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It is easier to pay attention to the details of our homes when we can clearly see them – a crack on the wall, paint chipping on the corner of the skirting boards… you name it. What about the foundation of a house? Do you know how – what you call now home – has been built?

After binging episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and seeing how she shows gratitude to countless houses by kneeling down to the floor, closing her eyes and taking a moment to introduce herself to the house, I came to the conclusion that I don’t show as much gratitude to my house as I should.

To many this may seem like a strange concept but as she says “Our homes work hard to keep us safe and comfortable.” A phrase that I can’t seem to shake out of my mind. It’s true and it’s important to be thankful for the things in our life that bring us joy. For me, my house brings me joy. So, today, I’m talking about one of the elements that brings together the foundation of my home – brick ties.

I learned about brick ties at Speedy Fixings, a UK-based company that manufactures and supplies fastenings, fixings and other related products to the construction industry and similar industries. They often publish informative blog posts about the different products they sell and one of them was about this little piece of hardware called brick ties.

What are brick ties?

Brick ties, sometimes called wall ties, are restraint fixings used to create stability in cavity walls by joining the two leaves of a cavity wall together. Overall, brick ties play a key role in ensuring the stability of a building, so these are highly important details in buildings with cavity walls.

Wall ties can also be used to secure other materials. In a recent article on Anthropocene, an image can be seen of brick ties being used to secure hemp blocks. Fun fact: in construction, hemp can be combined with a lime-based binder to create hempcrete. If you weren’t aware of this material, hempcrete is not a substitute for concrete but can “be used in place of traditional drywall, insulation, and siding—where its high thermal mass offers energy-saving benefits by reducing the need for heating and cooling.”

The importance of proper installation

Like any other part of your home’s foundation, all components should be installed properly. As Speedy Fixings mention in their blog post, “Poorly installed wall ties can lead to a series of structural issues failures, including horizontal cracks in walls, bulging walls and in extreme cases, collapsing walls.”

But that’s not all. News from Wales published an article about issues that lead to cavity wall insulation failing, highlighting cracks in the render or the brickwork of your home. This is when “the insulation materials become damp, or begin to clump, they can hang off your wall ties.” Dampness can creep into wall ties, causing them to expand inside the mortar.

Chelsea Mamma also highlights the importance of choosing good quality fixings. “Fixings need to offer a tight seal between materials, and one that will keep secure during a long period of time. Poorly manufactured fixings can easily crack and break (which is the last thing you want in a construction project). So, always opt for good-quality fixings and fastenings for your projects.”

Thank you for reading.


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