4 per inch, ThermalBuck is a better insulator than wood. But how much? We performed some third-party testing to find out.


ThermalBuck installation vs. wood buck installation - thermal break           

Thermal Transfer Performance: ThermalBuck  vs. Wood Buck

Using thermal imaging, we recorded the performance of ThermalBuck against a traditional wood buck in a controlled environment. In the two mock-ups below, three temperature sensors were placed on both the ThermalBuck installation (l) and the wood buck installation (r). The temperature condition on the exterior of the structure was -6.67 ºF, and the indoor of the structure 72.76 ºF.  


Performance -Thermal Image wood buck vs. ThermalBuck           thermalbuck vs. wood window buck

These photos show two window installations side by side. (l) ThermalBuck (r) traditional wood buck. 


54% More Heat Transfer with Wood vs. ThermalBuck

On the exterior of the structure (point A) the wood buck looses 7.88 ºF, or 14.55 ºF total degrees from the outside temperature. ThermalBuck only loses .11 ºF , or 6.78 total degrees from the outside temperature. The wood window buck allows twice as much energy to escape, while the window installation with ThermalBuck is effectively limiting thermal bridging.

thermalbuck vs wood buck thermal transfer testing drawings
thermalbuck insulating value data charts with Rockwool photo vertical


ThermalBuck High-Performance window buck creates a significant thermal break at the mounting points of windows & doors. Using ThermalBuck as part of your continuous insulation solution is an effective way to limit the amount of thermal bridging that occurs through your building envelope.

To learn more about thermal bridging, see what the experts have to say at greenbuildingadvisor.com

Editor’s Note: This article was updated in July 2018. The testing results and thermal images were not changed.