Brick siding has been around for thousands of years and has a traditional look and style that is popular in many areas of the country. A popular material to side your home with, it’s still in use today as either a primary or secondary house cladding.

Brick is sometimes considered as an alternative to other types of siding such as wood, because it’s much more durable and longer-lasting, with less maintenance. And while these attributes are true, this doesn’t necessarily make brick the best choice for a home’s primary cladding.

There are other materials available, such as vinyl, that offer many of the same positive attributes as brick, along with a few additional benefits as well. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of both brick and vinyl cladding, so you can be sure to pick the best siding for your home.

Brick Cladding

Brick homes were originally constructed from multiple rows of full-sized bricks, instead of the smaller, single row of bricks that are used as a cladding installed over a frame today. In the past, the bricks were much larger and often fitted together with little to no mortar. As manufacturing changed and new innovations emerged, bricks as we currently know them began to be produced and were used with mortar as a durable exterior cladding on homes.

As more time passed, thinner bricks known as brick veneer began to be used. This is typically what you’ll find now on newer homes with a brick facade; a thin layer of brick installed over a wood frame. Occasionally, full-sized bricks are still used, but because they cost significantly more than veneer, they’re used much less frequently.

Brick has a lot of attractive qualities that make it such a popular cladding material. It’s moisture resistant and doesn’t swell, crack or warp like other materials can, such as wood. It also doesn’t rot over time and is unlikely to require replacement. And it’s classic appearance works well on many different architectural styles and home sizes.

However, there are a few drawbacks to this material to consider as well. The first is the limits to color and style. While brick is attractive, the colors and shades it comes in are limited, and while it is possible to paint brick if you want a different color in a few years, paint doesn't adhere to brick over prolonged periods, requiring re-application every few years.

And while brick is extremely durable, the mortar that joins the bricks and helps create a watertight exterior is not. Mortar is made in part with Portland cement, and is, therefore, subject to the same issues as any surface made of that material.

For instance, mortar can develop cracks over time, particularly as homes settle and move. Those cracks can become big enough that they threaten the stability of the home and begin to allow moisture to infiltrate and affect the frame behind the brick.

Fixing those cracks is done through a process called repointing, which is costly and time-consuming, as well as difficult to do. It can also be difficult to find a craftsman who works with brick and will take on repairs. So, while brick can be a good cladding choice with proper maintenance and installation, it’s not the best choice for every home.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding was first produced in the 1950s as an alternative to both aluminum and wood siding. As innovations in home materials increased, homeowners were looking for a more durable alternative to wood.

Vinyl siding is made with a type of tough, durable plastic. It’s formed in a mold to give it the look and texture of wood siding, but because it’s made of plastic, it doesn’t require the same care or upkeep that wood requires.

Vinyl siding comes in many attractive, stylish colors, which allows for more design flexibility than brick. While brick’s colors are very limited and often dark, vinyl has a range of colors to choose from, and it’s even possible to choose two or three colors to coordinate with on the exterior, so you can better customize the look of your home.

Vinyl is also much easier and faster to install than either brick or brick veneer. This faster, easier installation means you’ll have less trouble finding a contractor who can take on the job, and the installation will likely cost considerably less. Vinyl also doesn’t require the same amount of maintenance that brick may need over the years, because it is able to move and settle with your home over time.

Working Together

In Census surveys of new homes built, it was discovered that one of the most popular exterior cladding combinations in the Midwest was to use vinyl siding in conjunction with brick as an accent or as a secondary cladding material. For those that like the look of brick, but are concerned about the expense or who want more options or flexibility in design, this combination style is a great way to have the best of both worlds. Try using brick on the skirting of your home, around your entryway or on a single wall, and clad the rest of your home in vinyl. You’ll get the look you want, with less maintenance and increased durability.

Get the Best Cladding for Your Home

While brick has many positive attributes, it may not be the best material for every home. If you want low maintenance and easy to install alternatives for your home, along with options for color and style, consider vinyl siding as the main siding or cladding for your home. For more information on choosing the best siding for your home, contact Rollex to speak with an expert.