Ar­chi­tect and home­owner Stu­art Archer ex­plains what to con­sider

Homebuilding & Renovating - - PORTFOLIO -

There are a num­ber of de­ci­sions to be made when choos­ing bricks for an ex­ten­sion project or new build project. Some, like the colour and tex­ture, could be dic­tated by the plan­ners, but it’s im­por­tant to do your re­search be­fore you de­cide.

Brick Colour and Tex­ture

One key de­ci­sion is whether you opt for a colour which is con­sis­tent brick to brick or whether you want a ‘multi’, which has vari­a­tions in colour. It de­pends on the look you are after: if you want a mod­ern look it might be good to look at a more con­sis­tent colour. Where the project is sit­u­ated should also af­fect colour — if you are next to a busy road, white may not be a good choice as this may stain from ex­po­sure to pol­lu­tion. It’s also im­por­tant to re­search the lo­cal his­tory of your area; of­ten cer­tain colour/types of bricks are preva­lent in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, such as London stock brick, which is a yel­low/buff multi brick. It is al­ways worth get­ting sam­ples of the bricks to see them in per­son. The sur­face fin­ish is im­por­tant to get right — there are hun­dreds of types to choose from: e.g wire­cut, wa­ter­struck, hand­made, stock­bricks and engi­neer­ing brick. This re­sults in the brick be­ing smooth, sandy, tex­tured, or rough. We chose an engi­neer­ing type brick as we were after a smooth and con­sis­tent ap­pear­ance.

Mor­tar and Brick Bond

It’s im­por­tant to get the mor­tar right, too. For in­stance, in older build­ings when un­der­tak­ing re­fur­bish­ments the builder should use a lime mor­tar which is more flex­i­ble and breath­able than mod­ern ce­ment-based mor­tars. There are also dif­fer­ent mor­tar joint types which will af­fect the look of the end re­sult — i.e. bucket han­dle (curved), raked (square re­cessed), struck, flush. It is worth bear­ing in mind that cer­tain mor­tar joint types suit cer­tain brick types — we have cho­sen a flush joint for this project as we wanted a mod­ern aes­thetic, which suits a smooth, di­men­sion­ally stable brick. The colour of the mor­tar should be con­sid­ered — do you want the colour to match the brick or con­trast? When it comes to brick bond (the pat­tern in which the bricks are laid), the most com­mon­place in this coun­try is a stretcher (run­ning) bond. How­ever there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways to lay brick, such as English bond, Flem­ish bond and stack bond. In some in­stances, for ex­am­ple, over a win­dow or door open­ing, brick de­tails can be spec­i­fied. The most com­mon of which is a sin­gle row sol­dier cours­ing.

Time and Cost

The price of bricks has risen over the last few years. Gen­er­ally, you get what you pay for and you can ex­pect to pay any­where from £200/1,000 bricks from a builders’ mer­chant, to over £1,000/1,000 bricks for hand­made bricks. As ours was an engi­neer­ing type brick, this was very eco­nom­i­cal as they are read­ily avail­able from mer­chants such as Ib­stock. Also, it’s worth not­ing that bricks can be on an ex­tremely long lead time (up to 16 weeks in cer­tain in­stances) so en­sure that the bricks are cho­sen early on in the process. Fi­nally, it is al­ways worth ask­ing the builder to do a sam­ple panel to see how the brick and mor­tar look be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the work. Get th­ese things right first time around as bricks are a pain to change once they have been laid!

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