Are Brick Houses Better?

Are Brick Houses Better?

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When you are looking for a new home, you are likely looking for a specific location, how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, if the kitchen is perfect for entertaining, or if the backyard has plenty of room for the kids to play. But there is something else you should consider. What is the home made of? Are you looking at a brick home or a wood home? Is one better than the other? Are brick houses better than wood? If you are unsure as to which home is better for you and your family, we offer a closer look at the pros and cons of a brick home and how it may benefit you.

Key takeaways

  • Brick homes are durable, energy-efficient, low-maintenance, fire, and weather-resistant.
  • They offer endless design possibilities and can increase home value while being environmentally friendly and potentially lowering insurance rates.
  • But, brick homes may have higher repair costs, difficulty remodeling, limited color options, and painting can be more challenging and expensive. Extreme fluctuations can cause damage.

Advantages of brick homes

You probably remember the story of the little pigs and big bad wolf and how the brick home saved the pigs because it was far sturdier and able to survive the wolf trying to blow it down. Considering this story, much of it holds true when choosing a home for your family.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros associated with brick homes.

Durable exteriors

Brick houses can withstand the elements far better than wood or vinyl. In addition, the lack of wood in the structure of your home means that, should a fire start, it will not spread easily through the home. Bricks can withstand strong impacts and high temperatures.

Environmentally friendly

Bricks are made from a combination of clay and slate, which is natural and very abundant, as opposed to wood, which requires cutting trees. In addition, bricks are very durable, do not degrade like wood can, and, because they are all-natural materials, do not leach chemicals into the environment as treated wood does. Because bricks are so durable, they also offer the ability to recycle should you ever decide to remodel your home. For example, should you decide to remove a non-bearing wall when remodeling, you can recycle those bricks to make a path or line a garden as part of your landscaping.

Energy efficient

Bricks are extremely energy efficient and are, in fact, the most energy-efficient building material available. They help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, helping to keep your utility bills down.

Fire and weather resistant

Clay is a very versatile material that can withstand the high temperatures of fire and withstand just about everything mother nature can deliver. Bricks can withstand high pressure, high humidity, and the normal hot or cold summer and winter temperatures. In addition, if your new home is in a location where things freeze during the winter, bricks tolerate the freeze and thaw cycle much better than any other building material. If your home is located in more tropical, high-humidity locations, bricks resist the common development of mold.

Low maintenance

Homes with wood or vinyl exteriors are often exposed to a number of different elements that can cause damage. For example, a stray baseball can dent and damage vinyl, while excessive rain can cause rot within the wood. Termites and carpenter ants can wreak havoc on wood homes. Sun and rain can cause paint or color to fade, requiring regular painting. Brick homes avoid all these changes and potential damage. In fact, most modern bricks are capable of retaining their color and look for over 20 years, meaning your home can look just as beautiful from day 1 to day 7,300.

Reduced sound

Bricks are far thicker and denser than wood, meaning that a brick-built home has the ability to better dampen sounds from the outside. This is extremely important if your home is located in a noisy neighborhood or near a major highway.

Can increase home value

Due to bricks’ durability and low maintenance requirements, they tend to appreciate in value better than their wood or vinyl counterparts.

Endless design possibilities

In addition to the different hues that bricks can come in, there are also various brick sizes and finishing techniques that allow for a wide variety of different exterior appearances.

Lower insurance rates

Because brick homes offer increased durability, they are typically eight percent less to insure, meaning your home insurance premiums are likely to be lower.

Worker building a brick home

Disadvantages of brick homes

While the benefits of a brick home are many, they do also come with some disadvantages. These should also be considered when deciding on a brick home.

Increased repair costs

While bricks are very durable, damage can still happen. When it does, the cost of repair is higher in terms of material and labor than it would be with a vinyl or wood home. While the damage may not occur as frequently, the extra cost is something that must be considered.

Can be challenging to remodel

If you are thinking about remodeling a brick home, they can present a challenge. To create a seamless look, you will need to match any new bricks to the existing bricks, and this can often be difficult. In addition, the construction of a brick structure is more labor-intensive and time-consuming than it is with a wood or vinyl structure.

Painting is more difficult and expensive

While bricks typically hold their color for 20 years, they will eventually fade. Adding a new color to the bricks can be expensive and difficult. Unlike wood or vinyl, bricks are not flat. They are filled with tiny cracks and grooves that make painting more difficult. In addition, you will need to paint each brick separately from the mortar.

Limited color options

If you are looking for a blue or green home, bricks may not be your best option unless of course, you like painting. For the most part, brick comes in hues of gray, red, and yellow.

Extreme fluctuations can cause damage

While bricks do well with the standard freeze-thaw cycle, they do not handle extreme temperature changes as well. For example, if you live in an area where your temperatures go from freezing winter to intense summer overnight, a brick home is not likely to do well. Bricks are unable to tolerate extreme and rapid temperature fluctuations as they do not expand and contract well. When these temperature fluctuations occur, you are likely to see shifts in the foundation and well as crumbling mortar.

Mortar decay

While bricks are very durable, the mortar isn’t quite as durable. Over the years, the mortar can start to decay and break away and will require replacement. Removing mortar and replacing it is called repointing and can be expensive.

Things you should consider before buying a brick house

When you are looking to purchase an older brick home, there are things you need to look for. These key things can be important when it comes to potential repairs or expenses down the road.

  • Cracks: Look for stairstep cracks in the brickwork. This pattern of cracking is often an indication of an unstable foundation and can mean major expenses down the road.
  • Mortar: Closely examine the mortar in between the bricks. Look for missing areas or signs of crumbling. These early signs may mean repainting will be needed in the near future.
  • Lintels: Lintels are the areas between the windows and doors and the brick. Check these areas for any corrosion, cracks, displacement, or holes that can indicate potential problems.
  • Walls: Examine every wall of the home, looking for areas where the wall may be bowing outward. This can indicate potential foundation shifts and instability in the walls.

Frequently asked questions

When it comes to brick homes, many homebuyers still have many questions. Here we answer some of the common questions when it comes to brick homes.

How long do brick houses last?
Bricks are extremely durable, and because of that, homes made of bricks can last at least 100 years with minimal maintenance. If well-cared for, such as regular repointing, brick homes can retain their beauty and structural stability for well over 500 years.

Can a brick house withstand a hurricane?
When it comes to withstanding a hurricane, it depends on the quality of the existing foundation and the type of brick structure it is. For example, a home with brick veneer siding can withstand hurricane winds up to 150mph, while a home with solid brick walls can withstand winds up to 185mph.

Are brick houses better in tornadoes?
Just like with hurricanes, brick homes can sustain the strong winds associated with tornadoes as strong as an EF2. However, it is still best to seek shelter in an inside area of the home and cover your head. Anything of an EF2 will likely cause damage to even a brick home.

Finding your dream brick home

While a brick home does offer many benefits, they are not for everyone, and you should consider these pros and cons as you look for your dream home. At Hero Home Programs, we are committed to helping families find and qualify for their perfect home, whether it is made from wood, vinyl, or brick. Contact us online today to learn how we can help you achieve homeownership.

Picture of Jacquelyn Sublett
Jacquelyn Sublett

I love teaching and writing on real estate, finance and mortgage topics. I find it fulfilling hearing stories of first time home buyers who we have helped with the home buying process. Writer for the Hero Homebuyer Programs™

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