If you are currently in the planning stages of building a new home, you might be wondering what materials will work best to protect your home from the elements and will last many years to come. Brick and concrete are both terrific options that are fire-resistant, insect-proof, and have a lot of thermal mass, making them great options for retaining heat throughout the winters.
But despite their similarities, they have some major differences that can affect your decision depending on your needs and priorities. Here are some characteristics of brick and concrete masonry to help you decide which material to use when building your home.
One of the first considerations you must make when picking between brick and concrete blocks is the cost. Although the costs associated with both of them are comparable, they have some differences that can affect the final cost at the end of the day. Brick is often sold by the thousand, with mortar sold by the box, much like concrete blocks.
What separates the two is that bricks tend to come in smaller sizes than concrete blocks, which means more bricks are needed to build a wall or building of the same size as one built with concrete, and concrete blocks cost less per unit than brick. Finally, brickwork requires more masonry skills than concrete masonry, so overall, if the price is a major concern for you, concrete blocks are usually the more affordable option of the two, especially when building larger structures.
Both concrete and brick blocks are extremely tough materials. The average block can withstand 3500 psi (pounds per square inch) while a clay brick can take 3000 psi; however, the psi of the mortar used in construction will also make a huge difference and must be taken into consideration as well.
For instance, mortar with cement content can reach up to 2500 psi, while weaker lime mortars can only handle about 350 psi. Ultimately, the combination of mortar and block is what determines the final strength value of your masonry construction, but both brick and concrete blocks are quite tough in their own right.
Although both concrete and brick will protect your home from extreme weather and help keep you warm in the winters, they are not without some flaws. Clay brick is incredibly porous, giving room for water to enter and freeze when the temperature begins to drop, damaging the brick until it slowly degrades and needs to be addressed.
Furthermore, mold and mildew can also invade the brick and mortar, leading to damage in wetter climates. While concrete blocks are prone to the same types of damage, they are more resistant to water than clay bricks, making them generally more durable. That said, clay brick structures can still last a long time with proper care, as evidenced by many historic buildings around the world made from brick that are over a hundred years old.
Thermal mass in clay bricks tends to be higher than in concrete blocks, as they absorb heat during the day and release it overnight, keeping the interior temperature of a building relatively constant. By contrast, concrete does not insulate as well as brick does, though it’s denser nature does tend to make it more soundproof.
If you value insulating your home and keeping a constant temperature indoors, bricks will be a fitting choice. On the other hand, concrete is the better choice for building a recording studio or anything where soundproofing is a top consideration.
Choose Whichever One Best Suits Your Needs
Brick and concrete blocks are both fantastic options for building a home, and each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for a builder to help you with your next home project, we at Turnbull Masonry have the expertise to get the job done. Contact us today to get a quote and begin your next project.