Research conducted by the National Association of Home Builders and other real estate organizations indicate that more than 60% of homeowners prefer to use bricks for their exterior walls. This does not really come as a surprise. Aesthetically, while brick buildings look imposing and grand along with the old-world charm, they are also a symbol of stability and permanence – aspects that any homeowner would seek and hope for one’s family. Brick homes are considered to be more strong and durable and as per Marshall and Swift’s Residential Cost Handbook, brick homes provide a 6%-10% higher resale value over homes that have other exteriors. And for the environment conscious, brick is certainly the best go-green option. It also keeps your home naturally cool and acts as a natural sound insulator. Brick exteriors are inexpensive to maintain than the others and with a little pre-emptive monitoring, they can serve as durable exteriors for homes.
Most problems associated with brick exteriors circle around moisture. Since bricks are porous, they can retain water and moisture. Some of the signs that indicate that your brick exteriors might be deteriorating are cracks, stains like white blotchy spots; also called efflorescence and corrosion in mortar joints. However, these can be prevented by using the following precautions during construction.
Mortar, the material that bonds the bricks together, should be softer than the bricks otherwise, they can lead to disintegration. This may result in wear and tear of the mortar. Therefore, homeowners should periodically, say every 15-20 years repoint the mortar joints.
Change in temperature/moisture can cause the brick to contract and expand. Installing expansion and control joints in the wall will allow for movement of bricks as well as minimize the stress caused due to these movements. All brick buildings should have small holes, known as weep holes, along the bottom row that will drain out any condensation that is built up inside the wall. It is advised to seal the brickwork with a waterproofing agent to minimize any water infiltration
It is recommended not to grown any creepers on the bricks as they may cause a wedge through the wall and if not monitored, may cause serious structural damage.
During the design of exterior walls, water/moisture infiltration can be restricted using the “drainage system”. Drainage walls involve building a cavity between the exterior facing brick wall and a back-up wall made up of steel-stud or wood. When water is absorbed in the brick wall, it will drain to the flashing and move out of the wall through the weeps.
There are several colors available for brick wall lovers including brown, chocolate, copper or sand. Neutral colored brick superimposed with other colors is another trend that is catching popularity amongst the urban junta.