How to Choose Brick or Stone for Your Home: A Guide
Friends, I’m excited to share with you as we work on our design plans, updates and finish our new home! Without further ado, let’s walk through how to choose brick for your home!
Today seems like the perfect time to discuss exterior finishes and to share our exterior plans for the house. They delivered our stone and brick at the end of this last week and will install it this week.
We’re literally wading through all kinds of brick and sorting out how to use brick on our exterior.
I do have to say, out of everything I’ve selected this was by far my hardest decision. Honestly, coming from California, I’m more of a stucco girl than a brick person when it comes to exterior finishes.
Looking at 3×3 samples and attempting to envision a whole house covered in brick is SO stinkin’ hard, even for someone who does a lot of design work like me.
So, I’m crossing my fingers and praying I love it when the brick and stone are installed. But through this process, I’ve learned good rules to follow for anyone selecting exterior finishes.
So before we begin, I wanted to share a rendering of the front of our home.
There are 3 windows above the garage where the media room is and then the windows on the left bottom are into the dining room. It is a lot of house in the front so we needed it to not look too heavy.
When selecting brick (or any exterior finish) for your home, it’s important you assess your house from all angles.
Use a rendering as a reference and carefully assess how each finish will weigh down or lighten up the look of your house.
1. How to Seek Brick Exterior Inspiration:
When I began this process I wasn’t really familiar with all the different exterior finish and brick options available. If you’re struggling with how to choose brick for your home, the best place to start is to gain inspiration from other beautiful homes!
So, my first step was to drive around our neighborhood and get inspiration for the look I wanted to achieve. Most neighborhoods have a cohesive look when it comes to finishes and some even have set guidelines on brick, exterior color, and materials.
In a semi-custom home, like ours, the options are somewhat limited. I had no idea 3-4 houses in a row can’t have any of the same brick selections. Since we were one of the first to build on our block, I was lucky and had a lot more options.
Always check this with your builder and keep it in mind when selecting your property in a housing development like this.
Here are examples of homes from around our neighborhood with brick layouts, exterior finishes, and/or colors I loved.
The overall look I wanted was a washed-out brick look without much red in it. I also didn’t want the brick to look too dark and heavy. Little did I know how hard it is (unless you majorly upgrade!) to figure out how to achieve this look with your exterior finish.
At first, my husband and I chose a plan that was all brick. I thought I liked the look and I would get a German smear-looking brick finish with lots of mortar. Well, I guess it isn’t a very popular look where we are building and after looking through the neighborhood finishes, I ultimately decided I didn’t like the all-brick look.
In my neighborhood, I found this house (below) that had more of a mortar-wash and German smear look. While it’s a nice all-brick finish, I decided the all-brick looked too dark for our home. It seemed like an overwhelming exterior finish.
Alternatively, I checked out another house in my neighborhood with a lighter all-brick finish. The brick on this house (below) looked too washed out to me.
There was low contrast with the trim and roof and the finish wouldn’t flatter the design of our house.
Of course, I loved the limewash/whitewash look of the brick on this gorgeous house (below), but the brick finish is a more expensive option.
When we priced it out we realized it would cost us an arm and a leg. The decorative herringbone brick pattern is more expensive to lay and it’s a big project. I really loved the contrast, though
Ultimately, we decided on the look and direction of the exterior finish in the home below. It’s actually a few houses down the street from us.
I loved how the brick was slightly darker than the washed-out ones, had lots of brown tones in it, and had lots of variations in the way the brick was laid.
We changed the layout of the brick above the garage to a herringbone pattern, inspired by the other brick home I loved, to break up the brick along the super tall wall.
I also thought the mix of stone on this house lightened it up and didn’t feel as heavy! It created the contrast we were looking for in our finish.
BUT of course, this brick was out of stock and from another builder… so began the search for the perfect brick/stone mix.
2. How to Pick Your Brick – Learn The Do’s & Don’ts:
Once you’ve amassed design inspiration and have a handle on what finish matches the look and feel of your neighborhood and house, you’ll need to pick your brick.
The first step in picking out the perfect brick for your exterior is deciding on a color. I wanted to find brick with primarily brown tones and little-to-no red.
Next, after choosing a color for your brick, decide if you would like it to have a distressed look. I love a more Old World style exterior, so that was the direction I went in.
