What's the Deal with Weirdly-Shaped Bricks?
Old misshapen bricks were once all the rage and used to add character
The walls of our 1942 Tudor-style house are covered with misshapen bricks that the realtor called clinkers. Can you tell me about them?
—Kevin MacNiven, Denver
All clinker bricks started as normal-looking clay rectangles, but in the extra-hot spaces of old-style periodic kilns, which fire intermittently, bricks would blister, blacken, and bloat, like the ones at left. Architects in the early 20th century liked their unique roughness and often used clinkers to add character to facades. Newer continuous kilns have nearly eliminated these defects; now you can find clinkers only in brick salvage yards, or at manufacturers still using periodic kilns, such as the Stiles and Hart Brick Co.