Bringing the outdoors, in!

Summit Brick Company: Color - Morocco
Summit Brick Company: Color – Morocco

There is a trend we love for interior spaces right now, and that is bringing the outdoors in! Large windows, indoor plants, natural décor, and how about what is on the exterior of your home? Thin brick looks great inside, too! It gives a vintage yet trendy ambiance to a kitchen, living room, bedroom, or even bathroom. Rustic chic, anyone? It has the versatile function for character in any vintage or contemporary style home.  Building a wine cellar or bar in your basement?  When entertaining guests in your own home, give them the warmth and welcoming richness of brick to accompany that glass of wine.

Best part for stylish, thrifty homeowners? It is DIY! The do-it-yourself-er needs to look no further for their next home project. Thin brick does not require a structural footing as it is well below the 15 lbs per square foot maximum for adhered veneer. There are also great systems such as TABS II that make installation a breeze.  All you need is a few simple tools and you can paint your wall will real clay masonry.  Summit Brick Company carries a variety of colors to fit your next project and corners are available to give the appearance of full bed depth masonry.  We also have the ability to make custom thicknesses so you can show relief and shadow effects if you choose to do a soldier course or any other architectural detail.  Let your imagination run wild!

Look at our Pinterest “Interiors” board to get inspired here!

Check out Summit Brick Company’s thin brick here.

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The Brick Driveway, a smart way to upgrade your home.

There are countless articles on kitchen, bathroom and extreme remodels and likewise numerous ads for window replacement,
but one of the smartest and simplest upgrades for your home is often overlooked.  Consider building a brick driveway!

The brick driveway is an instant way to increase your home’s value.  Furthermore, one day you may want to sell your home.
When the market is fiercely competitive and most of the homes in a neighborhood have similar features, the home with the brick driveway will take the lead in getting noticed.   Brick driveways are elegant and they create remarkable first and lasting impressions among prospective buyers.

Brick driveways are maintenance free and may last well over 100 years.  Bricks can be individually replaced when needed and are super easy to clean.   Brick pavers come in a variety of colors that complement the colors in your neighborhood and your house.

If you want to build curb appeal this spring, then build a brick driveway.

 

112 Years and Counting…

Summit Brick Company is Colorado’s only family owned and operated clay brick manufacturer, founded in 1902 by my great grandfather Joseph C. Welte.  This upcoming year, Summit Brick will become 112 years old.  We are a dying breed nationwide as multinational conglomerates are buying up family owned brick companies.  Being right in the middle of the holiday season, I am reminded about the many people at Summit Brick that I am grateful to call my family.  Many of them have been working side by side with my grandpa, dad and uncle for the past 35 years and are now working with the fourth generation (myself and my three brothers Matt, Paul and Jimmy).  We are still dedicated to bringing customers knowledgeable and friendly service along with a great product.  I had the privilege to be able to work with Jim Clemans before his retirement and learned quite a bit from him on our cross country trips.  I remember to this day how much he loved the people he worked with and his customers.  Jim taught me that this company is about the people.  It is about relationships.  It is about you.  You are what make Summit Brick Company successful!  I want to thank all of you and let you know that we plan to make it another 112 years!

Happy Holidays!

John Welte

VP of Sales

Summit Brick Company

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Break out the sweaters!

With temperatures dropping significantly and snow falling across the nation, many people are rushing to get a set of snow tires and their furnaces fixed.  One thing that most people don’t think about during this arctic blast is brick; however, this is a time that can be damaging to your brick if not taken care of properly.  Salt can wreak havoc on your clay brick patio causing efflorescence and the possibility of shortening the life of the paving brick.  Clay brick are porous and will absorb the salt along with the moisture.  This salt may surface later when the brick dries causing an unsightly white residue.  Also, by adding salt you may increase the amount of freeze/thaw cycles that paving brick will experience.

What exactly are freeze/thaw conditions and cycles?  This cycle is the number one issue of masonry failure in Colorado.  Freeze/thaw is pretty basic.  Moisture freezes and then thaws.  We have numerous days where the temperature drops below freezing at night and then returns to the mid 40’s the next day.  Pretty harmless unless that moisture is trapped inside of something (water expands 9% when changing from a liquid to a solid).  When a brick has moisture and freezes, the moisture expansion can cause microscopic cracking and lead to spawling (the brick begin to crumble or flake off).  The moisture literally pushes the brick apart.  When the brick get above freezing, the moisture returns to liquid again.  One freeze/thaw cycle is the process of the moisture freezing and then returning to liquid one time.  It is generally not an issue with Severe Weather (SW) rated brick unless the brick is completely saturated with moisture over an extended period of time.  Most manufacturers in the US only make SW brick but you may find some brick that has come up from Mexico or the southern US that is only Moderate Weather (MW) rated.  MW brick is not meant to be exposed to the harsh freeze/thaw cycles that we experience in most of the US.  I recommend not piling a large amount of snow from your driveway on the garage’s brick and letting it slowly melt over the next few months.  This will expose that brick to numerous freeze/thaw cycles and may create problems (possibly leading to a premature failure of the brick).  Clay brick is excellent under compression but weak under tension (brittle).

