Bricks are the most commonly used external wall material on Signia developments. With the increasing availability of brick panel cladding systems, one of the most important decisions to be made on future projects will be whether to achieve a brick finish with traditional brickwork or brick panel cladding.
Traditional brickwork is commonplace; bricks are laid flat in rows in a pattern held together by mortar. The visible joint between the bricks is finished with a trowel to provide a decorative appearance to the brickwork. Brick panel cladding, though relatively new to the UK there are a number of brick panel cladding systems available typically comprising of factory made lightweight panels with brick slips (20mm thick slice cut from a brick) embedded to a backing. Some systems even consist of brick slips cast into insulation thereby enhancing the thermal performance of the external wall. These panels are fixed to the substrate on site and the joints pointed with mortar to complete the brick finish.
When comparing the upfront costs, traditional brickwork supply and install costs appear to be significantly lower than brick panel cladding even when taking into account the masonry supports required on multi-storey buildings. However, the lightweight brick panel cladding, by eliminating the need for masonry supports, contributes to a reduction in foundations and structural frame costs. Moreover, programme is where brick panel cladding comes to the fore and can recoup a lot of its higher upfront costs. Its install time due to its simplicity is quicker to bricklaying which not only facilitates earlier project completion, but also reduced prelims costs such as scaffolding or mast climbers, tower cranes, waste disposal, deliveries and storage requirements.
As brick cladding panels are factory made, the quality of workmanship is also expected to be higher than traditional brickwork. Nevertheless, design and site installation goes hand in hand in delivering a perfect product with brick panel cladding. Although a range of brick finishes and factory produced components for corners and reveals to window and door openings are available to satisfy most architectural designs, it would have been impractical to use brick panel cladding on both ‘The Cloisters’ and ‘Alpine Place’. These developments are a testament to quality workmanship and also the increased flexibility with traditional brickwork to cater for complex design.
The choice whether to go with traditional brickwork or brick panel cladding will depend mainly on the aforementioned factors namely; cost, programme and complexity of design. Whether traditional brickwork or brick panel cladding, Signia will deliver an outstanding development with an aesthetically pleasing brick finish to the façade.