There’s a lot science in modern brick manufacturing to get precise and consistent color in a product that meets stringent engineering standards and maintains tight specifications in size and dimension. And there’s a lot of art in masonry, to apply the brick in sometimes ornate patterns and straight runs of the right combination of brick tones and patterns.
We stopped in on the banks of Belews Lake, just southwest of the Pine Hall Brick plant in Madison, North Carolina to see the work of Fred’s Grading & Masonry as they finish up their part of a new home coming together in its gated community.
Fred’s owner, Hugo Yanez, was directing the completion of his contract and it was a good time to see role brick plays in the modern homebuilding process, while checking out the art of masonry.
Not only does the mason have to keep every line plumb and unerring, he also has to lay the brick following the subtle pattern of the brick run itself. Brick molds give every manufacturers a unique “signature” of lines that the average person doesn’t notice. But when the brick is applied by an expert, comes together like a textural puzzle of pattern and color.
There’s also the mortar. Mortar joints—what holds the brick together—actually make up about 20% of the total surface of a brick wall. So the color the homeowner specified needs to be consistent in all batches of mortar. The joints themselves, which can be created in nearly a dozen styles—e.g., concave, V, beaded, and grapevine joints—are something the homeowner carefully chooses that make a big difference in the look of the home. Again, the mason has to be consistent with the choice throughout the job.
Yanez achieved beautiful results with Oyster Pearl brick laid in an English bond (note the pattern of darker, jutting brick in the façades). Oyster Pearl is tumbled to give it a timeless, worn look, to go with a “white brick” color that’s rich with red tones where the white finish gives way to the more raw clay…intentionally imperfect.
The masonry, on the other hand, has to be perfect and precise, even if it is art. See more of the art of masonry on our Pinterest page.