Fiber Cement Siding vs. Brick

What you cover your house’s exterior with plays an important role in your home’s curb appeal. Homeowners today have a lot of choices when it comes to home coverings, which can make for some tough decisions. Things to be considered include appearance, durability, maintenance, and cost. Many homeowners looking for an attractive and durable option may consider brick, but they would do well to consider fiber cement siding as well.

Appearance

Brick has a very distinctive look that appeals to many homeowners, but unfortunately this house covering does not have universal appeal. Many people feel that brick is too dark, and while it is possible to find light colored bricks, these take away from the traditional appearance.

Fiber cement siding is lot more versatile. It can come in both shakes and planks, and can be painted in any color, as well as repainted if desired. This gives it more universal appeal, particularly because fiber cement siding is formed in a mold with real wood, giving it a natural wood appearance. This means that fiber cement siding can complement a wider range of different architectural styles, while brick only complements a few.

Durability

One of the reasons that many homeowners may consider brick siding is its durability. Brick is naturally insect and moisture resistant in a way that wood siding is not. Unfortunately, while the bricks themselves are usually extremely durable, the mortar that holds the bricks may not always hold up as well. Over time, it may loosen, crumble, crack, or even fall out, requiring the homeowner to “repoint” the bricks, or have them remortered at considerable expense.

Fiber cement siding is also naturally insect and moisture resistant, and can help impede things like wood rot to the house itself. Independent studies have also shown that fiber cement siding can last for longer than most people will own their homes with little to no maintenance. So while some brick homes will require considerable upkeep over the years to keep them in good condition, fiber cement siding requires little more than the occasional cleaning.

Installation

While brick homes may look as though they’ve been built from the ground up, brick is usually installed as a veneer over the existing surface of the house, as is fiber cement siding. Even as a veneer, however, brick is heavy and therefore difficult, time consuming, and expensive to install, particularly if done correctly. When brick is being used during a remodel, this can add significant time and money delays to the project as a whole.

Fiber cement siding is much easier and less expensive to install. It goes on as easily as wood siding, and can typically be put up fairly quickly. This makes fiber cement siding a great choice for remodeling, as well as for homes where the exterior needs to be updated within a specific time frame, such as before severe weather becomes an issue.

Insulation

On its own, brick is not a good insulator and does require both a water or vapor barrier and foam board insulation behind it. Because foam board is stiff and does not conform to the bricks, any gaps between the insulation and the brick need to be filled with mortar. This can mean that the insulation is not as effective as it could be.

Fiber cement siding also requires insulation behind it, but most types of insulation used with this material are formed to fit snuggly between the house and the siding. The insulation is usually formed in the reverse shape of the siding so there are no gaps between the siding and the insulating material. This makes the siding more durable, your home more energy efficient, and also helps dampen sounds from the exterior, preventing them from entering your home.

Cost

Cost is always a factor in what material you ultimately choose to install on your home. Brick veneer siding costs typically range between $7 and $12 a square foot installed. Prices may be affected by things like the insulation, the thickness of the veneer, and the type of installation being done.

Fiber cement siding is a lower cost option that usually costs between $5 and $7 a square foot, with variations including insulation, the brand, and the location where the siding is installed. Depending on the size of your home, this could be a tremendous savings assuming high quality products are used in both cases. Adding in the fact that fiber cement siding is less likely to require additional and protracted installation costs, and you may find that this makes fiber cement the more cost effective solution for your home.

Make the Versatile Choice

While brick is an attractive and durable home covering for some architectural styles, it lacks the versatility and options of fiber cement siding. Homeowners looking for a low-maintenance, easy to install, and attractive siding for their homes, may want to consider fiber cement instead of brick.