For centuries, brick has been the building material of choice, creating a striking appearance that never loses its appeal. If you’re considering giving your home a new look with brick siding, there are some important things to consider. Brick is made of clay, one of the most plentiful materials in the world. It’s great with moisture, absorbing and releasing water with no negative effect. It’s also fire resistant and helps insulate your home, keeping your heating and cooling bills down. It’s strong and durable and can increase your home’s value.
But, if you’re considering adding or repairing brick siding, it’s important to hire a reliable contractor to do the job. Great Guys Home Improvement offers free quotes from licensed, insured siding contractors, helping you to choose the right company. If you’re ready to upgrade your home with brick, click now for a free quote in just minutes!
Brick Restoration & Repairs
Brick siding is a popular choice – not only does it look great – it’s low maintenance and with proper care, will last 100 years or more. As a first step, it’s advised that you remove surface dirt regularly with a garden hose or low-pressure power washer. High-level pressure washing isn’t advised as it can damage older bricks and crumbling mortar. Mold and mildew can be easily removed with a scrub brush and a mixture of bleach and water.
Other common siding repair and restoration issues with brick siding include:
To remove stains on brick, you’ll need to use a muriatic acid solution. Dark bricks require 1 part acid to 10 parts water. Light bricks need 1 part acid to 15 parts water. Pour the acid slowly into the water, apply to the bricks as directed, allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.
Efflorescence is the chalk-like staining that appears on bricks when they’re exposed to high levels of moisture and humidity. It can be removed with full-strength white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray each stain with the vinegar, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with plain water from a garden hose.
While bricks are notoriously strong, the mortar can often deteriorate over time. Crumbling mortar can be fixed by a process called repointing. A mason will remove a portion of the old mortar and refill with new. Repointing should only be done by qualified masons.
Spalling occurs when moisture causes bricks to expand and contract, leaving them cracked or without their top layer. These bricks either need to be replaced with similar bricks, or should be eased out, treated, flipped over, and reinstalled.
In older homes, settling and ground movement can often put pressure on brick walls, resulting in mortar step cracks (named for the visible downward stair look produced). To prevent further foundation issues, gutters and downspouts should be installed, directing water away from the house’s foundation. If the foundation damage is severe, more extensive repairs will be needed.
Brick Masonry vs. Brick Veneer
There’s a substantial difference between brick masonry and brick veneer.
With brick masonry, the building is actually constructed of brick and mortar. The walls are usually constructed with two layers of brick, or a layer of concrete block and a layer of brick, to ensure they’re solid and provide better insulation. The inner wall is commonly referred to as a “wythe,” whether it’s built of brick or concrete. To hold the two walls together, a row of “header bricks” is installed every sixth row. From the outside, these look like smaller bricks, but they are actually regular bricks laid lengthwise to act as a bridge across the two walls. Metal ties can be used for the same purpose, in which case you won’t see the rows of smaller bricks.
Brick veneer is a finish applied to the wood frame of the house to give it a solid masonry appearance. In this case, the walls are built and well insulated before the brick is installed. But the brick siding provides yet another layer of insulation which can be vitally important in colder climates.
Brick masonry and brick veneer both use the same types of bricks. Buildings need to be designed especially for brick masonry but brick veneer can be applied to any home, any time. Basically, to add a brick veneer, the exterior of a building is covered with moisture-protective paper and then wire ties are attached to the studs of the wood frame wall. The bricks are laid horizontally, placed anywhere from an inch to a foot away from the home. “Weep holes” are positioned throughout the veneer to allow room for built-up moisture to escape in the space between the wall and the veneer.
Solid masonry walls are strong and can last for hundreds of years if maintained properly. They’re not entirely waterproof, however. Water from a strong rain can penetrate holes in the mortar and leak through. That’s why masonry homes were built with one, two, or even three wythes of brick to keep them warm and dry. Brick veneer buildings lack these layers of solid brick and can often leak. The water can enter the weep holes and flow down the back. If the inner wall isn’t solidly covered with a waterproof membrane, water can seep inside. This can cause anything from mold to wood rot. Flashings should be installed under windowsills and doors to catch this water and re-direct it outside.
Brick Pros and Cons
Choosing the right siding for your home can make a huge difference in its appearance and, ultimately, its resale value. Brick is one of the most classic and timeless siding materials, suitable for both traditional and modern homes. You can choose between face brick, which is a full brick that’s not used for actual structure, or brick veneer, which gives you the coveted brick look but is much thinner and lighter. Brick veneer siding of either type can be a good choice in pretty much any climate. But, like any material, brick veneer comes with pros and cons, which we’ll outline below.
Easy to install & requires little maintenance
Brick siding can be added to any type of home. All it requires is a simple foundation and support to be installed. It needs little maintenance, except for keeping the weep holes clear of debris. And it doesn’t need to be painted or sealed.
