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Intro to Brick
Brick has been used in construction for thousands of years. Brick is made of fired clay. It has a timeless look that adds value and distinction to your home. Up until the early 1900's brick was used as a structural component for walls. However, brick is rarely used as a structural component in residential construction today. Brick is used today as a veneer and carries no structural load except for itself (see graphic at right).







What Kind of Brick
Brick comes in various colors, sizes, and finishes. There is very little standardization in the industry. Standard bricks are roughly 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 8 inches. Choices for colors, textures and size vary by manufacturer.

The Process
Brick laying begins after the framing inspection. Brick laying is very labor intensive. Brick is laid on top of the foundation and bonded with mortar joints. It is tied to the framed walls with masonry ties. After the brick is laid the mortar joints are struck (smoothed and formed) with a striking tool. During cold weather it is important to protect the mortar from freezing using tarps or blankets.

Patterns and Accessories
Brick can be laid in several patterns or a combination of several patterns. The most simple and most common is a running bond. Bricks can be laid on their ends in a soldier or sailor pattern. There is almost not limit to the types and combinations of patterns that can be created. Remember that as the design get more complicated the price for the job rises.
Besides the various patterns, Quoins and stone lintels can be added to enhance the design.

Advantages of Brick
  • Brick is virtually maintenance free.. it never needs painting, caulking or staining.
  • Brick will not burn, which can lower homeowner insurance rates.
  • Brick is energy efficient.
  • Brick is an effective sound barrier.
  • Brick homes have market appeal.
  • Brick homes have a excellent resale value.

Disadvantages of Brick

  • High initial cost.
  • Brick adds a lot of weight to the foundation.
  • You will probably find most of your brick on the ground after an earthquake (repair is expensive)
  • It's difficult to change the appearance if you get tired of your brick. Painting is an option.

Intro to Stone
Stone has been used for thousands of years as a construction material. Like brick, stone was used as a structural wall in buildings hundreds of years ago. Today stone is used as a veneer and carries no structural weight except itself.






The Process
There are basically two types of stone used in residential construction; real stone and cultured stone. The preparation is the same for real stone and cultured stone, the wall is covered with building felt and a wire lath attached to the exterior sheathing. The main differences are that real stone must rest on the foundation ledge and cultured stone because of it's lighter weight can just adhere to the wall without horizontal support. Many masons feel however, that cultured stone looks much better and mimics real stone when set on top of a foundation edge, (see graphic above).
The other difference between real stone and cultured stone is real stone must be wired to the wall during installation. After the mortar around the stone sets the wires are clipped. This is one of the factors that makes real stone more labor intensive to install and thus more expensive. Mortar must be protected from freezing in cold weather using tarps or blankets.

Real Versus Cultured Stone

  • Real stone looks "real"
  • Cultured stone installs quicker
  • Some cultured stones look phony (some types are more "authentic looking" than others).
  • Cultured stone is cheaper.

Notes to the Owner-Builder
Communication is the key to getting a good brick job. If the plans don't specify the exact brick design, you will either need to draw up a brick plan or discuss the work in detail with the brick mason. If the design is fairly simple it probably won't need to be drawn.

Points to consider:
  • Brick adds a substantial amount of weight to the structure. It is common on older homes to see undersized headers and lintels (especially over the garage) that are sagging. Have your engineer check the plans to ensure that headers and lintels are properly sized.
  • The brick will also increase the bearing weight of the structure on the underlying soil. If you are building on collapsible soil brick may not be a good option.
  • Brickwork is priced by the square foot and difficulty of design. The materials cost about one-third and the labor about two-thirds of the bid price.
  • Generally cultured stone is about 30%more than brick. Real stone because of the extra labor involved in the cutting, gathering, and installing is substantially more expensive.
  • Cultured stone is priced by the square foot. Labor and materials each cost about one-half of the bid price.


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