Last Updated Oct 21, 2010 · Written by Craig Gibson
Brick and stone work can be used both inside and outside the home to great effect. How can they be used and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Double brick walls heat up slowly and stay warm for long periods of time. This is great during short periods of hot weather, but during a long, hot summer, this can quickly make your home uncomfortable. Insulating the double brick walls will make it cost more initially but it will stop heat transfer to the home during summer and prevent heat loss during winter.
Brick veneer walls are made up of a single outer layer of brickwork with a lined stud frame on the inside. These walls have less thermal mass and thus respond faster to temperature changes. These walls are better at cooling down during summer and are easier to insulate. Reverse brick veneer walls have the brickwork on the inside, and the frame and cladding on the outer. The thermal mass is thus on the inside of the home and you have the advantage of having a natural brick wall as a design feature.
In the home, use lighter colour to reflect heat, and darker colours to absorb the heat.
Brick is virtually maintenance free, will not burn, is energy efficient, can block sound, and are excellent for resale. The sound blocking qualities and the warm, cosy look of bricks means that it can be a very efficient design element in the bedroom. However, they add a lot of weight to the foundation, is expensive to repair and it is difficult to change the look of the brick if you tire of it. Brickwork is cheaper, easier, and quicker to lay than stone, and is actually stronger (for a given thickness of wall).
Stone products can be used both inside and outside the home. It is suitable for all styles of homes, and is commonly used to link the indoors and outdoors, as well as to achieve continuity in design, colour, and texture. Stone can be natural or lightweight. Lightweight stone is man made and is a great option as it is lighter than natural stone, is easily installed, more readily available, cheaper than real stone, and has prefabricated corner pieces. Manufactured stone is made in moulds taken from real stone to ensure that it looks as realistic as possible. Colour is blended through the whole product and the stones are handmade. It can be applied to any clean, structurally sound surface and can even be walked on.
Stone also comes as cladding that can be used to accent retaining walls, pillars, feature walls, and water features both inside and outside the home. It is made from natural stone and is available in a range of colours, allowing for design flexibility.
Stone can be used as kitchen counter tops, for bathroom renovations including vanity tops, for walls in wet areas, and as flooring. It can be used for building, tiles, paving, and retaining walls. Natural stone is available as marble, granite, slate, sandstone, and bluestone. Then there is reconstituted stone. What you choose will depend on what you are using it for and what your budget is. Reconstituted stone is popular because it comes in a huge range of colours. It is also very hygienic and does not stain easily.
Some stones such as marble and granite have disadvantages in that they easily stain. As such, you will have to be vigilant with ensuring that the sealing is well maintained. Stone is incredibly durable but this can pose a problem in itself – the stone will outlast your décor. What looks fantastic now may look horribly dated in ten to twenty years time. Stone is also expensive, although natural stone can be cheaper than reconstituted stone in some cases. You are looking at anywhere from $40 per square metre for limestone right up to $1000 plus per square metre for marble. Reconstituted stone can cost up to $700 per linear metre.
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