Designer    Guest Blog 13 Apr 2018

Modern Masonry argues the case for blockwork benefits, concrete trends, and the might of mortar

Taking industrial style to the next step, we spoke to the team at Modern Masonry about how different types of masonry can be incorporated into kitchen and bathroom designs, the benefits of masonry, and the related emerging trends.

What masonry trends are you registering within the kitchen environment?

Exposed blockwork can create a style statement within the residential kitchen setting. Furthermore, it’s durable and cost effective. Product design capabilities for concrete and blockwork have made leaps and bounds over the last few years and an assortment of natural stone colours and textures are now available.

For example, split-faces and shot-blasted finishes provide a realistic, robust and cheaper alternative to natural stone. Equally, options for designers extend much further than they used to and include a wide range of bold, solid colours and polished and honed surfaces.

Concrete worktops are also ‘in vogue’. Visually, they possess a natural texture and come in a wide range of hues and tones. From a performance perspective, they’re hard-wearing, ideal for handling the day-to-day rigours of the kitchen environment.

Furthermore, polished concrete is also finding its feet in flooring applications for kitchens and bathrooms. The minimal aesthetic it creates comes into its own when contrasted with either earth or pastel tones. An essential element for those looking to incorporate an ‘urban’ theme in their interiors it is perfectly complemented by exposed brick walls.

What masonry trends are you registering within the bathroom environment?

In the bathroom setting, concrete tiles can create an unusual and minimalist look, harking back to the work of seminal architects like Denys Lasdun and Le Corbusier.

When used with organic materials such as polished wood or patinated metal, they create interesting elements of contrast. A polished concrete splashback can also create a striking visual statement, providing a focal point which unifies the space.

How is the choice of materials important beyond an aesthetic perspective?

When considering the latest trends and developments in kitchen and bathroom design, it’s all too easy to concentrate solely on the aesthetics. We recently conducted a survey of 2,000 British adults to get to the heart of what type of home they aspire to. For our respondents, material performance was particularly important.

Durability and hygiene are vital considerations for any material used within these spaces, especially in areas where raw food is being prepared, and those which come into contact with young children and the elderly.

Safety is another essential requirement. For instance, flooring used in a washroom should be as naturally slip-resistant as possible or suitably treated to avoid potential accidents.

How does masonry satisfy these performance requirements for a kitchen or a bathroom?

A high level of fire resistance, especially within the kitchen setting, is a key advantage of using masonry. It acts as a non-combustible structure behind the surface finish, doesn’t hold a flame and limits spread. This provides essential reassurance to specifiers when they are looking for potential materials to use in this space.

Furthermore, masonry is non-porous and does not rot or warp if subjected to water, be it flood, long term slow leaks or more major plumbing incidents. Consequently, this reduces the extent of potential repair and disruption.

Another advantage for owners of homes constructed from masonry is that it’s relatively simple to adapt enabling refurbishment or extensions of a home. This view is vindicated in our recent survey; three-quarters of the UK public stated that ease of structural modification is an important attribute of their home.

Upgrading and extending the kitchen, or adding an extra bathroom is a good way to add value to a house. For properties constructed using masonry or brick and block, these materials are more accommodating than most (a difficult and expensive task in prefabricated housing). They also provide more flexibility throughout the build, giving scope to modify designs if needed.

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