There are ways to achieve the look with whitewashing, limewashing or German smear-style finishes when you lay your brick. You can also look for brick featuring this type of finish already.
Lastly, decide how you would like the mortar to look; messy, thin, thick, smeared, and so on. When it comes to mortar, there are many different colors that will also drastically impact your finish.
A lighter mortar may result in a lower-contrast finish but can also cause a “washed out” effect. At the same time, a darker mortar will darken the overall look of the exterior of your home. So, choose the mortar color and style carefully.
Ultimately, the brick I decided on is called Commercial Antique. It’s a really beautiful brick with a brown undertone with a lightly distressed look.
Combined with the light smear mortar, I will get exactly the look I was hoping for our house.
3. How to Select Stone (If It’s in Your Finish Design):
Selecting stone to finish your exterior design, is definitely where your home’s finish gets pricey. Fortunately, we actually eliminated a lot of stone from the design because honestly it just felt heavy, so that cut back on our cost.
As you see in our house rendering we featured stone on the base apron of the house and then added stone accenting up the entry column.
Adding stone to those two areas of our home felt like more than enough for us and helped with the price since the stone I chose turned was an expensive selection.
I wanted a stone with NO yellow in it. I was actually pretty emphatic about my stone selection. I wanted rocks that were only white and grey.
Above is the stone finish we ended up with. I loved how the stones have a rough, uneven texture, making them appear natural and rustic.
The stone I selected also has the same cream color as in my brick selection. When you pick your stone, ensure it contrasts, accents, and highlights the part of your brick you want to pop.
4. How To Pull Your Exterior Design All Together:
Our last step was selecting the paint color for the exterior trim and the wood color for the garage. I first selected the garage door style I wanted (see the photo below).
I chose option “T” with large iron hardware on it. I initially considered a unique color for the garage door like the one on the right.
After consideration, I decided to go with the darkest color for the garage, to create a more modern look. I chose a super dark espresso color that almost looks black and will really stand out with our brick finish.
After I selected the garage door, I was ready to select the trim color. I wanted a color that would easily blend and not look yellow. (Can you tell I just couldn’t have any yellow in my house?!)
I went with this soft creamy taupe trim color. Again, I chose a color also featured in both my brick and stone so they were highlighted.
5. How to LOVE Your Final Exterior Finish Result:
Once I’d selected all of the components for my exterior finish, I laid everything out for a final look to ensure all of the design elements complimented each other-the brick, stone, garage, and trim.
I am crossing my fingers I did a good job as they begin to install our finishes all this week!
As you see below, the backyard and front yard are stockpiled with all the materials.
It’s strange to see the brick and stone in a natural light all stacked up on pallets, but from what I can tell, they really look great together.
I have a feeling I’m going to love the final exterior finish results when it’s all complete. I really love my choice of brick and the stone compliments it so well.
So, tell me, what questions do you have on how to choose brick for your home and exterior finishes?
Selecting the brick and stone you love isn’t as daunting as you may think! I know it’s a big choice, but if you follow the steps you’ll select an exterior design you’ll feel proud of!
You can follow along on our journey right HERE and you can search it with the hashtag #ourwaterviewhome on social media.
Choosing the Right Brick: Style, Size and Cost.
Planning a new home can be one of life’s most exciting endeavors! With so many real estate and home design shows on TV and instant access to social sharing sites like Pinterest, we have virtually no limit to sources of inspiration. In this article, we’ll explore how to get inspired and pull the key elements together, where to find the brick options available in your region and which brick sizes to consider – all of which will impact the final look and budget of your house.
STEP 1: GET INSPIRED!
Whether you have a specific brick in mind or are starting from scratch, it’s always a great idea to see how a product looks on an existing home. You can do this in person by visiting some favorite neighborhoods, or you can go on our website and view the Inspiration Gallery. Our online gallery gives you a broad range of options, and probably shows you some designs and color schemes you haven’t seen before.
Several key features impact a home design, even if they seem like secondary accents. Please note the following elements when recording the home styles your love.
– Architectural Style: Categorize your top picks: are they Colonial, Ranch, Mid-century, Spanish, Cape Cod, Craftsman? A brick choice won’t change the overall design, so know what style is for you!
