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Bricks are not just for house building.

Should someone ask you to think of the most obvious use for a brick, your mind would most probably start to focus on house building and the construction industry in general. Bricks are without a doubt used for building more than any other use, but just what else could the humble brick be used for?

Although bricks clearly make superb paperweights and are more than able to dispatch even the most troublesome of wasps, they will be left out of this article in favour of the more sensible suggestions.

Bricks in the Home

There seems to be an ever increasing desire to keep the past alive today more than ever. Many people remember the bare brickwork around the fireplace in the front room of their Grandmothers house, or maybe a rustic Herringbone patterned brick floor. The most common place to find bricks inside the modern home is the kitchen. Many home owners want to have a country cottage feel to their kitchens by having their cooking areas and even their cupboard runs being made from bricks. You don't even have to own the old fashioned Aga or Rayburn stove for this look to work either. Many ultra modern kitchens with all the latest appliances can look quite stunning when mixed with the rusticity of bare brickwork.

Other uses for bricks around the house and garden

These days you may be fortunate enough to find reclaimed or just unused bricks on forums such as Freecycle that are offered for free. Using these bricks around your home and garden certainly adds visual interest. Whether you source your bricks from a brick merchant or an online forum, you can use these bricks either indoors or outside. There are many projects that bricks can be used for with some quite stunning results. The vast majority of these projects are well within the capability of the competant DIY enthusiast or they may require an experienced contractor for projects that are just too large to tackle alone.

Below are just a few uses for bricks. These tend to be the easiest and cheapest methods available. However, a longer lasting and more professional finish can be achieved with all these projects by taken a little more time and using a well mixed mortar to fix the bricks mor firmly in place.

Garden edging with bricks

For many years people have edged their garden with bricks. There are many ways this can be done, maybe the bricks could form a short wall or a single row of bricks layed at a 45 degree angle can look quite effective. Whatever method of brick laying is employed, you can be sure that the lawn will remain inside the bricks unlike log roll borders or those flimsy plastic borders that are available from the DIY stores. Another major benefit of a brick border, as long as the brick is not a soft and sandy one, is that they are far more resistant to damage from a strimmer. The heavy duty nylon strimmer line can easily cut deep grooves into the wood of log rolls and in time, even cut right through them.

Edging your lawn with bricks is an easy project that even beginners can attempt. All you need to do is dig out the turf or soil evenly to create a shallow trench. Place a layer of two inches of gravel into the bottom of the trench. Place the bricks side by side in the trench to create garden edging. You could of course use cement and point up the arranged bricks if you wanted for a more permanent looking border, but this would take a little more time.

Garden patio with bricks

You can even lay a patio with bricks. You could build a patio in the same way as the garden edging, by removing the soil where you want to build a patio, then pouring a shallow layer of gravel into this trench and fitting the bricks together over the gravel. When you are happy with the overall appearance you could pour sand in between the cracks to ensure the bricks have some extra support. Ensure that the bricks are able to withstand extreme cold temperatures as some bricks that are fine for vertical walls can be unsuitable for ground work applications.

Brickwork garden path

A garden path can look amazing when constructed from bricks. You really can let your imagination run wild when it comes to the pattern you want the bricks layed in. You don't even have to have a completely brick covered path either as you can mix the bricks with other building materials to add an extra special visual impact.

A particularly popular way of using bricks in a garden path is to leave good drainage beneath the bricks and creating good sized gaps in between them to infill with gravel and plant with some very low growing plants. Wild Thymes and Chamomile are excellent choices for this as they are fragrant and hardy, they smell nice when walked on too. You could also break up any monotony in the brick pattern by including some slate or railway sleeper in the path construction.

Brick barbecue

One of the most common uses for bricks outdoors is the barbecue. This can be anything from a few loose bricks stacked up to support a metal grill to an elaborate affair using fire bricks and a great deal of imagination.

The barbecue made from bricks is a good sturdy alternative to a shop bought metal on that has to be put away or covered to prevent it from rusting away in a couple of seasons. The only thing that needs protecting on a brick barbecue is the grill unless the brick work covers this as it does in the more advanced designs. The brick barbecues can be constructed to house your charcoal or even a gas cylinder as well as other barbecue equipment. A brick barbecue that has been well built and thoughtfully situated in a nicely maintained garden can be a real enjoyment throughout those warmer months.

Indoor exposed brick work

Many people like the appearance of bare bricks inside their house too. Why not try installing an exposed brick wall. Admittedly, this works best if you live in historical areas where exposed brick is commonplace, rather than an ultra modern apartment development.

You could bring life to an old fireplace in your home with exposed brick to underscore its elegance. There are even brick slips or tiles that look very much like a complete brick when installed but have a fraction of the weight.

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