Brick Slips Design Guide
The choice of cladding plays a crucial role in shaping the aesthetic appeal, functionality, and overall performance of a building. One increasingly popular cladding option is the use of brick slips. Brick slips, also known as brick veneers or brick tiles, are thin slices of real bricks that are designed to replicate the appearance of traditional bricks while providing the convenience of easy installation.
Whether it’s a new construction project, renovation, or extension, brick slips offer an array of design possibilities, allowing designers to achieve the desired visual effect, create a specific ambiance, or even mimic historical architectural styles.
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What are Brick Slips?
Brick slips are made by either slicing off the face of a standard brick, or firing the pre-moulded slips in a kiln in the same way as a conventional brick is made.
What is the size of a brick slip?
The standard size of a brick slip is 210mm x 65mm x 20mm. This means that they look exactly like a standard brick when they are installed. The thickness allows for the mortar to be applied in the joints to give the same finish as a standard brick wall finish.
Brick slips can vary in thickness, ranging from 7mm, but usually they are around 20-22mm. Other custom thicknesses are available.
How are Brick Slips Used?
Brick slips can be installed in both external and internal situations. Brick slips are often used to provide feature walls to a new kitchen extension, or perhaps give an industrial or rustic feel to a living room. They can also be seen on chimney breasts, or in bathrooms. If you are considering installing brick slips internally, be sure to check the building regulations for full requirements.
Externally brick slips are often used as a cladding alternative to a traditional brick system. The brick slips are light weight and easy to install, but we’ll explore the benefits of brick slips later.
For this article, we are mainly focusing on the use of brick slips as an external cladding.
Aesthetics and Architectural Style
In the United Kingdom, where architectural heritage and regional character are highly valued, the use of brick slips as cladding offers an opportunity to blend contemporary design with the timeless appeal of brickwork. When considering brick slips for cladding, it’s important to take into account the following aspects:
Compatibility with Existing Building Design: If the project involves refurbishment or extension of an existing building, the choice of brick slips should complement the architectural style, materials, and colour palette of the original structure. Matching the appearance of the existing brickwork can help maintain the visual cohesion of the building.
Range of Colours, Textures, and Patterns: Brick slips come in a wide variety of colours, textures, and patterns, allowing for creative expression and design flexibility. Whether you prefer a rustic, weathered look or a clean and contemporary aesthetic, there are brick slips available to suit your vision.
Creating a Desired Visual Effect or Ambiance: Brick slips can be used to create specific visual effects or evoke certain atmospheres. For example, a traditional red brick appearance can lend a sense of warmth and familiarity, while a sleek, smooth finish can provide a modern and minimalist look. Consider the overall design concept and desired ambiance when selecting brick slips.
To ensure a successful and visually appealing installation of brick slips, attention to detail is essential. Consider the following:
Properly Aligning and Spacing Brick Slips: Achieving consistent alignment and spacing of brick slips is crucial for a professional finish. Similar to designing openings and layouts with standard bricks, careful attention should be paid to brick dimensions. Ensure that horizontal and vertical joints are uniform and in line with the desired design intent.
Incorporating Architectural Details and Features: Brick slips can be used to enhance architectural details and features of a building, such as window surrounds, cornices, or arches. Careful planning and coordination with other design elements will help create a cohesive and harmonious aesthetic.
Types of brick slip systems
Adhesive fix brick slip system
The adhesive fix option for brick slips requires the slips to be fixed to the substrate or an EWI system using an adhesive. The slips are then pointed with a mortar to achieve the traditional appearance of a standard masonry wall. Adhesives include sand/cement mortar, epoxy and polyester resin based systems, cement based adhesives, rubber latex based materials and silicone based adhesives.
The adhesive brick slip system can be applied directly to substrates including ICF, masonry and blockwork provided the correct adhesive is used. If the construction is in the form of timber frame, steel frame or SIPS, an external wall insulation (EWI) or carrier board is required.
The adhesive brick slip system provides the option to externally insulate the construction, reducing thermal bridging.
The choice of jointing and mortar options can impact the overall appearance and durability of the brick slip cladding. Consider factors such as the desired aesthetic, weather resistance, and compatibility with the brick slips and substrate. Proper jointing techniques, such as pointing, should be employed to achieve a clean and professional finish.
Vertical movement joints must be provided at maximum 7m intervals, but this may vary according to manufacturer recommendations.
There are a number of manufacturers that provide detailed information on the design and installation of adhesive brick slip systems.
Mechanical fix brick slip system
A mechanical fix brick slip system requires the slips to be installed onto metal rails, that are then secured back to the substrate using a mechanically fixed metal brackets. The rails usually create a pre-spaced 10mm brick joint space, ready for mortar to be applied.
Insulation is usually applied between the brackets behind the brick slip rails. A ventilation cavity is usually required behind the brick slips, refer to manufacturer recommendations for specific requirements.
Some mechanical fix brick slip companies provide the system as prefabricated panels, making for faster and easier installation on site. It is possible that some systems are able to be installed to heights of 18m and above.
There are a number of manufacturers that provide detailed information on the design and installation of mechanical fix brick slip systems.
Moisture Management and Insulation
Proper moisture management and insulation are critical to prevent moisture-related issues and optimise energy efficiency.
Moisture Resistance and Drainage Considerations: Moisture can pose a risk to the integrity of the cladding system and the building itself. Proper installation techniques, such as incorporating an effective moisture barrier and drainage system, can help prevent water infiltration and promote effective moisture management. Severe exposure areas may require enhanced high performance breather membranes.
Care must be taken in the detailing around openings and projections to ensure adequate protection against water ingress.
