What is it about brick? 28 Jun 2005

61 comments Latest by Dawn

I’m considering moving out of my current place and have been looking at a variety of other buildings in the area. There’s wood siding, there’s vinyl siding, there’s stone, there’s cement block, there’s aluminum, there’s glass… But I keep coming back to brick. The authenticity is unmistakable. It looks like earth. It seems to have a “wisdom” about it than I can’t quite explain. It’s almost saying “trust me, I work.” What is it about brick (especially old brick)?

61 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Bryan 28 Jun 05

I recently found myself asking the same questions. As someone who is moving from PA to CA I found very little brickk places in my search for a new place. As luck would have it, I found the only brick place on the block which I chose to live.

Brick = Stability

JohnO 28 Jun 05

Always liked brick. Never really liked vinyl siding at all, wood can be nice though. I’m sure stone would be just as nice as brick, although definitely looks “different” (with a bad connotation :P)

JohnO 28 Jun 05

I live in “The Silo”. My staircase really used to be a grain silo. Really.

Adam Michela 28 Jun 05

I just bought a new crib, and had considered (bid on) a bunch of brick buildings. I definately prefer brick over any other building material.

In the end though, I ended up with a wood sided (painted) colonial with a brick fireplace … it’ll have to do! ;)

JohnO: Ever since you mentioned you live nearby I’ve noticed you comment EVERYWHERE. Why aren’t you blogging? Probably have a few NY bloggers at the first house party … you’ll have to come introduce yourself!

Dave Woodward 28 Jun 05

I live in a brick home. I don’t have to do a thing to clean it (maybe hose it off once a year, if that), its quiet, and you can bounce a tennis ball off the wall for your dog without leaving a dent. Brick is great!

Action 28 Jun 05

Cant go wrong with brick, i guess thats why Warren Buffet owns Acme Brick. http://www.brick.com/

Art Wells 28 Jun 05

Brick is fired earth, baked land. It’s bread that you can live in. Nothing says home better than that.

I’m stuck in vinyl and hating it. I did spend most of a week baring an interior birck chimney, though, so I give myself some credit.

VinnyIre 28 Jun 05

Brick structures hold up wonderfully during a California quake.

Kevin Barnes 28 Jun 05

Brick (read zero maintenance)

Darren James Harkness 28 Jun 05

Brick has a strongly evocative connotation of strength, age, and history.

Marie 28 Jun 05

Jason, well, obviously, you learned from the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf.

Josh Williams 28 Jun 05

Move to Texas, where everything is brick. Then learn to hate it. We built our house last year with composite siding (read: brick that looks like wood siding). In Chicago though, brick probably has more nostalgia going for it.

In Dallas, it says, “Hi… My home looks just like the homes of 2 million other people who live here.”

Not bashing brick homes… Just wish there was some more creativity here. Not just the suburban sprawl, complete with more brick homes than the eye can see.

Ken 28 Jun 05

I believe brick is also more energy efficient (at least in terms of heating and cooling). But what do I know?

ed fladung 28 Jun 05

it’s the texture. and color.

Darrel 28 Jun 05

It’s:
- natural
- relatively strong
- pleasing to the eye
- relatively maintenance free
- modular
- non-toxic
- requires craft to do right

Andrew 28 Jun 05

“Move to Texas, where everything is brick.”

Huh? I live in Austin and you’ll rarely see a brick house or building here. Lots of Texas limestone in civic buildings and some houses, but the only “brick” elsewhere is half-inch thick facing.

JohnO 28 Jun 05

Well Adam…

I’m not blogging at the moment (though I want to). I’ve been working on a bit of code that will help me do it. (Installing some huge-o-matic codebase to mess with templates that never look right, for hours on end, all so I can write some paragraphs, just doesn’t appeal). I’m nearly done (with 256 lines of code, too!). So the lack of free time contributes to that not being completed. Adam hit me up on email (which is jobelenus at gmail dot com) since I can’t find your email anywhere (even your own site)…

emm ess eff 28 Jun 05

Timely post, although my fascination extends to stone buildings, as well.

Perhaps due to my relative transience I am attracted to brick’s solidity, permanence, and switch-hitter ability to exude both warmth and cold stability.

After 15 years in Chicago (much of those years in the older of the western suburbs) I recently moved into the brownstone-filled neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. No brownstone for us, though; we’re among two other renters in a 110-year old *brick* townhouse.

Brick. It’s the new… brick.

Chris Ryland 28 Jun 05

Brick, stone, wood. Solid, naturally-occurring substances that weather well and require minimal maintenance (wood more, obviously).

Alumin[i]um, plastic (vinyl). Man-made artifices that look artificial and tacky to begin with, and weather very poorly.

No choice.

David Holtz 28 Jun 05

You wouldn’t be saying that if you lived in California because your precious brick would destroy you in the event of an earthquake.

