Bricks: A classic material used across the country to construct everything from buildings and walls to sidewalks.
Americans love the familiar look, but increasingly, towns and cities are having a hard time justifying the clay-based material — especially as it ages.
But now, innovations in asphalt treatment and decoration are allowing surfaces to offer the same great look but without the bricks, according to the Washington Post.
So, how do these new crosswalks and sidewalks go from looking just like the surface of a road to resembling authentic brickwork?
First, the asphalt is heated, then a metal grid with the desired brick pattern is laid on top (think of it as a giant cookie cutter). This creates a pretty convincing brick-like indentation, which then comes to life through a paint or plastic coloring to complete the look.
Primarily offered by Quest Construction Products and Ennis-Flint, these ingenious surfaces offer countless advantages over traditional brick. Changes in the underlying soil often causes bricks to dislodge, but that won’t happen with these new paths since they are made of contiguous material. Not only does this make surfaces safer for pedestrians, but also easier to maintain – especially considering the toll a tough winter takes on our sidewalks and crosswalks.
Additionally, since the cracks in between traditional bricks are no longer a factor, unsightly weeds will not take over sidewalks. People also won’t be tempted to steal bricks – yes, that actually happens – as there won’t be any to remove.
A civil engineer for Boston’s public works department, Bob Astrella knows a thing or two about this subject. He boasted to the Washington Post, “this is a hell of a lot easier to repair than brick crosswalks,” adding that brick “looks nice, but there’s a maintenance issue.”
Thanks to this new advancement, public surfaces in cities and towns across the country are going to get a whole lot safer, and much easier to maintain, too.