Is brick housing common in the USA?

Here in England, your typical suburban housing looks roughly like this. Or this. (No, not like this, I’m afraid.) Red brick, tiled roof, reasonably ugly. Lots of threads about houses and DIY in America seem to talk about siding, boards etc, which leads me to believe that this is not the case over there. So tell me, is red-brick housing like this common in the States, or in particular areas in the States? If not, how is a typical suburban house built?

It varies a great deal regionally. For example, you almost never see new brick construction in California (earthquakes, and all), whereas in the Dallas area I get the impression that it’s a status symbol (to the point that cheaper houses use brick facades…)

Brick predominates in Chicago, and has since 1871.

It used to be common in the Midwest and Northeast. I grew up near Chicago, and there were lots of brick houses. In my experience wood seems to be more common in the South and stucco in the Southwest. Bricks are to be avoided in earthquake-prone areas, so you rarely see them used, except as a facade, in the Northwest.

I should also add that the “semi-detached” (is that the right term) layout for neighborhoods is rare in th US, except for very old neighborhoods in the Northeast (e.g., Philadelphia, Boston, and New York).

It’s not as common any more, because it’s more expensive. You might get a “brick-front” house in newer neighborhoods, with just the front facade being bricked, and the sides and back being covered with vinyl siding.
My house (built in the mid-50s) is all brick, as are most of the houses in my neighborhood, and it was a big selling point.

In most of East Texas brick is the predominant housing material for existing homes (the two big housing booms having come in the 1930s and the 1970s) and is greatly preferred for new builds. In upstate New York brick construction is much rarer; in fact, I don’t recall seeing any brick housing built after the Civil War.

Here is a picture of a few of your typical houses in sprawling suburbia under construction. Typical in Ohio, at least. Like others have said, brick housing is more common in older places. In Delaware, Ohio, where that picture is from, around the edges of town there are a lot of houses like those in the picture. In the older central part of the town there are a lot more nineteenth or early twentieth century brick houses (like this one, for instance) as well as cheaper wood versions of the same types of style.

I think it really depends on the region.
AZ - stucco
TX - brick/wood
NY - wood/brick


We have termites in the south, so our usage of wood would not be perferred over brick, due to the fact that termites like to eat wood over metal studs and cinderblocks.

Middle Tennessee produces a fair ammount of brick, & it is preferred here over other materials.

Here in SC, at least, you ain’t nothin’ if you ain’t got a brick house. Well, not entirely, but cheaper new homes have brick facades and siding backs, for example, and almost every house in a nice neighborhood will be brick. The rest will be vinyl siding - stucco is quite rare. There’s very much a feeling among a lot of people that a house isn’t really a home unless it’s a brick house. (Speaking for inland SC here - I’m not qualified to talk about the coast.)

On the other hand, in Florida where my parents live there’s practically no brick - all ugly pink stucco. With shells in.

Having lived in Houston, El Paso, and Lubbock, Tx, all these cities seemed to have more brick houses than wood.

Here in New England, wood seems to be far more common.

In addition to termite or structural issues, I wonder if cost of materials – how close you are to wood sources – has anything to do with it. I admit, I don’t have a clear idea of how the cost of building materials varies.

Also, whatever they are on the outside, aren’t most new residential houses wood frame houses? We’re just talking about the outside, right? In that case, what about houses with vinyl or aluminum siding – how do you count them? They’re generally designed to emulate wood siding in appearance.

Here in the residential area of Ballard in Seattle there are lots of brick houses. I usually get out and go for walks for about 30 blocks, sometimes more, and all around me are brick houses. The apartment I live in is brick. My husband tells me they are just very old buildings, built back when brick was dirt cheap and everyone had a brick house. Now that brick is very expensive (and Seattle is an overpriced place to live as it is), I can see why many people wanted to preserve their old brick houses.

This apartment is very old, and we had to upgrade a few things when we moved in, like phone jacks. I have no idea how we’d fare in an earthquake. I’m still new to this city.

Huber Heights, Ohio calls itself the “world’s largest community of brick houses”.

Brick has traditionally been used in areas where the soil is heavy with clay and it was easy and cheap to make brick. When my sister from southern California visited me in the Midwest, she was amazed how common brick was.

Unfortunately, brick construction has a tendency to crumble during earthquakes and other disasters, and an all-brick warehouse that collapses during a fire is a nightmare. As better methods of construction wwere developed in the 1930s and 1940s, brick was mostly relegated to facades and ornamental uses.

Speaking up for Florida – almost everyone has a stucco-on-cinderblock house with a asphalt-shingled wood roof. Overall, most of our buildings are cinderblock construction. Many of the “brick” buildings here are actually cinderblock with a brick façade.

The only brick residences I’ve seen locally were built to order as custom homes. Ditto for wood-framed homes.

Here in CA, it’s usually either stucco (mostly Southern CA) or wood (Northern CA). I live in N. CA, and I would say that stucco isn’t considered as nice as wood. I live in a neighborhood where the houses are mostly wood in front and stucco in back! And we have brick or stone facing at the bottom of the house, rather like outside wainscoting. I’ve been trying to find a picture for you, but am failing.

Anyway brick is fairly rare around here. It does happen, just not very often.

IIRC one of the chief differences is that European and older US brick walls were constructed using several wythes of brick and are quite thick, as opposed to modern construction (post 1900) where brick is not structural-it is ornamental.

In the US, houses are typically framed using wood, and the wall to receive the brick facade has a wider foundation because it incorporates a brick ledge. A single wythe of brick is laid, and is made stable via the use of brick ties which attach the brick wall to the main sheathing. Walls constructed using cinder block may also receive a single ornamental wythe of brick but it is still not structural.

I think the general answer in…no. Not like in England. Not by a long shot. It was one of the things that struck me when I was over there. Whereas what struck my English SO when he was here (New England) was the amazing amount of trees…hmmm…could there be a corralation :D?

In most of South Australia, brick isn’t a status symbol, it’s a requirement. If you want to put up a house with weatherboard, you need special Local Council dispensation to do so - and most likely won’t get it unless you’re in a far-flung regional area or small town, where the rules are more flexible. I have no idea why this is, but I’d always just assumed it was a standard right through Australia. Turns out I’m wrong. :slight_smile:

Probably because there’s little market for weatherboard homes except as transportables in SA, it’s only in fairly recent history that the non-brick homes here have become attractive. Most of the older ones are ugly and clearly ‘extreme budget’ housing. (The new ones cost almost as much to build as brick though, so the new stylishness has definitely struck a blow against the affordability of them.)

I know it’s different in Tasmania, for sure, because my husband and I took a trip there several years back and one of the first things we noticed was that there were hardly any brick properties - but oh! such lovely things they do with weatherboard down there. I saw houses that would probably qualify as mansions built out of the stuff, and they looked lovely.

I have a suspicion Queensland might be flexible on building materials too, but I’ve not travelled there so maybe one of the other Aussie Dopers can confirm or deny that. :slight_smile:

In the United States, 20 percent of the new homes constructed in 2001 were more than 50 percent brick, according to the Census Bureau’s Characteristics of New Housing report.