Matt Lyon 28 Jun 05

Bryan: The reason there is so little brick in California is a simple one: Earthquakes.

Rob 28 Jun 05

Brick is a great building material and can last a lifetime. The only real maintenance is getting it tuckpointed. You can’t say the same thing about vinyl siding or wood. Old Chicago brick lends a building a lot of character and charm…

Mark 28 Jun 05

“your precious brick”

funny stuff.

Adam 28 Jun 05

What the hell are you on about? I feel soo non-american, insensitive clod.

Jesse Kochis 28 Jun 05

History. Brick says it was carefully placed by a pair of hands so that it can support another brick or two. It may not say much, but it still tells a story.

Brad 28 Jun 05

Old brick is great. I don’t care for the newer bricks that are too perfectly cut…a big part of the charm of brick is its imperfections. I grew up in a brick house that was built in the 1930s with gorgeously rough, pitted, deep red bricks.

Now I live in Montreal where many of the houses are wood faced with ugly modern no-character bricks. Leaves me totally cold.

JF 28 Jun 05

Yeah, def old brick. This one place I’m looking at was a brick house built in 1890. Oh the history.

Brian Sweeting 28 Jun 05

It’s a proven building material. It stands the test of time. It can be used as an exterior or interior. And it doesn’t need to be painted. The reason old brick is so great, is because it is a testimony to the fact that the material is durable…it’s been there for a hundred years, and it’ll probably be there for a hundred more.

Josh Williams 28 Jun 05

q.Huh? I live in Austin and you’ll rarely see a brick house or building here. Lots of Texas limestone in civic buildings and some houses, but the only “brick” elsewhere is half-inch thick facing.

Sorry Andrew… Should have specified North Texas. Austin definitely (delightfully) breaks the mold.

kmilden 28 Jun 05

Brick is cheap, cold and kinda shitty. I know you think it looks cool but trust me there are far better materials to rent/buy a house out of….

Nicholas 28 Jun 05

Hope your not squemish of bugs, brick houses attract bugs/spiders from the warmth that bricks/cinderblocks retain. So yeah there’s that.

You’ll want make sure the bricks are inspected, as you don’t want to be replacing them soon (expensive)

dm 28 Jun 05

I live in Keller, TX and Josh Williams is correct; when you live in an area where there are hundreds of subdivisions full of brick homes you get tired of it quickly. While I’m sure there is plenty of serviceable reasons to own a brick home,

As far as Austin goes there _are_ brick subdivisions on the outskirts, just like every suburb in Texas. Large scale developers come in with canned floorplans and offer red, dark red and pink brick homes that are, increasingly so, trimmed and shuttered with some sort of natural wood. Thanks to their age inner Dallas and Fort Worth have much more diversity, but for the most part new development is brick. I’m not knocking it — it works — but all of this talk about the connotations of hand laid brick and baked earth doesn’t register here.

indi 28 Jun 05

brick is fine in california as long as it’s reinforced. As for looks I think it depends on the setting. I think in a woodsy natural setting it would be great, otherwise I would limit its use to structural accents … but yeah, aged brick :-)

Mark 28 Jun 05

I live in a Houston suburb, and agree about the over abundance of brick homes here and all around Texas - even in Austin.

However, a trend I see developing, especially with the newer, more expensive custom homes, is 100% stucco.

Denis Somar 28 Jun 05

Brick has a strongly evocative connotation of strength, age, and history

Indeed, brick has several religious importances as well. But let us not forgot about how we have ALL been ingrained with the fact that the 2 other little piggies will always want to come and hide in our brick house to hide from the big bad wolf who could huff and puff all day, but still not make his way in. =)

~bc 28 Jun 05

In Boston, we’ve got plenty of brick. I’m especially fond of interior brick, just brings such an ambience to a room.

We live in a three story yellow-brick building. We’re moving out, though… we’ve bought a condo further out. It’s the first floor of a home from 1878… and it’s got vinyl siding… I just love poison on the side of my house! But the insides are very nice, as it’s a 2001 conversion… I’ll miss brick, but will appreciate paying rent to myself… and having a little bit of a yard, a little garage… we’ll be there next month…

btw, if anyone’s looking for a place to live, check out searches on craigslist, you can subscribe to your search results via a full text RSS feed… very useful…

Justin Rudd 29 Jun 05

Probably not one of your considerations but…

Having gone through 3 tornados in my life, 2 in a normal house and the 3rd in a brick house, definitely go brick :)

Michael 29 Jun 05

Didn’t the third little piggy build a brick house?

Matt 29 Jun 05

I live in Australia, and just bought a 1960 house, made of Bessa Brick.

For those that don’t know, Bessa Bricks are large, concrete bricks. The more I see of them, the more I like them. You don’t see them used much as a construction material anymore, though.

