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The Disadvantages of Brick Veneer

Shelley Frost
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Brick veneer is an alternative to a traditional masonry home that gives you the classic, timeless look of brick at a lower cost and with more installation options. Despite its benefits, brick siding has some potential drawbacks you should consider before moving forward with installation.

The Disadvantages of Brick Veneer

Brick offers a timeless look for your home, but it's often an expensive investment to go full masonry, which is why some people look for similar options. Brick veneer is an alternative to give your home's exterior the look of brick with a lower price tag. However, it's important to look at the pros and cons of using brick veneer for your home to make sure it works for your situation.

What Is Brick Veneer?

Defining brick veneer makes it a little easier to understand the potential disadvantages to this type of construction material. A traditional solid masonry home uses bricks to build the structure of the home. It consists of more than one row of bricks to create a thick, strong wall. Brick veneer is essentially a siding material that goes over wood framing and sheathing with just one layer of bricks instead of two or more. It's made of real brick material.

Some brick veneer is a full brick width that's built into a wall and then anchored to the home's structure. Other brick veneer is thinner than a full brick, sometimes only about 1 inch thick.

Brick veneer offers some distinct advantages. It's generally much cheaper than building a masonry home, and it's lighter than traditional brick while still offering durability. You get the same look of brick masonry construction with low maintenance. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider when looking into brick siding.

Higher Cost Than Some Materials

Brick veneer is cheaper, and the installation is less involved than building a masonry home, but it's not the cheapest siding option for homes. Vinyl siding is generally a much cheaper option than brick veneer for covering your home's exterior walls. Wood and fiber cement siding is generally a little cheaper than brick siding. The actual costs of any siding option depend on the specific brand, style and quality you choose, so getting price quotes on all of your options helps you to compare.

No Additional Structural Support

One of the advantages of brick masonry is the structural support it provides the home since the brick actually forms the walls of the structure. Brick veneer attaches to the exterior wall of the home, so it doesn't add any additional structural support to your home. The wood framing does provide the support your home needs, but it is also susceptible to termites and other potential damage that you don't have to worry about with a masonry home.

Susceptibility to Water Damage

Do you live in an area with regular heavy rainfall? Brick veneer may not hold up as well on your home if it's constantly bombarded with heavy rain. The brick veneer surface is susceptible to moisture retention, which can cause damage over time. The moisture can also get trapped between the veneer and your home's exterior wall if the rain gets into that space.

One way to combat the potential for damage is leaving an air gap between the brick and the home's exterior wall. The water runs down the back side of the brick and through a drainage system to keep it away from the framing.

Potential for Vibration Damage

Brick veneer is a relatively durable house siding material, but it's not ideal in all locations. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, tremors or other forms of vibration, you may want to rethink using brick siding on your home. Those surface vibrations can cause the brick veneer to shift or fall off the home, especially if it isn't anchored properly. Masonry homes tend to be much better suited for areas with regular vibrations if you're going for a brick look.