Home exterior cost survey finds brick besting veneer stone, fiber cement

Sources: Brick Industry Association (BIA), Reston, Va.; CP staff

An updated BIA study involving seven common home exterior products shows that fired-clay brick costs about half as much as manufactured stone, and just a third more than fiber cement before considering lifetime maintenance costs. Developed by RSMeans, it compares the installed cost of total house construction for brick veneer over wood framing with the cost of adhered manufactured stone, stucco, wood shingle, plus vinyl, fiber cement or horizontal wood siding alternatives.

For a 2,700-sq.ft., two-story home, an RSMeans chart shows the national average for the installed cost per square foot of cladding is $19.34 for adhered manufactured stone, $9.45 for brick, $8.96 for stucco, $7.61 for horizontal wood siding, $6.10 for wood shingle, $6.24 for fiber cement, and $3.24 for vinyl siding. The total cost of a such a home in all-brick is typically 3.6 percent higher than a comparable home enclosed in fiber cement product—equating to what BIA notes is a $35 increase in the monthly mortgage payment before taxes.

"Brick exteriors are a smart, sustainable home choice that provides superior protection from hail and windblown debris, higher resale values, virtually no maintenance costs and is 100 percent recyclable," says BIA CEO Ray Leonhard. "Other exterior options cannot match the many advantages of brick, and need to be painted or likely replaced every 10 years from regular wear and storm damage. This means that homeowners frequently recoup any premium paid for brick after the first paint job or storm damage associated with other home exteriors."

Fired-clay brick, he contends, also saves on energy costs through its dense thermal mass, superior durability and moisture resistance, lower insurance premiums, minimum one-hour fire rating by itself, and 100-year lifespan.  

Like all construction projects, location plays a major factor in total costs. In the BIA study, comparisons are available for major metro areas including Atlanta; Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; Chicago; Detroit; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City; Louisville, Ky.; Minneapolis; metro New York; Nashville; and, the Washington, D.C. suburbs.