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Brick tinting and colour matching


One of the South-west’s top performing grammar schools making a major investment in new facilities, required the light pink brickwork elevation to a 1970s teaching block to be matched with the much deeper red brick type seen in other parts of the establishment, which was also being used for the new extension.


Planning permission for the project stipulated that the seventies building had to match in with the elevations of the new science blocks, specified in a Dorset Red Multi. Although matching bricks were readily available the cost of rebuilding the outer leaf to the 40 year old cavity wall would have been very high and liable to reveal fresh problems. The new and the old actually interface, making an exact match crucial.

Once re-tinting was decided on as the solution, and the contract awarded to Plastic Surgeon, the repair specialist had to deal with the challenge of effectively colour matching ageing bricks which were very porous.

Operations had to be sequenced to avoid disruption to the classes and the Finishers’ breaks planned to ensure the work area was never unattended while pupils were outside.


The 160 square metres of brickwork which had been previously acid cleaned by the main contractor required a large quantity of Plastic Surgeon’s System 170 to be mixed on site. Trial panels were first carried out by the Finishers and approved by the architect, as well as the planning authority.

Further batches were produced as required keeping to the same mix of System 170 base pigments; while the viscosity also had to be consistent to avoid the colour bleeding into the mortar joints.

Up to eight Finishers were involved applying the System 170 with three-inch brushes using a stippling technique, and taking great care not to colour beyond the face of the ageing bricks.


  • The work was completed to an agreed price and within the deadline for the project.
  • Planning conditions were satisfied without the very high cost of rebuilding the brick elevations.
  • Plastic Surgeon’s solution was the more sustainable as no demolition, disposal or landfill were required.


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