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Residing With Brick: A Brick Face-Lift Can Add Value & Curb Appeal To Your Home

(HIT) - One of the most dramatic home renovations you can make is a change in exterior siding material. When you choose residing with brick, your house gets an instant upgrade in appearance, value and energy efficiency. Because of the magnitude of such a project, many homeowners may be hesitant to commit to such a dramatic transformation, but those who do get a big pay-off—a "new" house without the hassle of moving. Residing your house with brick can’t make a bungalow into a castle, but it can add classic charm and style to an ordinary wood, vinyl or synthetic stucco home.

Brick re-siding or retrofitting isn’t new—it’s been done for years—but today’s low-interest home improvement loans make residing a house with brick an especially attractive option for those wanting a new look for an old house. Of course, buying a new brick home is always a good investment, but if you are not interested in moving because of schools, neighbors or even sentimental value, residing with brick is a great alternative to buying a new home. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of brick, you can expect the following bottom-line benefits, which virtually pay for the brick residing project:

  • 35% energy savings when brick veneer is added to a wall (Construction Technology Laboratories, Skokie, Illinois)
  • 32% decrease in fire insurance rates (Brick Home Building, Vol. 1, No. 2, Reston, Virginia)
  • 5% to 10% increase in resale value—based on a study that showed brick homes commanded an average 6% higher resale price than nonbrick homes in the same neighborhood (independent appraisers, Marshall & Swift, Tidewater, Virginia).

If brick residing is done properly, it will be hard to imagine that your "new" brick house was ever anything but a brick home. From an engineering standpoint, however, the transformation requires a well thought-out plan. A masonry contractor experienced in remodeling projects is key to the success of the project. In addition to laying the brick, the masonry contractor will decide how to support and anchor the brick, what materials to use and how to detail the brick around the openings. As the main contractor on the job, the masonry contractor may coordinate with the necessary subs to complete the job (i.e., plumbers to extend spigots through the new wall and electricians to install extension rings and wiring on existing electrical boxes).

Technical considerations you will want to discuss with your masonry contractor include:

  • Adequate support (shelf angle bolted to existing foundation or added width to concrete foundation)
  • Quality materials
  • Proper attachment to a sturdy, well-braced backing
  • Proper construction techniques (flashing, weep holes, etc.)
  • Finishing details (framing around openings and trim at the top)

Most often, new brick veneer is applied over existing siding, usually wood-frame construction; however, if the old siding is in poor condition or uneven, it must be removed. Removal of existing siding adds to the expense of a brick residing project, but it is one part of the process most do-it-yourselfers can tackle as a cost-saving measure. Visit the Brick Industry Association web site, and go to Technical Notes 28A for details on the process.

Once you have decided to proceed with residing your house with brick, you can move on to the fun part—deciding what look you’d like to create with the brick on your home. With over 10,000 different styles and colors of brick available, home design possibilities are infinite. You can achieve a traditional, Old World style with antique molded brick in colors that range from deep red to charcoal and chocolate or go for a Mediterranean-inspired monolithic look with light-colored matching brick and mortar. Regardless of the color or style of brick you choose for residing, be sure to discuss mortar colors with your masonry contractor. Because it makes up 20% of a wall, the mortar can have a dramatic impact on the overall look of your brick residing project.

Finally, be realistic and consistent with the style you choose to create. Because you residing an existing house, not starting from scratch, let the "bones" of your house help you determine the style that’s right for your particular home. For additional curb appeal, you can add architectural details to accentuate the new image of your home. For example, craftsman-style sconces can be added at your entry to play up the 1940s era bungalow style that’s currently surging in popularity. Door knockers, house numbers, mailboxes and fencing can all be used to enhance your home’s new look, and most are simple do-it-yourself weekend projects.

You can also consider more dramatic architectural elements like arches over openings, quoins, planters, a porch or porte cochere created with your new brick. Brick pavers on a patio, walkway or driveway further unify the look—with mortarless installation, another do-it-yourself job. Both face brick and paving brick can be purchased from local brick distributors. You can find one near you in the Yellow Pages or by visiting the Brick Industry Association’s web site at You may also be able to find more information on brick, distributors and masonry contractors in your area by contacting one of the regional associations listed below.

Regional Brick Resources
Great Lakes Brick Council 1-330-492-0303
Illinois Masonry Advisory Council
Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute 1-303-893-3838
Southern Brick Institute
SouthWestern Brick Institute

Three Easy Steps To Residing With Brick

  1. Your professional masonry contractor excavates a small trench around the perimeter of your home to expose the existing foundation. If necessary, your home’s siding can be removed to facilitate installing insulation.
  2. "Shelf" footing, on which your new brick veneer will rest, is installed. In just a day or two, depending on the area to be covered, your home is ready for the brick veneer.
  3. The required amount of brick is delivered in the color and texture you’ve chosen (there are more than 10,000 available). Your masonry contractor installs the brick according to your brick residing plan. Installation of the brick itself typically required only a day and a half to two days.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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