Is a brick house sturdier than a wood frame house?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Not really. Most brick homes in the Gainesville area are actually wood-frame homes with a brick veneer applied over the sheathed wood walls, as an alternative and upscale wall surfacing. Here’s an example below of a new home with brick facing in the process of being installed over a wood frame wall.

  Perhaps one in thirty brick homes we inspect are “structural brick,” meaning that the bricks provide support for the roof with no wood-frame wall behind it. If you look closely you will see a concrete tie beam (usually painted in a similar color to the brick) wrapping around the top of the walls of the newer structural brick homes. Older structural brick (pre-1940) skipped the tie beam. In the photo below, of a structural brick house in Alachua, the brick on the interior of garage is another clue that the house is structural brick.

     And in this next photo you can see the tie beam near the ceiling inside the same garage. Sometimes the tie beam is not visible at the exterior because it is concealed by the soffit, covered by the return of the roof overhang. 

  Brick does have the virtue of being a lower maintenance wall than wood siding, and many people equate brick with quality construction too. There are also a number of different brick shaped concrete blocks--but often larger than regular bricks--that were used to build houses in North Florida from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Realtors call these “Ocala Block” houses. The origin of the name is obscure, but Ocala Block houses are structural masonry, with similar properties to a regular concrete block homes. To learn more about them, see our blog post What is "Ocala" block?

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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

 • What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

Why is my stucco cracking?

There's cracks running along the home's concrete tie beam. What's wrong? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall? 

What is engineered wood siding?

Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

What causes cracks in the walls and floors of a house?

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

     Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 


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