About Brick Tinting

Tinting with brushes
Application techniques vary, however treating bricks individually often gives the best result and allows for a variety of colours to be introduced.

The application of colour to enhance the appearance of brickwork dates back several centuries. By the 19th century and especially in London, ‘colourwashes’ were often applied (in conjunction with ‘Tuck Pointing’) in an attempt to create a monochrome façade that hid undesirable variations in brick colour.

Whilst remnants of these colourwashes can still be seen, the materials put to use weren’t as durable as modern day ‘tints’. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that the science behind ‘tinting’ developed in Bavaria with the creation of silicate paints designed to withstand harsh alpine weather. By the latter half of the 20th century a more translucent ‘tint’ had evolved in Britain allowing brick and mortar suppliers to disguise colour inconsistencies between batches of bricks and premixed, coloured mortars.

Tinting test panels
When designing tints to create a whole new appearance, temporary ‘non-fixed‘ test panels usually help to inform the decision making process.

In most situations, different tints are applied to bricks one by one with the aim of creating the desired variety of tones and colours. Following this, the mortar is often tinted to create the perfect match. Ideally weaker tints are used to allow for the natural patina of the brick to come through, as a result it is better to select the best brick before deciding to embark on building works if tinting is to be employed thereafter. As well as being a very durable treatment, it is non-film forming and as a result tinted bricks will wet and dry the same as their untreated neighbours. What’s more the dyes used are non-toxic and non-flammable and as a result, they are ideal for use in fire surrounds and other areas that are subjected to high temperatures.

Tinting before building
Assuming they are laid with a careful eye and a good match on mortar, it is often possible to tint bricks and stone prior to laying.

Before deciding to tint however it is important to first scrutinise the extent to which factors such as joint size, brick size or texture contribute to an eyesore alongside more obvious colour discrepancies. Larger mortar joints for example will often appear lighter even when the mortar colour is the same and more textured brick surfaces can appear darker in the sunlight due to the effect of shadow. Furthermore, several other factors should be taken into account such as the strength of tint required to achieve a suitable match, the texture and porosity of the brickwork, whether any surface residue exists, the moisture content and so on.

Today tinting is commonly sought by home owners, architects, and contractors alike not just to address unsightly variations in brickwork but at times to create a whole new appearance for dated brick buildings or to make a stunning feature from exposed internal brickwork. The Tinting process has long been recognised by the Brick Development Association, the trade body representing brickwork in the UK.

Properties of the dyes we use

  • Non-toxic:

    The dyes are primarily composed of microscopic inorganic pigments and silicate fixative. They contain no harmful products and no v.o.c.’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Ultra fine:

    The small size of the pigments enables them to effectively penetrate and ‘stain’, rather than ‘coat’, the surface of the masonry.
  • Highly durable:

    The dyes react chemically with the masonry substrate to produce an insoluble, microcrystalline silicate bond.
  • Non-corrosive:

    The original surface texture of the masonry is not altered by the dyeing process. The only evident effect is the designed colour change.
  • Non-flammable:

    As a result, the dyes are ideal for use in fire surrounds and other areas that are subjected to high temperatures.

About Brick Image Ltd

We are a specialist masonry Tinting company with many years of experience operating in the UK but now also in the Netherlands. During this time we have gained considerable experience in dealing with a wide range of situations and materials and are determined to ensure that each and every customer is happy with our work.

Peter Sloane from Brick Image
Peter Sloane FNd BSc

The founder and director, Peter Sloane FNd BSc, studied Historic Building Conservation at Kingston University and the Building Crafts College sponsored partially through a scholarship awarded by the Tower of London. Though today tinting is the focus of our work, we have considerable knowledge and experience in all aspects of façade conservation and restoration including re-pointing, colour matched repairs / replacements, specialist cleaning and paint removal. As a result we are well placed to make a thorough assessment of what else may be required to ensure your masonry is well maintained as well as pleasing to the eye. If additional works to tinting are required, we can provide you with contact details for relevant tradesmen who could assist.

In addition to working on many notable buildings in and around the London area, we have frequently been asked to offer advice to architects, conservation officers and other industry professionals. In 2007 Brick Image Ltd were appointed to disguise considerable concrete as part of the ‘Shibboleth’ installation at the Tate Modern. Despite the large scale media interest and scrutiny from industry professionals, the match between old and new concrete was so convincing that final result was considered a resounding success (see more).