Fractured Brick

What is fractured brick?

Cracks in individual brick units are often called face cracks or dryer cracks. In commercial applications, you do not often find a brick that was intentionally made to have an antique, rustic look. In residential work, the old, worn, antique, look is quite common. It even has a name. Actually two names: distressed and heritage bricks.

Some home buyers see cracks an immediately think, incorrectly, that the visible cracks are a sign of failure. 

Here are some basic facts about dryer or face cracks in brick

Do the cracks affect the structural strength or integrity of the brick?

No. The load-bearing capacity of the quality face brick is much higher than what is required.

Will the dryer or face cracks in brick allow water to enter the wall and promote rot and other problems?

Small surface cracks do not allow water to migrate through the brick.  The brick does not make your house watertight in any case. Flashing, weep holes, and water-resistant barriers (such as Tyvek) are what make modern homes watertight. 

Do the cracks make the brickwork look bad?

Most people like the look rustic look of brickwork that has dryer cracks in the brick. The cracks are a feature, not a defect. Many home buyers like the distressed, rustic look of these bricks. 

Can I get rid of the cracks?

Technically, yes, but I would not recommend it. It would be very expensive and time-consuming.     

A true example of how one homeowner reacted to fractured brick

Several years ago I received a call from the owner of a new home concerning what he described as severe cracking in the brick veneer. He was concerned that the foundation had failed. I told him that, since the home was new, it would be next to impossible for the foundation to have failed. He told me he was a Professional Structural Engineer, but that he had no experience with residential projects.

I met him the next morning at his house. His description was highly misleading. The cracks were barely visible and they were in a few individual bricks, not in what he had described as in brick veneer.

I explained that the cracks in the bricks came from the process used to cook the bricks.

Since he was skeptical, I told him to talk to the builder and find out who made the brick and what the name was of the brick. Then call the manufacturer and ask if his specific brick had individual bricks that had surface cracks. If the brick cracks were not from the manufacturing process, I would refund my fee. There was no doubt in my mind that the use of cracked brick was intentional.  

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