Which is best for your next home update? By Allison Pollock-Pugh Dorothy said it best: “There’s no place like home.” And, while appearance certainly doesn’t make a house a home, it helps when you’re hoping to preserve and build equity in that home. The style, design and materials of a home should be taken into account when updating it. Whether doing a DIY fireplace restoration or resurfacing an exterior accent, it’s all about the finishes. Natural stone, brick and various forms of concrete have been used as building materials for thousands of years. As a natural element, stone can lower your heart rate and elicit a sense of peace. The symmetrical lines of brickwork are both artistic and grounding. Concrete brings versatility and unique architectural elements while giving spaces a minimalist, urban-industrial vibe. Materials like brick, stone and concrete are great options to add texture to a dated or dull area when updating your home’s aesthetic. Deciding which material is right for you depends on your home, project and budget. Here’s everything you need to know when choosing which option is best for your home. Natural Stone From the Egyptian pyramids to the Roman Colosseum and the Washington Monument, humans have used stone to build durable, elegant structures for centuries. As a building material, stone is fire resistant, long lasting, and able to withstand nature’s elements. As a natural resource, stone connects us to the earth, while the unique beauty and various colors, shapes and sizes of each stone allow for artistic flexibility. Including stone in your design can drastically upgrade the look and increase the value of your home. While images of quaint English stone cottages might come to mind, adding stone to a fireplace or as an exterior accent may be a more manageable approach—unless you have the urge to start knocking down walls. Additionally, natural stone is extremely heavy and one of the more expensive choices. For that reason, modern designers, builders and homeowners often opt for stone veneer, which emulates the beauty of natural stone without the high cost. From covering the entire exterior facade with stone to adding thoughtful stone accents throughout the interior or exterior, there are countless ways to use stone in your home upgrade. Stone columns make a porch entryway a focal point, or adding stone siding on just the lower level of a home with some other accents creates a high-end, cohesive look. Regardless of which you choose—natural stone or stone veneer—there are a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and textures, all of which will transform the look of your home. Brick One of the most popular building materials in US history, even “The 3 Little Pigs” told us brick is a superior building material for homes. Made from combining clay and shale, bricks are extremely durable and resilient to fire and extreme weather conditions. Homes that include bricks provide a feeling of comfort and safety to those within, and the versatile colors and textures allow for unique and detailed architectural designs. Using brick as a primary structural building material should be considered at the time of construction and completed by a professional brick mason. While bricks tend to be at a lower price point than natural stone, the cost is still quite high. Between the added steps in the brick production process, the heaviness and subsequent transportation difficulty, and the need for professional installation, including brick as an accent is often a more feasible option. Like stone, a brick veneer is often used for aesthetics rather than structural support. Though not as durable as solid brick, brick veneer is better at keeping moisture away from the exterior wall and tends to last decades longer than traditional siding. Whether on the exterior of a home or as an interior accent for hearths and fireplaces, brick offers unlimited creativity in addition to increasing your home value. Highlight the details of your home by installing brick on the gable, dormer, and one section of the facade, or build a garden wall around your patio and create a private patio oasis. Depending on the specifics of your project, you may be limited to either solid brick or stone veneer. Whatever you choose, the design options, visual interest and timeless charm that bricks provide add character to any space. Concrete Using concrete as a building material is nothing new; in fact, Thomas Edison designed and built the first concrete homes in 1908. Due to the strength, durability and fire resistance, Edison predicted a boost in homes built with concrete. Over 100 years later, homes constructed with concrete are known to have many benefits, including being more energy-efficient, better at controlling temperature fluctuations, minimizing noise, and economically valuable. Concrete-style homes are also the epitome of modern minimalistic design. The decision to build an entire house with concrete is one to be made prior to construction, but incorporating concrete in different aspects of your home has increased in popularity. Homeowners are adding concrete inside their homes, installing accent walls, concrete countertops, and embracing concrete floors. The do-it-yourself ability of concrete combined with the markedly reduced cost has definitely caused an increase in concrete as a building material. No longer limited to the garage floor, for those who love the sleek, modern-minimalist style, concrete makes a statement both interior and exterior. When updating your home, it’s important to include features that you love. Seeing the changes in and around your home should make you feel proud and want to click your heels like Dorothy.