Whether you live in a small town or an urban area, there’s a good chance that you don’t give brick much thought even though it’s virtually everywhere you look. As one of the most durable and most trusted early building materials, bricks are still in demand even though we see fewer newer homes built with them.
From homes and historic buildings to fireplaces and patios, and even your favorite brick and mortar boutique, bricks are resilient and versatile. We will discuss a little bit about the history of bricks, some of the advantages of having this building material, as well as a few tips for decorating with a brick interior.
The History Of Bricks or the Versatility Of Brick
The bricks we see and use today are uniform and are shaped perfectly. The earliest ones were molded by hand, made from mud, and were left in the sun to dry for a few days; later versions were made of clay and baked in a kiln, a process which made production faster and easier.
Brick construction dates back to about 10,000 years ago when river mud was the primary material for a brick. Brick making played an integral role in building the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China; there are reportedly three million bricks in the wall.
Brickmaking became popular in Europe, around the 13th century, when other building materials were sparse, and when the Industrial Era arrived, the mass production of bricks was finally a possibility.
How Bricks Are Made
While it’s impressive that people looked at mud, formed it into a shape, let it dry, and decided to make building materials from it, we wouldn’t have bricks today if that was still the process for producing them.
Modern-day bricks and even those that built some of the earliest building in the United States are made from clay and shale. When the clay and shale are fired in a kiln at 2,000° F, they fuse together to form a material that’s resilient and long-lasting.
There are other types of bricks available, but they are made of different materials like concrete and are not as durable or reliable as authentic clay bricks. While bricks are commonly used for houses, buildings, and walls, the earliest streets were paved with bricks; many which still exist in some form or another today.
Some Advantages Of Brick Construction
While some might not like the look of a brick house or think that brick isn’t as durable as it used to be, there are several advantages to consider when it comes to brick construction.
- Made from naturally occurring materials
- History has proven it to be an effective and strong material
- Fire, wind, and moisture resistant (remember the tale of The Three Little Pigs?)
- Relatively low-maintenance material
- Energy efficient
- “Greener” material because there’s less waste in making and reusing the material
- It’s a one-of-a-kind building material
Ways To Use Brick
If your home is not made of brick, but you like the unique look of red brick, there are other ways to incorporate it at home (but it will be best used outdoors). If you have a large backyard, there are plenty of DIY projects for a brick walkway, patio, outdoor fireplace, or even a privacy wall.
Not up for the challenge of laying your own bricks? You can hire someone to do the work for you. Not only will a brick feature add some vintage charm to your home, but it might help with curb appeal, too.
Design Styles That Use Brick
Brick is often associated with older homes that are at least a century old, but it’s not uncommon to see newer homes built with this building material and other sustainable and resilient materials.
While some design styles don’t quite work with exposed brick, many styles are enhanced by the presence of the building material.
Renovated loft apartments in industrial buildings, with an Industrial or Contemporary design, are some good examples of design styles that have exposed brick. Other design styles might include Victorian, Eclectic, and Modern Farmhouse, but as we stated before if you have exposed brick in your home, you can make it work with virtually any design style.
The Advantages of Exposed Brick
From an interior design standpoint there are some pros and cons of having exposed brick; often it usually comes down to the personal preference of the designer or the homeowner. We’ll start with some good reasons to keep an exposed wall if you have them in your home.
Brick Stays “In Fashion”
Lots of design trends come and go and sometimes so quickly that you weren’t even sure that a “must have” design feature was even popular. Trends in color and even kitchen appliances are continually changing, but rarely in building materials.
It’s pretty safe to say that exposed brick will always be fashionable and if you get tired of looking at red brick, you can always paint over it (but make sure that’s something you really want to do as it’s a big step).
Adds Warmth To A Room
Nearly every design style benefits from a little warmth, especially if it’s in a space where you hang out a lot (even Minimalist design doesn’t encourage discomfort and an uninviting feel).
If you have brick, it adds instant warmth (as in welcoming and coziness) to a room. There’s no need to worry about adding other warming features unless it helps you achieve your design preferences.
A Few Disadvantages To Having Exposed Brick
If you hate the look of the exposed brick than there’s a good chance that you’re not living in a space that has it, but you might be in a situation where the brick is in bad shape and looks less than inviting. Your best option would be to hire a designer and a contractor and see if drywalling over the brick would be a good idea.
Other than obvious disdain for brick, here are a few more potential disadvantages to having it in your home.
Brick Is Permanent
Brick is rarely something you can just get rid of as it’s a permanent and to remove it could affect the structural integrity of the home. So, if you want to get rid of brick for cosmetic reasons, you’ll need to look into options to hide it or at least make it less noticeable.
Brick Requires Some Upkeep
Although it can weather the storm, survive in a fire, and keep water at bay, brick does require a little upkeep, especially as it ages. It’s not too difficult to take care of an exposed wall, but if you’re not interested in maintenance, then it’s going to feel like a burden.
Hanging Art Is Difficult
If you love having a gallery wall in your living space, an exposed wall can be a big hurdle as it’s difficult to hang anything from artwork and pictures to shelving. Even though it’s a challenge, you can install the right tools to display artwork just make sure you know what you’re doing before you drill a bunch of holes in your brick.
Caring For Your Brick Wall
Do you have an exposed wall and want to keep it that way? As we already mentioned, it requires a little upkeep, but if you care for your brick, it will look good for years to come.
Despite its durability, brick is porous, which makes it prone to deterioration and mold over time. The best way to keep your exposed wall looking good, and staying clean, is to apply a sealant or an acrylic-based paint (if you’re opting for some color).
Even if your exposed wall isn’t in the kitchen or bathroom (where it’s more prone to moisture, grease, or dirt), you still want to consider protecting the bricks. Carefully vacuuming or dusting the bricks is a good start and if you need to clean them, make a paste of equal parts salt and castile soap (or a mild dish soap).
Once you mix up the paste, gently scrub it into the wall with a stiff bristle brush, letting it sit for about ten minutes. To rinse the paste off the wall, use a wet sponge to wipe it away.
What If You Don’t Have Brick?
Many people love the look of exposed brick don’t have it on the interior of their homes. While you can’t enjoy century-old brick, several design companies will put faux brick in your home; call your local interior designer or contractor for more information.