Vapour Barriers and Insulation Behind Brick Slips: Insulation plays a vital role in enhancing the thermal performance of the building. A layer of insulation and a vapour barrier should be installed behind the brick slips to reduce heat transfer, prevent condensation, and improve energy efficiency. Compliance with building regulations and industry standards is crucial for achieving optimal insulation performance.
Ensuring Proper Ventilation: Adequate ventilation behind the brick slips is essential to allow any moisture that penetrates the cladding to escape and prevent the buildup of condensation. Proper detailing and the use of ventilation systems, such as weep holes or air gaps, should be incorporated to facilitate proper airflow and moisture control. Manufacturers will provide detailed guidance on how their system should be designed and installed.
The NHBC guidelines state that timber and steel framed backing walls should have a cavity between the wall and the insulation which is a minimum of 15mm wide, drained and vented for timber frame, and drained for steel frame. Some manufacturers may recommend a wider cavity, be sure to check your system requirements.
The brick slip system must comply with all fire safety regulations and British Standards. Fire and cavity barriers must be installed as required according to the regulations.
The NHBC offers extended guidance for cavity barrier requirements to cavities within masonry substrates – stating the locations as:
- at the edges of cavities including eaves and verges, around opening such as windows and doors and entry/exit points for services.
- at the junction between an external cavity wall and every compartment floor and compartment wall
For the full NHBC guide refer to the resources at the end of this article.
Benefits of Using Brick Slips as Cladding:
Versatile Design Options: With brick slips, designers have the flexibility to achieve different visual effects, from rustic to modern, and can incorporate architectural details and features. The availability of various brick slip sizes and customisation options allows for creative expression and customisation.
Ease of Installation: Brick slips are relatively easy to install compared to traditional bricks. They are lightweight and thin, making them suitable for retrofit projects and reducing the need for heavy structural support. This is a great benefit when working at height. The use of adhesives simplifies the installation process and accelerates project timelines. Brick slip panels can also ease the installation process.
Weather Resistance and Durability: High-quality brick slips are designed to withstand the UK’s climate and are resistant to weathering, UV radiation, and environmental factors. They have a long lifespan and require minimal maintenance.
Reduced Waste: On heritage projects or if planning permissions require it, sometimes you have to show a flemish bond or other courses where the header brick is visible. In a traditional cavity wall, this requires each brick to be cut in half which is time consuming and creates waste. Brick slips are a great solution as they can be made in header sizings.
Standards and Regulations
Compliance with the Building Regulations is essential to ensure the safety, performance, and durability of the cladding system. The following areas are particularly relevant:
– Part A: Structural Safety: The cladding system, including the brick slips and supporting structure, must comply with the requirements for structural stability and load-bearing capacity.
– Part B: Fire Safety: The fire performance of the cladding system, including the spread of fire and the use of fire-resistant materials, must meet the prescribed standards.
– Part C: Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture: The cladding system should be designed and installed to prevent water penetration and manage moisture effectively, in accordance with the requirements for weather resistance and dampness control.
– Part L: Conservation of Fuel and Power: The insulation properties and thermal performance of the cladding system, including the use of insulation materials behind the brick slips, must meet the energy efficiency requirements.
Adhering to relevant British Standards ensures that the brick slips and their installation meet industry-accepted quality and performance standards. The following standards are particularly relevant:
– BS EN 771-1: Specification for Clay Masonry Units: This standard specifies requirements for clay bricks, including their dimensions, compressive strength, and durability.
– BS EN 1209-2: Natural Stone Products: Cladding: This standard applies to natural stone cladding products, including brick slips made from natural stone. It covers aspects such as dimensional tolerances, flexural strength, and freeze-thaw resistance.
– BS 8298: Code of Practice for the Design and Installation of Natural Stone Cladding and Lining: This code of practice provides guidance on the design, installation, and maintenance of natural stone cladding systems, including brick slips made from natural stone.
– BS 5262: Code of Practice for External Rendering: This code of practice covers external rendering, including the application of brick slips as part of the rendering system.
– BS 8000-11: Workmanship on Building Sites: Part 11: Code of Practice for Tiling and Slating of Roofs and Walls: This code of practice provides guidance on the installation of tiles and slates, including brick slips used as wall cladding.
It is important to consult the latest versions of these regulations and standards, as they may be subject to updates and revisions. Additionally, local authorities, building control bodies, and industry associations may have additional guidelines or requirements specific to the area or sector. Therefore, it is recommended to seek professional advice and engage with relevant authorities to ensure compliance and best practices when specifying brick slips in construction projects.
Brick slips offer a wide selection of aesthetic possibilities, ranging from traditional rustic charm to contemporary elegance. With a diverse array of colours, textures, and patterns, they enable creative expression while seamlessly blending with existing architectural styles. Their space-efficient installation and ease of handling make them ideal for retrofit projects and allow for faster construction timelines.
However, while brick slips offer many advantages, there are also important technical considerations to be mindful of. Ensuring structural integrity, managing moisture effectively, and optimising thermal performance are paramount to the long-term success of brick slip cladding projects. Careful planning, proper installation techniques, and adherence to building regulations and British standards are essential for achieving safe and durable cladding solutions.
In conclusion, the integration of brick slips as a cladding option is an invitation to reimagine the façade of buildings, paying homage to the past while embracing the future.
Download the Guide
Approved Documents https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/approved-documents
The Detail Library has a selection of brick slip details, including both the adhesive fix and mechanical fix systems. We demonstrate different substrates including masonry, timber frame and steel frame.
Our details also include examples of foundation details with brick slip cladding, window details with brick slip cladding and eaves details with brick slip cladding.
You can see the details below:
Image 01 https://www.eurobrick.co.uk/system
Image 04 https://www.eurobrick.co.uk/system
Image 05 https://www.mechslip.co.uk/
Image 08 https://www.eurobrick.co.uk/system