Brick vs Wood Home – What Is The Best Building Material?

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I am absolutely in love with learning and sharing all things real estate. I’m an agent for Jacaranda Real Estate In Harare, Zimbabwe. This blog will be the ultimate resource for all things real estate so subscribe and stay tuned.

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Brick and Wood. When it comes to the construction of homes, there are no materials more synonymous in the game than these 2. Oddly enough, these 2 materials could not be any more different in where they come from and what they offer and yet people will swear by them.

This had me wondering the following:

  • Why do some countries and states predominantly build wooden homes?
  • Why do some countries and states predominantly build brick homes?

And thus this post was born. I am going to peering through looking glass of home construction materials and appraising the history, definitions, considerations, pros, and cons of both brick homes and woods homes. And in the end, I will give my conclusion on what I believe is the better construction material.

What Are We Talking About?

To make sure we’re all on the same page, I am writing this blog aware and assuming that all homes and especially in this context for all brick and wood homes; are constructed with a mixture of materials. Brick homes will have some measure of wooden materials and wood homes will have some measure of brick in them.

And all of them will have some measure of steel.

As such, for this context; the following will be my definitions when I am referring to brick homes and wood homes and their evaluations:

What Is A Wood Home?

A wooden home has the majority of its infrastructure constructed and supported through some form of wooden materials. This includes walls, floors, support beams, pillars, and the ceiling.  

A wooden home is more likely to have a higher percentage of its construction materials be made out of wood than brick homes. That is to say, wooden homes can almost entirely be constructed out of primarily wood materials with very little support and assistance from both metal and brick supports.

Wood homes will rarely involve a substantial amount of brick but will have steel beams, frames, and supports.

What Is A Brick Home?

A brick home has the majority of its infrastructure constructed and supported through some form and combination of brick and cement. This includes walls, floors, support beams, pillars, and the ceiling (for multiple story buildings).

Brick homes will almost always involve substantial use of wood materials; especially when it comes to supporting the ceiling on the top floor of the property as well as the roof and attic. Steel beams, frames, and supports will also be used in brick homes but are less accessible than in wood homes as they are molded within the brick and cement mixture.    

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll be covering exactly what you need to consider when you just want to build a home and later on, I will evaluate the pros and cons between brick and wood homes when it comes to meeting with the below considerations.

Considerations – What To Think About When Constructing A Home.

The following are 8 of the most important considerations when it comes to selecting constructing materials for a home and details over their importance in home construction and why.

  1. History, cost, and convenience of construction.
  2. Resistances – safety, protection, pests, and health.
  3. Risks – safety, protection, pests, and health.
  4. Population lifestyle.
  5. Lifespan.
  6. Augmentation convenience.
  7. Aesthetics and presentation.

1. History, cost, and convenience of construction.

I can confidently say that when we (as the human race) decided to start exploring, traveling, and settling; all our homes and means of accommodation were made out of wood. Why? Because the wood was pretty much everywhere and building with anything else that wasn’t wood; would have been far more expensive.

And where wood wasn’t (say dessert landscaped), they were made out of some form of bricks – mud, limestone, granite, baked mud, etc. Why? Because the materials to make the bricks out of were pretty much everywhere and building with anything else that wasn’t brick; would have been far more expensive.

The point I’m getting to is this, if the area you’re living in, primarily has wood homes or brick homes; it’s likely because that was any may still be the easiest and cheapest construction material to get a hold of.  

If you’ve seen a trend where homes have shifted from wood to brick or brick to wood or any other material, it’s because that material is probably cheaper and easier to acquire now.

2. Resistances – safety, protection, pests, and health.

At their core, residential properties of any shape and size are meant to be structures of secure dwelling. Depending on where you live, a home is meant to be a dependable shelter against the common types of threats likely to be experienced.

Almost all types of threats will be weighed and compared to decide on and realize the type of material that should primarily be used to construct the home and property. These will include the following:

a. Social threats – caused by people.

b. Natural threats – caused by nature.

c. Depreciation threats – caused by time.

Opposite to risk, material resistances will save homeowners from specific consequences that can range from periodic costly repairs to serious potential health hazards.

3. Risks – safety, protection, pests, and health.

Right there alongside the resistances of using a specific material for home construction, there are also the risks of using those specific materials. No material is entirely flawless because if it was, all homes would be made from it.

There are multiple considerations when it comes to weighing which material to use by evaluating its resistances and risks and their relative importance to where the home is being constructed. Risks will consider the damage extent and outcome of the material is susceptible to the following:

  • Social threats – caused by people.
  • Natural threats – caused by nature.
  • Depreciation threats – caused by time.

