Brick can weather the storm

For centuries, buildings constructed of brick have withstood the ravages of hurricanes, tornadoes, high winds, hail and punishing rain. When used in conjunction with modern building codes, brick homes can remain standing when others on the same block might be destroyed. Since 1891, Acme Brick has been manufacturing these almost indestructible building blocks!

Living and working in Oklahoma City, known by many as “tornado alley,” Jay Cox of Acme Brick has first-hand knowledge of the importance of brick construction. He says, “When those freight-train sounding winds are blowing at 150 miles per hour, my customers really appreciate their brick homes!”

“Generally, homeowners are concerned about the strength and endurance of the exterior of their home. Although most do not understand the significant differences between the types of exterior cladding, they all want a material that is durable to the weather extremes.”

The Reasons for Acme Brick’s Durability

Although any brick will outperform wood and other less durable materials, not all brick are created equal. Acme Brick has a time-honored process of selecting only the best clay and shale and has manufacturing expertise that greatly enhances the durability of the final product. An important part of this is what goes on inside the red-hot Acme kilns.

With more than one hundred twenty-five years of experience, the experts at Acme Brick understand the importance of this process. Every Acme brick is fired in natural gas kilns at temperatures of up to 2,000° F, for exactly the correct amount of time. This ensures hard-fired beauty, durability, and maximum strength.

“Properly constructed brick exterior walls offer superior performance to wind driven objects, temperature extremes, and fire,” Cox said. “Brick construction with full mortar joints and wall ties provides a strong barrier to external forces, unlike other materials which fall short in exterior performance.” 

Testing Hurricane and Tornado Winds Against Home Building Materials

Resisting hurricane and tornado force winds is only part of the challenge in storm-prone areas. The projectiles (such as metal and wooden objects) that are violently tossed about during high-wind storms can decimate a house constructed of wood or stucco.

Click here to see just how dangerous flying objects can be in a test conducted by the National Brick Research Center at Clemson University on behalf of Acme Brick.

Builder Magazine, presented a classic case study of how brick construction saved the lives and property of homeowners in La Plata, Maryland, which is far from Tornado Alley,“On April 28, 2002, residents of this community experienced a monstrous Category F4 (to F5) tornado that cut a 24-mile swath through their town, leveling 344 homes and businesses and killing four people. A few days later, a team of Builder editors and photographers hit the streets of La Plata to get a first-hand look at the devastation--and to take a measure of how home construction held up against this worst-case scenario.

The case study concluded, “In general, single-story homes--many of those sheathed in brick--fared much better than their two-story wood counterparts. Tornadoes can exert enormous pressure on a building. At 300 mph, wind pressure equals 404 pounds per square foot. The smaller wall area of a single story--and the impact-resistant brick sheathing--protected these buildings.”

“Hail damage is also a real concern for all types of siding construction other than brick or masonry,” Cox added. “The advantage of a brick exterior is the strength of the product in the wall. Most building brick have a minimum compressive strength of 3000 psi, which makes them very difficult to chip, crack or break due to environmental forces.”

Is Brick Construction Worth the Expense?

There’s an old adage that comes to mind when considering the greater investment in a brick home: “You get what you pay for.”

“Homeowners in every part of the country - whether they are storm-prone or not - get a better return on investment with brick construction,” Cox said. “The initial investment is slightly higher for brick than for wooden or synthetic construction materials, but it has been shown that homes constructed of brick increase in value at a much higher rate.

“The reasons for this are simple. Brick homes are almost maintenance-free. They don’t require painting every few years and, because of this natural material’s insulation value, homeowners enjoy lower monthly utility bills.

“Plus, the property insurance rates for brick homes are lower than for homes made of less-durable materials. This is especially true in areas that are storm-prone and can add up to a substantial amount of money.

“While brick exteriors are a bit more expensive to install than simple siding and paint applications, the difference in initial cost is usually overcome by the first time the siding needs to be repainted, caulked and repaired. Generally, this is in the first 8 to 10 years of the structure.”

To find out more about the advantages of Acme Brick for storm-prone areas, click here.