Here is a quote from Downing from the 1850s - being old doesn't mean he
is correct -- but it is of interest to this theme:
"In this country [USA}, from the great abundance and cheapness of wood,
it has, until within a few years, been almost the only material
employed in constructing country houses: but as timber has grown
scarcer in the forest, it has also become dearer, until, in many parts
of the Atlantic States, stone or brick is equally economical.
Wood is acknowledged by all architects to be the worst material for
building, and should never be employed when it is in the power of the
builder to use any other. Its want of durability, the expense of
painting it and keeping it in repair, and its frailness and liability
to decay by the action of the weather, are all very serious objections
to it as a material for dwelling-houses.
A cottage of wood is, from the thinness of the exterior, necessarily
warmer in summer, and colder in winter, than one built of more solid
materials. Filling in with brick decreases this objection, but does not
entirely remove it.
In point of taste, a house built of wood strikes us the least
agreeably, as our pleasure in beholding a beautiful form is marred by
the idea of the frailness of the material composing that form. We are
aware that the almost universal prevalence of wooden country houses in
the United States has weakened this impression, but the strength with
which it strikes an European, accustomed to solidity and permanence in
a dwelling, is the best proof of the truth of our remark.
And even in this country, the change of feeling which is daily taking
place on this subject, shows very plainly in how little estimation wood
will be held as a building material, compared with brick or stone, by
the next generation.
Brick is the next best material to wood, and is every day coming into
more general use. The walls formed of it, if well constructed, have a
solidity and permanence appropriate for a country house, and requiring
little cost to keep it in repair. The offensive hue of red brick walls
in the country is easily removed by coloring them any agreeable tint,
which will also render them dryer and more permanent.
Brick and stucco (that is, a wall built of rough brick, and coated
exteriorly with a cement) is, when well executed, one of the best
materials for cottages or villas. It is much warmer and dryer than
wood, or even stone, and is equal to the latter in external effect,
when marked off and colored to resemble it. We have no doubt that in a
short time it will have a very general preference in most sections of
Stone is generally conceded to be superior, on the whole, to any other
material for building. This is owing to its great durability and
solidity, both in expression and in reality; and to its requiring no
trouble to keep it in repair, as it suffers little or no injury from
the action of the elements. "