Thermal Properties of Common Building Materials

Heat Transfer Engineering
Civil Engineering and Design

Thermal Properties of Common Building Materials

Some of the most important properties of building materials are their strength, weight, durability, and cost. In terms of energy conservation, their most important properties are their ability to absorb and transmit heat. The materials’ thermal properties govern the rate of heat transfer between the inside and outside of the building, the amount of heat that can be stored in the material, and the amount of heat that is absorbed into the surface by heat conduction and radiation. The rate of heat transfer through the building materials in turn determines the magnitude of heat losses and gains in the building. This information is important in order to determine the proper and most efficient design of space heating equipment required to maintain the desired indoor environmental conditions.

Density
Conductivity
Specific Heat
Material
kg/m3 (lb/ft3)
W/m K (Btu/hr ft°F)
J/kg K (Btu/lb°F)
Emissivity Ratio
Wallboard
Douglas fir plywood
140 (8.7)
0.11 (0.06)
2,720 (0.65)
-
Gypsum board
1,440 (90)
0.48 (0.27)
840 (0.20)
-
Particle board
800 (50)
0.14 (0.08)
1,300 (0.31)
-
Masonry
Red brick
1,200 (75)
0.47 (0.27)
900 (0.21)
0.93
White brick
2,000 (125)
1.10 (0.64)
900 (0.21)
-
Concrete
2,400 (150)
2.10 (121)
1,050 (0.25)
-
Hardwoods
-
-
1,630 (0.39)
-
Oak
704 (44)
0.17 (0.10)
-
0.09 (planed)
Birch
704 (44)
0.17 (0.10)
-
-
Maple
671 (42)
0.16 (0.09)
-
-
Ash
642 (40)
0.15 (0.09)
-
-
Softwoods
-
-
1,630 (0.39)
-
Douglas fir
559 (35)
0.14 (0.08)
-
-
Redwood
420 (26)
0.11 (0.06)
-
-
Southern pine
614 (38)
0.15 (0.09)
-
-
Cedar
375 (23)
0.11 (0.06)
-
-
Steel (mild)
7,830 (489)
45.3 (26.1)
500 (0.12)
0.12 (cleaned)
Aluminum
Alloy 1100
2,740 (171)
221 (127.7)
896 (0.21)
0.09 (commercial sheet)
Bronze
8,280 (517)
100 (57.8)
400 (0.10)
-
Rigid Foam Insulation
32.0 (2.0)
0.033 (0.02)
-
-
Glass (soda-lime)
2,470 (154)
1.0 (0.58)
750 (0.18)
0.94 (smooth)

Sources: Derived from ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, 2001; Holman, J.P., 1976.

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