Deep reveals and soffits are increasingly popular design features that add an extra depth and dimension to masonry façades. The growing trend today is to continue the surrounding brickwork bond over the openings to maintain an exposed brick soffit, seemingly unsupported by exposed steelwork.
Until recently, creating such a feature would have been a complex, costly and time-consuming process involving the drilling of bricks and threading of metal rods for support. This process is loathed by the trades and produces a sometimes inconsistent finish. With new Underslung™ systems from Ibstock, this is no longer the case.
Soffit units, typically 890mm (4 bricks) long, but longer or shorter to suit requirements, are created by casting reinforced concrete on the back of keyed bricks, specially prepared from standard bricks cut back to create a positive ‘butterfly-shaped’ key for permanent bonding. The concrete is stopped back from the face of the brickwork to allow for site mortar.
A steel channel is set along the top of the casting, complete with T-bolts to connect with slotted holes in shelf angles fixed to the face of the concrete structure. Two lifting-eye sockets are set alongside the dovetail channel to facilitate lifting and positioning of the homogenous units.
The precast units are then lifted into place below the shelf angles and finely adjusted to align along the face of the building prior to tightening of the bolts. Pistol bricks are then laid on top of the shelf angle to obscure the supports and provide continuity with the facia brickwork.
Bricks used for the units are usually taken from the same batch as those sent to the site, ensuring uniformity of appearance. Units prepared in this way are ideal for long or unusually shaped openings where there is restricted access or little or no bearing surface.
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