08 Sep 2015

Brick homes are the tradition in Australia, and for good reason too! They’re durable, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing in our sunny landscape. But there are different kinds of bricks on the market, so which one should you go for? Did you even know about the different sizes and finishes available? Perhaps the first decision you’ll need to make is between single and 2 course bricks.

Brick homes are the tradition in Australia, and for good reason too! They’re durable, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing in our sunny landscape. But there are different kinds of bricks on the market, so which one should you go for? Did you even know about the different sizes and finishes available? Perhaps the first decision you’ll need to make is between single and 2 course bricks.

Single bricks

Single bricks are the standard size and shape of the traditional brick. They’re about 76mm high, and for most traditional brick homes you’re likely to see this size used. Each row of bricks is called a ‘course’, and so you’ll often see single bricks also referred to as ‘single course’ bricks.

2 course bricks

An increasingly popular alternative to single bricks is the 2 course brick. These are twice the height, and typically slightly longer than a standard brick. Despite being almost the same in aesthetic effect, robust sturdiness, and base material, 2 course bricks are seen as a cheaper alternative to single bricks. This is because it takes less time to physically lay them all down to build the house, saving on building costs as well as actual labour time required for the building of each wall.

It is, however, worth noting that the different shape of 2 course bricks also means that the dimensions of the home may need to be slightly altered. Your builder will be able to work with you through any changes that may be required.

After choosing between single and 2 course bricks, there are a number of other decisions you can take to alter the aesthetics or function of your brick home.

Rendering

One increasingly popular option is to have the bricks rendered. Rendering involves applying cement to external or internal bricks so as to smooth them over or provide a single, unbroken, and consistent texture across the face of the building. This is a largely aesthetic effect, though it can add thousands of dollars in value to a building as a result. Rendering can also help improve the waterproofing and fire rating of a building.

Face brick

Another popular option that can help improve the aesthetic value of a house is a face brick. Face brick is a design that people choose when they’re looking to give their home a classic, or even rustic, look. They are versatile and durable as key benefits, guaranteed to last, and resist weathering for a long time.

Of particular importance when it comes to Australian homes, face bricks are also especially resistant to extreme weather. They can withstand harsh winds, heat, and fire better than other building materials. They’re even mould resistant, making them a healthy choice for the home’s inhabitants.

Brick cladding

For homeowners who are nevertheless concerned with the exposure of their bricks to the elements, another option is brick cladding. Cladding describes a non-load-bearing skin or layer that is attached to the home to shed water and protect the bricks and buildings from weather. Cladding is another highly aesthetic option that can significantly improve the value of a home.

For those living in more hazardous environments, cladding offers a number of other benefits. A cladded building is one that offers better insulation from the effects of water vapour, sound, and heat, as well as being fire, dust, and vandal resistant.

Cladding is generally made from wood, metal, plastic, masonry or other more irregular composite materials. The ideal material for the situation will depend on where the wall is situated and the direction that it is facing. For example, a west-facing wall that is exposed to long periods of hot sun in Australia, will be clad in steel, while the more sun-protected north and south walls may be clad in weatherboard instead.

Cladding will also give you a lot more control over the colour and texture of your walls. This is something that your builder will be able to talk you through in order to ensure optimum results.

Feature brick

While you’re working with brick, a final aesthetic choice you may want to consider is feature brick. This refers to an option for lintel (a horizontal block that spans across the top of two vertical supports – e.g. at the top of windows or doors) that takes the standard lintel design and changes it so that the outer leaf of masonry is supported from above or behind, rather than underneath.

In other words, by opting for feature brick you’ll be able to create a beautiful effect whereby the tops of arches and openings are brick, rather than another material.

Hopefully from reading this article you now know that a brick is not just a brick. When working with materials with which to construct your home, there are no real wrong answers, simply a wide range of options that you can choose between. It can be intimidating at times to pick the optimum materials for your aesthetic or practical goals, but we encourage you to talk it through with the staff at Gemmill Homes, who will be able to help you realise whichever end effect you are looking for.