Custom Homes

Can’t Decide on an Exterior Finish? Explore Brick, Stucco, Wood, Fiber Cement

Choosing and applying an external finish is a big investment, so combining appearance, longevity, upkeep, and environmental performance is important. Here is where the knowledge and experience of a skilled home builder is valuable.

Brick, stucco, wood, and fibre cement are four common external finishes that homeowners ought to explore because they each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. 

Expert home builders Vancouver should also be included in this decision-making process to ensure the material is up to par in terms of installation and longevity and improve the home’s aesthetics.

Brick: A Long-Standing Material

Brick’s dependability, durability, and classic style make it appealing in luxury homes. This home-building element remains popular in modern architecture despite new materials. 

The adaptability and ability to convey antiquity and permanence make it a popular choice for historic preservation projects and modern residences in North Vancouver and the whole of British Columbia, seeking timeless elegance.

Practical Considerations

Types of Brick and Their Average Cost Per Square Foot

  • Solid brick veneer (face brick) – $3 – $8
  • Faux brick strips – $4 – $10
  • Faux brick panels – $6 – $11
  • Thin brick strips – $5 – $15
  • Interlocking brick – $6 – $25

Aesthetic Versatility

Brick’s colours, textures, and bonding patterns offer unlimited design possibilities. Traditional reds and browns to modern whites and greys, you can modify brick exteriors to suit your taste and lifestyle for your dream property.

Pros and Cons

  • Longevity. Properly maintained brick exteriors outlive most home building materials, making them a good investment for custom home owners seeking durability.
  • Impact on Cost. Brick is durable but more expensive than other exterior coatings. Its labour-intensive installation may increase home-building process costs.
  • Weight Considerations. Brick is heavy and needs a solid base. Retrofitting existing structures may affect new home construction or renovation costs and timeframes.
  • Environmental Factors. Brick resists rain, fire, and wind, making it ideal for tough climates. It protects against the elements.
  • Architectural Style. Brick works with colonial, Tudor, and modern architecture. Its timeless style and versatility suit traditional preservation and new building.
  • Maintenance Willingness. It requires less upkeep than other external treatments, although it may need periodic inspections and repairs to last.

Stucco: The Craft in Colour and Texture

Stucco is a versatile external treatment that combines traditional craftsmanship with the current methods of building homes. It’s popular in custom home building because it creates a smooth, textured veneer that matches Mediterranean villas and modern homes.

Practical Considerations

Methods of Application

  • One-coat method: One-time application of Portland cement, sand, fibres, proprietary chemicals, and water can cover stiff foam boards and laths.
  • Two-coat method: Used to coat brick and block walls; requires a bonding adhesive to keep stucco adhered; eliminates brown coat and applies finish coat directly to scratch coat.
  • Three-coat method: Traditional cement, sand, fibreglass, acrylic additives, and water for wood sheathing and masonry surfaces. After an asphalt-infused paper and rough scratched layer, the foundation or brown coat of stucco is applied, followed by a texture and colour finish coat.

Creative Canvas

Stucco offers unlimited creative possibilities, from smooth, polished finishes to textured, rough-hewn surfaces. With its many colour options, stucco allows homeowners and their custom home builder to achieve their desired look efficiently.

Pros and Cons

  • Maintenance Needs. Stucco requires some upkeep, but it’s lower than other exterior coatings. Cracks, chips, and water damage may require periodic inspections and repairs, especially in weather-prone areas.
  • Visual Appeal. Stucco’s smooth, sculptural quality gives any home charm. Many homeowners who want sleek, modern exteriors choose it because it can produce consistent, monolithic facades.

Considerations for Regional Climate

Stucco’s moisture resistance and insulation make it ideal for moderate climes. Proper installation during construction and regular maintenance are essential in locations with significant rainfall or extreme temperature changes to prevent water damage and structural difficulties.

Wood: Nature’s Elegance

Warmth, character, and organic beauty have always been valued in wood. Wood’s ageless beauty transcends architectural styles and trends, from rustic huts to contemporary marvels.

Wood blends into many architectural forms, creating a warm, inviting facade that links with nature and inspires tranquillity.

Wood Cladding Options

TypeDetails
Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar is a sturdy softwood with beautiful colour diversity. Many consider it the best cladding type.
Siberia LarchSiberian Larch heartwood is pale yellow to medium straw yellow. It adds individuality with its distinctive grain pattern and noticeable growth rings.
Alaska Yellow CedarYellow Cedar has a delicate texture and straight grain. It also takes stains and finishes nicely, so you can change its hue.
Douglas FirDouglas Fir is a legendary softwood and cladding. As with all timber species, it is naturally resistant to deterioration when used outdoors.
European OakStains or finishes can accentuate this type’s beauty, which is as tough as nails and durable. Before delivery, UK-imported European Oak timber is kilned, machined, and finger-jointed.
Heat-modified Woods Thermal treatment makes softwood Scandinavian Pine stable and outdoor-durable. Thermo-Pine, available in many profiles, accepts screws and nails.

