Brick Trends: Sleek Glazes, Thin Brick and Metallics in Bold Colors

Here's a breakdown of new trends in commercial and residential brick applications from the Brick Industry Association.
By Stephen Sears
May 12, 2019

Sleek exteriors are on the rise for commercial fired-clay brick exteriors, striking a slick sheen with glazes and metallics in bold colors.

According to Brick Industry Association (BIA) manufacturers around the country, glazed brick leads the trends—including color, clear and metallic glazes in bold colors from blacks and white to forest green. A metallic finish that shimmers when hit by light makes a striking feature wall or back splash.

“Brick offers the aesthetic freedom to achieve any trend or desired appearance while delivering superior durability, fire and moisture resistance with little to no maintenance,” says Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO.

Sleek, black brick is also on the rise, especially for restaurants and office spaces. In addition to bold colors, trending larger units include 21-inch Roman size brick with a long, linear look and radial (curved) brick in deep, burgundy reds.

Thin brick is another fast-growing trend throughout commercial construction, according to BIA manufacturers, including both flat back and dovetail units.

As a versatile and economical alternative to traditional clay brick, thin brick can be employed when building plans or budgets may not permit standard brick masonry. Thin brick veneer offers virtually limitless design potential through many colors, textures and overall appearance.

Creative brick patterning changes are also trending, as reflected in the Fort Mill, S.C. Welcome Center, the Best in Class commercial winner in the 2018 Brick in Architecture Awards. The design captured the regional traditions of the Catawba Indian tribes, known for their exquisite pottery which is neither decorated nor adorned in color or pattern. Three colors of brick were used to create striations of color on the mass walls inspired by the Catawba pottery, shaped directly from the local soil. The design team used an algorithmic modeling program to explore color patterns. An iterative process studied the number of courses and variation of percentages of each brick color to create a gradient to determine the most appropriate mixture and scale. The program randomized the brick pattern, which was used as a base template to develop the elevations. Detailed colored enlarged elevation drawings gave the master mason a brick-by-brick pattern.

In paver trends, plank pavers are increasingly popular, especially black and gray tones and clay paver patterns using diverse and other sizes with the normal four-by-eights. Scheming trends include earthy gray palettes. Both are complementary with stone and other building materials.

Paver trends also include modern shapes, larger units in bold colors, permeable pavers, authentic paver and modern linear shapes and geometrical designs.

Increasingly used indoors and out, paver colors lean toward grays and blacks, with grays working especially well with stone and other building materials.

Made from abundant natural resources, fired-clay brick provides tested superior moisture and insect resistance, superior durability, energy efficiency through its unique thermal mass and a minimum one-hour fire resistance rating by itself, regardless of backing material. This quality is unlike other exteriors that need to incorporate fire-resistant materials in their wall systems, as recognized by ASTM E119, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials and the International Building Code.

Testing with fixed temperature conditions proves that heat takes two to three times as long to go through a brick wall assembly as it does others.

Predominant residential preferences trend toward whites, grays, tans and buffs, especially among millennials. Lighter colors maintain an edge among brick’s virtually unlimited color palette, textures, coatings and contemporary design/style options, according to BIA member manufacturers.

by Stephen Sears
Founded in 1934, BIA is the nationally recognized authority on clay brick construction representing the nation’s distributors and manufacturers of clay brick and suppliers of related products. To connect with BIA, email, call (703) 620-0010 or find it on Twitter (@BrickIndustry), YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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