There is no way to hide it – the first thing anyone notices when they look at your home is your siding. It is also your first line of defense against external environmental agents like wind, dust, and rain. And while exterior siding materials like Hardie board, vinyl, or veneer can be affordable, beautiful, and durable, they require constant maintenance and repairs. Plus, all the homes on the block that use these materials start to look the same, and not in a good way.
So, the best choice for homes that want durable siding and a distinct look is between Stucco and brick. Stucco vs brick – which is better? To help you decide, Burbach Exteriors shares more about each material, including estimated cost, energy efficiency, and maintenance needs.
What is Stucco?
Stucco is made from a mixture of aggregates and binding agents, including cement, sand, water, and sometimes lime. It is usually in the form of a thick liquid before it is applied by hand with a trowel. Stucco is laid over an existing frame that could be made from concrete blocks or bricks.
Pros of Stucco Siding
- Offers versatility when it comes to colors and textures
- Has a lifespan of 50+ years
- Performs well in hot and dry regions
- More affordable than a brick installation
- Moderately fire resistant
Cons of Stucco Siding
- Takes longer to cure than brick
- Vulnerable to cracks and requires routine maintenance
What is Brick?
Bricks are small, handheld blocks made from fired clay. They often turn out in different shades of red and brown. Layers of brick must be arranged manually to create the structure you want.
Pros of Brick Siding
- Timeless aesthetics
- Requires low maintenance
- Extremely durable and can last centuries
- High fire resistance
- Holds its value over time
- Stands up well to harsh weather
Cons of Brick Siding
- Limited color options
- More expensive to install
Direct Comparison Between Stucco and Brick
Brick always has an air of elegance and reliability. It is classic, timeless, and doesn’t require painting. However, you are somewhat limited to the different shades of red that come with the brick. For an additional cost, you can have brick painted, but it will then require more maintenance over time to keep up the look you want.
Stucco, on the other hand, is very versatile when it comes to appearance. You can paint it with any selection of colors you want to fit your aesthetic. Additionally, it’s easy to design stucco with patterns or embellishments to give your home a distinctive look. Compared to brick, stucco designs can more easily be changed later to keep up with newer styles you wish to explore.
While stucco is by no means a cheap siding choice, brick can get pretty expensive. Stucco materials cost between $1,000 to $2,000 per 1,000-square foot of surface area. And then you have the labor cost which, depending on the current rates and your location, can set you back between $35 and $50 per hour.
It takes an average of 3-5 days to complete stucco installation. And painting will set you back another $750 to $900. The total cost ends up between $2,500 and $4,500 for stucco installation.
Brick costs between $8 and $10 per square foot. Then you have to add the mortar price separately, which runs between $250 and $500 for the installation. The installation takes more time, as the bricklayers have to install the bricks one piece at a time. They will charge about $70 an hour. The total costs often add up to about $9,000 to $12,500 for brick installation.
Both materials age differently under various conditions. Stucco will develop cracks in tremor zones where the house shifts on the soil. But stucco is better adapted to temperate and dry areas where it stands up well against dust and it resists termites.
Brick can take colder weather and remains intact better than stucco under earth vibrations.
Both materials are strong and long-lasting. However, a well-installed stucco siding has a predictable lifespan of about 50 years. And brick is known to last even longer in the right climate. It will last centuries if properly installed and maintained.
There’s no doubt energy efficiency is important to many homeowners. When it comes to stucco and brick as exterior building materials, both are rated low R-value for efficiency. To get an idea of their ability to stop the flow of heat, they’re about half as efficient as wood siding. You can increase the insulation capabilities of both stucco and brick with additional materials as needed.
The raw materials used to manufacture stucco and brick aren’t the only thing to consider when it comes to how each one affects the environment. The production process and each material’s durability are factors as well.
Brick is made of all-natural materials, but the manufacturing process does put a strain on other resources. On the plus side, though, brick can last for centuries, which makes it quite sustainable.
Stucco is also made of natural raw materials, and it does require significant resources for manufacturing. Unlike brick, however, stucco doesn’t have the same staying power after installation. It’s slightly less sustainable than brick in the long run.
Stucco can be installed as a decorative coating for both interior and exterior projects. As mentioned, it can be applied over existing concrete or brick, or over a base wrap of felt or lath. Like brick masonry, stucco has to be applied by hand, and can require up to four coats to protect against cracks and provide optimal insulation. Sandwiched between layers of stucco, you’ll find foam board and fiberglass mesh, with the final coat being topped with acrylic.
If you’ve ever built with your kids’ toy bricks, you probably have a general idea of how the real deal is installed. Bricks must be laid precisely to promote structural integrity so you can enjoy your siding for decades to come. The first layer should be installed on a concrete foundation, and everything needs to be level and plumb as you go. Bricks are often laid “dry” first, without mortar, to ensure the rest of the mason work is precise. After the first course is complete, each successive layer will be overlapped in a staggered pattern, with mortar bonding the bricks together. Like stucco, it can be time-consuming to get the job done right.
Burbach recommends hiring professionals for both stucco and brick installation, as there are many factors at play when it comes to each material. You want to ensure nothing dries out prematurely, is applied too thickly, or isn’t cured properly.
Both stucco and brick are porous, so they absorb moisture pretty easily. This means there is a high chance of mold and moss growing on your siding when either material is used. Brick is more susceptible to this as paint often serves as a protective layer on stucco. This means that brick has to be cleaned fairly regularly to prevent vegetation and mold growth.
Stucco is prone to cracks over time since it doesn’t have mortar joints that allow the siding to “breathe” or expand with the changing temperatures through the seasons. Unlike raw brick, stucco will also require repainting every ten years or so, depending on the climate. Regardless of each material’s maintenance needs, these two options do offer the lowest maintenance in sidings when compared to others.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Any time a homeowner improves the exterior or interior of their house, resale value is often top-of-mind. Everyone wants to ensure that the changes or repairs being made are worth the initial investment. When it comes to ROI for stucco vs brick, which has the highest resale value when it comes time to list your home on the market?
While it depends on where you live and the climate of the housing market, brick tends to have a higher resale value than stucco. The ROI can be up to 6% for brick homes, but in areas like St. George, Utah where stucco is the norm, brick may not yield the higher return that is common elsewhere.
Safety and Protection
While both stucco and brick are great at keeping things out, brick is better at keeping the heat in. It edges stucco out in insulation against cold weather. Brick also keeps cool when the weather is hotter, thanks to its ability to let moisture flow in and out.
Brick also has better heat resistance and easily contains fire in case of an outbreak. Stucco is more susceptible to such situations.
Sound Proofing Capabilities
If you want an exterior siding option that will block out sound, brick is the better choice. It has a sound rating of 53 STC (sound transmission class), compared to stucco’s 29 STC. However, like insulation performance, both ratings can be improved with the use of additional building materials.
Do you still have questions about choosing brick or stucco for your home’s exterior? Get in touch with Burbach Companies today.