Red Brick: The Ultimate Status Symbol

“My house is the red brick one . . .”

Red brick is distinctive. It has commanded attention over the centuries and does not disappoint today. The Victorian red brick house dates back to the 1870s and was typically a sign of wealth among homeowners, as yellow bricks were far less expensive.

The Empire State building, completed in 1931, is faced with 10 million red bricks. At the time of its opening, it was the tallest building in the world. Why the choice of red brick instead of some other color?

All bricks are not alike. Bricks are classified by color, class, size, and purpose of use. The bricks used to face residences are typically “First Class Bricks.” These bricks are thoroughly burnt, and are copper, dark red, or cherry in color. The bricks should be free of cracks, flaws, or stones. Their texture must be uniform and not be able to be scratched or dented by a fingernail. When two bricks are struck together, they should have a metallic ring. They should not absorb water and lime must not be visible in a brick fracture.

Bricks are made of clay and earthen components. The clay or material used affects the color and class of the bricks. Additionally, the length of time of “firing” affects the color. Extra burning makes a browner brick. Red bricks have to be made “just right” to optimize color and important features.

Because of the careful process needed to create the red bricks, the cost increases accordingly. Lighter colored bricks will have sand or even cement in their mix. Sand based bricks are more porous, thus less water resistant. Those bricks require sealing to remediate water absorption. There was a building in Washington, D.C. constructed with a very attractive red brick façade. Its sides and back were covered with yellow brick. If heavy rains hit from a particular direction, the interior walls of that building became damp. The walls behind the red bricks of the façade remained dry.

In short: the color of brick chosen for a home makes a statement. With today’s technology in brick manufacturing, more colors are available that qualify as first class. And while red brick may no longer be considered prestigious, a red brick house typically sells faster (subject to many other criteria) than a lighter colored brick, or homes clad in other materials.

Looking for your perfect red brick home? Call or text us at 703-624-8333.