When you’re looking to make home improvements, it’s important to balance reliability, cost-effectiveness and attractive design. Whether you are remodeling an existing home or working with a builder on a new home, if you choose brick, make sure you know what to expect. Better Business Bureau and the Brick Industry Association recommend the following tips to help home buyers choose the right brick exterior.
Understand your options. Although a production builder will likely offer a limited brick selection that will be packaged with other trim and detail features – such as matching brick and shutter styles – home buyers may be able to mix and match various options to achieve a unique look.
Be brick smart. There are three major types of brick manufacturing available, at widely different price points.
· Most modern construction brick is extruded – forced through a rectangular die – then sliced into individual bricks with added textures, making it the lowest-cost brick option.
· Machine-molded bricks offer the look and elegance of handmade brick but at a more affordable price.
· Handmade brick are pressed into wood molds in a traditional process that goes back centuries, and cost more than extruded or other machine-made brick.
Understand your contract. Review your contract to determine what your builder allows and your options (both standard and what can be ordered) and compare that to your available budget.
Visit your brick distributor’s showroom. Your local brick distributor can show you hundreds of sample bricks, demonstrate how mortar can change the look of your brick, and direct you to actual sample houses.
Don’t forget the mortar. Mortar makes up 20 percent of a brick wall, and comes in different colors and shades. A minor change in mortar color could dramatically change the look of your house. Many home buyers now match the mortar to the brick for a monochromatic, seamless look, and often used computer or Web-based programs to view their options.
Roof, shutters and trim create the total package. The type and color of your roof shingles and window shutters will also have a dramatic effect on your home’s overall appearance. Where possible, use a computer or Web-based program that allows you to mix and match roof and shutter options to determine the finished look you want.
Consider the details. Custom arches and windowsills can personalize the look of your home. Custom brick detailing comes in several varieties—from projecting the brickwork on the corners of your home to installing artistic designs above doorways or other locations.
Always compare your options. Other exterior options may cost less than brick, so review the pros and cons of different exteriors such as vinyl, fiber cement, concrete masonry, manufactured stone, and exterior insulation finishing system.
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