As the construction industry faces increased pressure to reduce its CO2 emissions, there has been an increased demand for facing bricks made using concrete. Michael Davies, Technical Manager from AG, emphasises concrete facing brick has now truly come of age, becoming the first choice for many leading developers across the nation.
Ask any design purist what they are looking for in a facing brick and they’ll probably tell you they want the very best in both form and function. It is vital facing brick delivers a stunning first impression. Of course, the colour, texture and how they are laid and complemented by mortar are all essential elements, but strength, high levels of consistency, colour integrity and overall performance are equally important for the professional who puts their name to the scheme.
The huge technological advances made in the manufacturing of concrete bricks dispel the age-old myth in the construction industry that concrete bricks were a ‘poor relation’ when compared with clay bricks. The aesthetics and performance of concrete bricks in recent years are making them the number one choice for top developments across the UK as the industry realises that concrete-facing brick is aesthetically pleasing, dimensionally accurate and more sustainable than the traditional alternatives.
Recent years have seen the demand for new buildings in the residential and commercial sector soar. Builders can no longer afford to wait weeks or even months for products leading to a greater demand for alternative materials. One of the undoubted advantages of concrete-facing brick is the fact that – generally speaking – it has a much lower lead time from order to delivery. In fact, AG Facing Brick can be called off with as little as 24-to-72 hours’ notice with lead times on some made-to-order solutions being as short as three weeks. AG also holds a range of stock items that can be despatched even more quickly, satisfying the needs of housebuilders.
Sustainability is a major factor for consideration for the industry and concrete-facing brick certainly stands up well to scrutiny. Produced using low cement and water content, no additional heat is required during curing, unlike its clay counterparts. The overall carbon produced in the manufacture of concrete facing bricks is therefore up to 30 per cent less than other materials which offers companies the opportunity to utilise a modern, engineered solution for a building which has superior environmental credentials.
Benefits to boast about
Some readers will be familiar with the historic concerns of tradesmen associating concrete brick with being heavy and hard to lay. AG’s Woodward collection, which now comes with Enduur 1, an advanced concrete technology that delivers an impressive range of product enhancements, from increased strength, durability, and UV resistance to a lower carbon footprint and advanced hydrophobic performance, is available in two finishes and is designed with a ‘frogged’ hollow depression on the top face which reduces the weight of the brick, thus making it easier to handle. Bricklayers love them. Also, depending on weather conditions and mortar consistency, brick layers can easily build 15-to-20 courses in a day using facing brick made with concrete.
It isn’t surprising that when it comes to designing and building, brick size matters. Dimensional accuracy is a critical element in any choice if onsite efficiencies are to be optimised and waste is to be minimised. Concrete brick will deliver dimensional accuracy of 1-3mm across all dimensions – much higher than many alternative products on the market. They are also highly resistant to sound transmission and boast a moderate rate of thermal conductivity. In terms of durability concrete bricks are fully frost-resistant with minimal soluble salts, making them worthy of consideration.
Another major consideration when recommending a brick is water absorption. Apart from compressive strength, water absorption is important in masonry. The product’s ability to absorb water can impact colour integrity and overall performance. Concrete-facing brick has typical absorption levels of six-to-eight per cent and some as low as four per cent compared to many other building options which have a much higher absorption rate, making it ever more popular with contractors.
It is no surprise then that facing bricks manufactured using concrete represents one of the fastest-growing material groups in the UK brick industry, reshaping the whole construction landscape.
AG has been at the leading edge of concrete technology and building products for over 60 years. It designs, produces, and distributes innovative hard landscaping solutions to help make construction better, faster, and safer.
If you would like to find out more about AG’s range of Facing Brick you can visit: ag.uk.com/brick/