6 Solid Reasons to Choose Brick
Masonry is the way to go, but can you argue that point easily? The Brick Industry Association lays out six ironclad reasons for choosing brick.
As a mason contractor, masonry is your life. But have you ever been tasked with making a case for using brick? Brush up on your pro-brick facts by keeping the following reasons to choose brick fresh in your mind, courtesy of the Brick Industry Association (BIA).
- Genuine clay brick is made from natural materials.
Brick is made from clay and shale – some of the most abundant, natural materials on earth – and then fired through a kiln at up to 2,000 degrees. The reason the brick turns into such a durable material is that the clay/shale unit actually goes through a vitrification process in the kiln, which enables the clay particles to fuse together.Many people may confuse clay brick with “brick” made from other materials. For example, concrete units rely on a cement paste to bond the materials together. Moreover, concrete units are inherently a grayish color, which means that users must inject color pigments before the setting process and use color sealant afterwards to have a color affect. On the other hand, clay brick has thousands of color and shade options that will not fade. Contrary to some people’s perceptions, clay brick is actually significantly stronger than concrete brick as well.
- Brick has been proven for centuries.
What began as a building essential in the Near East and India more than 5,000 years ago wound its way through the ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization and the Romans. Today, it has become the all-American building product throughout our country’s history. Just look at the structures and roadways in your community. Chances are, at least some of them are built with brick.At the same time, bricks today are subject to much more stringent manufacturing processes than used in the past, which results in a more consistently performing end-product. While it is still possible to purchase hand-made brick, it is also possible to buy the type of architectural brick that meets extremely strict product specifications.
- Brick offers superior protection over other wall cladding materials.
The story of the “Three Little Pigs” is just as true today as when it was first told to children long ago. Research confirms that genuine clay brick provides superior shelter in three major categories.
Fire protection.Since the primary ingredient in brick is clay, which is fired to around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it is a non-combustible material. As such, it is an excellent cladding choice to resist or confine fires. In fact, both the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the BIA conducted separate fire tests that conclusively demonstrate that nothing outperforms good, old-fashioned brick in a one-hour fire test. Today’s “advanced” materials, such as vinyl, are engulfed by flames within minutes.
- High wind protection.A “Shelter from the Storm” study conducted in September 2004 shows that homes built with brick offer dramatically more protection from wind-blown debris than homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding. Conducted at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University, the study demonstrated that a medium-sized, wind-blown object, such as a 7.5-foot-long 2 x 4, would penetrate homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding at a speed of 25 mph. By comparison, the same object would need to travel at a speed exceeding 80 mph in order to penetrate the wall of a brick home. The tests found that homes made with brick exceed the 34 mph impact resistance requirement for high velocity hurricane zones in the Florida building code. Brick also exceeds Florida’s impact resistance requirements for essential facilities in hurricane areas. Brick is such a strong and durable building material that your insurance companies may even offer you a discount on your home insurance costs.
- Superior moisture control.According to a nationally renowned, independent building products research laboratory, brick veneer wall assemblies control moisture better than wall systems clad with other exterior materials. Therefore, brick veneer wall systems help minimize mold growth, wood rot and infestation by insects, and corrosion of fasteners embedded in wood better than other wall assemblies.
- Brick looks better, for far longer and with less maintenance, than other building materials.
Brick offers lasting value.It doesn’t rot, dent or need to be painted, and it will never tear or be eaten by termites. Its modular units and variety of shapes have resulted in beautiful structures in just about every architectural style, ranging from colonial to Victorian and post-modernist. It is one of the few materials that can actually look better with age. Brick also absorbs noise, giving it an acoustic advantage over other material. It’s especially helpful in densely populated areas. Maybe this is why readers see ads for “all-brick” houses much more often than ads for “all-vinyl” or “all-exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS)” neighborhoods.
- Brick is naturally energy efficient.
Brick is a building material that has exceptional “thermal mass” properties. Thermal mass is the ability of a heavy, dense material to store heat and then slowly release it. This means that during the summer months, a brick home stays cool during the hottest part of the day. During the winter, brick walls store a home’s heat and radiate it back to the resident. Vinyl, aluminum, wood or EIFS (artificial stucco) are all thin, light building materials that do not have good thermal mass properties. The superior thermal mass qualities of brick have been known for centuries.
- Brick is the most sustainable green building material made.
Given the significance buildings have on energy consumption, brick should be part of a comprehensive green strategy. Today’s brick includes:
- Inherently natural ingredients.Brick is predominantly made from clay and shale, which are among the most abundant materials available on earth.
- Countless recycling options.Brick can be salvaged, crushed for sub-base materials, and chipped for permanent landscaping mulch.
- Minimal waste.Virtually all of the mined clay is used in the manufacturing process, making the recycling and waste containment unequalled by any other building material. In fact, more than 80 percent of brick manufacturers re-use their own fired waste material or convert it into other products. And if you decide to pitch it, there is no special handling required, because brick is simply earth, so it’s inert.
- Brick is the first masonry material that can attain a “Certificate of Environmental Claims” from a third-party source.The National Brick Research Center, an organization of the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University, has developed a standard to verify the amount of recycled content in brick, the utilization of renewable energy in the firing process, and the reduction in the amount of resources used to manufacture brick.
- Environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.More than 80 percent of brick kilns are fired with natural gas, and numerous plants use fuels of bio-based materials from other industrial applications and waste products. Energy sources include methane gas from landfills and sawdust from furniture manufacturers.
- Low embodied energy to manufacture brick.With clay brick’s renowned longevity, no additional energy will be needed to make a replacement brick for many decades, if not centuries. The National Institute for Standards and Technology gives brick masonry a 100-year life, and many brick buildings older than a century are still in use today. In fact, brick is one of the few materials that building codes allow to be reused in a building application when it meets the ASTM standard for clay brick. Consequently, salvaged bricks are in high demand and represent a vibrant market.
- According to recent statistics, the impact of residential and commercial buildings account for:
- 2% of electricity consumption
- >36% of the country’s “primary energy use”
- 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
- 136 million tons of demolition and construction waste in the U.S., which equates to about 2.8 lbs. per person, per day.
For more information, visit www.gobrick.com.