If you’re planning a masonry project at home or a commercial property, you need to plan appropriately. Depending on the size of the project, you’re going to need enough lead time to find and source the right color, size, and style of brick. In this article, we’re going to look at how to match bricks, and everything in between.
Too many people fail to buy enough brick for the job, and they end up having to extend project timelines. They end up paying more the longer things drag on.
It’s good advice to buy early and to get a bit more than you need for when inevitable mistakes happen that result in a handful of broken or damaged bricks.
Matching bricks isn’t always required. However, you need to put some thought into what your building will look like with whatever style of brick you decide on. If the project you’re working on has bricks that look different than the original brick, you’ll end up with a property that looks disjointed.
Here’s some helpful advice on how to match bricks so you end up with a finished product that looks great and takes advantage of all the durability and longevity of brickwork.
How to Match Bricks – Try to Find the Original Brick
Most of the time, you can find the same brick being made by the same manufacturer. If that’s not the case, though, you have your work cut out for you. Be thorough when you check, because sometimes manufacturers close or are sold. They sell the same name of brick, but the manufacturing process may have changed.
Build a Sample Pattern
Think about buying a sample of the brick and building a small wall with mortar to see what the finished product will look like. That way you’ll be able to put it next to or up against the current masonry work to see if it’s a match.
Sometimes a simple process or ingredient change can affect shading that makes the new bricks look different. You’ll end up with something close, but it will still look disjointed on a wall or chimney.
Even if a brick has the same name as your original brick does, you need to do some more legwork. It could be that your brick supplier has expanded, and now they make that style of brick at different plants across the country.
There can be small variations in shading that come along with temperatures, different firing methods, and machine work. The best thing you can do is buy the same type of brick that you already have, and make sure it’s all built in the same factory. That’s the best way you can make sure all of your bricks will match.
Think About Your Blend
If that’s not possible, though, you need to start thinking about how to blend your brickwork in the repair or addition. Blending bricks with slight shading differences is a great way to get around situations where you can’t get an exact match.
When you blend bricks, you need to make sure they’re all the same size. Different sized bricks will draw even more attention to the inconsistencies in color.
The 20% Blend Rule
When you blend brick, avoid blending in a different color that makes up more than 20% of the total number of bricks. So, if you’re repairing a chimney, make sure that 80% of your bricks are a perfect match. Then, you can intersperse a different shade of bricks.
Overall, your project will still closely match your original masonry work to the naked eye. The differences will be very subtle. This, of course, only applies to different shades that are close to the original brick’s shade. If you mix 20% very dark bricks with 80% very light brickwork, it will still be very noticeable.
Matching Blend Patterns
When original masonry work is already a blend, then you have to match the percentages accordingly. Match the percentage of light and dark bricks as closely as possible. If you don’t follow the same patterns, then you’ll end up with a single brick wall that looks like they’re two different walls stuck together.
Don’t forget about the arrangements. How you place the bricks has a huge impact on uniformity. Follow the original brick pattern as closely as possible.
Stains can Get You Even Closer to the Original
If you find that the original brick is unavailable and you still want a perfect match, then staining can get you across the finish line. You’ll want to buy a brick that matches the original brickwork as closely as possible. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot more staining work to do.
Once you have the same size and similar shade, also check that the bricks you’re buying are porous enough to absorb staining. To test, all you have to do is pour some water on the sample brick. If it darkens and the water appears to soak into the brick, then you’ve got a good staining candidate.
To stain the brick properly, you need to start slowly and add layers of stain while the colors get darker or gradually lighter. Don’t rush. If you go too dark or too light, you’ll kick yourself for being impatient. Instead, put on a layer, let it dry, and see how it looks. Then make adjustments as you go.
DIY or Stain Specialist
Matching brick to your original masonry work on a residential or commercial property is within the realm of DIY possibility. If you’re lucky, you’re going to be able to source and purchase an exact match to the brick you want to work on. That, however, isn’t always the case.
If you can find close matches, have stained brick before, and the project isn’t too large, then give it a shot. However, if things start to get complex, then you may want to think about hiring a stain specialist to get you where you need to be.
Stain specialists can work on patterns, different shades or brick, and other challenges to match original brickwork. They’ll make a masonry repair blend in to make it look like the damage never happened.