If you have noticed while going around Newburyport, even when new construction has been undertaken in the historic parts of the city, the developer or homeowner will often choose brick on the sidewalk and even may extend it to the driveway or walkways on the property. That is because one of the hottest trends in home improvement today is to use brick instead of asphalt or concrete. Aesthetically speaking, many homeowners enjoy the look of a brick sidewalk or patio and feel that there is a greater depth of color and more character in items made out of brick. But as it turns out there are many more advantages using brick rather than other commonly used materials.
First of all, brick sidewalks are extremely durable and last for a long period of time. Although the bricks may cost more upfront to install than concrete, the costs will be made up in the long run by how long the bricks can last without having to be replaced. It is estimated that brick sidewalks can last more than three times as long as concrete sidewalks without needing repairs or replacement.
Second, Brick sidewalks also have the advantage of being able to shift slightly without cracking. In many areas, constant soil erosion by rain, plant & tree roots, and insect life can cause the surface of the ground beneath the sidewalk or patio to shift. It is very expensive to repair cracks and damage to sidewalks and patios made out of other building materials. Sidewalks made out of brick will simply shift slightly to accommodate the ground beneath and if the brick has shifted too much or is very noticeable, then the homeowner can maneuver the brick back into its proper place. If the surface is exceptionally contorted, the bricks can be easily lifted up, the ground beneath repacked and the bricks lowered back.
Three, one of the biggest advantages is the cost savings for repairs to the brick sidewalk. Although a brick sidewalk may cost more to initially install, repairing an asphalt or concrete sidewalk can cost between 10 to 30 times more than the cost of repairing a brick sidewalk.
Fourth, another factor in choosing to lay a brick sidewalk instead of a concrete one is the room for error allowed in laying a brick sidewalk. If a brick is positioned improperly, it is easy to move into proper place and the entire project will not be ruined if you stop to eat your lunch during the project.
Fifth, laying a brick sidewalk is not ruined as easily by a sudden rainstorm, a dog running through the yard, or the bounce of a child’s ball, all very real hazards when attempting to lay a concrete sidewalk.
Sixth, a brick sidewalk is also more environmentally friendly than their concrete counterparts which are a big plus in our city which has dedicated itself to minimal environmental impact. The spaces between the bricks allow more rainwater to seep through into the soil, reducing the amount of puddles formed and reducing the amount of standing water around your home. Meeting the reuse standard, the bricks can also be recycled when old or damaged and molded into new bricks for another homeowner to use.
There is something very odd and not right about historic homes in Newburyport that have concrete or blacktop in front of them. Any visitor to our city can sense the inappropriateness of this material. Brick is “right” for Newburyport and can one help it if it makes your property look fantastic and increases its curb appeal to the point of boosting your property value?
Of course, waiting around for the city to improve the City’s property may be a long one. If anyone may have happened to notice, there are WPA plagues in many of the sidewalks dating from the Great Depression all over the Newburyport Historic District. Improving the sidewalk in front of your house with brick boosts the city’s heritage tourism, general safety and helps yourself. Now that is a pretty good benefit!