Brick houses convey a rich character and sense of history. See photos of gorgeous brick exteriors in every style and learn about the benefits of brick siding.
In addition to its attractive appeal, durability makes brick siding a popular choice. Under normal conditions, brick siding will last the life of the building with little more than an occasional wash with the hose.
Brick siding is generally not a structural part of a house but rather a veneer constructed on the outside. The bricks are held together with a mixture of Portland cement or lime, sand, and water that is referred to as mortar. Water does penetrate brick veneers so it is important that a membrane is installed between the structure and brick veneer.
Although brick siding is considered permanent, masonry does deteriorate, generally at the mortar joints, which are the gaps between bricks that are filled with mortar. Repointing, or pointing --removing and replacing deteriorated mortar from the joints -- might be necessary but generally not for many years if installed properly.
Brick allows for the personalization of a home with detailing such as patterns, arches, quoins, and even flower boxes. Since brick is a three-dimensional product unlike many siding choices, it allows the home to express the personality and style of the homeowner.
Painting a brick home is absolutely doable with the right preparation, paint, and application process. Latex and Portland cement-base paints work best on bricks but must be applied over a coat of primer suitable to the selected paint. Alkyd, oil-base, epoxy, and rubber paints don't allow vapor to escape and will cause long-term damage.
Before you begin, make sure you really want to paint the bricks. Removing paint from brickwork is difficult, requiring the use of nonsteel scrapers, chemical strippers, or professional sandblasting.
The thermal mass qualities of brick have been known for centuries. Thermal mass is the ability of a heavy, dense material to store heat and then slowly release it.
For your home, brick walls mean that in the summer months, the interior stays cool during the day as the heat of the sun is slowly absorbed. By evening the bricks will be warm enough to raise the temperature indoors just as the sun is setting. During winter, brick walls store the heat emerging from inside and can help keep heating costs low.
Brick is a natural building material made from a mix of clay and water and baked until hardened. Clay comes from a variety of sources, and each type of clay produces a unique color in the final brick. Natural coatings, such as limestone and sand, can be added to create various colors, textures, and finishes.
Combining unpainted but naturally varying colors of brick and lap siding creates visual interest through subtle transitions in texture. A brick walkway, touches of stone, and wood roof shingles tie the palette together.
Brick siding is one of the oldest building materials still in use. The primary reason brick has been so popular is the ease of maintenance. Under normal conditions, brick siding will last the life of the house with nothing more than the occasional wash down. Brick does not need painting, doesn't rot, doesn't dent, and is not bothered by termites.
Brick can be added to existing homes by building the new wall in front of the existing wall and supporting it with a concrete foundation built upon properly drained earth. Flashing and weep holes will need to be installed to guard against moisture damage. The brick should also have at least an inch of air space between itself and the old siding. Building paper should cover the existing siding. Corrosion-resistant metal anchors should tie the brick to the studs in the existing wall. Joints between brickwork and doors and windows should be sealed with silicone caulk. Insulation might also be added between the walls to increase the total thermal value of the wall.
Adding a basic whitewash to brick siding can create the look of a traditional English cottage. Whitewashing brick is a relatively easy process of painting the whitewash on to the brick's face and wiping away portions so the natural brick shows through, making the wash look as though it's been there for many years. Whitewash for bricks is a mixture of ivory hydrated lime and regular table salt. Adding Portland cement to the whitewash will provide added protection to the bricks and assure that the finish lasts for generations.
Today, most bricks are made by machine, but some are still created the old-fashioned way -- in handcrafted, sand-dusted wooden molds, so no two are exactly alike.
Those old-fashioned bricks give this home the look and feel of the 17th century. Bricks made this way are solid with slight irregularities and softened shapes. They are sand-dusted to help them achieve the color variations and to create the velvety texture. When placed in a wall, the slight variations translate into a subtle elegance that's perfect for a stately mansion or a cozy cottage.
Mixing unpainted cedar shingles and untreated brickwork helps this home to fit naturally into its forestlike setting. The addition of the white-painted trim ties the earthy colors together and assures that the house does not get lost in the beauty of nature's palette.
Create the fairytale feel of days gone by with rough, uneven placement of bricks, thick walls, and untooled mortar. The old-world style of the brickwork combined with the rounded edges of the roofline and hand-cut, wavy patterning of the shingles make this rustic gem feel like it has been lifted right from a retelling of Hansel and Gretel.
Steep rooflines and brick painted to resemble stucco give this French-inspired abode the air of a house in Normandy. The design blends the formality of a chateau with the inviting charm of a country cottage.
The combination of the classic red brick with precise white mortar work, arched passageways and windows, and cream-color adobe with decorative half-timbering trim details creates the feel of a contemporary Tudor.
The versatility of brick makes it a perfect choice for modern homes. Whether used as accents or for full coverage, it is difficult to beat the shapes, textures, and overall impact that can be created.
To give this beach cottage a charming refresh, black awnings and shutters were added to its exterior, and a white star was painted on the entry gate. Black exterior details provide an eye-catching departure from the red brick and white exterior.
Love the look of brick? Check out these magnificent homes, many of which feature brick siding in classic Colonial style.