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Brick tile is also called thin brick or brick veneer. It can be installed any place a that stone veneer or siding is used, such as home exteriors, floors, patios, fireplaces, or walls. Brick tile is made either from salvaged brick shaved into thin slices, or from new clay that is molded into tiles. Brick tile is becoming increasingly popular in the US because it is sturdy, fireproof, and easy to maintain, as well as having the classic appearance of real brick at a fraction of the cost.
Most brick homes built in the last 40 years are actually sided with brick tile rather than built with solid brick, because solid bricks are expensive and work-intensive to build with. A house with brick laid in a uniformly horizontal pattern is not built with real brick, because solid brick walls have rows where the bricks are laid with the ends facing outwards in order to maintain structural integrity. However, brick tile has some of solid brick’s advantages. It does not need to be painted or stained, and it helps insulate the home and protect it from fire, weather, and water damage.
All brick is made from clay and fired in a kiln. Brick is naturally yellowish in color, and iron oxide is added into the clay to give it a red color. A lot of brick tile is made from salvaged brick that is usually cut into 1/2” (1.3 cm) or 15/16” (2.4 cm) slices. Salvaged brick has the appearance and quality of old-fashioned brick, it is less expensive than whole bricks, and it keeps old building materials out of landfills. Other brick tiles are newly manufactured from clay that is molded into a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and patterns.
Both salvaged and new brick tile is laid by masons, with mortar spread underneath and between the tiles. When used for home siding and walls, 1/2” (1.3 cm) brick is generally used. An air gap is left between the wall and the brick, with a moisture-resistant layer in between and weep holes to allow moisture to escape. Chemical sealants may be applied for extra moisture and stain resistance. Thinner 15/16” (2.4 cm) brick slices are used for floors and in place of ceramic tile in bathrooms and kitchens. These brick tiles can be sealed with a low or high-gloss polyurethane to protect them and keep them clean, and they should be waxed yearly to maintain their finish.
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