Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How To Find Brick From The Early 1900's

How to sell our car?  Craigslist.  How to sell outgrown baby stuff?  Craigslist.  How to purge the house of still-pretty-useful-items-that-are-worth-something before we renovate?  Craigslist.  Where will we live during the renovation?  Craigslist. 

Where can I find red-orange clay bricks from the early 1900's?  Craigslist!!!

Remember when we had that great idea about exposing the brick in our sink room?  Still a crowdpleaser even today.  Let's have a quick look back at that winner project.

Sink Room off Master
Before Exposed

Yup, that's the pipe.  Totally surprised us.  We think it carried kerosene to a light fixture back in the 1906 day.

Feature Wall

We decided to do nothing with it.  So it stayed in the wall, carefully balancing chunks of mortar.  

Then we decided to renovate.

Here's that wall through the master. 

Moving Month

Ignore everything everywhere.  And here's that wall after everything was demo'd. 

Uh Oh

EEK!  The pipe is gone.  I even didn't think about it before I saw the hole...but of course that pipe would be removed.  EVERY OLD THING was being removed!!!

Now what do we do?  We turn to my contractor's uncle, of course, who is a mason.  Except my contractor had his own idea of replacement bricks. 

Top: His Brick/Bottom: My Old Brick

This was it.  His closest match.  He knew people who knew people but couldn't source original clay brick.  You can't buy this stuff at the corner store.  Actually, any store.

So I took it on.  I googled for old bricks.  Surely there's something available somewhere.  What should pop up but an ad on Craigslist for "Reclaimed Bricks from 1910".  Four years off?  Bingo!

Cut to me two days later in the backyard of a house on the East side of the city.  Digging through a huge pile of clay bricks full of mortar, dirt and bugs.  Pulling out ones that looked like they matched my chip.

Chip Is On The Bottom Left Brick

They were from a chimney, so many were burnt black.  In a pinch, that could be sanded off easily, but I found enough good ones to take home and test.

And guess what???....

In Place

Other Angle

The mason, who speaks very little English, said, "Same bricks.  Same factory.  You buy 649!"  I couldn't believe it either.  Total luck.

A few days later, they were in.


A little bleached mortar did the trick.  It will never be invisible, but it looks amazing.  Even better in person.  Especially when I think about what it could have been had my friend Craigslist not come through. 

Here's the before and after. 

Not bad at all.  Once the settee is back in place, you might never even notice that Craigslist score.



  1. That's actually pretty amazing that it turned out that well! Pretty fantastic actually. Have I mentioned the fact that I'm incredibly jealous that you have an exposed brick wall?

  2. What a find! And I think you're right that with the settee in place it will virtually disappear. Oh, and I'm so jealous of the brick colour - all the brick in our house (inside and out) is a not-so-pretty orangey red.

  3. That wall is beautiful!!

  4. Any chance you want to share the name of the mason since I am looking for a good one?

  5. It makes me smile every time I see it! You know, I might be up for trading my exposed brick for your deck... ;)

  6. Total luck to find the bricks! If we didn't have that color, our backup plan (when we exposed it) was to whitewash or paint it out. So many options!