Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
When it comes to figuring out whether you should opt for a brick veneer or stone veneer, you face a challenging decision. Both brick and stone offer a timeless, long-lasting appearance and have been known to keep their beauty and structural integrity for hundreds of years.
To choose between brick veneer or stone veneer, it’s best to understand the following about each item:
- The materials needed
- Cost comparisons
- Advantages and disadvantages of stone veneer and brick veneer
- Factors to consider before making a selection
- Potential alternatives to stone veneer and brick veneer
Since there isn’t much information available on the Internet today about whether stone or brick veneer is a better option, we created this article to help you. Below we’ll discuss the different factors you should consider when choosing between stone veneer or brick veneer, and whether it’s better to use real or faux products depending on your budget.
Is Brick Veneer or Stone Veneer Better?
To answer the question of whether brick veneer or stone veneer is better, we’ll compare a few concepts about each.
Comparing the Pros and Cons of Brick Veneer to Stone Veneer
To compare the pros and cons of brick veneer and stone veneer, first, let’s look at the advantages of brick veneer. The advantages of brick veneer include:
- Brick veneer offers a timeless, rustic look that many people find aesthetically pleasing.
- Brick veneer is environmentally friendly since it is created from several materials.
- Brick veneer is capable of bringing down the costs of an electricity bill.
- Brick veneer is very robust.
However, brick veneer does have a few drawbacks. Those drawbacks are listed below.
- Brick veneer has a very high installation cost.
- Brick veneer can change color slightly over time and look old.
- Brick veneer requires maintenance.
Now let’s take a look at the benefits of stone veneer so that you can compare them with the advantages of brick veneer.
- Stone veneer offers a timeless, beautiful look.
- You can purchase stone veneer in a wide variety of tones and shapes.
- Stone veneer is a cool material by nature, making it excellent to use in warmer climates.
Along with the benefits of stone veneer, stone veneer also has its drawbacks.
- Stone veneer has a very high installation cost.
- It isn’t environmentally friendly since it’s a natural resource that must be removed.
- Stone veneer requires maintenance
- Because stone veneer is naturally cooling, you’ll need to install more insulation.
Comparing the Cost of Brick Veneer vs. Stone Veneer
Brick veneer and stone veneer are both costly when it comes to building a structure or wall using them. If you plan on using brick veneer to make a typical home, the cost for that can range between $20,000 to $60,000. On the other hand, for stone veneer, the cost is even higher, ranging from $25,000 to $85,000 to build a standard home.
However, most people don’t utilize brick veneer or stone veneer to decorate their entire houses, which is what these estimates are based on. Instead, people typically decorate an outside wall, or one particular area on the outside of a house with brick veneer or stone veneer.
Of course, the overall cost of using either brick veneer or stone veneer will depend on a couple of things like:
- Your project’s specifications
- Where your home is located.
Below we provide you with a comparison of costs when it comes to brick, brick veneer and stone veneer used for building.
- Brick can cost about $15 to $32 per square installed square foot.
- Brick veneer can cost $5 to $11 per square foot installed.
- Stone typically costs $36 to $52 per square foot installed.
- Stone veneer costs $9 to $13 per square foot installed.
- Stucco costs $7 to $13 per square foot installed.
- Vinyl costs $5 to $11 per square foot installed.
- Metal can cost $6 to $12 per square foot installed.
So, those cost comparisons give you an idea of what you’re looking at depending on the material you want to use. If you are on a budget, you can consider the faux brick or stone options. That way, you’ll get a similar look as well as plenty of cost savings. As long as you aren’t using brick veneer or stone veneer to decorate your entire house, the cost should be fairly affordable.
Comparing the Maintenance Processes of Brick Veneer and Stone Veneer
Brick veneer and stone veneer, much like regular brick and stone, can both crack over time, so they should have an annual inspection from a professional mason each year. By performing a yearly inspection with a mason, you’ll be able to:
- Easily repair and fix any issues
- Patch small cracks
- Address larger issues with more masonry work before they become huge problems.
Mortar is also required when installing and maintaining real brick and stone because it helps to bond the materials together. Mortar winds up getting almost all of the structural pressure. So, a professional mason should also assess the mortar every year as well. By maintaining the integrity of the mortar, your brick or stonework shouldn’t become damaged over time.
