Why it’s time for Britain to embrace brick slips

Quick to install, economical, versatile and sleek – it’s no wonder brick slips have been used by architects in Europe for the past 40 years. With many British architects reluctant to move away from traditional wet laid bricks, James Ormerod, MD Aliva UK, explains why it’s about time we caught up.

It’s an undoubted fact that the humble brick has proven longevity as a stalwart British building material. But the weight of the brick on the frame, the shelf angles and additional supporting structure add to the mass of the building and to associated costs.

Brick slips mean architects can achieve the aesthetics of this conventional material, but in a more modern, efficient way.

A common misconception is that brick slips aren’t rainscreen cladding. But by bonding a slimmer version of traditional bricks onto our render system, we are creating a form of rainscreen cladding that can be installed in a fraction of the time.

A change of pace

Fitting brick slips takes a third of the time needed for traditional brick construction.

It also reshuffles the construction timeline process, because there is no need to wait for the shell of the building to be completed before starting on the interior.

While a spell of bad weather can hold up traditional brick construction, brick slips are installed after the building is watertight, which means although this first stage is weather dependant, construction on the rest of the building will not get held up.

This was particularly useful when our brick slip system was used on student accommodation at St Vincent’s Place in Sheffield, which demanded the construction be completed before the start of the university term.


Our range of clay brick slips means architects have free rein when it comes to traditional design and placement of the bricks.  As with traditional brick, we can add different chemicals during the firing process, or ‘distress’ the final brick, to create different effects.

Aliva has more than 1,000 brick slip options. With our Listello slips we can glaze not only to an RAL, NCS, Pantone and colour scan, but also create bespoke funky designs. The only limit is the architect’s imagination.

Our brick slips also allow more flexibility when it comes to the layout.  Whether it’s creating the herringbone style or varying the depth of the bricks to create a 3D design, it is far less time consuming.

And if there is a requirement for a particular clay brick, we can have them cut to size.


Brick slips are an eighth of the depth of a traditional brick, giving you eight brick faces for the same volume of clay. As well as reducing the amount of clay we need per building, we can dramatically reduce the amount we need to import, making them an economical, ‘green’ choice.

Our insulated render, which can be applied alongside the brick slips, is designed to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in winter, making the entire building more energy efficient.


The construction business has changed considerably over the decades and life on site has evolved to become much more safety-conscious.

Brick slips remove many of dangers associated with traditional bricklaying, and our lightweight brick slips, a slimmed down version, offers a solution to applying bricks to taller buildings without compromising stability. It is the perfect solution to the current vogue for building ever-higher towers that need to take their place among older traditional brick constructions.

Aliva UK systems using clay brick slips or Listellos meet the new cladding requirements for buildings over 18m where class A1 and A2 s1 d0 non-combustible material are required.

There is nothing wrong with the way that Britain has built with brick in the past; our constructions are solid and built to last. But brick building is slow and cumbersome by today’s standards, and that’s no longer the world we live in. Using brick slips, architects can pay respect to Britain’s brick laying heritage, but in a way that fits with 21st century construction.

Find out more about what Aliva UK can do for your architectural project with our brick slips brochure