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I was looking at some brick suppliers for a project and I've come across an odd trend. A whole lot of brick suppliers have some kind of finish on the brick that's frankly ugly. The fashion looks like the bricks were dropped in various kinds of sand, gravel, clay or dirt before being fired.

Red bricks dropped in sand

This one is a fairly light sand texture treatment compared to some others. You can see it has a nice red brick underneath.

Red bricks with extra clay

This one has a smoother clay veneer, again with the basic brick color showing underneath.

I believe the manufacturer refers to these as 'extruded', but it is very difficult to get information on what exactly has been done. They have other varieties of brick that art 'Iron spot', which I gather means iron salts were used in the manufacturing or finishing process, so I take that to mean these bricks don't have iron salts. They are definitely not reclaimed brick (mfg. promises all-new), but I see the point about it intending to look that way...

My question is, what is this kind of finish/texture called in the trade? Does 'Extruded' mean anything standard or is it pure marketing speak?
Can it be cleaned off or thinned out to reveal more or all of the base brick color underneath? Would pressure washing or sand blasting be possible or would that run the risk of harming the mortar?

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    they are meant to look like reclaimed bricks .... just don't buy those bricks – jsotola Jun 4 '18 at 5:57
  • they make paint that looks like brick, used for repair or just decoration. you could paint the bricks. – dandavis Jun 4 '18 at 18:23
  • From what I've read, painting brick with non-porous paint can be a big hassle. I've been looking into staining it, but It's not at all clear how well it would take the stain. The brick itself might be porous enough, but the sand/clay might not take the stain, which would probably make it look worse, not better. – Patrick M Jun 4 '18 at 19:14
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what is this kind of finish/texture called in the trade?

It depends on the part of the world you live in and the manufacturer.

There are thousands of variations available, bricks tend to be classified primarily by colour but also by texture and by a lot of other attributes such as "dragface", "handmade", "thrown", "waterstruck", "extruded", "light texture", "heavy texture", "smooth" and so on ad-infinitum (only limited by the imagination of marketing folk).

Can it be cleaned off or thinned out to reveal more or all of the base brick color underneath?

No. It is more appropriate to buy bricks in the style you want.

Would pressure washing or sand blasting be possible or would that run the risk of harming the mortar?

Either of those would damage the bricks or mortar.

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    You've waited your whole life for this question, haven't you? :D – isherwood Jun 4 '18 at 13:44
  • Nice one, Isherwood. Regarding the sand blasting and pressure washing, I know I've seen it done. Is that just a method of last resort when the brick is already damaged or old enough to likely be damaged? Is there a repair or sealing step that can be taken after blasting/washing? – Patrick M Jun 4 '18 at 14:55
  • @PatrickM: See Brick Sealer – RedGrittyBrick Jun 4 '18 at 15:04
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We don’t sand blast the face of bricks, because, 1) it destroys the face of the brick, 2) it allows the “interior” color to be exposed based on how much sandblasting is done, and 3) the texture of the face varies based on how much sandblasting is done.

That is to say, the sandblasting wand becomes like a paint brush and the technician using the wand creates the final product. If they spend a few seconds longer in one area than another, it will stand out as “irregular” (in color and texture).

I’ve used that same color/texture in places where we want the brick wall to “blend closely” with the other light colored walls in the same room. It may not be a popular color/texture where you live, but it is designed that way.

  • It seems like the reasons you provide for not doing it are also reasons for doing it. I see it a lot in our local downtown historical district, where old industrial buildings are repurposed as pubs and restaurants. Blasted brick has a very nice aesthetic, IMO. – isherwood Jun 4 '18 at 13:46
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    @isherwood ... or because some epsilon minus painted the brick at some point. – Harper Jun 4 '18 at 14:24
  • @isherwood NEVER sandblast “historic” brick. The Historic Preservation Office would have a fit and you loose your Historic Registration. You are “restoring” the building NOT giving it some new finish. I can guarantee you the historic building was not sandblasted. We ONLY use chemicals to restore historic buildings and insure the original finish remains by removing the chemicals before they damage the face of the brick. – Lee Sam Jun 4 '18 at 16:06
  • I'm not doing anything. I said buildings in my downtown have been refurbished as such. Feel free to contact the Chamber of Commerce if you like. :P – isherwood Jun 4 '18 at 16:15

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