While showing reasonable growth rates over the last 5 years, a recent study of exterior building materials detailed the competitive forces that masonry construction products are facing. The study conducted by Ducker Worldwide examined residential and non-residential market demand and segmentation by cladding material, construction type, region, building type, and application.

The analysis revealed that the masonry construction market – described as brick, concrete masonry, and natural stone segments – added 93 million square feet (about 7%) between 1997 and 2002. The cladding market as a whole grew by 16%, adding nearly 1.3 billion square feet of opaque surface area.

There is insight behind the numbers, however, since not all masonry products fared equally well. Concrete masonry experienced more than 22% growth in the last 5 years, underscoring its value as an economically attractive architectural enhancement. Contrast that figure with natural stone which is a small volume segment but still experienced a decline of nearly one-third over the same period of time, particularly within the nonresidential category.

The market that seems to be affected most by competitive threats is the traditional brick segment. Primarily a residentially-oriented construction material, there has been tremendous growth in some regional markets whereas in other areas the brick share has stalled.