Recognising the recent growth in demand for low carbon facing bricks made using concrete, Michael Davies, Technical Manager from AG, emphasises that Concrete Facing Brick has now truly come of age, becoming the first choice for many leading housebuilders and therefore providing builders’ merchants with a genuine opportunity to capitalise on this new demand.
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. Housebuilders, for example, require a facing brick that delivers a stunning first impression. Of course, the colour, texture and how they are laid are essential elements but so are strength, levels of consistency, colour integrity and overall performance.
As there is often no room for negotiation, in order to keep architects, housebuilders and end-users happy, it is vital that builders’ merchants stock an adequate range and variety of products that can meet specific demands.
With the current surge in new-builds within the residential sector, housebuilders are no longer able to wait for weeks or months for products. One of the undoubted advantages of concrete facing brick is the fact that — generally speaking — it has an attractive lead time from order to delivery. In fact, at AG — which holds a wide range of in-stock items — Facing Brick can be called off with as little as 24-72 hours’ notice with lead times on some Made to Order solutions being as short as three weeks.
Furthermore, the huge technological advances made within the manufacture of concrete bricks that impact positively on the aesthetic and performance of concrete bricks in recent years mean it’s not a case of getting an inferior product more quickly. Indeed, more and more leading housebuilders across the UK are now realising facing brick can be beautiful, dimensionally accurate and also more sustainable than the traditional alternatives.
Here, did you know that concrete facing bricks do not need to be fired in a kiln the way older methods of manufacturing brick do, such as with clay? The overall carbon produced in the manufacture of concrete facing bricks can therefore be up to 28% less than other materials — which offers homeowners, housebuilders and merchants the opportunity to utilise a modern, engineered solution for building facades with superior environmental credentials.
Builders’ merchants will be familiar with the historic concerns of some in relation to the colour integrity of concrete bricks. However, thanks to significant investment in pigment development and technology, AG Concrete Facing Bricks are produced in strictly regulated factory conditions, thereby ensuring repeatable results.
Plus, the innovative production of facing brick made with concrete is also dispelling the age-old opinion of tradesmen associating concrete brick as being heavy and hard to lay. For example, AG’s Woodward collection, available in two finishes, 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 and, depending on weather conditions and mortar consistency, they can easily build 15-20 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 of their counterparts — whilst 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.
All AG brick is manufactured to exceed standards established by BS EN 771-3:2011 and (subjected to terms and conditions) boast an impressive 60-year guarantee — something that will please housebuilders across the nation.
Another major consideration for merchants when recommending a brick is water absorption. Apart from compressive strength, water absorption is important in masonry and a product’s ability to absorb water can impact colour integrity and overall performance. Concrete facing brick has typical absorption levels of 6-8% (and some as low as 4%) which, compared to many other building options with a much higher absorption rate, make it ever more popular with contractors.
Efflorescence, meanwhile, is the bane of the specifier, contractor and end-user alike. Who hasn’t seen a beautiful building spoiled by the presence of efflorescence? The higher the porosity of the material, the greater the likelihood and risk of efflorescence occurring, meaning AG concrete bricks, thanks to vapour curing, creates minimal porosity and soluble salts to achieve exceptional levels of performance.
Furthermore, as an added protection layer, all AG Concrete Facing Bricks are shrink wrapped to eliminate exposure to rainwater that can be a key element in the development of efflorescence.
As new products enter into your yard it is vital that your team is educated about the products that you stock. Customers rely on your knowledge, and misinformation can lead to a very costly mistake. As such, AG works closely with our merchant partners in order to ensure they are thoroughly knowledgeable in our products, offering demonstrations and training. We have a dedicated team responsible for this who will ensure our partners have great understanding of our products, therefore instilling trust and assurance in the customer.
It is no surprise then that facing bricks manufactured using concrete represent one of the fastest growing material groups in the UK brick industry, reshaping the construction landscape. In a year that has seen unprecedented change take place across the construction industry, this increase in demand for concrete facing bricks is providing builders’ merchants across the country with a unique opportunity to capitalise on this new demand.
To find out more about AG’s range of Concrete Facing Brick, go to: https://ag.uk.com/brick/.