Should You Use Handmade Bricks?

December 29th 2020

Should You Use Handmade Bricks?

So, you're looking for bricks.

Maybe you're having an extension done to an old property, overseeing a development in an area of architectural beauty or you want your self-build to have a very particular style.

You've probably heard the term 'handmade bricks' thrown around. (we'll talk more about 'throwing' later).

Handmade bricks might be exactly what you need. They certainly sound fancy.

So, what actually are they?

We've got everything you need to know right here, so you can decide whether or not they're right for you.

Of course, if you're already sold on the idea of using handmade bricks in your build, make sure you check out our selection in the brick library.

What Are Handmade Bricks?

Handmade bricks aren't completely hand crafted in the way say a painting or a knitted blanket is.

The name refers to the fact that the bricks are hand thrown into sanded moulds and no machines are used to compact or cut them.

As a result of this, wavy creases and marks appear on the face of a brick, a unique characteristic which cannot be replicated by a machine.

They can also be made in whatever size the manufacturer wants them to be made. That could be in the older imperial size, the modern metric size or something else entirely.

After sitting in the moulds, they are left to dry in a controlled environment, allowing the water in the clay to evaporate.

The Firing Process

After this, they are fired in a kiln. Manufacturers of handmade bricks today will usually use modern kilns which allow for greater consistency in the bricks.

However, some places still use traditional tunnel kilns for the complete historical effect.

Handmade bricks are usually removed from the kiln by hand as well. As much as the inconsistencies of handmade brick is one of the appeals, the manufacturers still want to make sure that a certain level of quality is maintained.

Some will then be picked for different blends and colouring.

Why Do People Use Handmade Brick?

Whilst machine made bricks are obviously the go to option for new buildings today, handmade bricks are increasingly popular in a number of scenarios.

Brick Matching

If your property is over a certain age, Victorian houses for example, then it's likely that your bricks are a different size to what is now available on the market.

To build an extension on these properties, you'll want bricks that are as similar as possible to the original build. One way of doing this is by getting the bricks handmade to match the spec of the original.

This way you don't have to search high and low for reclaimed bricks in the hope that you'll find an exact match.

If you do want to match your existing bricks with what's already out there, you could try our brick matching service.

Conservation

Sometimes handmade bricks are used for heritage and conservation projects.

Where there is a particular listed or heritage building that needs renovating, handmade bricks are used to exactly replicate the original look.

This is similar to the previous point but is more for really old buildings that are protected and therefore have the money to get exactly the look they're after (more on money below!)

Getting A Particular Aesthetic

It may be that you just like the aesthetic of handmade bricks. Many people like the rustic character that they provide.

The creases, sandy finish and irregularities are often all part of the appeal. Whether it's your own self build or part of a development it may be that you want the exterior to be made with handmade bricks.

And the beauty of them is, even though they may look old you can still have them made in metric sizes, ensuring the building is futureproof and efficient.

Handmade Bricks Pros And Cons

So, what are the pros and cons, you ask? They're obviously not right for everybody.

To keep a balanced argument here's some things to consider.

Pros

The best thing about them is the flexibility they afford you.

They can be made to theoretically any specifications the buyer desires. Different blends, different clay, and of course different shapes and sizes.

As we've mentioned above, they are also a good alternative, when finding reclaimed bricks is unsuccessful.

You can get handmade bricks made in imperial sizes if the building uses imperial bricks.

Or if it's a newer building, but you'd like to match a certain local style, you can get them made to look old but keep the metric size.

Cons

Now there are a few potential barriers. The main one is cost.

Because handmade bricks are not mass manufactured and because not as many places make them, they generally come with a higher price tag.

Their bespoke nature understandably means they can be a more expensive option. They also take longer to make, so you might have to factor that into your building process.

(That said, the exterior of a building is a pretty important part of it, so it may be worth paying extra to ensure you get exactly what you want.)

Handmade bricks are also not for everyone. If you want a consistent finish that is controlled and looks new and clean, then avoid handmade bricks. They will have inconsistent characteristics and will stand out against more modern buildings.

How To Get Handmade Bricks

Still, we reckon if you're reading this, you're probably pretty sold on the idea of handmade bricks (unless we happen to have unintentionally dissuaded you).

They certainly sound like a good option for certain projects. So, how do you get them?

Well, fortunately you don't have to go far at all. We source handmade bricks ourselves.

We are able to get handmade bricks from some of the best manufacturers in the country and it would be our pleasure to find them for you. Talk to us to find out how we can help.

Alternatively, you could have a browse of our brick library, to see the selection we have in stock.