The first step in this project was finding a desirable brick for replication. Size and texture were considered, and a high-end sand-casted brick was chosen. Color was not a consideration, however, since the project included coloring and staining concrete during production and installation.
Since the contractors planned to precast the brick replicas in sections for easy installation and joining, they created a patent-pending design that could be easily handled with little waste. The new design locked together to prevent cracking, installed with fiber cement screws instead of lath and mortar, and allowed for variable tolerances.
The design was then mastered so that there would not be obvious repeats in the bricks. The clay brick design worked to the designers' advantage, however, since clay bricks normally display some repeats.
Pourable molds were then made from the masters, using high quality materials that would allow each mold to be used multiple times.
The next challenge was creating a mix design that would meet the necessary requirements. Many factors were considered, including weight, flex strength, surface hardness, realistic look and feel, workability in pouring, work time, permeability, color and stain, speed of curing, cost, and environmental friendliness. Because of the mix's complexity, it is categorized as engineered cement composite (ECC).
Once the proper mix was determined, parts were made, including regular bricks, window seals, coined corners, and soldiers for the windows and doors.
Staining involved oxide body colors and permanent surface stains, including H&C concrete stains, liquid pigment concentrates, and acrylic polymers.
Cured parts were installed over a code-approved moisture barrier using exterior fiber cement screws attached to the home's OSB shell. A fortified grout was applied in mortar joints and between locking keys using a regular mason's grout bag.
Preparation for the project took many weeks. Installation and completion with three people took two days.