If you want a raw industrial look, or a warm and cosy feel- exposed brickwork is a very attractive proposition, and a timeless look if done right.
Genuine Exposed Brick
In order to get the real thing, sadly you have to be extremely lucky. Most homes are not built with brickwork behind the plaster to be able to expose it.
If you are lucky enough to live in a house where there is brickwork behind your plaster, that’s not the end of the journey. You’ll need to remove all the plaster, and use muriatic acid (brick acid) to clean up that brickwork as well as you can. Even then it may not work for you- that side of the brickwork wasn’t meant to be shown so the craftsmanship isn’t always up to scratch visually- it may be a mess of different bricks for example. Even then, you may not like the particular brick that you discover.
If you can expose lovely brickwork in your home that’s fantastic, be grateful- but just to warn most of you, don’t get your hopes up.
So if you’re not able to expose brickwork, or don’t like what you can expose, what are your options?
Building a Brick Wall
Of course you could simply build a brick wall there, however it’s pretty expensive, messy and logistically tricky to make sure that it’s safe.
You could use a ceramic tile or wallpaper to try and give a look of brick, there’s even polystyrene versions out there if you’re not too bothered.
Using wallpaper or ceramic imitations just doesn’t give that true look and feel though- there will be little to no texture, and the colouring won’t be that close.
The best solution for this is brick slips, they are just thin slices of brick so you don’t get the full structural brick, just the nice looking part on the side. This means they can be tiled onto the wall, See below to watch how to install Brick Slips.
Concrete Brick Slips
Some brick slips are made from concrete, as opposed to fired clay. This means that they are cheaper, however it does come with some inevitable drawbacks. Firstly it’s very difficult to replicate the colours and textures perfectly with a different material, but also due to the dying process- concrete can fade over time, and at different rates with different exposure to direct light.
Moulded Brick Slips
Sometimes brick slips are specifically manufactured- so the moulds that the clay is put into are thinner- down to around 14mm or even thinner. This means less clay and energy to make them, so they are cheaper. However replicating the textures of a full size brick is very difficult at this size, and so you will probably find that most moulded brick slips aren’t that visually appealing.
Brick Slips cut from Real Bricks
This is the genuine article. The best way to replicate an exposed brick wall is to work with the same material. Being cut from full bricks means they have the colour and the texture you’re looking for, no compromises. There are a lot of brick types to choose from, The Brick Tile Company segment their range into reclaimed, traditional and contemporary to show the difference is shapes and style.
The reclaimed style are the most popular range as they imitate the weathering of old brickwork, the slips all have knocked off edges, irregular shapes and a variation in colours. All of this character on your wall then also comes with the assurance of a product made as new, to current quality standards but still with unique character.
If you’re looking for exposed brickwork for an industrial style, then consider the options for your project and budget thoroughly to make sure you get the best outcome.