I do not have to travel very far from my home to see a brand new housing development that could benefit from our brick tinting skills. For unfortunately, the builders have thrown these houses up as quickly as possible, and have not paid attention to the quality – or maybe even mix – of mortar chosen to complete the traditional build.
Too much lime added to the sand and cement has resulted in the bricks absorbing some of the material, causing an unattractive edge staining. And then, aggravated by some very wet weather, efflorescence is blooming across most of the elevations as salts migrate to the surface.
But while these powdery deposits will not cause structural damage to the masonry structures, they do jar on the human eye; as do some other all too common problems: including where the brickwork subbie has not bothered to blend from different palettes to avoid the patchiness which highlights subtle shade changes between different firings at the factory. Then there are problems of spillages or even deliberate vandalism which can disfigure masonry, and force the developer or owner to want a solution.
I have been to sites and refurbishment projects where full rebuilding of brickwork elevations has been attempted, but this involves significant effort, expense and having to put up with all the mess.
As a result, here at Plastic Surgeon we have developed a cost-effective and timesaving solution to replacing colour-mismatched bricks – where we treat or tint them. Our Finishers, who have to undergo colour perception tests during recruitment, are trained to mix the pigments by eye to match each situation, and then apply the tinting solution to ensure that the brickwork is restored to the desired appearance.
Essentially the Finisher will match a number of base dyes to get the right colour and then add a stabilizing solution before applying the liquid to the surface of the clay or concrete bricks using detail brushes. Importantly our unique technique is as appropriate to historic buildings, featuring handmade and wire cut bricks, which may have suffered prolonged weather degradation, as it is to modern pressed bricks.
In the past we have used the brick tinting to ‘correct’ bricks that have been purchased or laid in error, and also where missing or damaged bricks have had to be built up with mortar and fillers.
The Finishers may utilize a similar process for dealing with areas when the face has spalled or where there are drill-holes showing from where old signage of satellite dishes have been fixed.
Overall, our clients are constantly surprised not just how effective brick tinting can be, but also how quick the process is, especially compared to the labour intensive job of rebuilding masonry.