Several materials can be used to compose the exterior of a home or building, including wood, metal, vinyl and masonry -- such as stone and brick. Although brick-and-mortar construction provides the look and feel of sturdiness, these materials also have many drawbacks that prevent many home owners from using masonry to construct their building or home.
One of the first disadvantages of building with masonry is the high cost of both materials and labor. While wooden homes have materials that can be purchased at many home supply stores, brick, stone and other masonry construction involves products that are extremely heavy, cannot be delivered in a conventional vehicle and often must be ordered from a special catalog. The expense of selecting and moving the materials is compounded because masonry construction cannot be conducted in a heavy rain or under freezing conditions. Installation also requires excessive construction time and manpower with highly specialized skills.
Once built, of course, a brick or stone home exterior provides a beautiful façade year round. This luxury exterior, however, is also expensive after the initial construction and requires a rigorous maintenance schedule to keep it looking as good as new. While wooden structures can bend slightly with the settling of the foundation, masonry structures rely completely on their foundation for stability. This means that as the house settles, cracks can form that can let in moisture. If these cracks are not repaired, the resulting moisture intrusion can cause structural problems up to and including collapse of the damaged portion of the building.
Building an addition is also more difficult when the house is built in masonry. Although brick homes do sometimes have wooden additions, the original congruity of the home is ruined and the home does not heat or cool in the same way throughout the house. The alternative, making an addition to the home using the same masonry methods, is a return to the expensive and labor-intensive process of the original construction.
Masonry construction is much sturdier than wooden homes because of the thickness, hardness and weight of the materials used to build the home. While this can be an advantage in some areas, the weight of a brick or stone construction can lead to premature and extensive sinking of the foundation.
Sean Russell has been writing since 1999 and has contributed to several magazines, including "Spin" and "Art Nouveau." When not writing, Sean helps maintain community gardens in Silver Lake and Echo Park, California. Russell also worked extensively on the restoration and rejuvenation of public parks in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi after damage from 2004-2005 hurricanes.