People often wonder, “Is brick stronger than concrete?” There’s a reason brick has been around for centuries, and maybe even longer. It’s an excellent material that stands the test of time. When done well, a brick house or any other brick structure will maintain strength and structural integrity for a long while.
Brick homes and commercial properties are timeless. No matter how old they are, they still look current and classic at the same time. There’s a reason that even cost-conscious builders still put front-facing brick exteriors on the homes they build and leave the other three sides with siding or some other more affordable material.
With brick, even as your house ages, the bricks take on a distinct look that looks premium. As a result, you’ll likely have fewer maintenance issues with brick, and if you ever want to sell, you’ll probably be able to fetch a higher asking price on a brick home.
Thinking About Price
Now, we know that cost is always a consideration. Yes, brick is a premium material that costs more than concrete, siding, etc. However, as with most things in life, you typically get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should always pay top dollar for something when you don’t need to.
For example, a brick house looks terrific, but you wouldn’t pay extra money for brick if you’re painting it or putting siding on your structure. Painting brick, for instance, is often done just fine with a brick veneer.
Also, if you’re building something like a shed or a building where exterior appearance isn’t a priority, then you have more options. Concrete is one of the most affordable alternatives to brick for building materials. Of course, a concrete structure will need some dressing up to look anywhere near as lovely as brick, but it’s an option.
But many people wonder whether opting for something other than brick means sacrificing performance. People who consider concrete, for instance, want to know if the concrete blocks they use will give them the same strength and durability as a brick.
Is Brick Stronger Than Concrete? – Let’s Find Out!
Is brick stronger than concrete? There’s a lot to unpack here. Indeed, knowing which material offers you more strength and long-term durability will help you make the best decision whether you’re building a new home, putting on an addition, or building a shed outback.
Here’s what you need to know about when wondering is brick stronger than concrete.
Common Traits: Brick Vs. Concrete
OK, we know that concrete and brick don’t look much alike. Although, of course, there are ways to make concrete blocks look a bit like brick, mainly if you paint them, but there’s no mistaking the classic look of a brick wall.
That said, brick and concrete do have a lot in common. So, let’s take a look at some of their common traits.
Brick and concrete are both:
You’re getting an excellent, strong material for whatever you’re building. These are both some of the best options out there and, when done right, will deliver decades or more of reliable performance. In addition, you’ll never have to worry about termites, and if you live somewhere with volatile weather, you’re not going to be overly concerned about the next rainstorm that comes through.
Talking Concrete Versus Brick – Insulation
Depending on how experienced you are with building, you may or may not be aware that every material has what’s called an insulation value. Generally speaking, a material’s insulation value lets you know how well it retains heat.
Insulation value may not be something you’re familiar with, but it will pay off to understand what it is and how it works in your favor. Here’s how:
- Utility Costs – If you want to keep your utility bills down in the winter, then using materials with a high insulation value is worth your time. You’ll have to run your HVAC system less often, and your monthly bill will likely be significantly less.
- Long-Term Durability – Wear and tear happen to every building. In some places, the climate speeds the process. Insulation value means you will deal with less heat deterioration over time.
- Protection – Are you storing temperature-sensitive goods in your building or home? If so, then you’ll want to pay attention to insulation value and how it will affect whatever you have inside.
According to sources, basic brick has an insulation value of around 0.2 per square inch. So how does that compare to other materials? Well, plywood has an insulation value of 2.5, and a conventional concrete wall will come in at around 0.08 per square inch.
So, you can see that brick has better insulation than concrete, but it’s still much less than plywood, which is one of the reasons why so many brick homes you see today actually have wood framing and are simply sheathed in brick.
Understanding Brick & Concrete Strength
OK, so I know you came here to understand more about whether brick or concrete is more robust. Let’s find out.
Both are strong, but which is stronger?
The Masonry Advisory Council says that your average clay brick can take around 3000 pounds per square inch or psi. On the other hand, concrete blocks come in at about 3500 psi.
Now, if you’ve ever shopped for concrete blocks, then you know they come in all shapes and sizes. They have different-sized holes in the blocks and are more or less dense.
But, in general, in an apples-to-apples comparison, concrete blocks can be stronger than your normal clay brick. Just keep in mind, though, that you can find concrete blocks with less than 2000 psi also.
So, when deciding what to choose, you need to make sure that the concrete blocks you’re considering come in at the higher range you need.
The variance in concrete block strength is one of the main reasons clay bricks are so popular. They’re reliable, and builders know what they’re getting when they purchase them.
What Affects Strength and Durability?
It’s hard to straight compare a concrete block and a brick. They are typically different sizes, and they vary in weight.
One of the most significant impacts on strength will be the mortar used in the masonry work. The type and thickness of mortar, as you may expect, will influence how strong any brick or concrete wall is, ultimately.
The bond strength of the mortar used in any construction project will go a long way to determine how strong your shed, home, or commercial property is.
The higher the compressive strength of the mortar, the better off your walls will be.
Certainly, build quality also affects strength and durability, as do things like exposure to bad weather, property use, how much the roof weighs, and more.
So, just because you’re using a solid building material for a wall, it doesn’t mean you can trust your structure to handle anything you throw at it. The materials you use, how it’s built, and what you use it for all play a role in long-term strength.
There’s a lot to look at when it comes to things like appearance, customization, etc.
One of the reasons why brick is so prized is that you can make them to order. Have damaged bricks on an older house? You can purchase new bricks for repair or replacement that match the color of your existing brick. Do you want to build a unique shape or have specific requests you have to meet? Using brick allows you to adjust to your building plan, whether large or small.
Typically, concrete blocks are heavier and more prominent. While you can order custom concrete blocks, they aren’t quite as versatile as smaller bricks simply due to their size. Just think about all of the beautiful brick masonry work you see across the country on walls, churches, government buildings, walkways, sidewalks, and more. There are reasons why brick is consistently a top choice when people want quality.
The Bottom Line: Choosing Between Brick and Concrete Blocks
There is a lot to consider. However, if you’re focused solely on structure strength, then you’ll likely find concrete blocks with higher psi capacity than your average brick.
However, you might just end up buying concrete blocks built with lower psi, and you may have been better off opting for brick for added strength and all of the other benefits that come along with the brick. It might be no big deal if you’re building something like a storage unit or a tool shed on your property, but always choose brick when weighing quality.
Brick still offers incredible strength, and the beauty and premium look people love. So if you’re looking for something strong for a home addition, a pathway in your backyard, or you’re building a new home, then you can’t go wrong with brick.
Choosing brick is always a good movie, and you’ll love looking at your building as you come and go every day.