Exposed brickwork: Pros and cons

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Brick is a common material used in construction due to its strength and longevity. Generally brick walls are covered in plaster for added strength and durability as well as aesthetics. Exposed brickwork has a unique charm and sometimes the entire building or perimeter wall, both inside and outside are left un-plastered, allowing the bricks to show. In some buildings only the exteriors are un-plastered allowing the brickwork to show, whereas the interior walls are plastered and enhanced with paint or various other types of materials, as the design warrants. Then there are designs where the exposed brickwork enhances the interiors while plastered walls beautify the exteriors.

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Exposed brickwork has its advantages as well as disadvantages. The main advantage of exposed brickwork is the visual interest it generates. Exposed brick wall makes a great accent wall and many homeowners get drawn to its appealing looks. The rustic look of bricks adds oodles of old world charm to homes and other spaces; they are even good for modern spaces.

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Bricks are available in many sizes, textures and shades. Brick walls are laid in many ways, creating beautiful designs and patterns. Straight and simple patterns, herringbone pattern, basket weave pattern, pinwheel pattern and many more designs are there to choose from. Brick walls can be painted as well.

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Exposed brickwork looks great in exterior areas as it marries well with greenery.

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Driving a nail through the exposed brick wall to hang art and artefacts would be cumbersome. Nails have to be driven into the mortar that holds the bricks together. If the mortar is of poor quality, it will chip and flake. Any patching up would have to be done with mortar of the same shade.

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In exposed brickwork it is difficult to conceal wiring – when the brickwork is cut and later patched up for this purpose; it will leave marks that may show due to lack of plastering on top. Bands or beading to conceal wiring is the solution to this and this may affect the aesthetics.

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Exposed brickwork may have to be treated with special coatings. This is important for exterior walls that are left exposed to the onslaught of natural elements. Bricks absorb moisture; hence, moisture proofing and sealing them would be a good idea.

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With completely exposed brick walls, temperature control becomes an issue. Bricks transfer heat and also affect the efficiency of indoor heating.

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Untreated brick walls with rough texture attract dust and require regular cleaning, unlike plastered walls. Another problem is that they may also attract bugs. Bugs may breed in the crevices of flaking mortar and cause hassles. In exterior surfaces or damp areas, untreated brickwork attracts another problem – mold!

Most of the disadvantages of exposed brickwork do not apply in many cases where the exposed brickwork is restricted to a small area like an accent wall.


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