Brick usage

Principally there are three major categories of brick usage whether it is a pressed bricks or a wire-cut brick types. Use of both types fall under three categories as follows:

  • The facing brickwork is meant for visible decorative work.
  • Engineering brick work, using engineering bricks often seen in bridges and a large industrial construction but may also be hidden in ground works where maximum durability is required. E.g. in man hole construction.
  • Common brickwork is not usually seen and is used where engineering qualities are not required; below ground in domestic buildings and internal walls, for instance.

Frog up/down: a frog is recessed part of a surface work of a brick. Pressed bricks are laid “frog up” when maximum strength is required especially in engineering work. This method also helps to increase the mass of the wall and decreases sound transmittance. Pressed bricks may be laid frog down; this method is favored by the bricklayer, as less mortar is required for bedding. There may also be a marginal increase in thermal insulation due to the entrapped air. The disadvantage of this method is that with bricks having very deep V-shaped frog, there may arise difficulty in creating reliable fixings to the wall when the fixing hits an air pocket.

Wire-cut bricks may be laid either way up but some types of wire cuts have a textured (combed) face, creating folds in the face of the bricks, which is directional. It is recommended to lay these bricks with the folds hanging downward to maximize the weathering characteristics of the brick.

Ties or cavity ties are use to tie layers of brickwork into one another, to form a structural whole. A common type is a figure-eight of twisted wire, usually stainless steel used to prevent corrosion failure. The loop at the end is buried in the mortar bed as the wall is built up.

Mortar is the mixture of sand, lime and Portland cement mixed with water to a workable consistency. It is applied with a bricklayer’s trowel and sets solids in few hours.  There are many mixes and admixtures to make mortars with different performance characteristics.