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Bricks at Buildbase

Bricks at Buildbase

The UK’s top 3 brick manufacturers between them make over 750 different types of brick. There are an array of colours and blends, several different styles of finish and differences in the manufacturing process. Typically, the main component of a house’s exterior, choosing the perfect brick has a huge impact on the visual appeal of a property; how changes tie in with an existing building, whether planners will approve a development and how attractive potential buyers find a house.

Here’s our guide to choosing the right brick for the job

How are bricks made?

Clay is dug from quarries then crushed and mixed with an amount of water to make it mouldable. The clay is then either ‘thrown’ into moulds by hand or machine, or fed into machines that extrude long lengths of clay which is then cut to size. Read more...

Bricks that use moulds are called soft-mud or stock bricks. The clay is ‘thrown’ into moulds which produce a slightly rough finish and textured creases. Waterstruck bricks use plain moulds, sand-faced bricks add sand to the edge of the brick giving a textured finish. Handmade bricks use a moulding process and tend to have a rougher open texture, they can also be coloured up to produce bespoke finishes. These types of bricks typically have an indentation in the top called a ‘frog’ which allows heat to reach the centre of the brick when firing.

Wire-cut bricks are produced from an extruded column of clay that is cut to size. Extruded bricks usually have 3 holes running through them which means they are lighter and so easier to handle as well as using less energy to produce.

Each individual brick is then dried, fired in a kiln then left to cool.

Bricks are actually a recyclable material, they can be crushed and used again as hardcore when a building is demolished.

What are the different types of brick facing?

The edge of the brick visible after laying is called the face. There are 6 main types of facing: smooth, light textured, heavy textured, stock, tumbled and glazed.

smooth

SMOOTH

Smooth faces tend to be uniform in size and character and as the name suggests smooth to the touch with no ridges or indentations.

Sand-faced bricks also fall into this category, created simply by blasting sand at the column of clay before firing.

light textured

LIGHT TEXTURED

Light textured bricks are produced by adding marks to the column of clay as it is extruded from the machine, rollers or blades run down the outside of the clay producing finishes such as drag-faced, printed, indented and rolled-back.

heavy textured bricks

HEAVY TEXTURED BRICKS

Heavy textured finishes are created by adding a slop clay mixture to the outside of the clay before firing, this creates a rough edging commonly called rusticated.

Stock bricks

STOCK BRICKS

Stock bricks tend to be produced in moulds to create a slightly uneven finish with creases, giving a handmade traditional appearance.

tumble bricks

TUMBLE BRICKS

Tumbled bricks are simply produced by tumbling other bricks in a large cylinder. This roughs up the edges to give a more weathered reclaimed appearance.

glazed bricks

GLAZED BRICKS

Glazed bricks tend to be used for architectural purposes and on commercial buildings as they are typically more expensive but an array of high gloss colours is available if you’re looking for a striking finish.

How big is a brick?

UK bricks are typically manufactured to a standard metric size of 215mm long, 102.5mm wide and 65mm high. Bricklayers tend to use a 10mm mortar joint. 73mm bricks are also available, often used for matching imperial size bricks. Read more...

Houses built pre 1965 may use imperial size bricks produced at 9inches long, 4.5 inches wide and 3 inches high.

How many bricks do I need?

As a rule of thumb there are 60 bricks per square metre of wall when 65mm bricks are laid in a typical stretcher bond pattern.

What colour bricks are there?

Brick colours have many subtle variations and can be a single colour, flecked with other colours or so called ‘multi’ bricks where 2 or more colours are incorporated to give a less uniform appearance. On top of this, even of the same type, bricks will vary in colour depending on their position and atmosphere in the kiln at time of manufacture. Bricklayers usually mix bricks from at least 3 packs at any one time in order to remove visible differences between each pack.

Read more...

Brick colours are often categorised as Red and Oranges, Buff and Creams, Yellows, Blues and Blacks, Greys and Browns or glazed colours.

Choosing a brick is largely down to aesthetics, however, different regions of the UK have a tendency towards different brick colours and local planning officers may impose restrictions on the type of brick that can be used so always check first. Beyond that, choose a brick you like and works well in your street. If you’re building a garden wall or steps, again just choose something that fits with your design.


What are the different types of brick facing?

The edge of the brick visible after laying is called the face. There are 6 main types of facing: smooth, light textured, heavy textured, stock, tumbled and glazed.


How do I match a brick to an existing wall?

If you’re building an extension then the chances are you will need to match the original brick, you might be lucky and recognise it or have come across it before but a safe bet is to bring a sample or several photos down to Buildbase and we will match it for you. You can also use our online brick matcher to send in your enquiry. Depending on the age of your property, the original brick may no longer be in production, or, the bricks have weathered and so using a different brick may actually be a better match. Come and talk to us.

Now that you’ve learned about the style, texture, size and colour of bricks. You can choose the perfect one for your project or let us help you match one.


What's the stain on my brick?

Once bricks are laid changes can occur to the surface which affects its appearance for quite some time. Efflorescence is a white staining effect on the face of the brick caused by soluble salts coming to the surface as the wall dries out. Try to avoid getting bricks too wet on site to help minimise this, if severe the salt crystals could grow and crack the brick. However, efflorescence is essentially a powder coating that will wash off over time, a stiff brush can also speed up the process.

Yellow, green or light brown staining can also appear on buff or red bricks as they dry out if the bricks have been saturated with water at some point

What are engineering and common bricks?

Engineering bricks are stronger than typical facing bricks and have much lower water absorption. These tend to be laid below the damp proof course of a house to provide foundation for the facing bricks, but can also be used in situations where strength, resistance to frost and water are also important such as civil engineering projects. Engineering bricks are usually only available in a smooth finish in red or blue/black colour. Read more...

Common bricks are actually a lower quality brick, they are not as strong as facing bricks, not as consistent or attractive in their finish. They tend to be used for internal brickwork only, where structural properties are not required.

Now that you’ve learned about the style, texture, size and colour of bricks. You can choose the perfect one for your project or let us help you match one.


Now that you’ve learned about the style, texture, size and colour of bricks. You can choose the perfect one for your project or let us help you match one.

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