The Disadvantages of Using Brick to Build Houses

George N. Root III

Brick as a primary home building material has a distinctive look that some homeowners find appealing. But the rate of brick home building has been dropping steadily since the 1970s. In 1973, 421,000 new brick houses were built in the United States compared to 113,000 new brick houses in 2010, according to the U.S.

Building a house out of bricks usually takes longer than a wood house.

Census Bureau website. The many disadvantages of building a house out of brick might be contributing to its dropping popularity.

Temperature Change

Wood and metal can expand and contract to accommodate the changes in temperature that occur in some parts of the country. Brick is unable to sustain years of extreme changes in temperature and can start cracking. Snow and water can get into the pores in brick and mortar and then expand when it freezes. This causes a gradual breakdown of the brick that will require replacement over time.

Weather Conditions

Building a house from brick can take longer than most other building materials because brick cannot be laid in inclement weather. A brick house requires a strong attraction between the brick and mortar to remain stable for many years. Rain and cold significantly reduce the effectiveness of mortar and make brick construction unstable. Brick is treated for weather protection after the walls of the home are built. The untreated brick must be protected from weather conditions throughout the building process to prevent a breakdown in the brick and a weakening of the installed mortar.

Shifting Foundations

Home foundations in some U.S. locales are built on land that shifts slightly but regularly. The shift can result from moving soil caused by rain and snow or by seismic activity. Brick homes are extremely sensitive to shifts in the home's foundation and can be a bad building material to use in areas that do not offer a solid rock foundation.

Time and Cost

Brick homes are built by hand, one brick at a time. The construction of a brick home requires more laborers working longer hours and that can raise the price of construction.