November 13th 2019
Making sure you've got the right bricks for your job is tricky, it's the reason we exist.
The last thing you want is to place an order for a substantial amount of bricks, only to find that when they arrive, they aren't quite what you were expecting.
How do you find the right bricks to make your self-build look perfect, or to make sure your extension isn't going to stick out like a sore thumb?
Bricks never look quite the same in pictures. Ordering brick samples is the best way to make sure you've made the right choice. The internet is great and has made many aspects of shopping more convenient. You can get everything you need without moving a muscle.
But with bricks, the process isn't always so smooth if you don't know exactly what you're doing. Even though you may think you can tell what bricks you're getting when you buy, you can't be 100% certain that the image you see online is an exact match of what you get in reality.
Many things could affect how the bricks look including the lighting in the image, the screen the image is viewed on and even the colours around it on the website. Because of this, these images can't always be relied upon for such a big decision.
Having an example of the real thing in front of you is always going to be better.
Brick samples are a fairly straightforward concept and function similar to carpet or wallpaper samples.
You can get a photo as a sample or 3 bricks in a box but these are not representative of the colour and texture variations that you will get with the finished wall.
By far the best form of brick sample are sample boards. These involve thin cuts of the brick, otherwise known as a brick slip or brick tile, attached to a cardboard or wooden backing. They look exactly like the full-size version would, just with most of the brick cut off. They're also arranged in a way which mimics how they will appear on a wall. Usually, they'll have approximately four rows of bricks in a stretcher bond to simulate the most common way bricks are laid.
If you're going for a larger build project there are panels for this too. Larger architectural panels have a greater number of bricks and will also allow you to test out a colour mix or a particular pattern if that's something you desire.
Brick samples don't have to come on a board of course - you may prefer a couple of the full bricks in specific circumstances - but having the board is a much better way of seeing what your wall will look like.
There are a few things you may want to do to enhance your experience of using a brick sample board.
Holding the board up to your house is the best way of comparing and testing the characteristics of the bricks. Bear in mind that it may not reflect the full mix of colours due to size. The colour of the mortar may also make a difference.
In most cases, the boards won't have any representation of mortar between the brick tiles, so adding this will certainly increase the authenticity of the sample. It could be messy though so take care! One good way of recreating this effect is to pour a sand mix on the board whilst it's laid flat, you can even use a little glue to hold some of the sand.
Some manufacturers include foam inserts to simulate the mortar, which could help but won't be super realistic. Even if the mortar is included it's unlikely to be the same as mortar used in actual brickwork.
These boards are also not supposed to be an exact representation of the manufacturer's quality as they could be damaged in transit and may be passed around a few times before they get to you.
The mortar isn't the only difference that the samples may have when compared to your old bricks. It's possible that because of the age of the bricks in your building they will have lost some colour or have other signs of wear.
The cuts of brick on the sample board will have been stored in a conditioned space free of thermal changes, freeze/thaw conditions, rain and other moisture.
As a result, there may be slight differences in appearance if the bricks are intended for exterior use, where these will all be common occurrences.
Hopefully, it won't be too noticeable however and the bricks will soon begin to look the same.
If you're matching your bricks with us, we'll provide a brick sample board as part of the process. It's important to us that you are completely happy with the bricks you get through us and are convinced you have the right ones for your project. Seeing something in real life is always going to be the best way of making sure.
You can buy a sample of most bricks that are in production via our brick library. If you're matching bricks we recommend using our brick matching service, where you get samples included.