GROUNDWORK: engineering bricks

    Most brick choices are based on aesthetics or matching existing walls. Facing Bricks, Wirecuts, Stocks, Handmade, London Bricks... there are literally thousands of types of brick. Our choice for the first two courses was an engineering brick because they are good for using underground. These are very high spec and probably overkill for our purpose. One thing that is worth noting if you are planning to drill into your walls at some point is that the engineering bricks are incredibly tough. Commons are softer but perfectly good for most applications. I used Commons along the top of the wall where we needed to drill in the fixings for the soffit.

    broken drain July 2008: The down pipe to the old drain is cleared out of the way but the drain itself will still be in use for a few more weeks.

    Another odd thing which isn't always clear is which way up they go! Most bricks have a frog or indent in the top. The rule is that the frog goes up not down, but there seems to be quite a lot of debate about this. British Standard Code of Practice BS 5628-3 is pretty clear about it: “Unless otherwise advised, lay single frog bricks with frog uppermost and double frogged with deeper frog uppermost. Fill all frogs with mortar". This was from an article about bricks and bricklaying on DIY Doctor. There are lots of forum sites like DIY Doctor where you can post specific questions about your project.

    The exposed pipes at each end of the foundations needed lintels in the second course of the brickwork. There was the drain at one end which was still just about visible in the top of the concrete and the old gas pipe at the other end. You can buy simple concrete lintels in various lengths and widths. There are also more complicated beams such as catnic lintels to go over doors and windows. These sit on both skins of a cavity wall with an insulated join. I spent a lot of time puzzling over stuff like this in builder's merchants but by the end of the project I had used at least one of nearly everything I had seen!

    lintels July 2008: A pair of concrete lintels to bridge the drain.



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