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A Question About Glazing An Existing Brick

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Is it possible to glaze the face if an existing reclaimed brick? Brick is approx 60 years old, solid, made of clay. Is there a specific type of kiln, heat, glaze?

Is there a danger in firing a brick of which content is unknown?

I am a demolition contractor and simply obsessed with trying to make use out of the thousands of tons of materials (bricks). I have been "slicing" the bricks, making "tiles", but now want to apply glaze.

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It is important to know the temperature at which the brick was fired to. Once this is determined, I think you could spray glaze on for that temperature and re-fire the.

The temp. is probably as low as the manufacturer could go to harden the bricks into permanency.

I would start with cone 04-I am just guessing

You do not want to fire so hot that the brick becomes molten.

TJR..

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Wow, thx for the tips. Is there a lab that could test the variety of bricks I have to test what temp it had been fired to? I tear down houses built across the ages, so I wouldn't be able to pinpoint a manufacturer. If the brick can't be pinpointed, could I take my chances and do a low temp fire for a long duration? If so, would any type glaze be recommended? Or type of kiln for experimenting? Thanks again for all tips!

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what do you plan to do with the final product?  

 

i like building houses and using pre-owned products when i do.  haven't been able to build for 10 years but i anticipate building a small house and studio somewhere and leaving this wonderful location and its huge house.  just info so you realize i am not entirely unfamiliar with reclaiming building materials.

 

the problem with brick is that it is absorbent and whatever you have has moisture inside it.  your location isn't shown on your profile and could be anything from a swamp to a desert.  wherever that brick is, it is not ready to go into a kiln until it has been dried sufficiently to prevent its blowing up in the kiln.  you don't mention a kiln of your own and whether you have done any pottery at all.  it sounds as though you have a great idea but need lots more info before you take whatever next step you must to realize your final idea.

 

give us more info so we can help.

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If you do this testing in your kiln, be sure the bricks are dry. If you have been storing them outdoors they will be damp to the core.

This could mean glazing them the night before you fire them and perhaps candling the load until you are sure the steam is gone.

 

Also, be sure to place them on a rounded, unglazed clay form so if it does melt it won't destroy your shelves.

I would start lower in temp rather than higher ... Google brick manufacturing and see what info comes up.

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Is it a red brick?  If so, it was probably fired at earthenware temps.  If it is a yellow brick, it might hold up to higher temps or it might not.  I'd follow Chris's advice and knock a chip off the corner and put it in an unfired bowl, made of a body that will stand the heat, and fire to Cone 04.  If it holds up (doesn't deform) then you're good to use earthenware glazes on it.

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post a photo of said brick so we can see the color

red

Grey

Light brown
yellow

or ??

Also are there any marks on it to ID it?

Are all the bricks the EXACT size or some variance in sizes

all these are clues for me

Mark

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interesting question. I once toured a brick factory. they dug the clay right there and then had huge mixers and extruders.  and a block long tunnel kiln that was open at both ends. you could look down into it and see the flames at the center of the tunnel.  the racks of brick moved very slowly.

 

why not research the nearest brick maker and ask how high they fire? I don't remember what they did at the place I toured 30 years ago.  I agree that getting an idea of how hot the bricks were fired is important and that it probably was no higher than necessary.

 

are these bricks solid or do they have holes in them?

 

rakuku

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ok, this got me curious. did some internet snooping. there is   gobrick.com  site for mrickmakers association.

 

they talk about brick that gets glazed in a second firing and say that the second glaze firing is usually less than 1800 degrees.    the initial firing range is pretty large.

 

anyway, i sure learned a  lot about bricks!   rack

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Most bricks are low fire - like common red ones -even the chimney bricks masons use for fireplaces are relatively low temps as they are not stamped and are made a bit ununiformly. They crack in high fire kiln chimneys lower than say 6 -8 feet away  from flames.

At least thats my experience .

Only high fire bricks are always made to exact dimensions and are stamped and are made to various high fire specs.

My guess is your brick is very low temp-good luck with the testing-I do not think they will make any sort of good tile as they will be weak when cut.

Mark

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Wow, you guys are so well versed. I am in Atlanta Ga. I was slicing old vintage bricks - bricks that are probably 100 years old. Many people like the face of the tile as is.

After reading so much feedback- I'm thinking the more modern three holed brick may be the best candidate for experimentation, and I now see that it is essential that they be "dry" - however they are stored outside, and they were on the exterior of a home.

A company does this application into brick tiles currently, but they get brick tiles new, directly from the manufacturer. Check out "www.fireclaytile.com"

I was hoping to skin this cat - make a glazed tile out of debris if you will.

I obviously have no ceramic or brick making or glazing experience.

Thanks for your patience.

I would attach a photo here but not sure how. Many photos are on my website. Www.vintagebricks.com.

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Those bricks at

www.fireclaytile.com

look to be tile made to look like brick to me.

 

Your bricks are wet stored outside-exploding in kiln bricks-after wet sawing them -dry them inside for some time before slow firing them so they do not pop with heat.

Mark

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In coastal Alabama there was once a thriving brick industry, and they specialized in glazed brick.  Many small homes and farm building, silos, etc. were made from this glazed brick and the look was distinctive and to my eye, very handsome.  Anyway, it's an avenue you might research.

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when the General Motors Technical Center was built, the architect wanted glazed brick.  nobody made it.  GM bought a brick factory and made it themselves.  now there are various, shiny, colored buildings around the reflecting pond in the middle.  (if it is still there, after all, detroit is famous for "only the new is good enough.")

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Ok, so here is my plan, based on ya'lls great guidance - 

 

dry brick tiles thoroughly

Find a low fire glaze

Fire at a low fire temp

 

any suggestions on a kiln that is in the less than $800 range that you would recommend for experimentation?

Recommended low fire glaze and low fire temp?

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All you need for a test is a small chip.  Go to one of those places where you can paint slipcast lowfire pottery (FiredUp is one franchise, I believe) buy a bowl, put your tiny chip of brick in the bowl, and ask them to fire it.  maybe put the chip through a few hours in your kitchen oven first to make sure it's completely dry.

 

If it comes through the firing without damage, you'll be good to go.

 

Check craigslist for kilns.  Sometimes you can get an old manual kiln for not much.

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