Which are the best brick panels for your interior?

London Brick in Distressed White in Office Breakout Area vtec

In our long experience since 2006 of providing Brick Panels (and also Concrete, Stone & Timber finishes), we have found that clients and installers sometimes wonder what the best brick panel system for your interior project. In order to answer this question, there are various factors which need to be considered in the context of your intended project.

 

What Size are Brick Panels?

These vary considerable, from the largest panels available approximately 1.3m x 3.3 m that will cover a huge 4.3 m2of wall approximately, down to some types approximately 1 m2 of cover per panel.

 

Types

These panels typically fall into two main kinds. The larger panels are made from a dense and robust facing of gritty natural pigments and oxides with a glass-reinforced backing, and they are extremely durable and resilient. The smaller systems typically have a moulded facing with a flat-backed rigid foam backing. Additionally, there are also some plaster products available which are sometimes even smaller.

 

Looks   

The visual appearance of brick panels is important. The larger the panel, the greater the distances between the edges of the panels which can have a significant impact on the appearance of the wall. For instance, a smaller panel of approximately 1m2 can be convenient, but the eye may pick up the regular repeat of identical panels. By contrast, a larger panel –  some are up to 4.4 m2 per panel – with joints at far greater centres can avoid any “jigsaw effect”.

 

Durability

The larger panels by their very nature tend to be almost indestructible as they are a few mm thick and reinforced. Foam-backed panels are typically less durable as the face tends to be thinner, and plaster would generally be regarded as the least resilient.

 

Water & Humidity Resistance

Generally Solid panels and foam backed panels will fare well in moist environments, but check with the manufacturers for specific applications. Some will not suggest using in constant or direct contact with water, such as shower enclosures, but will be fine in general areas of changing rooms or a bathroom. Plaster is not usually recommended for use in contact with water.

 

Installation

Typically, a larger panel system will be screw fastened to the wall or partition in a grid of approximately 600mm centres. So this can work well with uneven surfaces or simple frameworks and does not have to have a perfect wall to be in place.

Smaller panel systems are often mounted or backed with a foam backing. They can be screw fixed if care is taken not to drive the screw through the front surface, and can also be stuck to a flat and reasonably regular wall with panel adhesive.

 

Speed

On a straight wall, larger systems can be installed at a very rapid rate. On a reasonably straightforward project, a team of two can install in the region of 30 m2 in a shift. Depending on experience, an installer would be able to fit between 10 to 30 m2 of smaller panels provided that the wall is good – longer if not.

 

What will you attach your panels to?

If the panels are due to go onto a simple stud framework, larger panels that can be screwed to the frame may be the best solution and will provide a robust end result. Larger panels will work equally well on solid structures e.g. brick or blockwork, concrete walls,

However, if there is a smooth and regular surface to take the panels, adhering foam-backed panels to these is also a viable option.

 

How sound is the structure behind? 

If the existing surface is a bit rough and ready, or even damp, consider the larger mechanically-fixed option as do not need a smooth surface behind and they cope well with moisture.

Larger solid panels also work extremely well on uneven or out-of-plane surfaces as their size enables them to compensate for poor alignment of the wall behind, as they span over irregularities and also easily packed out to a consistent line. In addition the are useful in situations like covering over existing doorways without needing to brick them up first.

However, if there is a smooth and regular surface to take the panels, adhering foam-backed panels to these is also a viable option.

 

Is it Curved or Arched?

Because a larger panel system can flex, they can conform to curves and be fastened back progressively, provided that the radius is suitable. (The panel system manufacturers will be able to answer this question for you.) Polyurethane Foam-backed systems are more rigid and are not generally suited to curves.

 

Scale of Project

Perhaps predictably, larger panels excel at covering large areas quickly so work well on larger projects; smaller panels maybe more suited to projects requiring smaller areas. One reason for this is that transporting a large pallet that will safely transport larger panels will generally cost more then a small standard pallet, although this levels out for larger projects.

 

 

 

Size or Wall or Area requiring Panels

When do you know the dimension off the wall, consider how these will work with the system you are considering. Eg:

  • Will there be off-cuts and needless waste?
  • Can these be used elsewhere?
  • Will the panel sizes you will need to order to safely provide enough material for you?

Ideally we suggest you provide drawings or wall dimensions to the manufacturer so they can quantify what you need for your project.

 

Finer Details

Are there corners, reveals, cut-outs, curves or other features? If so you want a system that can be readily cut and adapted on site. Importantly, you also want to ensure that it can also accept filling on these details and around sockets etc without leaving a fragile core exposed. The panels will also need to be robust enough to ensure they do not lose their integrity when being adapted in this way, so strength and durability of the panel is vital.

 

Technical Support

Do you need fire-rated panels for your application? Do you have installation questions that you need answers for? Will you need panel layouts, advice on where to start off, or design assistance ?

Depending on your project, these factors can be important so do select a manufacturer who can provide you with the right back-up for your project. Make sure they are experienced and knowledgeable and understand your requirements.

 

Product Range

If you’re looking for a choice of styles and colours to choose from, then having a varied range of effects is important. It’s important to have the end result to look just like you want it to, so consider what options there are carefully.

 

Price

Last but not least, the price is a key factor. However, the above points must all be born in mind as cost is not the only component.

Large Format Panel Systems – Pricing can vary according to design & quantity, so as a guide for a typical project using the Texture London brick panel system from Vtec Group Ltd, panels can be under £ 90 per m2.

We recommend that you enquire with a particular design in mind so you get costs including accessories, knowing exactly what you would be getting for your money.

 

Decide the best option for Your Project

Is it a DIY project? Or only for a small wall area? In this instance, cost may be paramount, and if working alone – or carrying panels up to an attic room yourself! – you may decide that smaller jigsaw-style panels are the best option.

For larger or commercial projects, and public spaces, the decisive factors may be durability, speed and ease of installation, invisible joints and the fact you don’t need to be too concerned about what the panels will be fixed to when the strip-out is completed.

With the homework done, you can now decide what type you should go for.

 

Where our Panels may not suit you

We have years of experience since 2006, and we appreciate that not every situation suits our Texture range of lightweight and durable panels.

Although we would never say “Never”, the chances are, that if you are a domestic user and especially if you will be working alone, you may be better off using the smaller type of foam-backed panels.

 

Whatever type of panel you decide to use, we wish you well with your project, and we are here to help you. If you would like to talk to us about our large format Texture panel system – which we are often told is the best on the market, then get in touch.

All the Best, and Happy Panelling!