Don’t shit on your project. Choose the right facing brick.
Deciding which facing brick to choose is tricky. They can be the external face of a build, or the interior statement wall, so finding the right brick is key to the success of the project. Choice isn’t an issue. There is a rich history of brick-making in the UK, and the selection of bricks to choose from can be a little overwhelming. The difference in quality and costing is vast too. Finding the right facing brick that comes within budget, and can be delivered in time is possible, all you have to do is team up with the right suppliers.
During the design process, facing bricks are a versatile and malleable material; as the clothes of the construction world, their purpose is to disguise the structural bricks within, and give the building a personality, feeling or aesthetic. They create the attractive appearance, and the proud visual identity of a build. But once they’ve been draped on the foundations, they’re not a quick costume change. Because once a build is complete, replacing them is costly, so getting the aesthetic right the first time is key. And that’s where we come in. We’re here to break down the options, and help you find the right facing brick for your project.
Why are facing bricks so important anyway?
As the name suggests, they are the attractive outer layer of bricks, and that’s what potential buyers will fall in love with. (Or run a mile from, dependant on the facing brick choice, of course.) Facing bricks allow architects to play with versatile and complex design, and ultimately, they are what people see, so their visual integrity is paramount. The colour, style and texture are key influencers in decision-making, and the finish must also take into consideration the surrounding architecture too. There’s lots to think about, so let’s look at the most popular types of facing brick, and choose the one that’s right for your build.
The Cheap Boys
Wirecut bricks are made by a highly automated manufacturing process; the clay is continuously extruded to a required size and shape, and a wire then slices the mass into individual bricks. The variations in colour is vast, and they are uniformed. Almost a little too uniformed. The quick mass production process is convenient, but this convenience compromises character.
They are the unnaturally processed, fast food of the brick world. The surface structure lacks individuality and finesse, and the bricks are characterless. Yes, they are cheap, and whilst everyone enjoys a weekly take-away, finding the right home is a one-off. It needs to be unique, and it needs to be extra-special.
The Old Boys
After being salvaged from old buildings, reclaimed bricks are cleaned up, and reused on a new project. Sometimes they are used to give a new build a sense of character, but more commonly, they’re used in restoration and renovation projects. Recycling feels nice, and they’re great for the environment, but you really have to know what you're looking for to get a decent and consistent quality brick.
And whilst their charm is undeniable, reclaimed bricks tend to produce a high level of wastage. Many will be the old imperial sizes (2 5/8" or 3") too, which are incompatible with modern metric bricks (65mm.) Their costings aren’t always as sweet as you might think either; the sourcing is time consuming, and the cleaning and sorting is labour intensive. So if you’re set on the reclaimed route, do your research, and find a reputable supplier. Because taking on these old boys can cost twice the price of quality facing or reproduction reclaimed bricks.
The Refined Boys
Waterstruck bricks give a not-so-discreet nod to their manufacturing process; clay is poured into individual moulds, and after it has shaped, the resulting brick is released from the mould by water. This makes them a good, solid house brick with a soft, distinctive appearance; more often than not, they are made without holes or frogs, and their design-led appearance is favoured by housing developers and architects alike.
Waterstruck bricks have personality. Each and every brick is marked with a unique water imprint; this textural surface pattern gives architects versatility in design, and the resulting build has an individuality that appeals to house-buyers. There is a waterstruck brick for every type of build. If you have a restoration project, or need to match a reclaimed brick, choose a Rustic brick; cream Linear bricks or contemporary black bricks make a strong design statement for bespoke commercial builds, and the Classic collections can give a housing development an exclusive handmade feel. In fact, the water lubricant gives each waterstruck brick a unique textural quality, and that’s what makes the brick appear hand-crafted.
Choose waterstruck bricks for versatility, and an extra special finish.
The Rough Boys
These bricks go through a similar manufacturing process as waterstruck bricks, but instead of a water lubricant, sandstruck bricks are released from the mould using, well, sand. Seems like a minor difference, but the resulting bricks are worlds apart. Sand and water are very different materials, and they leave very different textures on the wet clay. The sand leaves a grainy, rough texture on the brick surface, whereas the waterstruck bricks are clean and smooth. The cost difference between the two types of bricks is minimal, and both can make beautiful homes. It just depends on the finish you’d like to achieve. You’ll also find that sandstruck bricks are more likely to have frogs than their waterstruck counterparts; so if you want a solid brick without indentation in the bed surface of the brick, you’re probably looking for a waterstruck.
Here at UK Brick we love the versatility and finish of Waterstruck bricks so much, we exclusively stock this type of brick. Our collections include Linear bricks, Classic Bricks, Rustic bricks and Fusion bricks; there’s a colour, size and texture for every type of project. So if you’d like a little more help deciding which brick is right for your next build, we’d love to chat :)