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Unlike doors, windows, furniture or fixtures, brickwork is not easily replaced if you decide you don’t like how it looks after the job is complete. So, when considering your options for brickwork, you need to be absolutely sure that it will suit the design of your home.
The first thing to consider is the physical appearance of the brick. Is it the right shape, texture, colouring etc? Do you want a uniform style throughout, or would a mix-and-match style better suit your home? The best way to find out is by looking for samples, such as you would find in showrooms and sample magazines.
Many New South Wales homes are on or close to the coast. As such, your brickwork will likely suffer corrosion from the elements coming in off the ocean. To combat this, you should seriously consider using exposure grade bricks, which offer protection against environmental corrosion. For homes that are not at risk of salt or saline exposure, general purpose graded bricks will suffice.
Depending on the shape and size of a room, bricks can either create the appearance of a more open space, or to draw attention to a feature wall. Again, you do not need to use the same size of brick throughout a room. You can use different sizes, textures and colours to create your own style.
Smooth or ceramic finishes help create a clean, elegant style. For a more rustic or homely look, homeowners often choose a rough or sharp edged texture that stands out on its own. Granite bricks are also becoming increasingly popular, due to the naturally unique textures found throughout the stone. No two slabs of granite are identical, so you can truly say that your brickwork is one of a kind.
As well as the actual bricks, you will want to consider the type of mortar that will best highlight your new brickwork. The obvious choices are white, grey or cream. However, you can also add definition by choosing various styles of mortar jointing, including concave, V mortar, or Beaded mortar joints.
You can easily find different styles of mortar and joint on the internet or in homeowner magazines. In fact, any time you are passing brickwork and see a style that you like, take pictures and keep them saved so you can show your builder.
Finally, the way in which the bricks are laid will also affect the look and style of your brickwork. The consistent pattern of brickwork, which is most common, is known as stretcher bond. However, there is no rule that says you have to follow a consistent pattern. An experienced bricklayer can create the style that you want without compromising the structural integrity of your brickwork.
It is important to keep in mind that, although bricks are strong, they are not a replacement for load bearing structures. When installing new brickwork, you must ensure that any structures above the brickwork are still fully supported. Failure to do so could result in your home literally falling down around you. Similarly, do not remove any structures that are load bearing to accommodate brickwork without replacing them with a suitable alternative.
You should only hire relevantly qualified builders to carry out any brickwork projects in your home.
If you have concerns seek advice from a professional building inspector.