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10 things you didn’t know about brick

1. While most modern dwellings are built out of standard size bricks (coordinating at 225 x 75 mm including 10 mm joints) a visit to one of our historic buildings, such as Hampton Court Palace, will reveal that they were often produced in significantly longer and flatter shapes. However, special extended lengths are becoming popular again with architects, especially for public buildings.

2. A lot of old brickwork in areas like Kent actually comprises vertically hung tiles with a recess that is sometimes then pointed to look like real joints. It is known as “mathematical tiling”.

3. The more modern equivalent of this is a facing of brick ‘slips’ that are typically stuck into a render coat or clipped into some sort of carrier tray and then pointed.

4.The Victorians produced Z-shaped sections of brick that acted as ties in the earliest cavity constructions; and would look like a header in the outer face though the tie rose to the course above inside the wall.

5. Special shaped bricks are still produced today for decoration or to shed water from windowsills.

6. In addition to being decorative, the different bond patterns such as English and Flemish help add strength, while there is even a manhole bond to help prevent sewer water escaping into the surrounding ground.

7.The variations in colour which can be seen in a lot of building elevations are caused by the position and therefore the temperature within a kiln where they were fired. This requires the contractor to pick from different pallets of brick in order to avoid the creation of a patchy effect.

8.If a brickie produces poor quality or irregular work his colleagues on site will scathingly refer to it as being laid in “Burglar Bond” because a cat burglar could climb up it.

9. Every year, the towns of Stroud in Australia, America, Canada and here used to hold a brick throwing competition. The world record for the longest throw is 142 feet six inches – that’s 43,434 mm if you want it in metric – or the length of 202 bricks!

10. Staffordshire Blue engineering bricks are so hard and water resistant that they used to be laid to as a damp proof course, without a slate or lead DPC to prevent moisture rising.

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