Solid masonry and brick veneers both use bricks on the outside of a home. Structurally, they are different. Both have benefits and drawbacks.
What is Solid Masonry?
Solid masonry uses bricks as part of the structural foundation of the house: the bricks are load-bearing. The house is built with two layers. Sometimes both layers are brick. Other times, a concrete layer is built and then the exterior layer is brick. There is generally about a one-inch gap between the two walls.
Why the gap? Brick is porous. Leaving the inch allows rain to run down the back of the exterior wall, leaking out of weep holes (holes in about every fourth brick) and down plastic flashing between the walls to designated draining areas.
Houses must be built using this type of dual-wall construction, a house cannot be turned into a brick house.
What are the Benefits of Solid Masonry?
Solid masonry is incredibly sturdy and can withstand earthquakes, strong winds and more. It’s also fire-resistant. Houses made with solid masonry can stand for centuries. It’s fire-resistant. Many people who own solid brick homes like that it doesn’t require painting or staining.
What are the Disadvantages of Solid Masonry?
Because brick is porous, it will wear over time due to environmental conditions. Aesthetically there is very little variation possible. Construction costs are higher: Because the brick is part of the structure the home needs a much stronger foundation than one with brick veneer. Finally, solid brick homes are generally poorly insulated, raising heating costs.
What is Brick Veneer?
“Veneer” indicates a covering. In this case, a house is constructed of steel or a wood frame and then a brick wall is built around it. The bricks are not part of the home’s structure.
What are the Benefits of Brick Veneer?
When building, brick veneer is less expensive. The house doesn’t need as strong a foundation, reducing materials costs. Houses with brick veneers are more insulated while also having the benefit of a fire-resistant material that doesn’t require painting.
What are the Drawbacks of Brick Veneer?
Because bricks are porous and the frame of the home is wood or steel, there can be water damage over time, particularly wet climates. Unlike solid masonry, brick veneer is less sturdy and can crack over time from earthquakes or even heavy vehicle traffic.