Coming across brick homes, you might not be aware of the major differences between them. The truth is, not all brick structures are created equally. There are two main types: solid brick and brick veneer. When you’re looking at the pros and cons, either when buying a home or installing a new exterior, it pays to know what you’re dealing with. CLAD Siding breaks down the advantages and disadvantages of these two popular brick applications.
Brick Masonry vs. Brick Veneer
Masonry is an elegant and timeless addition to homes around the world. With origins dating back thousands of years, it has gone from solely a structural building material to adding a visually appealing touch to homes and offices alike. Brick comes in numerous colors, shapes, and styles, enabling you to craft your ideal aesthetic.
Whether you’re looking for structural rigidity or curbside appeal, brick can be a great choice. But you need to know the inherent qualities of each application. So, when confronted with the choice between solid brick construction versus brick veneer, what are the differences?
First, let’s look at brick masonry. Consisting of brick and mortar (and oftentimes comprising two layers of brick), this option offers unparalleled durability. It also gives the option for load-bearing applications, as this technique can support a lot of weight. The inner layer or wall is known as a wythe. This can be made out of concrete or brick. Common practice is to apply a row of bricks between the layers called header bricks. Finally, there’s the outer layer that is visible, which lends that classic look we’re all familiar with.
Next, we have brick veneer. Unlike traditional brick masonry, this technique relies on a wood frame with ample insulation. A single row of bricks is then applied against the wood, adding an extra layer of protection, sound dampening, and temperature regulation. Unlike brick masonry, veneer can be applied to any type of house and at any time. Obviously, this does not offer the same load-bearing qualities of two layers of brick.
Pros and Cons of Each Brick Application
When considering your options, each application offers its mix of advantages and disadvantages. Both utilize the same brick materials and visual look, but there are some major differences. Below, we’re going over what you need to know about brick masonry and brick veneer to provide you a clear picture.
Pros of Brick Masonry
Unlike brick veneer, solid brick masonry can stand the test of time for literally hundreds of years. You can find prime examples all over the world. This building technique is outstanding in structural integrity. Considering how it can take on an immense amount of weight and still provide an attractive aesthetic is a big selling point.
And since it does not rely on wood as a structural frame, you won’t have to deal with termites or any number of other issues that come with standard wood construction.
There’s also the benefit of brick being low maintenance. With routine cleaning (as well as periodic inspection), you can enjoy solid brick construction without too many issues. Of course, that’s assuming your place is not seriously affected by extreme weather, earthquake, or any other major disaster.
Cons of Brick Masonry
But it does have some drawbacks.
First, a building must be designed around the use of brick masonry. Obviously, if you’re trying to add new siding to an already built home, this proves to be quite a hurdle.
This technique can also be quite costly, not only in materials but also installation. You’ll need a solid plan of attack, engineering prowess, and a bigger budget.
Pros of Brick Veneer
Brick veneer is a popular option.
Can Easily Add to Home
Allowing you to use it on pretty much any already-built home, it can instantly make a home pop. This application does rely on being applied over a structure that holds the weight of the building. Unlike solid brick masonry, veneer does not offer much in the way of load-bearing attributes. But this also allows you to place it over virtually any type of home. Veneer has the added bonus of being applied at any point after a structure has been built, too.
Increases Property Value
This type of siding also increases property value, as it adds a layer of fire-resistance, sound dampening, and temperature regulation.
Another benefit is that veneer is a better insulator than two-layer brick construction. Since it’s applied to a frame that already contains insulation, as well as an air gap between the two types of walls, this increases not only heat retention and cooling capabilities, but also helps keep moisture away that would otherwise lead to deterioration, mold, and more.
Cheaper Than Brick
Is brick veneer cheaper than brick? Yes. Since there’s only one layer being applied, this technique can be about three times cheaper than solid brick. Also, since veneer is more of a decorative element, it does not require anywhere near the same level of care and precision of solid brick construction. Since it’s not load-bearing, brick veneer is a relatively quick pick!
Cons of Brick Veneer
Not as Durable
One major drawback of veneer is that it’s not as durable as its more solid counterpart. Since there’s only one layer of brick, which has space between itself and a wood frame, it will not hold up nearly as long as doubled-up brick masonry. It is prone to cracking in areas that experience vibrations from heavy traffic or seismic activity.
Brick veneer isn’t always the best material for areas that experience abundant rainfall (looking at you Pacific Northwest). This material retains moisture which can lead to mold and other issues down the road. If you’re thinking of adding brick veneer to your home, talk to your contractor about leaving an air gap between the existing structure and the veneer. This air gap can help prevent common moisture issues.
While brick veneer is cheaper than traditional brick siding, it does cost substantially more than other siding types, like vinyl.
No Structural Support
While brick masonry provides structural support, brick veneer does not.
All in all, brick in general offers a plethora of benefits. These include increased home value, durability, fire resistance, heat & sound insulation, the list goes on. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you want your home to be based around brick or just looking for the visual attractiveness that this material can add to any home.
Now that you know the differences between brick and brick veneer, you might need the assistance of an affordable & skilled brick mason. CLAD Siding makes the whole process super simple, so you can quickly hire a local licensed contractor in no time. Click here to learn more and to request your comprehensive estimate!