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Brick Vs. Stucco: What's Better?

New siding can improve your home’s look and function, and two great options to consider are brick and stucco. What’s the better material for your house? Learn the basics of brick and stucco, plus explore options such as half-brick, half-siding homes, in ImproveNet's comprehensive guide.

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New siding can enhance curb appeal, improve efficiency, and increase the value of your home, but choosing the right material can be challenging. Brick and stucco are two great options, each offering a unique look and benefits that can make a big difference in your home’s look and function.

If you’re ready to refresh your home’s exterior but aren’t sure where to start, ImproveNet can help. Get started today with a free quote from a local contractor.

What Is Brick Siding?

Nothing says traditional quite like brick siding. Dating back to Colonial America, brick is a great choice for home exteriors. Made from cement, clay, and gravel, this durable material is a staple of modern construction

There are actually two types of brick siding: full brick and thin brick. Thin brick, which is sometimes called brick veneer, ranges from 5/8 to 3/4-inch thick. Although both create a similar look, full brick provides better durability, while brick veneer can cost thousands of dollars less.

The Pros And Cons Of Brick Siding

Both full brick siding and brick veneer have pros and cons. Here are several things to keep in mind as you explore siding options.

Pros

  • Brick is exceptionally durable and may last for more than 100 years.
  • Brick can withstand many elements, including fire, insects, and damaging winds.
  • Brick makes maintaining the exterior of your home
  • Brick may be painted for a new look.
  • Brick is highly coveted and can provide a significant ROI.

Cons

  • Brick can be costly.
  • Installation may take up to several weeks.
  • Brick installation is intensive and requires masonry skills. It's better left to professionals.

What Is Stucco Siding?

Stucco is one of the oldest types of natural siding. When applied over a timber or stone frame, it creates a rock-hard exterior that can be customized to fit your design style.

Composed of cement, sand, and water, this hand-troweled plaster was traditionally used in Spanish and Mediterranean architecture. Today, the distinct look of stucco is often associated with the American Southwest.

The Pros And Cons Of Stucco Siding

Stucco can be a great option for your home exterior, but it has downsides. Here are several things to keep in mind when considering stucco.

Pros

  • Stucco is versatile. It can go on smooth or be textured to create swirls and pebbling.
  • Stucco is fire-resistant. It can slow the spread of flames, which makes it ideal for neighborhoods where houses are built close together.
  • Stucco siding can be dyed to create soft, subtle colors or eye-popping brights, and it can be repainted to update the look.
  • Stucco takes only days to install.

Cons

  • Stucco siding can be brittle and may crack if your foundation settles.
  • Stucco doesn't provide good insulation.
  • Stucco siding costs can be considerable, particularly for timber-frame homes.
  • Stucco should be applied by skilled professionals and isn’t ideal for DIYers.

The Basics Of Installation

The installation of brick siding differs significantly from that of stucco, and approaches may differ depending on the underlying structure.

Brick Siding Installation

Full-size brick siding is installed atop a platform that’s built into your house’s concrete foundation. Prior to installation, your home’s exterior walls should be wrapped in waterproof material. Brick is then laid with mortar, leaving a 1-inch gap between the siding and the wall. This gap will be sealed upon completion. When installing brick siding, contractors typically also include weep holes for drainage and ventilation.

For thin brick, the installation process is quite different. The veneer is attached to the exterior walls with thinset mortar or adhesive. To complete the look, the spaces between the bricks are filled with grout or mortar.

Stucco Siding Installation

The process for applying stucco siding varies depending on your house’s structure. Concrete or block-style homes typically require two coats of stucco, while wood-framed walls require three.

The initial layer, called a scratch coat, is applied over metal lath. This provides a rough surface that a second, strengthening coat adheres to. Lastly, the hand-troweled finish coat is applied, providing color and texture. Each layer must dry thoroughly before the next one is applied.

Houses constructed from concrete or block don’t require a scratch coat, which is why they require fewer layers. Newer processes, which combine stucco with fiberglass, may permit a one-coat application.

Brick Or Stucco: Which Is Better?

From the stately traditional look of brick siding to the earthy southwestern appeal of stucco, these two materials have distinctly different looks. Which material you choose largely depends on your tastes.

However, there are other considerations. Because stucco can be brittle, it isn’t a good choice for areas where the soil has a high clay content and is prone to shifting, and because it doesn’t insulate well, stucco isn’t energy-efficient in regions that have cold winters.

The cost of siding may also be a determining factor. Although both types of siding can be costly, the price of brick can be downright prohibitive.

Alternatives To Brick And Stucco

You won't go wrong choosing either brick or stucco, but if neither of those materials works for your budget or location, there are viable alternatives.

Half-Brick, Half-Siding Homes

If you like the look of brick but can’t afford its price tag, a half-brick, half-siding home may be the solution. This hybrid design gives your home a unique custom look that incorporates a traditional brick element without breaking the bank.

Fake Brick Siding

Homeowners on a budget may also opt for fake brick siding. Although it's essentially vinyl siding, this product is designed to recreate the look of real brick without the hefty price tag.

Stucco Siding Panels

For those who want the look of stucco, stucco siding panels create an attractive hand-troweled effect and can be installed and painted easily. If regional considerations are an issue, consider cement board stucco siding panels. Many varieties resist cracking and swelling due to sunlight, salty air, or soil settling. They're also DIY-friendly.

Getting Started

It can be difficult to wade through the many facts about siding. If you’re considering brick or stucco, let ImproveNet help you determine the best choice for your home. Check out our cost guides for brick siding and stucco siding to get your project started.

Article Topics

  • Siding & Exterior

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