A Guide to Brick Siding
Pros and Cons, Costs and Maintenance
Brick siding is classic, elegant and stately. It is also extremely long lasting. Think of all the historic buildings that are made of brick: The exteriors are still intact hundreds of years later.
Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay for beauty and strength. Brick is one of the most expensive siding options available. Then again, you’re making a long-term investment: The siding will probably outlast your great-grandchildren.
These days, most brick homes are actually brick veneer, not solid masonry. With solid masonry, bricks are used to build the walls. Brick veneer is a decorative and protective finishing used to cover the exterior walls, just like wood or vinyl siding. Brick veneer is real brick; the brick is just much thinner than with solid masonry.
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Cost of Brick Siding
Brick veneer is one of the most expensive siding options, ranging in price from $8 to $15 per square foot installed. The complexity of installation is a significant contributor to the price and, unfortunately, installing brick veneer is rarely a do-it-yourself project. It requires the skills and experience of a professional.
Consult this guide to get a rough idea of how many square feet you need to cover. Keep in mind that the square footage of your home has nothing to do with the square footage of siding you need - the figures are entirely different.
All totaled, budget anywhere from $12,000 to $22,500 for the project if you have to cover 1,500 square feet. If you’re covering 2,500 square feet, budget $20,000 to $37,500.
Pros and Cons of Brick Veneer Siding
Most homeowners are attracted to the appearance, durability and ease of maintenance associated with brick. Brick is also nearly fireproof, impervious to termites and a great insulator. Adding brick veneer increases the resale value of your home.
Brick weathers beautifully. It will never fade or rot, and it never needs to be painted. Brick veneer is sold in many sizes, colors, textures and patterns - allowing you freedom to customize the look.
On the downside, brick veneer is very labor intensive to install, and it often requires an extended foundation or a separate base to support the weight. With new construction, the foundation ledge can usually just be extended about four inches. If you’re adding brick to an existing home, a base will have to be constructed. As we’ve mentioned, brick veneer is one of the most expensive siding options.
Also, water can penetrate brick veneer, making it through the seams where brick and mortar meet. To prevent this from damaging the structure of your home, it is crucial that a high-quality water membrane is installed between the brick and the walls. If not, you’ll eventually have to deal with mold - which is not pleasant or inexpensive to address. A proper drainage system is imperative, too.
Brick Siding Maintenance
Brick siding is easy to maintain. As long as you don’t have drainage issues, the only thing you’ll have to worry about in the first quarter century is an occasional cleaning with a hose or pressure washer to remove dirt and moss.
After the first 25 years, the cement between the bricks might may start to deteriorate in some places. This requires a professional fix known as “pointing” - essentially just grinding out the old cement and replacing it with new cement. This process keeps the brick veneer looking good and water tight.