FROM THE GROUND UP

BY JASON ZWIKER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Brick helped form the bones of Charleston from its very earliest days. Back when only a small section at the tip of the peninsula was populated, a wall of brick and earth kept the fledgling city safe from marauders and pirates. As the city we know today gradually came into being over the centuries, brick was the common theme. It played a starring role right there alongside half-timbers, tabby and Bermuda stone in the city’s origin, and it continues to enjoy celebrity status today. Brick is the rugged action hero of the architectural world; age only makes it better.

True brick is made of clay and shale that is fired in a kiln to make it impervious to moisture and resistant to corrosion. That’s the kind of material Forterra Brick prides itself on—a building material that not only adds value, strength and eye appeal to any project, but also is incredibly low maintenance.

“I want customers to understand the value of brick financially and aesthetically,” says Hugh McLaurin, South Carolina sales manager for Forterra. “Customers need to ask their builders, architects and designers for brick when planning their projects.”

Late in 2015, the company officially changed its name from Hanson to Forterra—a name that calls to mind the idea of “giving form to the earth.” The company’s local operations started on the banks of the Broad River in Columbia in 1919 and, over the years, bricks manufactured there have made their way to nearly every part of the state. Today, the business has a total capacity of over 1.7 billion bricks per year across North America, according to McLaurin. “It’s the same great product from the same great people,” he says.

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TIPS ON BRICK

• Consider your personal style when selecting the look and feel of the brick as well as how it will add to the value of your home.

• Do your homework! Compare brick’s ease of maintenance, durability and annual energy savings with that of other building materials.

• Visit Forterra’s showroom, where you’ll find trained staff and a wealth of tools to guide you through the selection process.

McLaurin continues, “The products used locally are made here in South Carolina, and we have a full showroom and retail yard right off of Ashley Phosphate Road, servicing the greater Trident area with a full line of masonry products for interior and exterior projects.”

Whether a client’s needs are residential or commercial, Forterra Brick has a great selection of clay brick, clay pavers and VersaThin-brand thin brick products in a wide range of colors and styles.

A recent residential project in Charleston features Kiawah from Forterra’s Carolina Collection. It’s an elegantly colored brick with a sand face and a simulated tumble texture.

In fact, the Carolina Collection pays homage to the places we all know and love. Broad River, Catawba, Congaree, Cooper, Santee, Moultrie and Combahee are just a handful of the styles available. The collection has a classic look and features a range of reds, oranges, tans and pinks that evoke the warm color palette of the Palmetto State.

As McLaurin explains, VersaThin is a brick produced from the same shale and clay as their dimensional brick, but it’s three inches thinner and 70 percent lighter. The benefits are obvious. Not only can VersaThin decrease the overall cost of a building project, it can be utilized where traditional full-size brick is not practical. In addition, it can increase a wall’s R-value, a measure of thermal resistance, by allowing more space for wall insulation, thereby reducing annual energy costs.

For McLaurin, offering a product that helps customers achieve the look and feel they want in their home or business is the best part. “It’s about forging relationships with clients,” he says. “Being able to walk into our local office or showroom and meet the people who are going to help you build your dream—that’s what Forterra is all about.”

Jason A. Zwiker is a freelance writer in Charleston.