As an opposite to resistances, material risks will lead to degrees of consequence that can range from periodic costly repairs to serious potential health hazards.

4. Population lifestyle.

This is an assumption of the average lifestyle of the people who live in a specific country or area. Concerning real estate construction materials, builders and investors will be concerned with moving habits and population growth when it comes to a population’s lifestyle.

moving habits refer to how often (on average) will the population of a specific area move to accommodate different homes over their lifetime. The more people move, the more homes will likely need to be constructed.

This, when coupled with the average projections of population growth; say the population is growing. It would imply that more homes need to built and they also need to be built quickly; builders will prefer the material that allows for fast and reliable construction in such a case and not just the material that is specifically the best.   

5. Lifespan.

Regarding brick and wood and construction materials, all things being considered and all things going well; they both have specific lifespan were at or towards the end they will need to be evaluated, replaced or repaired lest they lead to complete ruin.

Because homes are commonly seen around the globe as a lifetime asset, lifespan becomes a very important consideration when picking and working on construction materials.  

6. Augmentation convenience. (insulation, renovation, and remodeling)

How flexible are the materials used to construct the home concerning how easy and cheap it is to adapt the home when renovating and remodeling the property. Homes will always switch ownership; whether it’s between inheritance in the family or sales to strangers either way, when ownership changes – so do desires and tastes.

The new owner of the home may want to make specific augmentations to the property and when they do, the materials used to construct the home will have a drastic influence on how easy it will be and how expensive it will be.

7. Aesthetics and presentation.

You might fall into one of 2 classes when it comes to the aesthetics of construction materials:

Class 1 – For “You can just paint it or cover it up,” and

Class 2 – For “Yes the texture, feel and naked visuals are crucial.”

Either way, depending on whether you decide to go with a brick home or a wood home; the overall look of the property will be very different to look at regardless of whether or not the homes are designed in the same way.

Unlike the majority of points in this section of the blog, the aesthetics of the home are; in the long-term not very important when concerning the structural integrity of the home and the way it tangibly influences the owners of the property.

But, aesthetics are also one, if not the most important factor that will influence whether or not the home is purchased. People know what they like.

Brick Homes vs Wooden Homes – Pros and Cons

Now that we’ve identified the considerations; as a whole, that must be paid attention to when picking the material to build a home with. The following will be a detailed list of how both materials; brick and wood, compare against each other.

Table.

Pros Of Brick Homes vs Wooden Homes. Pros Of Wooden Homes vs Brick Homes.
Convenient and cheap to Acquire (when available). Convenient and cheap to Acquire (when available).
The material of choice against pests and blunt force trauma. The material of choice against earthquakes and tornados.
It is more resistant to moisture (toxic environment). The material of choice for a nomadic population lifestyle (faster to build).
Better and cheaper insulation. Cheaper to repair.
Will last far longer with less work needed. Faster and easier to renovate.

Pros Of Brick Homes vs Wooden Homes.

 

1. Convenient and cheap to Acquire (when available).

You will find this point at the top of this list and that for wood homes. This is because it is both the only pro that is realistic and viable for both materials and because it also most likely the main reason why the material of your home, is what it is.

If your home is made out brick and cement, it’s very likely that you the place where your home is located is near a deposit of the materials that would be needed to make the specific form of brick your house is made out of.

And because of this, making your home out of brick is the most economical choice and therefore the only viable choice. If the houses in your neighborhood are made of brick, it is highly unlikely that the houses in everyone else’s neighborhood won’t be made out of brick as well.

2. The material of choice against fires, pests, and blunt force trauma.

Moving on to the more diverse benefits of brick, Brick homes are very resilient if not straight-up immune to major structural damage caused by pests and humans.

As stated in the wise story of the 3 little pigs – “he huffed and he puffed but couldn’t blow the house down.” Not only are brick walls are very good at standing firm when faced with all sorts of physical contact but they are also very good at not getting burrowed into by persistent pests like termites, rats, and raccoons.

The final and likely the most positive resistance that brick has over wood is how brick naturally without much treatment will not let a fire quickly raze a home to cinders.  

3. It is more resistant to moisture.

Moisture? Isn’t that just water? I hear you ask through the screen of your device. Yes and No. Moisture within a home can be one of the most potentially damaging elements of a home that should not be there.

This is because moisture, particularly in homemade of wood; creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and that bacteria can lead to the development and spread of mold. It’s not a rare thing for occupants of a wooden to be exiled out of their property because of the spread of black mold, directly resulting from moisture build-up.

*Black mold though toxic, is rare and only harmful to very few people; but that does not dispute the fact that molds are more prevalent in wooden homes.