However, if you install stone veneer or brick veneer, then it’s much easier for you to not only DIY the project, but also to maintain the brick veneer or stone veneer. Since neither brick veneer or stone veneer requires mortar work from a professional mason, brick veneer and stone veneer are much easier for the average layperson to maintain.
Comparing the Installation Processes of Brick Veneer and Stone Veneer to Natural Products
In comparison, using either brick veneer or stone veneer cuts back on some of the waterproofing and other building issues, making it easier for an individual to conduct a DIY project. If you are already utilizing brick veneer or stone veneer because you are on a budget, then you can also save money because these products are much easier to conduct a DIY project when you utilize them.
For example, if a person prefers to use a brick veneer, then that material can be applied over other materials, requiring a different installation process.
- Faux brick can be adhered to or anchored and needs to be about three to five inches thick for durability.
- When a faux brick is installed properly, it can help protect a building or a wall.
- With correct installation, faux brick can also be both fireproof and waterproof.
While you can install faux brick yourself since the DIY process is easier than installing real brick, many people still opt for professional installation when it comes to veneer brick. Why? Because most people want to ensure that the job is done correctly the first time. If the job isn’t done right at first, reinstalling and redoing things can cost a lot if there are things to repair down the road.
On the other hand, stone veneer can be both decorative and protective as well, much like a brick veneer. Most stone veneer is much easier to handle than real stone, so some people choose to DIY with stone veneer, too. However, like brick veneer, stone veneer also requires professional installation to make it both waterproof and fireproof. Stone and faux stone also provide some acoustical insulation, which can be great if you are trying to build a quieter room.
If you opt for stone veneer, it’s still recommended that you hire a professional mason to do the work. Different stone veneers require various level of spacing, and grout can also be used to give your wall or home a particular look. However, to achieve that look, you’ll need to seek out the help of a professional mason. That’s because low-quality materials, as well as bad installation, can make even real stone look fake and damaged.
The high price range you see above for both natural brick and stone has a lot to do with the challenges of the installation process. Since both brick and stone are very heavy items, it isn’t easy to utilize them to perform a DIY project yourself. These materials are both very demanding and heavy to install. It’s difficult to install them yourself because the process required is specialized. You’d have to hire a professional mason to get the process performed effectively.
Because it’s so difficult to DIY real brick or stone, if you are planning to do a DIY project, it’s much better to use brick veneer or stone veneer instead. For example, to install either brick or stone, you need to know how to make the materials waterproof. Neither brick nor stone is fully waterproof by itself; the process used by professional masons when installing the brick and stone is what makes these materials waterproof. Without the right process, water can seep through into holes behind the brick and stone.
To avoid water damage from occurring while installing brick or stone, a waterproof barrier must be created on the wall before either the brick or stonework is installed. Both brick and stone must also be installed with a drainage plane in place, allowing any water that gets into the masonry to drain out easily. All of that planning does cost money. However, proper installation will avoid serious problems with your masonry later on down the line.
Brick Material Options
Natural brick is comprised of both shale and clay. Typically, real brick comes in regular block sizes, and that makes it quite easy to create a design that’s uniform with brick. Since brick provides the chance to have regular sizes, there is a particular level of flexibility that comes with using brick. That flexibility means that brick is simple to use as an accent material as well.
Furthermore, the popularity of brick as a material for building cannot be denied. Both designers and builders enjoy using brick for their various home projects. Brick has an interesting history, which adds a lot of character to any structure. On top of that, brick is also a robust, durable material that provides a rugged look, while also hinting at the material’s stability.
So, the real question when it comes to implanting brick is whether you should consider brick veneer, reclaimed brick, or real brick. When trying to answer this question, you need to consider multiple factors when opting for your choice. To help you better assess this decision, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of choosing natural brick, reclaimed brick, or faux brick.
Considering Reclaimed Brick
Several products exist on the market today that incorporate brick when it comes to creating a wall surface. For example, some products use authentic reclaimed bricks that are left over after demolitions, carve them into tiles, and then create a new brick material from the real brick known as thin brick. With thin brick, you get an authentic brick and its color as well as a rugged look and texture.
- Instead of knocking down your wall completely and rebuilding it with authentic brick, which could be extremely costly, you can opt to use thin brick.
- With thin brick, you can simply cover your existing wall, which can save you a lot of time and money.
- Many people opt for thin brick because it saves them plenty of time and money, as well as allowing them to skip the demolition process.
