Remodeling Your Brick House
What should you consider when remodeling a brick house? Sure, brick is just another conventional building material, but remodeling a brick home presents some unique design challenges. Here’s what to look out for and think about when you’re considering a remodeling a house made of brick.
July 2, 2020
Brick homes have a beautiful presence and prove there’s a reason why brick has been such a popular building material throughout history. People just like it. But when you’re remodeling a brick home, there are certain challenges that come with the territory.
Luckily, removing brick is fairly straight-forward.
When removing brick to add a new or larger window or door, you won’t have to match the brick and may even get to re-use the brick you removed elsewhere. That assumes, of course, that it can be removed without crumbling apart. When you’re considering new window openings, you’ll want to factor in the size of your brick to ensure you’re not being left with a sliver of brick at the edge of the new opening. Those will invariably crack and it’ll be much easier to stick to openings that are sized to hit within half of a brick width.
There’s no way around it – brick infill will always be a challenge.
Filling in an old window or door on a brick home creates all sorts of challenges. In general, getting new brick to match your old brick is going to be very challenging. It likely is impossible to match perfectly, as the process to create the bricks is really unique to the exact materials and time when it happened.
Go with the Lesser of Two Evils
If you’re removing a window or door on the front or on a very visible side of the house, we recommend finding a way around filling it in. You just won’t be able to match it in most cases. I’ve seen an infill wood panel in that kind of location and, frankly, I’m not really sure what is a better answer: a solid wood “window” or a patch of brick that doesn’t quite match. It is a case-by-case situation.
Disguise Inconsistencies If You Can
If the area you need to infill is on a side of the house that isn’t very visible, then you might be able to get away with filling it in with salvaged brick or new brick that is close enough to the original shade. Where you have to make extensive changes to the brick façade and will be adding brick in, you might want to consider painting the brick. White-washed brick can be beautiful under the right circumstances.
Additions are a great opportunity to try out new materials.
If you’re adding to your brick home by building an addition, this can be a great chance to try out a new siding material. It's a unique opportunity to juxtapose the addition because brick looks beautiful and natural next to other types of siding.
Highlight Something Old
If you’re proposing an addition off to the side of your brick house, go with a contrasting material like paneled wood or lap siding, which will look natural and, likely, far better than trying to match the brick on the new addition. We see this commonly on Tudor homes. If you’re adding a second floor to your brick home, it is quite easy and natural to switch to a different siding material at the addition. Brick works beautifully as a “base” and naturally looks good with a “lighter” material above it. Carefully consider the overall look and what sort of siding might be appropriate.
Or Something New
Brick can also work really well in a new location. Additions to rooftops or accessory structures can work beautifully in brick. In the Classical Rooftop Conservatory, the penthouse addition to the existing condo feels that much more welcoming because of the brick façade. It looks like it has always been there!
Brick homes may be a little extra work to remodel, but they add character and presence to any neighborhood. Carefully work with your design team to ensure that it all comes together and looks as purposeful as it can.