Victorian Homes

What are sustainable stock bricks and how can I use them?

stock bricks

When it’s time to pick a brick for an extension on an authentic Victorian home, you’ll want to look for bricks that match the originals used in your home’s construction. This means you’ll probably need stock bricks.

But what are stock bricks, why are they so desirable and where can you find them? Here the experts on the Victorian homes team at Adrian Flux answer all your questions about them.

What is a stock brick?

The stock brick is a handmade brick used for the majority of building work during the Victorian boom time.

They’re called stock bricks or stocks (and sometimes Victorian bricks) because they were made on a stock board – an iron-faced block of wood fixed to the surface of a brick moulder’s bench.

The brick mould fitted over the stock and the brick maker would fill it with prepared clay and then cut it off with a wire level with the top of the mould. The brick would then be turned out onto a pallet for drying and firing.

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Stocks are coloured differently depending on where they were made. London stocks are a distinctive yellow as they were made from brickearth or London clay subsoil.

Red stock bricks are also fairly common, but only the yellow or brown ones are usually known as London stocks.

Machine-made “stocks” are also available if cheaper alternatives are desired.

Why are stocks so desirable?

Reclaimed stock bricks are much sought after for decorative and conservation use.

In the original constructions, the bricks were held together with lime mortar. This is much softer and weaker than modern cement-based mortar, meaning that stocks can easily be cleaned of old mortar and prepared for re-use.

stock bricks

Nevertheless, the supply of second-hand stocks cannot always meet the demand, and nowadays “new” second-hand stocks can be obtained from builders’ merchants.

Apart from the way they look, stocks are desirable because they are sustainable. They were generally made close to where they were used on construction sites which saved on the cost of transporting them. Plus, as we know, recycling and reusing old materials is better for the environment than buying new.

Why choose stock bricks?

A brick is natural, more or less maintenance free, and durable. You can reduce your carbon footprint by using reclaimed stocks while at the same time improving the look of a building or extension and ensure it sits comfortably with others around it.

Stock bricks improve with age and, in contrast to other materials, a brick will not rot, rust, erode or decay. Furthermore the elements, wind, rain and snow will not damage bricks. Instead, these elements enhance them by giving them a “weathered” look.

stock bricks

What’s the difference between authentic stocks and new stocks?

Authentic stocks have more character than modern stocks. They have a rough-textured surface and are lighter and softer than machine-made bricks.

Old stocks are also be more expensive, but many feel that the extra expense is worth it.

Reclaimed bricks vary in price depending on type, age, quality and quantity, so it makes sense to shop around. Common red bricks will cost less than a pound each, while older rarer stocks can cost upwards of £1.5.

Where do reclaimed stock bricks come from?

Reclaimed stocks have history. They can originate from any structure – from factories and stately homes to tired terraced properties and municipal buildings – and come in a variety of colours, shapes, sizes and textures.

Talk to your local builders merchants to learn more about the stock bricks that will match your home. It’s always a good idea to take a couple of samples to compare them with the bricks used in your home before buying in bulk for your extension or other DIY project.

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