In Support of Exterior Clay Brick Walling

In Support of Exterior Clay Brick Walling

Brick is a real crowd pleaser in that it can be of many colours and textures and provided it is well cared for it has a very long lifespan.

The purpose of a wall? To support the roof loadings. To keep the wind and rain out. To enclose you securely. To maintain or encapsulate a reasonably comfortable living environment. To look good. To be cost effective and fairly simple to use/construct.

So what are the characteristics of a good wall? This really depends on where the wall or structure is located because any element must be in harmony with its position and environment.

I tend to take a old-fashioned view of walls. I like clay bricks that each have slight imperfections but combine to produce a visually pleasing overall effect in the context of an individual design of home.

This is thrown into relief when either a master or amateur constructs a wall. You know when a master has been working because the wall simply looks great. When the Friday afternoon amateur has been at work something does not look right: you might notice straight away but you will get there and especially if you ca compare the two examples.

The dominant features should be the brick and not the mortar between bricks (the mortar). Even an amateur can use a level and cut a brick to size as required but the master just has that certain something extra that shows us his mastery of his trade.

The good things to look for include the following –

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1. An intermittent dispersion of what are referred to as multi-coloured bricks to create interest throughout an entire wall length rather than placing all similar bricks together.2. Crisp, straight coursing lines.3. Mortar pointing between bricks that is of uniform thickness.4. The outer face of the mortar is not especially noticeable and certainly does not reach forward beyond the outer face of the bricks – indeed I prefer a style that creates a slightly angled vertical face that is recessed into the coursing slightly.5. An off-white tan colour of mortar than blends well with the brick colour and characteristics.6. The design of the whole building should create interest and not the jazzy nature of the brick used. However, if a degree of complexity is needed then minor flourishes’ of relief can be created at cills, lintels, gables, reveals and quoins (generally edges and at openings).

They say that a good wall starts with a good architect and finishes with a Master bricklayer. I say that a bad wall starts with an over-confident client, continues with a poor architect and is finished by a poor bricklayer. Never choose a brick from samples; you have to see the brick in a real building and in context.