Martin 29 Jun 05

Hehe, not to be classist or anything… :-)

…but you Americans are really funny!

Down here in South Africa, probably only about 2% of houses aren’t brick. We like things to be real… Oh, and we don’t have Hummer limos either!

sween 29 Jun 05

Here in Halifax, there are very few brick houses and the ones we have are primarily in the tony South End. So, of course, I grew up associating brick with money and status.

It really messed with my apartment hunting skills when I moved to Toronto where EVERYTHING is brick. Looked at some apartments in some squngy neighbourhoods that looked nice to me because of the brick.

I still covet a brick house…

Rob 29 Jun 05

We have lots of serpintine brick walls in our neighboorhood in Virginia - absolutely georgous (not quite as nice as the ones at UVa, but you get the idea: http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/virginia/charlottesville/uvalawn/wall.jpg). I almost bought a house soley because of the garden wall until sanity (my wife) prevailed.

What I don’t understand is why people paint nice, red brick. Why would you turn something that is zero maintenance forever into a major painting project once every 5 years?

Steve Lawson 29 Jun 05

There has to be something to the smell, too. I remember reading years ago (in Edge City, perhaps?) that contractors called yuppie loft-renovators “brick sniffers,” because they would strip the walls down to the bare brick, then press their faces agains the wall and inhale deeply.

ffub 29 Jun 05

Okay I just looked up ‘vinyl siding’. It appears to be some sort of fake wood-look. Bizarre, truly bizarre.

The Bunny Farmer 29 Jun 05

“I’m considering moving” = “I AM moving.”

Screwdge Miktuk 29 Jun 05

I don’t think repetition of building material automatically equals bad, I think those houses in texan exurbs are just fuckin ugly. consider NY neighborhoods with all brownstones or all castirons, or those row houses in SF…any individual rowhouse, brownstone, or castiron looks fairly bland. The beauty arises when they are massed.

Ben Linton 29 Jun 05

Brick just makes sense in Texas:

* Brick takes large periods of time to transfer heat
* It loses heat during the cold nights, so during the hot days your house stays nice and cool
* It absorbs heat during the the hot days, so during the cold nights your house is warm and cozy

Quick pickin’ on bricks. :)

Patrick Hall 30 Jun 05

I hate brick.

To me it screams out “Look at me! I look just like Independence Hall!”

Except it never does.

It really screams out “Look at me! I look like your local stand-in-line-for-hours bank branch! I’m boring!”

TM 30 Jun 05

You don’t need to paint it.

Nick S 30 Jun 05

Simple answer. The story of the Three Little Pigs.

But this one, Piggy Number Three,
Was bright and brainy as could be.
No straw for him, no twigs or sticks.
This pig had built his house of BRICKS.

As an expat Brit, I still can’t come to terms with the fact that so many Americans build their houses out of sticks. (And it amuses me that Justin Rudd thinks that wooden houses are ‘normal’.)

David Brown 01 Jul 05

Raleigh NC, I have brick. The thermal gain is tremendous in the sun. Hours after the sun goes down the outside is still hot to the touch and the AC unit is still running. I am investigating painting it pure white. Brick is not energy efficient since the thermal mass is on the outside without gain control.

Jeff Kenny 05 Jul 05

As a fellow Chicagoan and lover of brick homes, I too can’t really put it into words. There’s just something “home” about it. I can only give you one warning…the wife and I bought a 1911 brick 2-flat a couple years back and have been doing lots of work on the interior - one project was gutting the bathroom. I figured it was a good time to put in an exhaust fan (properly) and spent the good part of a Saturday boring through 13 inches of good old Chicago brick. Even though it was the biggest pain in the ass, it reinforced my security in our brick home.

Leigh 14 Jul 05

My family and I live in the Bay Area where brick houses and buildings are rare. A few years ago, my (then 11 year old) daughter traveled by herself to visit family in Michigan. She couldn’t get over all the brick houses she saw there. (That and tossing turkeys are all she remembers about the trip.)

Anonymous Coward 16 Sep 05

brick suck

Fan of steel-reinforced concrete 29 Dec 05

I live in Austin and have been severely disappointed to learn that there is no such thing here as a brick house. Everything is made the same: concrete slab, wooden frame. Whatever is on the outside (usually brick or “hardiplank” which is brick that looks like wood) is not what the walls are actually made of. It’s just a facade to make the house look a certain way.

When you knock on a real brick wall, all you hear is the hollow sound of your bones impacting with brick. When you knock on one of these Texas brick facades, the wall itself sounds hollow (because it is).

What I really want is a house with 12-inch thick steel-reinforced concrete walls.

Dawn 02 Jul 06

I live in a brick house that has been painted. I HATE it what do I do to get rid of it

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