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Reclaimed brick flooring: everything you need to know

Reclaimed brick flooring

Thinking of installing reclaimed brick flooring? From things you should consider to the pattern and how to lay and seal, we’ve got you covered.

4 essential tips from Edward Howey at Lubelska Ltd.

4 essential tips

–  Underfloor heating

The main thing to remember when laying any inflexible product over underfloor heating is to use a flexible floor tile adhesive. Because terracotta and brick are brittle, it means that any expansion or contraction due to drastic changes in temperature may result in the tiles cracking. A flexible floor tile adhesive should eliminate this risk by absorbing the tiny movements in the sub-floor

–  Make sure your builders know how to work with reclaimed brick flooring.

As we all know, there are builders and then there are builders. It is very worthwhile asking your builder whether he has ever worked with reclaimed flooring before. Modern, engineered products are just that. They have tolerances that are negligible and can be laid with very little thought to the product.

Reclaimed materials often date back to the days of being hand-made and dried in the sun, prior to being placed in a wood-burning kiln that would not have a consistent temperature throughout. All these things result in products that are not consistent in dimension and often a deeper adhesive or mortar is required and grout lines need to be considered.

It is a good idea to dry lay a couple of square metres with your builder, prior to the actual laying. This gives one the opportunity to discuss any issues prior to the commencement of the actual task at hand.

–  Use a quality floor sealer

There are floor sealers on the market that act in different ways and have different properties.

   -Oil-based

   -Silicone based

   -Water-based

Oil and Silicone based sealers will seal the floor thoroughly and not allow your floor to breathe. By their nature, they will darken the floor and leave a shine.

Water-based sealers work in a completely different way. Firstly and unlike their counterparts, they are eco-friendly. They will stop stains from marking the floor by reducing the pore size and stop liquids from penetrating but they will allow vapour to pass through. This permits the floor to breathe and any moisture that was in the adhesive to escape.

There are still some fairly ineffective (usually cheap) sealers that need to be applied every two years as their properties diminish over time. The problem with this is that they never really work very well and don’t fully protect the floor. This is why we recommend a good quality sealer.

–  Grouting and laying options

Grout colour is very much an aesthetic choice and we all have different ideas about what we like. However, it is worth remembering that reclaimed tiles will often have a slightly deeper and wider joint and therefore discussing with your merchant about using a grout that doesn’t shrink too much when it dries is worthwhile.

We recommend using BAL Superflex widejoint grout

Laying patterns for reclaimed brick flooring are endless and depend upon the shape of the tile, whether they are square, rectangular, hexagonal or even octagonal with inserts. Multi-faceted tiles can usually only be laid in a particular way. Square tiles can be laid in a few different ways – Adjacent, off-set or in a diamond pattern. As for rectangular tiles, the choices are endless, though a stretcher bond, herringbone or some type of basket-weave are the most popular.

Pros and cons

Pros

–  Authentic look and feel

The rustic look of a reclaimed brick floor really can’t be matched with new bricks, ceramic or wood flooring. It can provide real authenticity to a period home but can also look right at home in a more contemporary setting.

–  Very durable and fire resistant

Brick tiles are one of the most durable floorings available. They can withstand heavy foot traffic for commercial spaces or busy houses and a lot of weight. Your brick floor will last a lifetime.

–  Easy to maintain

If sealed correctly, a brick floor can be easy to maintain and clean. It can easily be vacuumed or mopped. A brick floor can be quite porous, so make sure to seal properly so it doesn’t collect dust.

–  Warm underfoot and great with underfloor heating

Brick floor works very well with underfloor heating. The tiles retain and disperse heat evenly throughout and so you achieve a slow release of heat underfoot for a cosy room.

Cons

–  Hard underfoot

A reclaimed brick floor is very solid. You may find the texture to be harsh when barefoot.

–  Distinct look and character

A brick floor can be incredibly beautiful and can often become the centrepiece for any room. Because of its colour, often in hues of pink and reds it can be quite striking and should only be bought if you love this style. Reclaimed bricks also provide an authentic feel and with that comes slight variations in surface level.

–  A Difficult task to lay

Laying a brick floor is hard work! With reclaimed bricks, you must make sure you have a builder who has worked with brick before and uses the right procedure when laying.

Different patterns and styles for a brick floor

45° Herringbone pattern

– Stretcher bond pattern

45 herringbone with contrasting stretcher inlay and header

– Basket-weave

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