A brick exterior provides homes and commercial buildings with a distinctive appearance. It lends a balance of strength and style found in few other building materials. And if that is the look that you prefer, there are two ways to achieve it — solid brick or brick veneer. There are significant differences between the materials, installation costs and specific benefits to each.
Solid bricks are generally made from natural materials such as clay and shale. They are heated in a kiln or furnace at 2,000 degrees and bound through a process called vitrification.
Veneer bricks can be produced by using a similar clay base, cement or manmade textile products. Veneers are a significantly thinner, tile-like product.
The cost of installing a brick wall runs a little more than $14 per square foot, depending on region and construction variables. Brick walls are generally built during initial construction and may be part of the support structure. They are often integrated into the building's design and require an experienced mason.
The cost of installing veneer brick wall can be as low as $11 per square foot or more than $15, depending on the grade of material, region, and construction variables. Keep in mind that veneer wall construction often involves some demolition and prep work that adds to costs. Veneers can be added at any time. Because they are a thin style-oriented addition, meshing veneer into a building’s structural design isn’t necessary.
In short, the difference often comes down to strength vs style.
Brick construction resists the elements and often lasts for hundreds of years. It doesn’t require wood support, which makes it impervious to pests such as termites, powder post beetles, and nesting carpenter ants. When considering solid brick, think about the Three Little Pigs. The Big Bad Wolf couldn’t blow the brick house down.
Veneers are primarily stylistic upgrades. They are fairly simple to install. Most general contractors or DIY homeowners can handle the work. Like solid brick, they are resistant to the elements and help repel moisture. Veneers come in an assortment of colors and textures. The big upside to veneer brick, however, is being able to enjoy a brick façade on any existing home.
While neither solid brick nor veneer require ongoing maintenance. Both give a property a certain style and protect from the elements. It’s generally more cost-effective to go with a brick during initial construction and veneer on existing structures. Either way, both are a win for any property owner.