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A guide to brick slip cladding for self builders

Despite many different cladding finishes being available, such as timber and render, there is still an abiding love for real brick. Bricks add character to a

building; they’re tactile, attractive and durable. However, in modern construction, a brick wall is little more than a rain screen for a house; it simply protects the structural inner skin, in whatever form, from the weather. Brick slip cladding performs the same function but also has other benefits which can be very useful. We’re the UK’s leading brick slip cladding specialists, so we can tell you all you need to know if you’re considering a brick slip finish for your self build project.

Brick slip cladding is not a new phenomenon; we were the first to introduce it to the UK over twenty five years ago. You probably see buildings clad with brick slips all the time without even realising it, and that’s the point, brick slips are largely indistinguishable from traditional masonry. However, brick slip systems tend to be very light compared with traditional masonry; and they can incorporate layers of insulation while remaining relatively thin in profile.

 

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Number of different cladding systems are available, but they are not all the same. Each system varies in terms of component parts and assembly method. At Eurobrick, our advice to anyone considering brick cladding is to think about your objectives and which benefits of brick slip cladding best serve these. Which system you choose depends upon the specific requirements of your project; does it need to be lightweight, are you or your contractors installing the system, how much, if any insulation do you need? Speak to the cladding company’s technical staff, as they should be happy to answer any queries. You should also ensure that the system is properly developed and tested. Ask if it has third party certification and does the company provide a guarantee?

As a self builder, you can choose from a variety of structural construction methods, including steel and timber frame, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) to name a few. These different structural elements can be finished with brick slip systems. Cladding systems do not usually require the foundations associated with traditional masonry and are largely suspended directly from the structural fabric. This low weight benefit can simplify the design and cost of foundations under modern structures. Some systems can be assembled by semi-skilled labour with some even suitable for DIY installation. This reduction in the dependency on traditional trades to deliver traditional finishes can also lead to cost savings in a project.

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If you’re planning to extend your existing home, the technical constraints or desired aesthetics of some projects may require that a cladding system is used. For example, if you are adding an additional floor to an existing structure, a light weight system may be essential. Or maybe it’s an extension that requires the original and new part to be over clad to provide a contiguous finish.

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For renovation projects, insulated brick cladding is an ideal product. Most brick cladding systems provide external wall insulation, which, as it is installed on the outside of the building, means that precious internal floor space is not reduced and disruption to the occupiers can be kept to a minimum.

In addition to the (sometimes dramatic) improvement in thermal performance, cladding can also solve common problems experienced in older properties, namely condensation, damp penetration and dilapidation of the exterior. Well designed and installed systems will weatherproof the original fabric of the building, keeping wind driven rain out, reducing condensation risk and rejuvenating the exterior with a new skin of brick.

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With an enormous range of brick slips available, choosing the right brick can be a long process. Once again, clearly identifying the project objectives and constraints may quickly focus the search. It could be cost or the need for a particular brick type to match a local vernacular. Extruded brick slips use 60-70% less energy to manufacture than standard bricks. Perhaps you are looking for a brick slip with more of an aged appearance. Regardless of criteria, there is likely to be a slip to match your requirements.

As one would expect, the cost of using a brick slip system will vary not only from system to system but will also depend upon the choice of brick, the amount and type of insulation required, the size of project, and who will install the system. Because every project is different, in order to obtain a meaningful estimate, we recommend that you speak to the cladding company to discuss your particular requirements. If you are able to provide an area or even plans of the project, the cladding company will be able to calculate an estimate which is relevant to your build and choices. Ask for advice on any extras that may be required, as basic “headline” prices based on a square metre rate can be deceptive. This will give you an accurate figure with which to budget for.

Hopefully this has given you a brief insight into how brick slip cladding can provide an effective alternative to traditional construction techniques. Not only can cladding solve a range of problems but just like traditional brickwork, the end result is low maintenance and looks great.

We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about your self build project. Please give us a call on 0117 971 7117 or email info@eurobrick.co.uk.