Preservation Tip: Historic Brick

Historic brick exterior with stucco damage
Historic brick exterior with stucco damage

Keep in mind that historic brick is very different from the modern brick used today...

Historic brick is generally softer and more porous than modern brick due to less consistent raw materials and lower temperature firing. Therefore, many modern fixes are inappropriate — and can actually cause far greater harm to your building.

For example, historic brick in disrepair should not be covered with modern stucco. While it might look better temporarily, this is more of a short-term fix with huge long-term costs. The underlying issues of water infiltration and damage due to freeze-thaw action won't be addressed by stucco, and might make it worse.

Take a look at this historic building that received stucco several years ago. The stucco has cracked and fallen off in places, taking the brick with it. The stucco also drastically changes the building's appearance, which could impact your ability to pursue historic grants.


Stephanie Brakeville

BY STEPHANIE WAPLES-BRAKEVILLE
Burlington, IA

PICTURES  Exteriors of a building with historic brick that received modern stucco and pieces of stucco that fell from that building.