October 13th 2020
Brick walls don't just have to be tall and square.
If you want a building with personality you need more than just the standard cuboid shape.
Those little aesthetic flourishes that you see on the side of houses or walls... Well, they're achieved by Special Bricks. That is bricks with a unique shape in order to contribute a particular look to a wall.
Maybe one of these is what you need to bring your construction to life. Little touches like this might seem subtle but can make a massive difference.
But where to start. Below we run through many of the popular kinds of Special Brick on the market and also look at how they are made.
Plinth Bricks are probably one of the most popular forms of special brick.
They get used when you want a single or double course splay detail. In other words, they create a slopy bit on one face or corner of the brick.
This allows a change in depth in the brickwork and is often used for exterior windowsills, corbeling details, kerbs and more. As well as sitting under bricks or at the base of buildings they can also go on top of walls for capping.
Where hard deep slopes and lines are required these are the bricks to go for.
These are feature bricks where a curved radius is required. Like many of the bricks listed here they come in a variety of shapes so that they fit into existing brickwork.
The main thing that makes Bullnose Bricks unique is that they are curved. They can fit into a wall in order to create a curved transition in a flat wall and can sit atop walls where a curved edge effect is needed.
You'll often see them on corner details, window/door reveals and can also be used for edging kerbs.
Angle or Canted Bricks are functional bricks that carry a wall through any angle other than 90 degrees. Generally, they will turn brickwork 30, 45 or 60 degrees.
They're similar to Bullnose Bricks in that they allow a change of direction in the wall except that they have hard clean lines as opposed to a curved face. They'll often be used for chamfer details within brickwork around doors.
You can get all sorts of shapes and sizes of Cant bricks in order to fit your brickwork.
Coping and Capping Bricks include Saddleback and round styles. These generally serve an aesthetic purpose atop parapet and freestanding walls.
If you see a wall with a nice round top on it, that'll be using Coping Bricks. They should be frost resistant in order to maintain longevity and the round top ones are smoother to touch.
These are bricks used in arches (unsurprisingly). The arches aren't necessarily freestanding of course. Often, you'll see these bricks used in doorways and window detailing.
The way they work is that they're tapered along the header or stretcher faces so that the inward facing side is narrower than the outer. You can often buy them in complete sets so that you're able to fit the whole arch together.
There are of course other types of Special Bricks, these are just some of the most popular.
Whatever you're trying to achieve with your brickwork, there's a special for the job! Sill bricks allow you to tidily cap off walls or transistion walls into windows, and Soldier bricks are designed specifically to the be placed vertically, rather than the traditional horizontal orientation.
You may be thinking after all this, "do they just come out of the oven like that?" Well that would be a fair question. So, it's worth looking at just how they are made.
There are two ways Special Bricks are made. Fabricated and Cut & Bonded.
Fabricated bricks are manufactured as complete components in that shape. So, in a way they do just pop out like that. The clay will either be extruded then wire cut to size before being fired or it will be formed in a mould.
Cut & Bonded bricks require taking different shapes and bonding them together to create a new one. This is particularly popular for the simple styles of Special Brick such as Canted Bricks that are essentially just a brick bent in one direction.
So, there's a good run through of Special Bricks. Of course, if you want to know more about a particular kind or have a gap that requires a very particular type of brick, get in touch and we'll be able to point you in the right direction.
Our Brick Advisors are here to help you - talk us through your thoughts and ehat you'd like to achieve with your brickwork and they'll help find you the right brick for the job.
Alternatively take a look at our brick library for a selection of what's available.