The Art of Brick Matching: How It’s Done and the Rules to Follow
Whenever you plan to repair or add to a masonry structure, ensuring that the new area matches the existing structure is crucial. It ensure that the entire structure is consistent and is more appealing to look at.
To do this, you must use color- and texture-matching techniques. If you can do it correctly, both the new and old areas will look like they “belong together.” This brick matching extends beyond parts of the same wall and can also apply to attached structures like the garage attached to a house, or entirely separate, stand-alone building such as buildings on a university campus.
If a repair must be made and the bricks aren’t color matches, it can be quite jarring, which is why this process is important. Brick matching is a bit of an art but there are a few simple rules you can follow to pull it off. Let’s take a look at the essential rules and steps of brick matching.
Step 1: Identify the Brick
You first step should be to find the exact, or close to exact brick, that matches the old structure. You should go through samples if possible and try to identify the style, color, and manufacturer.
If you happen to find identifying marks and the brick manufacturer still offers that style, you’re in luck as long as it’s still made at the same plant as the old.
There are many variables that go into brick making, which is why even the same bricks made in the same facility can have minor differences that are magnified once the entire wall is complete.
If you believe that you’ve found the right brick for the job, order 40-100 of them and build a small panel as a test. You might find that small errors make the wall look completely different or that it’s a very close fit. You won’t know until it’s up and in place with mortar and everything.
Step 2: Match the Range of the Original Wall with a Blend of Two or More Bricks
In many cases, you might find that just using one type of brick won’t be enough to match the full range of colors on the original wall.
If this is the case, you’ll need to think carefully, and use a selection of bricks in various colors to match the existing pattern and colors.
You need to match more than just colors, however, as everything from the material to the face height, bed depth, and length will affect the look and structure of the new wall.
To start, you should look for a complete set of brick with all of the types that you’ll need made by the same manufacturer in the same plant. If that’s not possible, look for bricks from the same maker but different plants.
If you still can’t find any, you should work to create a custom order with a manufacturer at a single facility.
Color is important, but matching the sizes of your bricks is essential for an appealing blend. If your bricks have varying sizes and shapes, your mason’s job will be extremely difficult and the result will look sloppy.
That’s why it’s crucial that you go above and beyond to ensure that they’re made by the same manufacturer in the same facility if possible.
Next, we need to discuss color and the three rules for matching color.
First, all of the colors in the blend must match. Let’s say you have a five color blend and four of them match but one doesn’t. Even just one out of five colors being wrong can affect how the overall wall looks.
Next, you must ensure that each of the colors makes up the correct percentage of the wall. For example, if the original wall has 40 percent light red, 35 dark red, and 25 percent brown, the new wall must have that same ratio.
Finally, when you lay the bricks, they need to mirror the pattern and spacing of the original wall. This ensures a smooth transition and makes the repair much less noticeable when completed.
Step 3: Use Stain Only When Necessary
When it’s all said and done, sometimes it’s impossible to find a sample of the original brick. In this case, you need to find something that is close enough and stain it to match the original wall.
To test, spray the brick with water to check its absorption. If the water soaks into the brick and it darkens, you’ll know that it’s a good candidate for stain.
You should use a proven masonry stain for this process for a variety of reasons. Specifically, it won’t hurt the brick or damage its integrity.
It is also easy to apply with a brush one brick at a time for a consistent and permanent hold. Also, masonry stain is translucent and easy to use, so rather than “painting” the brick, you can add certain colors that blend with the brick’s color for a more natural look.
Brick matching is both an art and a science but with the proven techniques in this guide along with careful planning, the final product will look almost identical to the original wall. If you’re performing a repair, this means that hardly anybody will know the wall wasn’t constructed at the same time except for you.