When looking at options, brick siding is one of the more affordable. While you can resurface a medium-sized house with stucco for around $4000, you can add full brick siding for close to $13,000. Stucco will require patching and repainting at least every ten years, while brick can last for much longer.
Good moisture barrier
Brick siding is good in inclement climates as the air cavity between the siding and the home helps to keep moisture out, acting as effective home insulation.
Brick siding makes a house more fire-resistant. In tests, a brick wall can resist a fire for up to four hours. Brick’s superior fire resistance qualities can often result in lower insurance premiums for homeowners.
Provides good resale value
Well-maintained brick siding should last for decades. Other than performing regular maintenance and possibly repointing the mortar, you’ll find brick to be exceptionally long-lasting and low maintenance. The attractiveness of brick, combined with the fire resistance and easy upkeep, ensures your home will retain its value over time.
Blocks sound transmission
Because brick is made of a denser material than other types of siding, it provides a much higher level of sound blockage from exterior noise.
Limited color range
Brick comes in a limited array of colors, so you have to work within specific color ranges if you choose brick siding. You can paint it with 100% acrylic exterior paint, but other types of siding might be more appropriate if you’re looking for color.
There isn’t much of a difference between the R-value (the measure of how well a two-dimensional barrier resists the flow of heat) of stucco and brick. The best way to raise the R-value is to add extra insulation between the siding and the interior wall.
High energy fabrication costs
Being made of clay, brick is composed of an all-natural material that can last for eons, so it’s highly sustainable. But creating brick requires high energy to fire, and, because it’s heavy, it takes large amounts of fuel to transport.
A brick veneer is a very durable option but it’s not ideal in earthquake-prone areas. Any ground movement can cause the siding to shift or fall off, especially if it’s not applied properly. While states like California don’t allow masonry homes anymore, brick siding can be an option to consider if you desperately want a brick home, but you should be fully aware of potential issues.
Lack of structural support
Brick masonry construction provides considerable support to the walls of your home. But with brick veneer, the siding is attached to a wooden frame that isn’t structurally part of your home. The wood frame can be susceptible to termite damage and wood rot if it’s not installed correctly, making it all the more important that you hire a reputable brick mason contractor to do the job! Great Guys Home Improvement can help make the entire process easier by providing you with quotes from the best installers in your area.
Brick Masonry Cost – Material, Repairs & Labor Installation Costs
Brick siding is substantially more expensive than stucco, for example, due to the cost of materials and the more extensive labor required. The bricks cost anywhere from $8 –10 per square foot and with mortar and grout, you can expect to add another $200 to $450 to the project. It’s important that the laborers working on the job are experienced bricklayers, so the cost of specialized labor falls in the $70/hour range. It will take approximately three to five days to finish cladding a 1,000 square foot house. This leaves you with an anticipated overall cost range of $10,000 to $13,000.
Find Brick Masonry Contractors Near Me
Many types of contractors oversee home improvement projects. However, if you’re looking to install brick veneer, it’s important that you hire a masonry contractor. Masons are specifically trained to work in brick, stone and often, concrete. They know how to handle these heavy and durable materials properly, ensuring that your home’s exterior will be treated with care and professionalism. When looking for a reputable brick mason contractor, it’s important to ask about the following:
Training and certification
Make sure any potential hire is certified by the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the national trade association representing mason contractors. They should also hold a general contractor’s license.
Ask to see proof of insurance and make sure the contractor has adequate coverage for your project. Masonry work is labor-intensive, and much can go wrong along the way. Make sure they have public liability insurance just in case an accident happens on your property. A licensed, bonded contractor should be able to cover any amount of damage to your home.
Experience with brick siding
Masons have specialties, just like [professionals in any other field. Make sure the folks you’re interviewing have expertise in brick siding. Also make sure that the person you’re talking to is going to handle the work, not subcontract it out to someone lacking the training.
References and reviews
Once you’ve identified a contractor, ask them for references from similar jobs in the area. Call and speak to other homeowners to find out their satisfaction level. Was the installer easy to work with? Did they stay on budget? Did they do quality work? Part of your research should also include reading online reviews of the company. How long have they been in business? What are people saying about their work? Do they have any complaints with the BBB? A poorly executed siding job will cause big problems down the road, so you’ll want to do your research beforehand.
Get everything in writing
Finally, make sure your installer provides you with a written contract that covers every aspect of the project. Instead of providing you with a single, bottom line price, ask that they provide an itemized list that shows the cost for each part. Reputable companies should offer a minimum 1-year full warranty on all of their work. Make sure you get that in writing. They should also offer a structured payment schedule, along with a timeline for completion.
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