– Setting: Be aware of how the lot size and setting contribute to a home’s aesthetic impact. It’s very important to know where you are building and what settings are available to you. Be realistic and you won’t be disappointed.
– Trim & Decorative Effects: Exterior color palettes involve everything from shingles and gutters to door and window frames. A dark or light palette can make a brick color look dramatically different. Don’t underestimate the importance of these ‘decorative’ effects.
– Mortar Color & Joint Type: Mortar can make up 20% of a brick wall surface, so it goes without saying that you need to be aware of your preferences. Make note of it. The joint type is another key feature that you should discuss with your builder before you get started.
STEP 2: CHECK AVAILABILITY
As a heavy product that requires shipping from manufacturing plant to dealer, brick is best sourced from a plant in your region to keep costs down. At General Shale, we offer a location filter, so that you can check what brick products are available in the region closest to you. Of course, our brick is available throughout North America (and we have 300 dealers across the U. S.), so don’t be too discouraged if your area isn’t listed. Simply contact your local General Shale dealer to get a better understanding of availability and possible shipping costs. A visit to your dealer showroom is time well spent!
STEP 3: CHOOSE YOUR BRICK SIZE AND COST
Brick size affects the look of a home and the total cost of construction. Depending on the scope of the project, it’s important to determine the correct size for your new home. Choosing the wrong size can result in a less than ideal final appearance and perhaps lead to spending more money than you need to.
Many people aren’t aware of the range brick sizes and types. Here’s a summary of General Shale’s brick size offering:
Masons typically charge per thousand brick (because the components are priced and packaged differently). When planning, you need this cost converted to cost per square foot. We’ve made this process simple with our Wall Cost Calculator. This online tool helps you compare the wall cost for different brick sizes, and gives you a brick wall cost to compare with other siding materials.
An Example for Savings
Certain brick sizes, such as the Light Weight King Size (LWK) brick, can result in total wall cost saving of up to 25%. That’s right, size does matter when it comes to brick wall cost and some sizes like the LWK can result in lower costs. This is because LWK is about the same weight as a conventional brick and can be handled at the same production rate by the masons. However, a LWK has a larger face size and less brick are required per square foot so overall wall labor cost is lower.
Now, Get Started!
We hope we’ve given you some useful tips on getting started with your brick selection. Your home’s exterior is a such an important personal choice and also a big portion of your budget – so take the time you need to make your decision. Be sure to check with your local General Shale sales representative if you would like any guidance. Plus, our mobile General Shale app is a convenient way to browse products while you are out ‘house shopping’ this spring!
The choice of building bricks is quite diverse, so many buyers have difficulties. It is worth looking for the optimal solution, taking into account the features of the planned building.
4 practical tips for choosing building bricks
4 practical tips for choosing building bricks
Building brick is considered a versatile material. It can be used to build one-story and multi-story buildings, outbuildings, partitions, equip foundations and furnaces, and perform facing work. The choice of building bricks is quite diverse, so many buyers have difficulties. Some types are more durable, others retain heat better. It is worth looking for the optimal solution, taking into account the features of the planned building.
Tip #1: Pay Attention to the Appearance of Material
Both unburned and burnt bricks are considered to be defective. As a result of underfiring material:
- has a mustard color;
- makes a dull sound when struck;
- has low water resistance and frost resistance;
- is notable for its low durability;
- is often destroyed during storage and warehousing on open construction sites.
Unburnt bricks can quickly break down, so they often do not have time to get into the masonry. When inspecting a building material, it is better to refuse to accept defective products or, in extreme cases, use them when equipping the internal walls of a building or stove masonry.
In turn, burnt bricks:
- have a dark tint, visible melted surfaces;
- have fuzzy shapes;
- due to the vitrification of the surface, they have poor adhesive properties;
- do not allow you to create a strong styling;
- show low thermal resistance.
Such products are considered unsuitable for the construction of public buildings and any external walls of buildings. It is also worth paying attention to other features that are noticeable during visual inspection:
- Lots of calcareous inclusions that can lead to chipping and rapid degradation of the material.
- The presence of cracks and chips, their permissible propagation should not exceed 1% of the area of the vertical surface of the faces.
- Poor-quality surface of the edges, the presence of delaminations, defects with a forked structure, empty corners.
A burnt brick is considered acceptable if it has a dark spot only in the core. In this case, if the technology of the production process is violated, the brick does not lose high strength and water resistance.
