Bricks on Mars?

Not quite like this,

Not quite like this,

With Donald Trump recently announcing his plans to have mankind on Mars prior to the end of his term, Scientists at The University of California in San Diego may have stumbled upon a solution to one of the greatest challenges to the proposed feat.
With resources on the vast planet nothing short of limited, the idea of sustaining any extended trip relies almost solely on the ability to create structures for both habitation and simulating earths atmospheric conditions for the growth of food.
Suggested solutions to the lack of building material on the arid planet have included a nuclear powered kiln to terraform stone and turning organic compounds into polymers capable of binding the iron rich soils into useable blocks.

A little more like this

A little more like this

With the bottom line being that transporting materials into space for construction is unfeasibly expensive, scientists have found the best solution to date in compressing the native Martian soil. With silicon, oxygen, iron, magnesium, aluminium, calcium, and potassium, the substrate, when compressed with as little as 10 kilograms of pressure is able to form an interlocking structure that when in scale is capable of out performing reinforced cement, although this scale is approximately less than 2cm. O̶b̶v̶i̶o̶u̶s̶l̶y̶ Hopefully there are no planned voyages to the red planet anytime soon, as much as we love bricks and the idea of them being used to construct the first colonies of the human race's future home, the theory has yet to be put into practise with actual Martian soil.

She's a brick house

Second Hand Bricks Sydney

It's pretty easy for some businesses to display the products they sell, clothing outlets have mannequins, takeaway restaurants have bain-maries and newsagents have shelves. So how does one sell bricks, well; it's not really that hard, as we have the best second hand bricks in Sydney - but hey, that shouldnt mean that we can't still have a little bit of fun. 

Second Hand Bricks Australia

And thus what is probably the worlds smallest display home was born. With a floor plan designed to nestle comfortable upon a standard sized pallet (a little under 1.5 square meters) this dazzling display of assorted bricks spans a multitude of composites, finishes and textures. Although the mortar used in it's construction is that of a modern cement base rather than period correct lime mortar, the overall finish presented perfectly joins the mismatched bricks from all over Sydney into a completely unified structure. 

Original Recycled Bricks

Also worthy of pointing out is the awesome rustic corrugated roof (which we also sell, details at recycledbuildingcentre.com.au) and neat little stove pipe. We have started constructing a couple of other cubic structures for use in future displays, maybe we will start to stakc them up in a fashion not dissimilar to Minecraft, who knows?

Clayton & Co bricks in Australia

Clayton and Co Brick

This particular brick oddity was salvaged from a house which was comprised solely "except this one" of unmarked Sydney dry-press bricks. A little research shows that Clayton and Co patented a brick press at the turn of the industrial revolution. The mechanised manufacturing process meant that brick production rates were greatly increased via the use of the specialised equipment. 

Ye old brick press
Clayton Brick Australia

Although it appears that the patented brick making machine was available for purchase in Australia, it is unclear whether any were actually sold, interestingly the brick appears to be comprised of material which is quite different to what would be expected of a brick made of local Sydney basin minerals.
Furthermore, the Clayton and Co brick making machine pressed their patent branding into one side but allowed for the owner to have their own brand or stamp placed on the opposing side. This brick not having been stamped with any markings on the reverse side suggests that it may have been imported to Australia - which actually happened more than you would imagine.

colonial bricks for sale
Convict bricks A

This is not the first curious brick uncovered from the demolition of an Australian home and it certainly wont be the last. In fact, Australia has a pretty wacky history with bricks and sometimes you simply have no idea what can be found in the walls of your typical home.
Given that one of these machines could produce more than 20,000 bricks in a single day, it remains a mystery as to where the others were utilised, or is this the only Clayton brick in Australia?

The Mortar Disorder

ˈmɔːtə/
noun
noun: mortar

A mixture of lime with cement, sand, and water, used in building to bond bricks or stones.

NOTE: Rather than replicate the same content available on several thousand pages across the internet discussing the correct ratios of ingredients and proper application technique, this article is an attempt to address the areas of research which are integral to the end outcome of any masonry project. 

The relationship between bricks and mortar is not dissimilar to that of the relationship between shoes and shoelaces or cameras and film, given that each without the other is practically useless or to quote Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Historically speaking, mortar was simply the uncured format of the construction medium being used ie, clay for clay bricks and lime and gypsum being utilised for setting stones and slate.
Much like the process of laying bricks, the composition of modern mortars differ only slightly to that of long past eras with the fundamentals qualities being universal, the ingredient list seldom changes without technological advancement or designs specifically formulated for specialty applications. 
So, sounds simple right, people have been affixing one brick to another for millennia and the material that binds them is practically the same that built the colosseum , how could you possibly go wrong? Well, there are actually plenty of ways that you can make a complete and utter mess of your little weekend DIY project. Take for example your local Bunnings, the obvious choice for retail levels of building supplies, a shop specifically targeted at the do it yourself market, check out the mortar isle and you will soon be met by a selection of over 60 different products with prices ranging from loose change to entire paycheques. 

Selecting the right product for the right job is one of the most important steps in the entire process of restoring, modifying or laying bricks, therefor it is important have a clear understanding of what exactly it is that you are trying to achieve. Australia's older brick structures (pre 1940) generally were constructed with a soft pure lime mortar and new developments tend to use a much harder cement compound with variations and mixtures of the two types appearing sporadically throughout the interim. Basically, some mortars are traditional "which may be important if you are wishing to restore a structure to period correct qualities" some are easier to work with and some will yield better results in certain environments. 
Examine the situation, determine what nature of mortar is keeping your existing bricks together, scratch it with a sharp metallic object, does it scratch and leave a mark, if yes - chance are that you've got a soft lime mortar compound (traditional) if more resilient, crumbly and containing reflective silica you may have a modern cement mortar, not sure from questionable results, why not examine other structures erected in the area from a similar period and those which are newer, it may give you contrast and perspective. If still no clear conclusions, you may want to look at having an expert examine the chemical composition of the mortar for accurate analysis. 

And that's practically it, now that you have an understanding of what you're dealing with and what you wish to achieve, you can now read the articles necessary to do so without getting mislead by conflicting ideas and instructions. Below are a few handy resources on using various forms of render>

How to mix all kinds of Mortar
Restorative and conservation works
U
ltra modern techniques and materials