Have you ever wondered why are American homes made of wood, while European homes are constructed with use of bricks and mortar? Despite appearances, the answer to this question is not so simple. However, we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t dive into the details and answer this question for you. So let’s check out why are American houses made of wood-frame construction.

Why Were Houses Built With Bricks?

The history of building with bricks dates back several thousand years, and the technology itself is used for many reasons. Among the most important of these are:

Durability and Sturdiness

Why Aren't Homes Made Of Bricks Anymore?

Despite its relatively low price, bricks are a very strong material that can handle pressure very well. Although baked clay is rather brittle and not very flexible, thanks to its high hardness, it can perfectly handle even very heavy weight. Equally important, many European houses are made of brick that was originally used to build other structures. The ability to reuse bricks has been a huge advantage in the past, as they were difficult to manufacture.

Resistance To Weather Conditions

Although bricks absorb water to some extent, they are, as a rule, very resistant to weathering. Unlike wood, they do not rot, do not crack in the cold and do not lose their properties even at very high temperatures.

Excellent Insulation Performance

Why Aren't Homes Made Of Bricks Anymore?

As early as the Middle Ages, German architects discovered an ingenious way to build houses that would keep them warm for days – they built thick walls with hollow spaces inside, often filled with straw. You can still find a very similar solution today, for example, in windows consisting of two panes of glass. Between the sheets of glass is argon or another gas that slows the escape of heat, providing thermal comfort inside the house.

Availability Of Resources

The bricks we know today are and were made by baking clay. The raw material, used in their production, was readily available, since large deposits of it are already 3-6 feet below the surface of the earth. Firing clay is also not difficult – all you need is some stones to build a kiln and coal to heat it.

Ease Of Use

Bricks are relatively easy to use in construction, as they only need to be glued together with mortar. Although erecting a ceiling using them presents some challenges, for many years, ceilings were built with wood. The masonry of the walls was quick, and after just a few days they could carry really heavy loads.

Why Do Americans Prefer Wood To Bricks For Home Construction?

The advantages of bricks that we have listed could suggest that it is an excellent material for building single-family houses. Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different. In the United States, bricks are not used as often as wood because:

Availability Of Trees

Why Aren't Homes Made Of Bricks Anymore?

To understand one of the main reasons behind the massive use of wood to build homes in the United States, one has to go back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when the first settlements were established in our country. At that point, much of America was covered with trees, so harvesting wood was simply cheap and easy. Unlike bricks, wood also does not need to be heat-treated, and its cutting and grinding does not require complicated tools.

Cost And Construction Time

Why Aren't Homes Made Of Bricks Anymore?

The construction of a house from wood is relatively inexpensive – due to the ease of processing, there is no need to hire highly skilled professionals. Also, the tools needed to build a wood house are not very complicated – saws, hemlocks and hammers are enough.

Wooden structures are built extremely quickly – this is evident even today. The skeleton of an average-sized house, can be built in just a week. This is impossible with conventional brick construction.

Legal Regulations

The structure of American construction law is far different from the regulations known in Europe. In our country, standards for the strength and fire safety of buildings are much less stringent, while seismic resistance, for example, is required, which is not needed overseas.

Many regions of the US, especially in the western part of the country, are prone to earthquakes, which pose a much greater threat to rigid brick structures. In such places, a wooden frame is simply much safer.

Economy Of Scale

Why Aren't Homes Made Of Bricks Anymore?

The system of house construction in the United States is somewhat different from that familiar to Europeans. First of all, many housing developments are built by developers, while in Europe, individual construction dominates. Of course, a large part of housing developments there are carried out by companies, but usually, blocks of apartments with many apartments are built there.

The processing of wooden prefabricated units is simply much cheaper. This means that when building hundreds of houses at the same time, a company erecting an entire housing development can save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the entire project. With bricks, it is very difficult to optimize the construction process.


Many companies have attempted to build houses with bricks or concrete in the United States, and unfortunately, but it has always ended in exactly the same way – failure. Americans have been accustomed to treating their homes quite differently for many years now – in Europe, for example, it is common for one house to be passed on to the next generation, serving them for 100, 150 or even more years. Families often live in one town for many generations without moving. This makes it necessary for houses to be built much more solidly, after all, that’s what the consumer demands.

On the other hand, Americans think about construction with a 50-year perspective and relatively rarely decide to do general renovations. It simply often turns out to be cheaper to erect a new house.

No one wants to pay extra for something that doesn’t make economic sense, and that’s exactly how brick construction of houses is perceived. The cost of erecting a building with wood is at least 30% less than conventional technologies. No Glenview general contractor would choose to use bricks knowing that it would be uneconomical for both him and his client.

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