Recycled bricks are becoming a common feature in many modern landscaping projects, both in commercial and residential spaces. Whether you are wanting to reduce your carbon footprint, love incorporating materials that have a history into your designs or simply want to add an attractive feature to your outdoor spaces – recycled bricks are a great choice all around.
Upcycling for re-use is the most energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable form of recycling and with recycled bricks, it also preserves the irreplaceable historic bricks that built our nation. Some recycled bricks can even date back to convict times where original sand stocks were used and often have the makers stamp in the frog (a depression in one bearing face of a moulded or pressed brick) of the brick.
Recycling bricks also minimises the need for mining and quarrying activities to produce new bricks and keeps large quantities of waste materials from landfill.
What bricks can be recycled?
Most recycled bricks come from houses that were built before the 1950’s, as they were mostly built using lime mortar which can be easily cleaned off. Houses built after the 1950’s used concrete mortar which can’t be recycled as it is too firm and can’t be removed.
If you are wanting to test if bricks from a demolition job are built with lime mortar and could be recycled, you can use something metal like a car key and scratch away at the mortar. If the mortar scratches away easily, then it is likely to be lime mortar. If the mortar is concrete, then your scraping will barely leave an impression.
You can also do a “clap test”, where you clap together two bricks and if the mortar falls off quite quickly, then the bricks can be salvaged. If the mortar stays stuck to the brick and it feels like the bricks will break before the mortar comes off, then the bricks are not suitable for recycling.
If you are unsure whether your bricks are suitable for recycling, contact a local brick recycling center to seek their opinion.
Types of Recycled Bricks
There are two types of recycled brick products – whole bricks and brick chips.
Whole bricks which can be used in restoration projects where feature walls or a vintage or rustic theme are needed in commercial or residential spaces, or for fireplaces and in landscaping for front of property walls, boundary fences, retaining walls, garden edging and as pavers for paths and driveways.
Brick chips are made from the collection of waste bricks from construction sites and they are crushed into small chips, then screened to filter out any other larger construction materials in the load. The result is multi-coloured crushed bricks that are ideal to use for drainage, garden bed mulch, rockeries, stone features and ponds.
Alternatively, these chips can be crushed into finer particles and used in manufacturing road-base, track and drainage material, fill sand or made into new bricks.
Benefits of Recycled Bricks
The use of recycled bricks significantly reduces waste and materials going to landfill. Recycling bricks will also significantly reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) in comparison to the production of new bricks.
Colours and sizes of all recycled bricks vary greatly depending on the area that the clay and shale was removed from the ground to make the bricks. The colour variation gives a unique appearance and a rustic charm to your project.
Recycled bricks are already well worn in and have stood the test of time. They are strong, they’ve shown they can stand up to weather, to pressure, and that there is no appearance of weakness. All of the shifting and settling in that naturally comes with new bricks finding their place has already happened as recycled bricks are in their final form, and there are no surprises with them.
Recycled building bricks come with a history, they have a story and your use of them is the next chapter for them. You might even get to know what original building the bricks have come from and if there is any historical significance for that structure. This all adds to the appeal of salvaging bricks and incorporating them into your building and landscaping projects.
Creative ways to re-purpose your old bricks
Love the idea of doing something great for the environment with dreams of salvaging bricks and having a piece of history as part of your landscaping or building project, but not sure how you can incorporate recycled bricks. Here are a few ideas:
A striking feature wall
Get creative using a variety of coloured recycled bricks for a striking garden feature wall or sculpture. Add some outdoor lighting and you will have a magical focal point in your outdoor space
Paved pathway or drive
Using recycled bricks for paving with their colour variation and worn character makes a stunning statement full of warmth and vintage charm when used as a path or driveway to welcome people into your home or garden
Garden bed edging
Both concrete and clay bricks make a simple and effective recycled brick border to any garden bed
Simple and affordable, old bricks are the perfect material to create your own fire pit for those family nights keeping cosy and warm around the fire
For the food lover
Create an impressive veggie garden using recycled bricks for the retaining walls of the plot
Some bricks already have holes and these can be used to complement your outdoor entertaining décor, using them as candle holders with a small succulent planted in the other hole
Upcycle old bricks into a show stopper vertical garden – succulents and cacti would be perfect planted in the brick holes
These are just a few of the advantages of using recycled bricks and the creative ways you can incorporate these into your landscaping project. If you have plans for a landscaping project and you want helpful advice on incorporating recycled bricks, Contact Luke 0434 355 066 or on Facebook for a free quote.
Please provide us with information about your landscaping requirements so we can contact you to arrange a suitable consultation time.
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