Reclaimed building materials such as tiles, stone and bricks that were previously used or excavated for remodelling, are a popular option for period properties as they provide great character and a timeless, quality finish.
Reclaimed bricks can originate from old mills and stately houses to pavements, range in age from a few years to centuries old, and come in a variety of colours, shapes, sizes and textures – some even contain fossils and other debris from their original source. This means that when selecting your materials, you want a wide range that reflect these variations and are in keeping with the period of your home. With all this in mind, it’s important to use a reclaimed building merchant who is known for sourcing quality materials.
What are the different types of reclaimed brick available?
Brick types include the common Fletton facing brick, known as the industry workhorse. Its plain appearance means it can fit in anywhere, internally and externally – so painted, rendered, used for patching in or refurbishment works. An inexpensive multi-purpose brick, pinky-orange/red in colour and smooth textured, it was used a lot for general building after the war.
The ever-popular Sussex has a warmth and character reminiscent of the countryside from where it originates, and comes in an attractive range of reds with little oddities of colour that really add interest to a wall. The beautiful reclaimed Gault (also called Gaunt) is always in high demand. A hard-faced brick, usually pale lemon/yellow/grey in colour, it was typically used in Victorian houses for detail work, and as the main building material in a range of more stately homes. Good quality Gaults are a rare find, as most properties built using these bricks are now listed buildings, making demolition unusual.
Mass-produced at Smeed Dean Brickworks in Kent in the early 1900s, London yellow bricks come in a variety of types. Some are weathered with a darker colour, and can sometimes contain flecks of ash, which discolours the brick, whereas some are much brighter, known as ‘canary yellows’. An imperial brick used as the main form of building material still in evidence in properties across London and the South East of England, it is still in demand.
Reclaimed Gault bricks, from £850 per thousand, T. Caudwell
What should I look for when choosing reclaimed bricks?
Rescued from old buildings and cleaned up, reclaimed bricks have edges that are typically worn and irregular, and may have remnants of mortar due to their original use. Good quality reclaimed bricks only require two workable sides, one bond and one stretch. Many will have fine creases, characteristic folds and variations in colour that typify old brickwork. It is this combination that many feel gives reclaimed materials a charm and character all of their own.
How do I get my money’s worth?
Reclaimed materials are a more expensive option due to the costs of sourcing and laying, so always choose an experienced supplier who can guarantee an efficient service, from delivery to completion. Reclaimed bricks vary in price depending on type, age, quality and quantity, so it makes sense to shop around. Common red bricks cost from as little as 30p each, whereas the rarer Gaults can cost from £1.30 upwards.