Extreme Curb Appeal, Part 2: Can (or should) Vinyl Siding Become Brick?

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When you talk about curb appeal and changing the exterior of your home, usually simple things like landscaping, fencing, and walkways come to mind. However, have you ever thought about what it would take to dramatically change the exterior facade of your home? Well, I have, and I’d like to share a series of posts on what it would take to do just that.
As I was looking at other homes whose exteriors I covet for inspiration for an exterior renovation of my own home (there’s a great slideshow from Better Homes & Gardens here), I noticed one strong, unfailing trend … brick exteriors, usually painted. I found this development kind of depressing because my 112 year old house has vinyl siding — and after a damaged piece of it had to be removed, my dreams of their being some other material underneath were quickly dashed.


After lamenting over the lack of brick in my house to my husband, I began to wonder if there was a way to change the exterior of a vinyl-sided home to a brick one. Some Internet sleuthing and a couple cups of coffee later, there was a ray of sunshine peeking through my dismal outlook.
Indeed, it was not unheard of for homes with previous vinyl siding to be transformed into brick beauties. I had hoped for as much based on a distant memory of a Better Homes & Gardens issue where a woman added a faux limestone-cobbled bit to her cookie-cutter home. People can and do put up stone and brick where siding once was, and with some careful planning and dedication, I could be one of those people.
However, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions based on aesthetics alone. I wanted to weigh the pros and cons of vinyl vs. brick siding. A quick overview of this eHow article left me, among other things, with this little tidbit: brick siding is like a wool peacoat; a classic staple of every wardrobe, and while being stylish, is still utilitarian. Vinyl siding is a like a spring jacket; good for a season or two, but easily changeable if you get bored or your style changes.
Home improvement to fashion comparison, for the win.
The article pretty clearly illustrated the good and bad for both materials, although the one thing that most stuck out to my husband was the cost — vinyl siding runs about $3-$4 per square foot, where as brick runs $6-$12 for the same. Ouch. So while brick exteriors may outlast vinyl ones by centuries (I’m not even kidding), you pay for that kind of longevity.
Refusing to be deterred by numbers (because this is a someday-in-the-future project, not something for next week) I soldiered on in my research, determined to figure out what all would be involved in such a transformation from a technical, getting your hands dirty standpoint.
Look for the next piece in the series where I’ll share the wonderful world of masonry as it applies to the various kinds of brick exteriors.
photo via Better Homes & Gardens

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  • pcl

    If you can’t afford to brick the whole outside of your house, also, for any areas that would look implausible in brick (such as cantilevered “bump-outs”), stucco mixes very well with brick (much better than lapped siding does, IMHO), and costs little more than vinyl. You can save even more by putting a thin coat of stucco on cement board, though I’d avoid the all-Styrofoam varieties of EIFS. Any cementitious stucco finish can be masked or carved to look like brick (though it might not look authentic enough for conspicuous areas), tiled with adhered “thin brick” (which can be indistinguishable from the real thing if corner caps are used appropriately) or covered by anchored brick veneer. So, no matter how much brick or stucco you use, your options for an all-brick exterior are still open.