Pros and Cons

  • Warmth aesthetics. Few home-building materials can equal wood’s warmth and charm on a home’s exterior and interior design.
  • Maintenance Requirements. Wood siding needs frequent upkeep to prevent dampness, rot, vermin, and UV damage. Regular cleaning, staining, sealing, and repairs can increase the cost of maintaining a wood-clad home.
  • Considerations for Durability. Cedar and redwood are durable, but others may deteriorate and attract insects. Wood siding needs proper installation, treatment, and upkeep to last.

Fibre Cement: A Game-Changer for New Home Exteriors

Fibre cement is a new alternative to wood, stucco, and vinyl siding. Fibre cement contains cement, sand, and cellulose fibres and is popular in building custom homes for its durability, versatility, and sustainability.

Technical Details

Fiber Cement Composition 

  1. Water: Activates and hardens the cement while dissolving the wood pulp.
  2. Pulp from wood: Makes it more pliable and sturdy.
  3. Fly ash: Serves as a filler. Some manufacturers alternately use silica sand.
  4. Portland cement: Combines the components. Created from iron, clay, and limestone.

Cost for Fibre Cement Siding

Fibre cement siding is installed for $5–$14.50 per square foot. The siding brand, accessory package, installation credentials, etc., can all affect project costs.

Design Value

  • Flexibility in Design: Fibre cement has several textures, colours, and forms, providing endless design possibilities. Fibre cement can emulate natural wood, stone, or modern architecture.
  • Modern Design: Fibre cement’s adaptability lets homeowners easily construct modern, contemporary, or minimalist designs. Its sleek finishes, clear lines, and architectural detailing suit modern and avant-garde architecture.

Pros and Cons

  • Fire, pest, and decay resistance. Fibre cement is fire-, pest-, and decay-resistant, making it perfect for dwellings in fire- or pest-prone environments. Unlike wood siding, fibre cement does not rot, warp, or decay.
  • Durability. Fibre cement can survive extreme weather, impacts, and environmental stressors.
  • Minimal Upkeep. Fibre cement requires less care than wood or stucco, lowering long-term expenditures.
  • Installation Difficulties. Fibre cement installation involves experienced labour and specialized equipment, increasing complexity and cost.

Comparing the R-Value of Exterior Finishes 

R-value measures how well a material insulates against heat transfer. A higher R-value means better insulation, which keeps indoor temperatures comfortable. 

Type of Exterior Finish R-ValueDescription

Brick 

.11
Brick boosts residential energy efficiency. Its high thermal mass absorbs and stores heat, moderating indoor temperatures and reducing mechanical heating and cooling.

Stucco

.10
Stucco alone may not provide much insulation. However, newer applications include insulating layers. This increases home energy efficiency, reduces heat transfer, and boosts comfort.

Wood

.81
Wood has strong insulation characteristics, although this depends on the type and thickness of the siding. Installation methods and additional insulation layers can boost wood-clad home energy efficiency.

Fibre Cement

.15
Fibre cement helps provide thermal insulation in buildings. Its thermal mass regulates indoor temperatures, decreasing heating and cooling energy.

Choose What’s Best for Your Custom Home

The ideal exterior finish for your dream home requires a balance between aesthetics and functionality. Besides your home’s outside appearance, consider energy efficiency, sustainability, and longevity.

Custom home builders are essential for this process. These professionals provide the knowledge, experience, and expertise to help you choose and install your exterior finish properly. 

If you’re looking to start your custom home, Major Homes Ltd offers craftsmanship, attention to detail, and industry best practices to maximize your home’s exterior’s lifetime and performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Exterior Finishes Matter

  • Safekeeping. Exterior coatings protect the structure from rain, wind, sun, and temperature changes. They protect the building envelope against moisture, deterioration, and structural harm.
  • Identity Expression. These finishes express the homeowner’s style, personality, and environment.
  • Environmental Integration. Exterior finishes harmonize with the environment. Finishes should match the setting in an urban jungle or natural area. 
  • Quality Craftsmanship and Artistry. Each finish requires care, from bricklaying to stucco texture rendering. Custom home builders bring the material to life, making any dream home extraordinary.

Does installing external finishes require permits?

Installation regulations and permits vary by location and exterior finish. To confirm building code compliance, check with your local building department. An expert custom home builder can obtain permits before installation and guide you throughout the entire process.

How do exterior finishes impact home value?

The outside finish of your property affects its resale value. Durable, low-maintenance, and stylish finishes can boost your property’s value and appeal to purchasers. Energy-efficient homes may also attract eco-conscious consumers and boost resale value.

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