As far as costs go, utilizing reclaimed brick is still not an affordable option for everybody. While you will save yourself time and you won’t have to knock down your wall and rebuild it, the cost per square foot of reclaimed brick is usually twice as much as a faux brick. Plus, that cost can rise much higher if a contractor is hired to install the material.
Installation with reclaimed brick is also extremely challenging if you want to try to save money and do it as a DIY project.
- Reclaimed brick tiles have to be installed over metal panels.
- Those metal panels must, in turn, be placed over the original wall’s material.
- After that, the tiles must be filled with both adhesive and grout.
As you can see, the entire process would be both messy and require a lot of time.
Of course, there are cheaper options to reclaimed brick, and one of those options include manufactured “faux” brick tiles. While the cost of faux brick tiles is much cheaper than the cost of reclaimed brick, you are still stuck with a difficult installation process if you opt for this plan. So, you’ll either have to:
- Hire a contractor that knows how to do this, which will cost a lot since it takes a lot of labor to complete this type of wall, or
- DIY the wall yourself, which is severely time-consuming and challenging if you don’t know much about brick tiles.
So, even if you try to opt for the cheaper manufactured brick tiles, you’ll still be stuck with a tedious amount of work, or a huge expense if you hire a contractor to complete the project. While the result of the project can be great, you do have other options when it comes to brick.
Considering Faux Brick
Faux brick is the most affordable option when it comes to brickwork. Brick veneer is essentially your most affordable option when it comes to materials, since as our above price list shows, it is also cheaper than stone veneer. So, if you are on a budget, you may want to consider brick veneer.
If you opt for faux brick, then you’ll wind up with fake brick that’s been made to be lightweight and robust, and it’s most likely going to be comprised of polyurethane. Polyurethane faux brick is one of the cheapest options around for faux brick. Also, it’s very easy to install polyurethane faux brick since you’ll only need two things:
- Regular construction adhesive
So, it’s much faster to install polyurethane faux brick as well. Most people can put up more than nine square feet of faux brick with each panel. That saves a lot of time compared to installing real brick or brick tiles because you won’t need to install each piece one at a time. However, most people are concerned with the appearance of faux brick versus real brick, and that can understandably be a deciding factor.
Luckily, polyurethane faux brick’s overall look is very realistic. These panels are manufactured through a process that takes the molds from authentic brick. That allows the brick to look chipped, aged, and rustic. So, polyurethane faux brick greatly resembles an authentic brick and even features the shades and colors that will make everybody that sees the brick think it’s authentic.
Of course, opting for polyurethane faux brick still means you won’t be installing actual brick. So, if somebody touches your brickwork, they’ll most likely realize it’s faux brick. However, how often do people touch your wall to figure that out? And how important is it to you if they do? If all you want is the look of real brick and you want to save some money, then the faux brick is a great option.
Stone Material Options: Natural Stone vs. Stone Veneer
If brick simply isn’t appealing to you, there’s no reason to worry. Instead of brick, you can consider a few stone material options, like natural stone and faux stone. While some of the oldest buildings in the world have been comprised of brick, real stone is a material that’s been known to last as long as a brick. Also, both brick and stone can resist fire and handle wind and hail.
Natural stone has been available in the forms of river rock and granite for millions of years. We’ve seen people building with these materials since the Romans first created the Coliseum. However, most of us aren’t emperors, and a few decades ago, it was still costly to add natural stone into the structure of a home or wall. Back then, it could cost an amazing amount of money to get some rock delivered to your home. Plus, installing natural stone was also labor-intensive.
However, since technology has evolved greatly over the past couple of decades, natural stone is now being carved into thinner slices. Those thin slices are easy to work with and transport. So, the cost of getting natural stone delivered to your house today is a lot less than what it used to be two decades ago. However, if you want to stay within your budget more easily, you can also consider faux stone.
To help you make your decision, below, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of natural stone and manufactured stone veneer. We will assess:
- The appearance differences
- Cost differences
- Versatility differences
The Appearance of Manufactured Stone Veneer
Since technology has advanced rapidly over the past two decades, nowadays manufactured stone veneer can appear to be very realistic as an aesthetic option. Since most people see the wall from a distance, it’s very hard to tell manufactured stone veneer from natural stone in most cases. Plus, there are many options when it comes to manufactured stone veneer, including choices about:
Having so many options when it comes to manufactured stone veneer means you can select a more realistic-looking pattern, so it looks like real stone, or you can choose something that offers up a unique aesthetic appeal to your home. The choice is up to you.
