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Bringing brickwork to life

Ciaran McAliskey of Keystone Lintels explains why offsite steel-backed brick slip installations make distinctive and imaginative brick features achievable for any project.


When specifiers and architects seek to create visionary exteriors, architectural brickwork detail through traditional masonry techniques can be time consuming and costly. This is where modern offsite construction comes into play, allowing you to add genuine character without significant cost increases. Brick soffits, deep reveals and flying beams are now within reach, enabling specifiers to create truly unique façades, under budget, while keeping projects on track.


Offering performance benefits similar to those of brick, prefabricated brick solutions can help the industry in a myriad of ways, including providing a practical product solution to the shortage of skilled bricklayers. Prefabricated solutions negate the need for a high number of skilled craftspeople onsite and enable complex brickwork detail to be carried out in a factory-controlled environment.

Keystone Lintel system

Offsite visions

To achieve the most imaginative architectural brick designs, Keystone offers a technically advanced, offsite solution for an extensive range of brick slip installations, from flat gauge voussoirs to radius arch lintels, with varying degrees of brick return soffit to conceal any steelwork.


Keystone’s Keyslip products include fully structural steel-backed Brick Slip Feature Lintels and non-structural, cement fibre board backed Lightweight Brick Headers and Sills.


The Brick Slip Feature Lintels are manufactured bespoke to order using a specifically designed assortment of steel sheets, which undergo a folding and welding manufacturing process, creating a bespoke lintel to the aesthetic requirements of a project. This modern offsite construction means that genuine character can be added without significant cost or time increases. For the specifier the possibilities are endless, as the lintels can accommodate a large range of bond patterns to create everything from segmental and flat gauge arches to gothic and parabolic arches, as well as apex and bullseye arches.


Manufacturing these solutions offsite negates the need for brick cutting or mechanical handling onsite, while allowing the contractor to use their bricklayer for other productive tasks. Bricks are collected from site to ensure that the product blends with traditionally laid brickwork. Bricks are then cut into slips by Keystone Lintels and bonded onto the backing steel lintel using a high-performance BBA-approved adhesive. The finished product is then delivered to site ready for installation and final pointing.


Brickwork unlocked

Keystone Lintels’ Keyslip system can be seen within the façade of a luxury apartment complex in Buckinghamshire. Wellington Court is an exclusive development of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.


Developer Halamar’s architectural vision for this property required a gable-ended façade and main entrance featuring prominent and distinctive brickwork arches in the Arts and Craft style. Keystone’s technical team designed Keyslip corbelled and full arch lintels that were manufactured in a factory-controlled environment.


Each bespoke lintel was manufactured to the size, shape and aesthetic requirements within the project build schedule.


The one-piece lintel design solution required exacting dimensions to avoid any conflict with the proposed stone sitting at the end of each arch bearing. Structural spans of 3,593mm for the upper coursing, and 3,143mm for the lower coursing, were essential to ensure the seamless installation of the prominent entrance.


To optimise material usage and reduce brick waste, a consignment of light-textured Parham Red bricks were collected from site by Keystone. Double Cant bricks were precisely cut and bonded onto an extra heavy duty corbelled arch lintel using a BBA-approved construction adhesive in a factory-controlled environment.


Keystone’s patented perforated lintel design allows the adhesive to squeeze through the perforations and form a ‘mushroom’ on the inside, providing a mechanical lock between the steel lintel and the bricks.


For greater cost control during the build programme, integral key prefabricated lintel components were all manufactured concurrently. Delays associated with bad weather were also avoided, allowing for high quality and consistency to be achieved when replicating the four large full arch lintel designs. The 4,300mm span with 2,150mm rise arches were delivered to site ready for final pointing, with all the arch lintels including lifting hooks for an easier and safer installation.



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Specify & Build

MAY 2024


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