4. Better and cheaper insulation.

Unlike with wood, once brick is processed enough for construction purposes; it will immediately have a degree of insulating capabilities to the benefit of the property. Brick is particularly effective at slowly absorbing and redistributing heat in a home; which helps keep a constant cool temperature in the home during the day and night.

Wood on the other hand, especially with the way it is used for home construction; is not very effective at insulating a home on its own and largely makes it a required cost to add insulation to the home to make it habitable.

Brick, as it is already capable of insulating a home to a certain degree; does not make adding insulation a mandatory requirement. And when it is used, it provides better insulation and heat moderation than a wood property.

5. Will last far longer with less work needed.

Brick and mortar (cement) homes and properties are more naturally resilient to wear and tear damage than wood properties. By natural, I’m referring to the durability of the material without the involvement of periodic treatment investment.

It is generally a more involved and invested task to treat wood to the point where it is long-lasting and highly durable to the elements and wear and tear.

Pros Of Wooden Homes vs Brick Homes.

 

1. Convenient and cheap to Acquire (when available).

As is the case with brick homes, if you live in an area where the majority of homes in your neighborhood are made out of wood; it likely means that wood is the material that is most convenient and affordable to produce and process for construction.

2. The material of choice against earthquakes and tornados.

As confusing as it might seem at first glance, yes, the statement that wood is a better material when it concerns dealing with natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornados. And here’s why:

For earthquakes, the reason why wood is a more ideal material is because of its flexibility and general allowance for movement. As I stated above, brick is very good at standing firm and only likes to stand firm; as soon as bricks meet a force that shifts the structure, it is more likely to break than bend (like what wood would do).

In the case of tornados, the case is a bit more nuanced. My “3 little pigs” analogy still holds and brick is far less likely to be affected let alone damaged by a normal or powerful wind, gale or storm. But tornados play dirty.

Tornados are more akin to huge “multi-ball” wrecking balls than a strong wind because they fling all sorts of large heavy debris around. No property; brick or wood, is surviving a car being thrown into the lounge.

So why is wood better is both materials are just going to get destroyed? Because wood is easier and faster to repair – as I’ll cover in detail below.

3. The material of choice for a nomadic population lifestyle.

Wood is the easier and faster material to transport, set-up, and support when compared to bricks; all in all, wood makes building a home a faster endeavor. As such, in regions where the population is growing and nomadic (changes homes often) wood is a better material as it allows for the development of properties at a much faster speed.   

4. Cheaper to repair.

As I stated above in point 2, wood repairs; when all things are considered are comparatively cheaper and faster to execute than repairs of brick homes. Brick is more resilient but when severely damaged, the process is very time consuming and expensive.

A whole in the wall for a wooden home is just a hole in the wall but a hole in the wall for a brick home is a mission.

5. Faster and easier to renovate.

I recently watched a YouTube video of a man installing a personal elevator in his home for his wife who was in a wheelchair and though I do not need an elevator in my home when I saw him easily cut a hole in the ceiling of the first and second floor – I was inspired to write this blog.

Where reinforcing the area they wanted to cut out, cutting it out and installing the elevator was a minor inconvenience that was 2 men and an afternoon job with manageable power tools for a wooden home.

The task would be a huge undertaking of time, patience, architectural insight, and heavy-duty power tools to even begin for a brick and mortar home.

Because wood much more flexible and less resilient than brick, it is easier to play with, augment and change. And because of the way most wooden homes are designed, their walls will have easy to identify studs that make most renovations a “hammer and nail” job than a “drill” job.

Conclusion – So, what is the better material to build out of?

As you’ve probably noticed, it will rarely ever be a decision of “I’ve weighed the pros and cons and I’ve decided to build a home out of either wood or brick.” Because these materials are dependent on nature and whether or not there are abundant brick deposits and wood forests around.

The unfortunate and fortunate fact of the matter is this, if your neighbors have brick homes, yours will likely be brick – and if your neighbors have wood homes, yours will likely be wood.

This is unfortunate because you are basically forced into a status quo but it’s also fortunate because the status quo is probably there because some worked it out to be the better option.

Between wood and brick, it is unlikely that going against the grain will be advantageous to you; but that is not to say that there is no choice when it comes to construction materials. With the rise of prefabrication and manufactured home; prefab materials could be the material of choice for the future and replace both brick and wood.

You can learn more about the reality and future of prefab materials (HERE).

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I am absolutely in love with learning and sharing all things real estate. I’m an agent for Jacaranda Real Estate In Harare, Zimbabwe. This blog will be the ultimate resource for all things real estate so subscribe and stay tuned.