The Ultimate A-Z Of Bricks: Part 2

The Ultimate A-Z Of Bricks: Part 2

January 10th 2023

What's your favourite brick-related word? Do you know your veneers from your soldiers? Your render from your wythe? This is Part 2 of our glossary of all things brick - our 'bricktionary'. Last time we got to M, which is why we're picking up at N...

N is for Northcot Brick Ltd

We kick off this one with another brick manufacturer, Northcot Brick Ltd. They're a bit different to the big players, but still an important and prolific brick manufacturer. Based in Gloucestershire, they are renowned for a wide range of handmade and machine bricks and have provided bricks for a number of important developments including those where heritage needs to be preserved. Also: non-combustible material

O is for overhand work

Overhand work (rather than underhand work - which hopefully you don't come across too much of) is a form of bricklaying. This is when you reach from the inside of a building to the external leaf of a brick wall, whilst standing on the floor or on a scaffold. This could be because laying from the exterior isn't possible or it may just give you more control.

P is for plinth

Plinth bricks are a kind of special brick that has a number of potential uses, including sitting on top of a wall for a decorative finish. They are formed by a cutaway of the vast majority of the brick face, usually on the stretcher side. They can also be used underneath window sills and at the bottom of walls to create a run off onto the ground. Also: paving, pointing, pick and dip

Q is for quoin

A quoin is the technical name for those large rectangular blocks you sometimes see at the corners of more old-fashioned buildings, creating a contrast with the rest of the brick masonry. They can be used as a load-bearing and weather-proofing feature but you can't deny the aesthetic qualities as well. You'll often see them arranged in a toothed form with the header of each block lying in an alternating course. Also: Queen closer

R is for render

Ever see houses where there's no brick in sight and wonder what it's made from? Well in the UK it was probably still made from brick but the plain white or coloured facade is created using something called render. This is a plastered finish that's added to brickwork to protect it and provide a different aesthetic quality. You'll see it in some towns more than others. It can also help with the energy efficiency of a house. It's applied in layers and there are now different kinds of render you can choose from including cement, polymer and lime render. Also: rising damp, retaining wall, reveal

S is for soldier

Soldier is another of the names given to the different sides of a brick. This is where the stretcher is set on its end with the face showing vertically. It's quite a good way of mixing up the bonds in your brickwork and can sometimes be used to indicate a border between two floors. Also: stretcher, shale, stack

T is for tuckpointing

We mentioned this interesting aesthetic technique in our blog on No. 10 Downing Street as it was used in the construction of that building. Tuckpointing is a unique way of presenting brick and mortar so that the mortar joints look smaller than they are. Some of the mortar is painted whilst a thin groove is made in the joint. This is then filled with a small amount of paint or render. Sometimes this is done retrospectively in order to restore existing brickwork. Also: tooling, toothing

U is for underpinning

Okay... this one is more to do with construction in general (rather than bricks - although they are involved), but U was difficult, sorry... Anyway, underpinning is the process of strengthening existing foundations either by redistributing the weight of the building or strengthening the soil it's sitting on. This could involve replacing and repairing brickwork. It's a fairly common procedure for older buildings or where natural occurrences mean the existing land is no longer as strong as it used to be.

V is for veneer

In brick masonry, a veneer is a leaf of brickwork that is not load bearing and is used purely for aesthetic purposes. Usually behind this is an air cavity and then the structural support layer which could be made from wood, metal framing or blocks. It has a number of advantages over traditional solid masonry, including energy efficiency and a reduced cost. Also: vitrification

W is for wythe

While the word might not be that common, a wythe is actually a fairly standard feature in brick masonry. It's used to describe continuous verticals section of brick masonry, one unit in thickness. This might be independent of another wythe, or it may be interlocking. It's a useful term for describing a bit of continuous brickwork but may also be interchangeable with veneer, face, or leaf. Also: Wienerberger, wall tie

X is for...

We have nothing... Please forgive us!

Y is for York Handmade

Another specialist brick manufacturer, York Handmade was founded in 1988, they've won numerous awards for their work and supplied bricks for several notable building projects around the UK.

Z is for zig-zag

One way of describing a certain kind of brick bond. Usually known as a Herringbone bond, bricks laid in this way can add a lot of character to a building.

We're here for you...

So, there you go, our mega rundown of all things brick is complete. Eager to see the rest of the list? Take a look at Part One. And if you're a brick lover and our A-Z has inspired you to get building, we've have more than 3,600 options to choose from - with fantastic cheap and reclaimed lines - in our Brick Library!

Plus, our expert Brick Advisors are standing by to help you figure out how many bricks you'll need to buy for your project, then source them and find you the best price - we'll even arrange delivery too.