In the presence of a large amount of lime inclusions, the risk of destruction of materials during its operation increases significantly. This type of marriage is associated with poor grinding or poor-quality removal of lime inclusions. When using defective products, a rapid destruction of the brick body occurs under the influence of moisture, which is accompanied by the onset of a natural reaction with an increase in volume.
Tip #2: Choose Bricks According to Tasks
Manufacturers propose to use hollow, solid products or materials with technical voids for construction work. When choosing the best option, you should pay attention to the features of each of them.
Hollow bricks can be produced with round, rectangular, oval, square holes. Products have high thermal insulation properties, are characterized by lower cost and light weight. This type should not be used in the construction of foundations, which is explained by lower strength characteristics compared to solid bricks. Due to its low weight, the material is recommended for use in the construction of structures that require a reduction in the load on the foundations.
Solid bricks are more expensive and heavier. Due to the absence of holes, this type of material is considered more moisture and frost resistant, has increased strength. It is suitable for the construction of structures for which it is important to strengthen the strength characteristics or increase the load, including when creating a foundation and erecting load-bearing walls.
Manufacturers also produce solid bricks with technical voids not exceeding 13% of the total area. They are suitable for equipping internal partitions and do not create an additional load on the foundation, they have a high degree of thermal conductivity and sound insulation.
Tip #3: Pay Attention to Sizes
The best choice would be single and one and a half bricks with dimensions of 250 × 120 × 65 mm and 250 × 120 × 88 mm, respectively. Their universal dimensions are suitable for laying walls, facing foundations, building facades, and constructing partitions. Double size should be chosen if you want to increase the laying speed and save on the amount of purchased materials. Double bricks have voids, due to which their weight is significantly reduced and they do not create excessive load on structures.
Tip #4: Research Manufacturers and Suppliers
When buying – especially large quantities – give preference to trusted manufacturers and suppliers. They carefully monitor the quality of the materials sold and the absence of defects. When working with manufacturers directly, without intermediaries, it will be possible to avoid margins.
The right choice of bricks: advice from the manufacturer JSC “Keramika”
Nowadays, there are many varieties of bricks, but it often happens that such a variety misleads people and creates certain problems with the choice. That is why it is better to initially figure out how to choose a brick.
Initially, you should pay attention to the dimensions of the brick you buy:
- A standard brick measuring 250x120x65 mm is the most versatile building material that allows you to use it both for laying all kinds of structures, and for decorative and facing works;
- One-and-a-half and modular size 250x120x88 or 250x120x130 mm – a great way to save money in the process of building massive structures, since due to the increased size of the brick, the bricklayer will be able to lay the masonry faster;
- Narrow size 250x60x65 – an option for cladding, since due to the high quality requirements for such a material, therefore, its total cost also increases;
- Slim size 250x22x65. In fact, this brick is a tile, and therefore is suitable for cladding various buildings, and cladding with this material is not much different from cladding with standard or narrow bricks.
After the size, pay attention to the various defects of the brick, which always leave their mark on its color. The pale pink brick is unburned, it will soak up water quite strongly and get your hands dirty, and after hitting it, a dull sound will occur. Such material is bought for use inside various premises where there is no risk of atmospheric influences.
Dark brown cracked brick is, on the contrary, burnt brick, which is distinguished by its extreme hardness and can be used for laying foundations.
Normal brick is red, has little water absorption and produces a clear sound when struck. This material is suitable for masonry, stoves, fireplaces or walls.
The strength characteristics of the brick you buy are determined by hammering. If the brick is completely broken into rubble, we are talking about low-quality material. A medium-strength brick will already require several blows, and only then it breaks into small pieces, and a high-strength brick can spark from blows, and in the case of glancing blows, it can be beaten off in small pieces.
When buying a facing brick, it is also important to pay attention to such properties as frost resistance and the absence of all kinds of efflorescence and spalling.
According to frost resistance, modern bricks are divided into several classes. If the brickwork is not located on the seashore, in which there is both a humid and cold climate, then in this case you will have enough real frost resistance from the F25 class. At the same time, it should be said that frost resistance is almost impossible to determine by eye, but in this case there is one exception – glazed brick, which has a glass surface and automatically a high level of frost resistance.