The key is to keep the moisture out!  It is probably too late to do a significant amount of maintenance as winter is here.  Next spring, make sure you don’t have water entering into your building envelope, such as cracks around a chimney cap or a sill that is not shedding water correctly.  Chimneys can get a significant amount of damage if they are not allowing water to drain away but instead into the system.  When a fireplace or stove is used, it makes the masonry heat up.  If moisture is present, it will migrate into the masonry.  Once the fireplace or stove is no longer being used, it will cool down to the surrounding temperature and the moisture will freeze.  If the water is not able to enter the system, no worries.  If there is a lot of moisture present, the freeze/thaw cycles have just increased significantly along with the potential of the brick being damaged.  Do not seal brick (unless you use a breathable sealer) as they need to be able to transfer the moisture out of a system.  If any moisture is present or able to get into the system, you will trap the moisture in compounding the problem.

Water is never going to be eliminated from getting into a masonry system but you want to limit the amount entering.  Also, make sure you have the proper design to allow for any moisture that does enter to exit the veneer system.  If you are going to use salt on your pavers, use it sparingly and know the risks vs. benefits.  With proper planning and care, your brick should last for centuries.

Stay warm!
John

Thin is in?

Thin is in?

Across the nation, clay brick manufacturers such as ourselves are offering thin brick as a veneer system alternative to the full bed depth veneer system that has been used for centuries.  Manufactured stone veneer has soared in popularity offering a low cost alternative and similar look to natural stone.  This has led to major improvements in design, strength and quality of thin veneer applications.

I have very fond memories of the numerous family birthday dinners that took place on my grandparent’s brick patio.  Now, raising a family of my own, I want to create those memories for my kiddos.  I am currently building an outdoor living space that is going to take shape over the next years as I balance shuttling kiddos around, chasing puppies and keeping a house running.  Also, the wallet only allows me to do so much each year.  I needed to weigh the benefits of both veneer systems.  A big plus of the thin veneer system is that I would be able to locate the components of the living space without doing a lot of upfront layout and planning.  Knowing that my family is dynamic and changing, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick a game plan and stick with it.  That flexibility on the thin system offered a value to me that was intriguing.

The system I want to use needs to be very durable.  I remember shooting hockey pucks and bouncing baseballs off of my parent’s brick house growing up.  Thirty years later, you would never know the abuse that wall took from me and my siblings.  Thin veneer definitely would not fit this calling.  Also, I don’t want to incorporate any wood into my project as I want it to be maintenance free.  Wood invites insects and organisms to the party and I would rather keep them away.  There are options out there for thin veneer that use cement board rather than wood, but they are a costly alternative.  Another thing I took into account is that I want the components of my living space to be permanent and strong.  I know that I am going to have a few hundred pounds of kids climbing on them at some point.  Also, knowing that this clay masonry is going to be subject to large swings in temperature when I build fires in the new outdoor fire pit and pizza oven, this is further pushing me towards the proven strength of full bed depth masonry.

After all of the mental anguish of trying to select a certain system I came to an eureka moment.  Why limit myself to one system when I can have both?  The colors are going to be exactly the same and I can design using the strengths of each system.  Use the thin veneer system when it has the most benefits and use the full veneer system when it has the most benefits.  Don’t limit yourself because you can design both systems into new construction, remodels and renovations.  Now when I am listening to stories while enjoying pizza on the back patio around the fire, I can know that I used each system in the best design application and cost effective way to suit my needs.  While the weekend warrior is looking to save a few dollars and put some sweat equity into their projects, they are also looking for answers to keep the high end quality and aesthetics of masonry incorporated.  There are great ways to design with clay masonry and having both full bed depth veneer along with thin brick veneer vastly expands your options.  New construction can benefit from both.  Remodeling or upgrading can benefit from both.  There are places that both excel in performance and design flexibility.

-John

Design with inspiration!  Design with elegance!  Inspiring Architectural Elegance…

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