How to Match Brick
Whether you are repairing a few bricks in the existing masonry of your home or adding onto the original structure, it’s important to successfully match the bricks.
Mismatched brick stands out like a sore thumb and can not only compromise the structural integrity of your home but it can also lower the value of it. While finding matching brick may seem impossible, we have some steps you can take to make the process much easier.
Now, when considering a brick match, there are several factors that play a role in finding the perfect match: color, size, and texture. Many people searching for matching brick think it starts and ends with finding a coordinating color but matching the size is just as important in creating a uniform blend. Imagine how difficult building will be if the bricks have heights and lengths that are not compatible; it will result in a wall that looks irregular, sloppy, and doesn’t line up with the existing wall.
You also have to consider what kind of look you’re going for before you start. Do you want the bricks to be identical to the point that an observer wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference between the old and new? Are you looking for something that’s just complimentary? Or do you want to create a contrast that still looks uniform with the current look of the building? Making this decision will help you significantly in your search. You should also keep in mind that finding matching brick is not a one-and-done kind of process; it can take a while so you should start looking long before you plan to start the project.
Tip #1: Search for the brick.
You’ll want to first start off by finding out if the original brick is still being made today and if so, are they being made at the same plant? Even though you might find a brick that looks the same and has the same name, a switch in manufacturer could mean that the raw materials, machinery, and manufacturing processes could have changed as well and the brick may now look different. There are a lot of different variables that go into brick manufacturing that can affect the color and texture of the finished product. Even small differences can become significantly more noticeable once you’ve built your structure.
Find your local brick distributor like Batchelder & Collins and see if they have samples of brick and mortar to look at. Since you’ll have to buy the brick somewhere, let the professionals at a distributor help make the process a whole lot simpler. If one distributor can’t match the bricks, they can probably to send you to someone who can.
Tip #2: Blend more than one brick color to match the original wall.
Let’s say you find the perfect brick color, you bring it back to match it to your current home and find that it still isn’t quite right. It could be the imperfections that have impacted the brick’s appearance over years of wear and tear but more than likely, the single brick that you found cannot give you the full range of colors needed to match your original structure. In this case, you’ll want to blend two or more shades that work together to get the full range you need to achieve a mirrored look. This requires you to not only match the colors but also the proportions of the colors. Let’s say your wall contains 30% dark brown, 30% scarlet red, 20% mid-tone red, and 20% orange, then the new wall needs to include the same percentages of each of those colors.
The colors then have to be arranged so that they mirror the placement in the original wall. If the dark brown bricks in your original wall are always spaced at least 4 bricks apart, then they should absolutely not be clumped together in the new addition.
Tip #3: Stain if needed.
Even though you’ve spent time searching for a perfect match, maybe the original brick simply isn’t available. If that’s the case, look for a brick with the same size and texture that is as close to the original color as possible – the closer the match, the less staining you’ll have to do, the lower your cost, and the simpler the process.
After you’ve found a good candidate, don’t just start staining. You’ll want to test it to make sure it will absorb the stain effectively. Just simply pour water on a small wall constructed of the brick you’ve chosen and if it absorbs some of the water, while darkening temporarily then staining it is most likely a good option.
Like we mentioned in our article comparing stained brick, whitewashed brick, and painted brick, stain has many advantages: 1) it won’t hurt the brick or masonry; 2) when applied with a brush, it’ll maximize absorption into the brick face; 3) stain is translucent so it’ll give you a change in color while retaining the natural texture of the brick.
Tip #4: Don’t forget about placement.
Whatever stain specialist you consult will be able to help you choose the number or percentage of bricks to stain, what colors to use, and where in the wall to position the bricks that have been stained. The placement is just as important in achieving a uniform look as finding a color match.
Tip #5: Choose a brick that’s slightly lighter when tinting.
Bricks that are lighter in color are much easier to get the desired effect when you are tinting them. If you have determined that tinting is the only way to get a color that will match, then choose a brick that’s slightly lighter than the original – remember to also consider the size and texture – and use a stain to get a more accurate color.
Tip #6: Don’t forget about matching mortar.
Mortar makes up about 15% of the composition of a brick wall so it’s important to find a match for this as well. Try mortars in different colors and textures until you find the best match.