Matching Original Brick
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Matching Original Brick

When attempting to introduce non-original bricks into an older structure, it is important to match not only the size and appearance of the installed bricks but also their functional properties. Bricks manufactured using more modern techniques may be harder and less porous.

Inserting incompatible blocks into an existing wall can prevent the façade from operating as a coherent structure. 

Testing the existing building to determine material properties and finding compatible replacements can be a painstaking task, but is well worth the effort in the long run.

We’ve all seen buildings with sections of old bricks replaced with new ones. The contrast often is painfully obvious. However, the problems are often deeper than just the appearance.    

Modern manufactured bricks may have different rates of thermal expansion and contraction, various types of moisture vapor transmission, and even different compressive strength and weight bearing capabilities than the bricks being replaced. Furthermore, mixing bricks can hasten deterioration and open leak paths, which is why research is necessary before choosing new brick.   

Also, new mortars and joint sealing compounds are stronger and stiffer than traditional mortars. So, when a wall moves, the bricks are more likely to crack before the mortar. Whatever mortar is used, it must be softer than the masonry.

If enough original bricks are not available, a fallback strategy is to blend the new matching bricks with the originals or segregate new bricks from old in separate parts of the building.  

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