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NovaBrik Siding

CarletonPope's picture

Hi folks,

My wife and I are building our house in rural Alberta, and have been thinking about siding it with Novabrik.

It comes in at about $5 sq. ft. for materials, but applying novabrik myself would be about the same final cost ($20,000) as hiring a stucco contractor.

The details of installing the product seem simple enough (bricks for dummies), but I'm wondering if anyone has had much experience with this product and its longevity?

Although Novabrik has been approved by the building codes, I don't think it has been around very long, and the idea of 75,000 lbs. of concrete just hanging off the side of my house sounds a little comical - if not dangerous in the long-term.

Thanks very much for the help!



(post #76157, reply #1 of 11)

I'm kinda interested in this too. We'd like to do part of the front of our house with this stuff. Looks reasonably bullet-proof, but would be good to hear from some with actual experience with it.

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do. --Benjamin Franklin

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #76157, reply #2 of 11)

I've used a lot of it in remodeling projects.  It is a rather unique product to say the least.  I have never installed it more than 4 or 5 feet tall because the thought of all that weight hanging off deck screws does not sit well with me.

I don't see any durability issues and it looks nice when installed correctly.

The main thing to remember is:  Start off perfectly straight because if you don't, you will see the results magnified all the way up the wall.

If you need more info, I could answer specific questions for you.

(post #76157, reply #3 of 11)


Thanks very much for the info. I really appreciate it.

I talked with both the manufacturer and supplier of Novabrik extensively over the phone, and both assured me that it was completely safe to use up to a height of 30 ft. Anything above that should be okay'ed by a local engineer.

The siding on our house shouldn't extend up more than 20 feet, but I would like to use rigid styrofoam cladding under it. In the next few days, I'm going to call the engineer who approved Novabrik for the building code in Canada, and ask him if he forsees any problems.

One thing I am wondering, is how long it usually takes to install Novabrik. The house has about 3000 sq. ft. of wall area that I would like to clad, and I was quoted for about 13,000 bricks. Is that going to take me a couple weeks, or a couple months?

Also, what can you use to cut the bricks? Investing in a full-out masonry saw seems a little excessive. Would it be ill-advised to put a masonry blade into a miter saw or a cut-off saw (normally used for steel)?

Thanks again so much for the help!



(post #76157, reply #4 of 11)

Haven't got time now, but I'll be back tonight and answer your questions.

(post #76157, reply #9 of 11)

Well...Here goes.....First off, I must say the thought of Novabrik 20' high scares the hell out of me.  I know they do it, but I'm not comfortable with it.

Novabrik and all of the other components are very heavy.  You say you want to put it over styrofoam.  You can't screw it through styrofoam.  It must be screwed directly to wood.  Normally you would use 1x3 or 1x4 strips which are attached with screws to the wall studs through the sheeting.  The part of the brick that you screw through is about an inch thick.  You normally use 2 1/2" screws.

BTW,  You have to drill every hole in the brick and other pieces.  You had better have a large supply of top quality carbide hammer drill bits.  Also, you can't use a rotary percussion drill.  It will split the bricks before you get the hole drilled.  You must use an ordinary hammer drill. (the one that doesn't drill holes very fast)

The only practical way to cut this stuff is with a 14" chop saw with a diamond blade.  Anything smaller than that won't work because the components are too thick.  You can't try and cut from one side and then finish it from the other.  So..count on buying a saw and blade for about $400.

You can count on months, not weeks, if you intend to do it yourself.  Personally, I would call the stucco man if I were in your shoes.

If there is anything else you need to know, let me know.



(post #76157, reply #5 of 11) that a cousin of the dreaded Perma-Stone, the plague of New Jersey?

(post #76157, reply #6 of 11)

I thought long and hard about using it.

Then I gave my head a shake.

Although it sounds OK in theory, a goodly part of a mason's job is 'adjusting' - adjusting for out of square, adjusting for bowing walls or foundations, and a whole lot of other stuff. Things like lintels, windows, doors, all that kind of thing have been figured out by masons long ago.

In theory and in principal, Novabrik should do all that, last forever, etc.., but when I started thinking about the 'what ifs' I realized 'real' brick wasn't such a bad idea.

At the time, I figured buying Novabrick would have cost me almost $20K, then I'd have to apply it. The masons charged me about $40K and did a great job. I don't have to worry about how long it will last, whether it'll affect property values, and so on. Its tru I paid double, but I didn't have to do the work - or try to figure out how to deal with a 3/4" tilt in a wall, or how to deal with out of kilter winders, and so on.

One thing I did which save money was go for 'concrete' bricks. The cost a bit more, but they look sort of like stone. They are solid (no holes) and more rugged than clay. They save mucho money on the install, because they are on average bigger than regular bricks.

(post #76157, reply #7 of 11)

What are you folks using behind the brick? I mean, are we talking conventional stick-framing, wall panels, concrete block ...

I ask because materials and your labor seem to be potential expensive depending on the size of the application. As such, I wonder if there might be a better aesthetic approach of the faux kind.

(post #76157, reply #8 of 11)

Nova brick was originally invented I think as an alternative to residing.  Im pretty sure it is  Canadian, made by the same people who manufacture Alba brick.  For the money your talking, you can brick the house with Alba brick, do roundtop windows (which Nova can't do) pay the bricklayer, add structural integrity to the house and still save money.  Ten years ago we did our house with Alba, over 17000 brick, whole job with window sills lintels and arches etc was about 25k.   More thermal mass, a nice quiet house and it looks great.

Have great day


Oilers or Flames?

Edited 2/16/2007 6:03 pm ET by cliffy

(post #76157, reply #10 of 11)

I'm curious to know what masonary contractors are charging customers these days in North Georgia to lay brick. I say 'charge customers' because you and I know we've not seen a non-Latin brick laborer in about five million years around here.

Last time I checked, it was going to cost me ~$17K to brick up the two sides of my home (front facade already done). I think that was the quote about five years ago.

(post #76157, reply #11 of 11)

Carleton Pope,

     I looked long and hard at Nova Brick when it first came out.. I like new products that offer a good deal.. however!

    it fails on a couple of levels with me..

 first it's phony..

  I mean you can glance at it and see that it doesn't have the typical mortor lines which is part of the look of brick.. So it simply looks wrong!

  Second the savings is really small compared to real brick when all is said and done..  I mean there is a savings but that savings as a percentage of the house is trivial and since it depends on another persons acceptance of your choice to save money when the home is sold extremely risky from a resale position.. And who knows if in the future you'll need to get a home equity loan and the appraiser has an issue with it. 

 Third one of the benefits of real brick is that to a degree it seals the wall from the weather.. oh sure it's possible that water will weep back behind etc.. but in general walls covered with brick have a good reputation for durability and weather tightness.

  Nova Brick won't offer any of those wall sealing abilitites, small insects will be free to crawl behind and nest there.  as will all sorts things.  A real brick wall with have a R value of maybe one but at least it has something! 

   Strength,  Nova brick is like a loose deck of cards leaning against your walls.. not adding anything to strength, just using the walls strength to hold itself up!  Real brick on the other hand adds an element of strength to a wall. 

 Nova brick doesn't cut it on so many levels to me that I chose to go with stone.. <G>   easy for a non mason to do and it cost less to buy the materials and put it up myself than any quote I got!