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Exposed brick walls

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Friday 27 February 2009 3.41am
How do I go about finding out whether I have bricks suitable for exposing underneath the smooth white walls in my apartment? (without actually scraping the white off)

I love the exposed brick look, unfortunately that is the one thing my apartment lacks, and a friend suggested that it might be possible to strip the walls to show the bricks.

Is this indeed possible? Any advice suggestions?

Thank you
Friday 27 February 2009 7.26am
Exposing brickwork tends to happen after a happy accident when you start stripping plaster because it's blown and find that the brick underneath is in great condition because it was done well and the bricks are good quality.

The problem here is the difference between 'fair faced' brick and otherwise. Fair faced is what the outside will be. This means that the best side of the brick will be exposed and care will have been put into how it looks. Otherwise, in older buildings, means that the bricklayer will not have cared what side of the brick was exposed or what it looked like. In buildings that were built from the early 20th century on it may mean that a completely different sort of brick was used to that used outside. This would have been a brick meant to be plastered either because it has no finished face at all or because it has a ribbed face designed to hold plaster. The former only looks good painted and the later is almost impossible to strip plaster from and will never look good.

As a rule of thumb, if you really want to go down this route - it's a fantastically messy one BTW - you can go on the basis of post 1920 you have no chance of it ever looking good and it might look good in earlier properties if they were built with good bricks and by a good bricklayer...... Of course, until you start stripping the plaster you can never know if either or neither is true.
Friday 27 February 2009 7.34am
hmmm.. my building was built in 2000, if Im not mistaken. So I guess that means there's no hope =(

That same friend of mine suggested that I put up fake exposed brick wall... which can apparently be as thin as a couple of inches. This sounds awful though. Have you heard of this? Are there good looking fake brick walls?
Friday 27 February 2009 8.04am
Yulia - I had a similar situation with a previous apartment of mine. The apartment was a relatively new build (late 90's) but I really liked the "Manhattan Loft" look of exposed brick, so went about investigating how to strip back a couple of the internal walls.

In the end I chickened out, partially because the process sounded quite messy and involved, but also because I figured I was trying to make the apartment look like something it wasn't, e.g. a warehouse conversion.

You therefore might want to consider whether your exposed brick wall (or fake wall) will be in keeping with the rest of your apartment.

Friday 27 February 2009 8.08am
well the building itself is built in immitation of an old warehouse. On the outside its yellowish brick, the windows are slightly arched etc.

on the inside, its white walls and wood floors. I figured if i do one or two walls it wouldn't hurt. I have seen many hybrid apartments and they look great.

i think my biggest concerns is the mess and the lack of appropriate bricks under the plaster.
Friday 27 February 2009 9.52am
and remember stripping walls back to the brick will also reduce sound insulation between rooms/apartments
Friday 27 February 2009 10.27am
Mmm! Good point. I thought about the insulation in temrs of heating, but the sound slipped my mind entirely.
Thanks for that!
Friday 27 February 2009 12.02pm
You may wish to consider an internal stone cladding. It is much easier to construct and offers a variety of designs. For instance, see for details. I would also recommend visiting the Building Centre near Tottenham Court Road Station - see - as they are the primary source of technical information for the building trade.
Friday 27 February 2009 12.12pm
if it was built in 2000 then you could probably contact the original builders, and ask them what the bricks are like. Most houses (Barnet Homes style ones) have red brick outside, and a cavity wall, and then grey breeze block type inner wall. this inner wall probably won't look that good exposed. If it's an apartment, internal walls might just be stud walls, without brick. Party walls between apartments, are quite likely to just be breeze blocks...

but then I'm no expert, so my first advice would be to try to get in contact with the original builder/architect.
Friday 27 February 2009 4.21pm
The Hartley on Tower Bridge Road has 'fake' exposed brickwork on the wall behind the bar - take a look. The 'brick' is about 1 inch thick - although it is impossible to tell. It is relatively inexpensive from recollection
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