CPD Microlearning

Don’t Slip up Over Your Brick Slip Specification

We British love bricks, it’s part of our building heritage.  But what if you are using modern methods of construction (MMC) on your next project? Well, the good news is that you can still have a brick façade that is quick to install using brick slips, but make sure that you know what you are buying, some systems are better and safer than others.

Walk through any British town or village and you will probably see a brick building of over 100 years old and many are even older. It is a testament to this durable building material that it has stood the test of time and remains the construction material of first choice even today.

Yet the building industry is changing, new buildings have to meet strict energy efficiency requirements under Part L so wall cavities need to increase and in expensive city centres there is pressure to build to tight deadlines.  It means that there is a real move to modern methods of construction.  Yet customers still want a brick-built building.

Fortunately, there is an answer as the humble brick continues to evolve.  Brick slip systems allow you to achieve the look and feel of a brick building and offer a durable weather resistant outer skin on a MMC built building. If you choose the right system then there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to offer such benefits for many decades to come.

Make an informed choice

Not all brick slip systems are equal however, so it pays to know what you are buying. Not least you must ensure that your specified system is appropriate to the risk class of your project.

The first thing to check is whether the system has been tested and for what.

Following Grenfell one critical area is for fire classification. The 2018 amendment to Part B of the Building Regulations requires that all materials used in external wall construction of a relevant building are of European Classification A2-s1, dO or Class A1.  This applies to any building over 18 metres high.

This is where mechanical systems such as our own Surebrick system are generally better than systems that rely on adhesives – which can be flammable, or where fire may cause the slips to come loose and prove a hazard. Surebrick meets the A1 classification so it is non-combustible in accordance with BS EN 13501-1: 2018.

Make it secure

Using a mechanical system where the slips fit securely into a metal frame and are held in place, ensures that they will not come loose. The last thing you want is for brick slips to fall, especially from a height.

Some research from Arup identified that some adhesive only based systems could also fail due to the deterioration of the adhesive and/or its interfaces.  This could be due to poor workmanship and using too little adhesive, or it could be that the adhesive loses its ductility over time, so it becomes more brittle with age and will accommodate less movement.

The British weather means that any façade will be subject to variations in moisture, temperature and wind.  Clay brick and brick slips will move due to thermal and moisture expansion.  In brick buildings the use of movement joints mitigates this affect and you can use those same joints in a mechanical brick slip system.  For adhesive only based systems, such movement can add to the stress of a bond and the porous nature of the slips allows water and air to potentially degrade the adhesive holding it.

Add in the positive and negative wind load and you need to be sure that the brick slips on your MMC building are secure.

It’s why independent testing of such systems is so important, especially if the building is going to be standing for 20 or more years.

So, check that your specified system is tested for:

  • Heat rain cycles
  • Heat cold cycles
  • Extended freeze thaw cycle
  • Air tightness
  • Fire and its material classification
  • Its wind load resistance
  • Its fixing
  • Impact resistance
  • Corrosion resistance

Bricks have set the tone for our built environment over 100 of years. With different regions having different colours and textures on buildings they form part of our rich heritage.  Brick slips help us to achieve this aesthetic on MMC built buildings.

As long as they are properly installed and you take care to specify the correct system, there is no reason why your building shouldn’t stand the test of time and continue to be admired in the decades to come.

To find out more about the Surebrick brick slip system book onto our free hour long online seminar here.

Brick Slips – Will you get the specification right?

This blog is based upon the content from our SureBrick CPD. To demonstrate your understanding complete the following questions to receive your certificate.

Q1. At what height of building does the fire classification for materials used in external wall classification have to meet European Classification A2-s1, dO or Class A1?