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Building Products October 2017

BRICKS, BLOCKS AND PAVERS OCTOBER 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 63 constructing a development, the request is the same: they want old style looks – but without the disadvantages of genuine reclaimed bricks. People are happy to pay a premium for the quality and finish they want. Bricks make up a small percentage of the overall cost of a building, but have a disproportionate effect on the value of a property. New bricks, handmade using traditional techniques, come with guarantees of quality and can replicate the authentic look and texture of existing brickwork. By contrast, up to 20% of reclaimed bricks are damaged and unusable, they are not tested to modern standards, and there is no guarantee of frost resistance, durability or sustainable supplies. But the reclamation look is not the only trend. New developments are using contrasting colours to add interest to what might be bland designs. In use since Tudor times (think Hampton Court Palace), a band or pattern of differently coloured bricks can transform a building. Delicate or bold, a motif picked out in a contrasting shade or laid to a different pattern, can draw the eye and add instant kerb appeal, character and charm to an otherwise ordinary building. But this does need the skill of a master bricklayer. Which brings me to brick slips; popular, useful, quick, economical and versatile. They are available in all the same designs as fully sized bricks but can be fixed to existing walls without the need for a bricklayer, saving time and money. They can go up externally, to improve the appearance of either a new-build or refurbished property, and they are very popular for interior design. Exposed brickwork on internal walls is also making a comeback – though it is not the same as the 1970s ‘take the plaster off and hope for the best’ trend. Now it is an integral part of the design, and as well as the ‘old warehouse/industrial loft’ traditional handmade, textured brick look, there is a definite trend for using smoother machine-made bricks or ultra-modern bricks in contemporary colours to give a fashionable finish to living spaces. Brick slips are widely used to give the required effect, without encroaching into the available floor space. Brick slip systems are also available, where the chosen slips can be slotted into pre-formed frames, making it even easier to achieve a perfect finish at a reasonable price and a sensible time. Architects and designers are looking for vibrant and exciting colours and textures, for internal and external use. Requests for high quality special orders are increasing – cool modern interiors are using grey, white, black, crackle and white glazed bricks. Colours and finishes have never been so varied, with everything from Victorian limewashed to bricks with a contemporary metallic finish available. And, as with traditional designs, they are available in imperial or metric sizes, in differing widths to suit regional variations in style. Bricks are the backbone of the building industry. After suffering setbacks in the recession (like all construction products), stocks are high and choice is extensive – so much so that builders’ merchants are sending staff on educational courses so they can advise their customers on the correct bricks to use. With housebuilding increasing year on year, as supply tries to catch up with demand, the future for bricks and brickmaking is looking good. Jason Hughes is Managing Director at Imperial Bricks


Building Products October 2017
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