Brick floors – when, where and why they are at home

Photo: Zillow Digs at home in Norwich, VT

Bricks, the hard-working blocks of earth that are fundamental to so many structures, are becoming a trendy flooring option for high-traffic indoor spaces with connections to the outdoor area. Think of the foyer, kitchen, laundry room, and mud flaps – areas that require visual impact and downplay any dirt they find. If you’re thinking about new floors in a room like this, read on to find out why a new breed of brick is an inexpensive and easy to maintain option. Then, here are some tips on how to maintain the natural beauty of brick floors.

1. It’s a bargain!

While solid or hollow bricks are commonly used outdoors, indoor brick floors are generally made from paving stones or tiles: flat, 1 ¼ “to 1 ¾” thick clay or salvaged brick material that is either mounted directly on the subfloor or on a pad over the subfloor like cement backerboard. These lightweight paving stones or tiles cost between $ 3 and $ 10 per square foot, in the same stadium as ceramic tile ($ 2 to $ 5.50 per square foot) and at a lower starting price than natural stone ($ 5 to $ 10 per Square feet). Allow an additional $ 3 to 5 per square foot for professional installation – less than you can expect for professional tile ($ 4 to 8 per square foot) or stone floor installation ($ 6 to 10 per square foot). Budget-conscious DIY enthusiasts remember that the general task is to level the subfloor, put in a base, apply mortar, and then lay individual paving stones.

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2. It is persistently smart.

Environmentally conscious homeowners are drawn to paving stones and brick tiles because their raw materials – clay, slate, and kaolin – are natural and reusable. Compare this to vinyl floors made from synthetic polyvinyl chloride or stone floors, a non-renewable resource that requires enormous amounts of energy to run the quarry. Reclaimed paving stones or tiles salvaged from old buildings create a troubled look with historical relevance while reducing environmental waste. Unlike some traditional vinyl or laminate floors, which emit high levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds), environmentally friendly bricks are free from pollutants and allergens, a plus for family members at risk of allergies.

3. It offers design flexibility

Paving stones or tiles can be laid in a number of traditional or bespoke configurations. If you have a classic aesthetic, you can opt for “straight laying”, in which the bricks interlock in a conventional grid pattern. The “tread pattern” creates a simple offset motif, while a wicker or herringbone pattern gives your brick floors a more ornate effect. For something a little more modern, consider the V-shaped chevron. You can also combine bricks with wood for a diamond inlay effect, or even create a custom pattern. Paving stones and tiles can also be painted for a more contemporary, less contemporary look.

4. It is practically non-slip.

Even when wet, brick floors have an inherently rough and gritty texture that provides more traction than vinyl, laminate, tile, and untextured stone floors. Of course, brick loses this non-slip quality when glossy surface protection sealers are applied. So, leave brick floors unfinished or use a non-slip, penetrating paving stone sealer (that sinks below the surface and protects from it) like LastiSeal penetrating sealer made from brick and concrete.

5. It’s really sturdy.

Refractory, lightfast and rot-proof bricks are unbeatable for their durability. It will take you decades without fear of damage from heavy pedestrian traffic, sun exposure, weather fluctuations, or house fires. This is what distinguishes brick floors from slightly frayed or stained carpets or laminate floors, which can warp from moisture and generally need to be replaced if damaged. In the rare event that a brick does crack, the modular construction of brick pavers and tiles makes it easy to remove and replace.

Why you should consider brick floors in your entryway

Photo: Zillow Digs Home in La Jolla, CA.

Brick floor maintenance

If you choose brick floors for your home, keep its beauty and extend its lifespan with these floor maintenance tips.

  • Vacuum with a dust brush attachment or sweep once a week with a broom or microfiber dust mop to remove light dust and debris.
  • Quarterly banish grease and grime by working a damp microfiber mop dipped in a solution of one cup of vinegar and one gallon of warm water into three by three foot sections. Before the solution dries, run a second pass over the damp section with a dry microfiber mop to pick up loosened dirt and avoid white spots.
  • Remove stains in mortar or grout around paving stones or tiles by working a phosphoric acid cleaner (diluted with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions) into the seams of the brick floors with a brush. Perform this treatment as often as stains appear, but always in a well-ventilated area while wearing gloves.
  • When you’ve sealed your brick floors, seal them at the manufacturer’s recommended interval (between one and three years on average). First vacuum the floor and then remove the old seal with a commercially available squeegee. Use a foam brush to reapply fresh brick sealer to the entire floor (paving stones and seams). Remember that penetrating sealers that do not form a film on the brick are better at retaining the natural look and texture of the brick than surface sealers.

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