When deciding upon the most efficient building material, the classic clay brick is truly hard to beat. Did you know that a brick is a 100 percent inorganic, inert material? That means it does not contain any carbon-based materials, nor does it contain toxic compounds. When properly constructed, brickwork requires minimal maintenance and does not need to be painted or coated in order to manage moisture.
Brick is regarded as one of the strongest and longest lasting building material in the world. As a testament to its durability, brick has a projected service life of one hundred years or more. Today, brick is doing some remarkable things.
Many manufacturers are now creating brick veneer units that are lighter, thinner, or both. These units use fewer raw materials, conserve resources, and require less energy to fire. Their lighter weight also reduces transportation costs.
Currently, most brickwork in the United States is installed as a drainage wall with an anchored veneer in front of a structural backing. In a drainage wall, the brick veneer typically provides the majority of protection against moisture. Any small amount of water penetrating the veneer is directed downward by an air space to the flashing below and out of the veneer through a series of weep holes. A water-resistant barrier over the surface of the structural backing keeps moisture out of the substrate.
Striving toward a “greener” world, the demand for reused or reclaimed bricks is very high. Bricks salvaged from buildings constructed more than sixty years ago were usually laid with a mortar made of lime and sand with minimal portland cement content, meaning this type of mortar was not as strong as contemporary mortars. Correspondingly, when these older bricks are extracted, most of the mortar can be easily removed during the cleaning process.
During the manufacturing process, any raw bricks, fired bricks, or scraps can be recycled back into the production stream. Scrap bricks and bricks from demolition can be crushed and formed into new bricks, or used as brick chips for landscaping or other applications. Recycled bricks also can be used as sub-base material for pavements, on quarry roads, or even as aggregate for concrete.
For more information about masonry restoration, contact Abbot Building Restoration at (617) 445-0274.