With manufactured stone veneer, the stones will look like they have a hand-painted appearance from up-close. However, otherwise, it’s very hard to tell the difference between natural stone and stone veneer. Stone is a quarried product. That means no two pieces of stone is ever cut the same, nor will it have the same appearance. However, stone veneer also provides a lot of color variety as well, making it difficult to tell stone veneer apart from natural stone.
So, when it comes to choosing between manufactured stone and natural stone, you’ll need to decide if authenticity is essential to you. If it is, then you’ll need to be prepared to fork up the cash, since natural stone costs a lot more than faux stone. And that brings us to assessing the cost differences between natural stone and faux stone.
Comparing stone veneer to brick veneer, you’ll get more options if you opt for stone veneer. That’s because brick veneer is made to resemble brick, and so there aren’t as many appearance options or choices. However, stone veneer offers a huge variety by comparison.
Cost of Natural Stone vs. Manufactured Stone Veneer
The overall cost difference between natural stone and manufactured stone for the product itself isn’t all that vast. Interestingly, human-made cultured veneers are now made in such a high-quality firm that the cost saving-benefits aren’t as great as you would think when purchasing manufactured stone as a product.
Also, the cost to transport both natural stone and fake stone is about the same. However, you will find some cost-saving benefits if you opt for fake stone since manufactured stone veneer tends to be lighter and easier to transport.
However, you’ll find real cost savings when it comes to installing manufactured stone veneer, which is much cheaper to work with compared to natural stone. Since manufactured stone veneer requires a repetitive form of installation, it’s much easier to work with and faster to install. That means it will cost less if you hire a professional. It’s also much easier to DIY with manufactured stone veneer, which is where you’ll find the real cost benefits of this material.
So, if you are on a budget, and you like the look of stone, you may want to consider working with stone veneer. That way, you’ll save money while still achieving the look of natural stone that you desire.
The versatility of Manufactured Stone Veneer
Both natural stone and manufactured stone veneers offer a lot of versatility when creating a wall outside of your home or office. Manufactured stone veneer provides the advantage of being fixable when damaged by using several different substrates. Those substrates don’t have to be structural, either, like regular stone masonry would require. Because manufactured stone is so light, it offers a lot more versatility when it comes to repairing.
When comparing manufactured stone veneer to brick veneer, you’ll have more variety when it comes to stone veneer. That’s because brick veneer is made to look like real bricks, so you’ve really only got a couple of shade options with that. Stone veneer is made to look like real stone, and there’s much more variety when it comes to the appearance of stone.
Does Stone Veneer Look Cheap?
Stone veneer doesn’t look cheap to the untrained eye. It still creates a beautiful appearance, although people with a trained eye may be able to tell the difference between a stone veneer and faux veneer. If you opt for either natural stone veneer or manufactured stone, there are pros and cons of each.
First, manufactured cultured stone is very lightweight, which makes it much easier to install and repair as well. You can also select from several colors and styles when it comes to faux stone. From a distance, the faux stone will still look like the real thing. However, over time, its faux stone will fade and wear as it is exposed to the elements.
Natural stone cladding has an authentic look that’s also unique. No two walls developed with natural stone can ever share the same look. When it comes to authenticity and durability, faux stone simply isn’t as long-lasting as the real thing. However, if you are on a budget or you want to DIY your wall yourself, then you may want to opt for faux stone. Stone veneer doesn’t look cheap, and from far away, it still looks like the real thing to the untrained eye.
Now that you know about the advantages and disadvantages of both brick veneer and stone veneer, and what both materials offer, you should be able to make your final decision about which material you want to use. If you opt for brick veneer or stone veneer, it would be wise of you to hire a professional to complete the work. That way, the job will be done correctly the first time it’s completed. After that, you should have your masonry inspected yearly to keep up with proper maintenance.
If you prefer variety, then our recommendation would be to opt for stone veneer. Stone veneer provides you with far more options in choices, colors, and styles than brick veneer. However, stone veneer is more expensive than brick veneer as a result. So, if you are trying to shop on a budget and you appreciate the appearance of brick veneer, then it’s perfectly viable to select that as well.
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