The Pros and Cons of Brick Flooring

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Brick is one of the most common architectural elements in our world. From accent to structure, it can be used on nearly every surface of a building and provides designers with a wide range of decorative choices and options. When used as a flooring surface, brick faces particular challenges, which it handles with varying degrees of success. However, when properly cared for, it can be used in nearly any location and can last for decades.

The Benefits Of Installing Brick Floors

Cost: Brick flooring comes in pavers, which are thinner than regular bricks used in walls and structural elements. These will range in cost from about $5 - $10 per square foot, depending on the specific type of material you choose. In some cases, you may also be able to find bargain basement materials at as low as $3 per square foot. It is also important to note that this is the price per square foot, not per piece.

Durability: These materials are made even more economical by the fact that they can literally last for decades if properly maintained. Extremely hard, durable, and resistant to impact damage, brick can save you the cost and hassle of having to rip up and replace your flooring every few years.

Personality: While brick flooring is very strong and durable, these materials will not remain static over the long run. Rather they will wear slightly with the passing of feat and time, giving the material a soft, weathered look, which is unique to your particular installation.

Many people enjoy this visual aspect, however, it is not for everyone, and is a personal taste choice.

Fireproof: Brick doesn’t burn. That means that if there is a fire, it won’t be able to easily spread across rooms with this material installed as the floor. Brick will also be resistant to singes and burns caused by dropping very hot objects on it.

Materials: Made mostly from clay, shale, and kaolin, brick is comprised largely of natural materials.

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Brick Flooring’s Ecological Advantages

Recyclable: Brick used in buildings that are being demolished can be reclaimed for new flooring installations.

Maintenance: The hard surface of this material makes it very easy to clean up dirt and wipe away spills. At the same time, its naturally mottled colors will tend to hide imperfections or small stains that occur over time.

The Aesthetic Benefits of Brick

Design: Brick floors feel warm, comforting, and inviting. These characteristics come from the fact that it is a very familiar, natural feeling material. Brick has been used in construction for centuries. It is an alternative to stone, giving a space many of the benefits of personality and durability while maintaining a sense of welcoming wonder.

Options: There are numerous design options available for brick floors. The material itself comes in various sizes, shapes, and can be stained or painted a myriad of colors. These pieces can then be arranged in unique, specific patterns and designs which can be quite intricate.

Texture: In its natural state brick has a rough feel to it that provides an inherent traction, even when wet. However, if a wax finish is applied the material will lose most of those characteristics.

Warmth: Unlike stone, which can get quite cold in the winter, brick tends to maintain a steady, moderate temperature. This can be combined with a below surface radiant heating system to create a floor which almost glows with heat.

The Drawbacks To Installing Brick Flooring

Hardness: While this does make the material very durable, it also makes it a little bit uncomfortable. This is especially true if you are standing on it for long periods of time. You also have to worry about dropped objects shattering on impact.

Heavy: Brick pavers are so heavy that they can generally only be used on first floor installations.

Replacement: These materials can easily last for years and decades, but eventually, you may want to remove them and replace them with something else. Unfortunately, this can be a messy, costly, and time-consuming project requiring you to literally smash the surface of the brick pavers before scraping them free of the adhesives binding them to the floor.

Weathering: While some people love the look of weathered brick, other people are going to hate it, claiming that it looks old and broken. This is a personal decision and will be based on your own aesthetic preferences.

Water Concerns: While it may seem hard and solid, brick is actually a very porous material. If liquids spill on its unprotected surface they will soak into the brick. This can cause staining, mildew, and mold problems down the line. Because of this, these floors need to be sealed periodically with a chemical agent that can create an invisible barrier over the material.

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Brick Floor Ecological Concerns

Shipping: Bricks are quite heavy, and it requires the burning of large amounts of fuel in order to transport them any distance.

Materials: While the materials used in brick are natural, they still need to be extracted from the earth. Many people have concerns that these extraction processes are harmful to the environment.

Heat Expenditures: The process of manufacturing bricks requires that the constituent materials be heated to a very high temperature. This, of course, requires the use of large amounts of fuel and results in the release of CO2 gas as a waste product.

Adhesives: The type of glue that you use to adhere the material to the subfloor can also be a concern. Some brick adhesives can release VOC’s or harmful toxins, which can negatively affect the air quality of the room. This can be avoided by doing your research and choosing an adhesive that is safe and environmentally friendly.