Bricks are a block-type material primarily made of dried clay; however, with modern construction, ever-evolving bricks are produced more efficiently with chemically cured processes. They are created to be joined together, mainly by an adhesive or using mortar to keep them bonded together, to enforce a resilient structure.
There are many different types of bricks. Their identification is based not only on the material used to create them but also on the construction uses and integrity they can withstand. Several types include the dutch brick, engineering bricks, cream city brick, and more.
The use of bricks dates back to 7500 BC, and looking around us today; they are an integral part of our community. They are used to build houses, roads and even decorate our back yards. They are an essential construction material that keeps their popularity due to their durability and cost-efficiency. In this article, we’ll describe 16 different types of brick to you so you can be informed of the different types.
Table of Contents
- Identifying Good Quality Of Bricks
- Different Types Of Bricks
- 1. Fire Bricks
- 2. Dutch Brick
- 3. Engineering Bricks
- 4. Hollow Bricks
- 5. Cream City Brick
- 6. Burnt Clay Bricks
- 7. Acid Brick
- 8. Sand Lime Bricks
- 9. Jhama Bricks
- 10. Concrete Bricks
- 11. London Stock Brick
- 12. Sun-Dried Brick
- 13. Lakhori Bricks
- 14. Nanak Shahi Bricks
- 15. Porotherm Smart Bricks
- 16. Fly Ash Brick
- Properties Of Bricks
Identifying Good Quality Of Bricks
One of the most critical parts of your project is going to be identifying bricks with good qualities. Therefore, we thought it was relevant to share this with you quickly before taking you through the different types of bricks.
- Size: A brick should have sharp, straight edges and maintain a rectangular surface. It should be even in size, and the sides should remain equivalent. Size can vary from country to country.
- Shape: There are many shapes a brick can have; however, the most common is rectangular. They can even be cut to complete special construction projects. Regardless of what shape the brick takes, it needs to maintain continuity, and the edges should be sharp and straight.
- Texture: A surface of a brick should not be too smooth because this can cause the mortar to not stay in place, which will cause a weakness in your structure. Even though texture can vary, they should maintain a uniformed and pre-compacted surface. They cannot have any holes, cracks, or grit on them.
- Color: As discussed, bricks can come in many different shapes and sizes. They can also come in many different colors, ranging from white, blue, black, and most commonly red. The color is subjective by the clay’s chemical makeup, the temperature it was burnt at, and if any staining has taken place.
Different Types Of Bricks
Now that you know how to choose the best quality of bricks let’s review some of the different types of bricks so that you know what to look for when you shop for bricks.
1. Fire Bricks
Fire bricks are known for their fire-resistant qualities. Also known as refractory bricks, they are mass-produced with a unique earthing process where after it is burned can endure extremely high temperatures. They also have the qualities to withstand lower temperatures as well. Regardless they should be strong enough to no deteriorate during rapid temperature changes.
A fire brick is commonly found in fireplaces and the lining of some furnaces. They are used in anything that extreme chemical or thermal stressors. A material that is made of the same structure is used as insulation for the space shuttle.
2. Dutch Brick
This small style of brick is yellow and was developed in the Netherlands for architectural building. It is made from clay that is dug from riverbeds. It is well known for its appearance as well as its durability.
These bricks were primarily used in chimneys but later found better suited for home design. They were then used to face the lower part of a house; then, they were used for the rest of the house. In parts of England, the brick was even used for pavements.
3. Engineering Bricks
Defined as a fire-clay brick, engineering bricks have low water porosity and resistant to some gases. It is used when these qualities need to be combined with a strong brick and can even be used to provide moisture control to building walls. To enable the brick with its strength and permeability, they are created in higher firing temperatures, making these bricks blue.
A type of engineering brick is called Accrington bricks which is a type of iron-hard brick was produced in England. It is a brick that is well-known for its strength and was even used as the foundation of the Empire State Building and the Blackpool Tower in Lancashire, England.
4. Hollow Bricks
Cavity and cellular brick are other names for hollow bricks. As the name defines the brick, they are hollow on the inside, having 25 to 60 percent of void space. The average solid bricks have a void space of less than 25 percent. They are about one-third of the weight of a standard brick.
This type of brick is ideal for quick construction projects as they are able to be laid much quicker than regular bricks. Hollow bricks reduce wall thickness and will overall increase the life of the building. They even add more space inside the building as well as keeps the building cooler by reducing heat.
5. Cream City Brick
Made from clay found in the Menomonee River and Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, this brick is a light-yellow or cream color. The clay is originally red but contains elevated levels of sulfur and lime; when the bricks are fired, it turns them a creamy-yellow color. However, these bricks are very porous and absorb dirt and pollutants, making them discolor and darken over time.
Many buildings in the 19th century were constructed with cream city bricks, most of which were churches and lighthouses in the Milwaukee area. These structures still stand today, which is believed to be due to the well-known durability of the brick.
6. Burnt Clay Bricks
Burnt clay bricks have received the name “common brick” due to the fact that it is used as the primary type of brick in construction. They are used in many different but essential construction projects of walls and foundations. They are broken down into the following four classes:
First-Class Bricks (Best)
First-class bricks are created by a table molding and placed in large kilns to be burnt. Due to the molding, it forms a standard shape for all the bricks, with sharp edges and smooth surfaces, which creates a more durable and stronger brick. They are the best quality compared to other classes; however, they are the most expensive.
Second-Class Bricks (Moderate)
This class of brick is also burnt in kilns but is created by using a ground-molding process. The ground molding has a moderate quality and lacks a smooth surface and sharp edges. With the unevenness of the ground, the shapes can also be irregular. Regardless of some imperfection, they still provide durability, but smooth plastering is required.
Third-Class Bricks (Poor)
Third-class bricks have a surface that is very rough and edges that are not sharp at all. They are ground molded like second-class bricks but burnt by clamp burning. The poor quality of this class of brick makes them only suitable for temporary structures and not meant for rainy areas.
Fourth-Class Bricks (Over-burnt/Irregular)
This type of brick may be a result of overburning, which causes the brick to overheat and become brittle. However, they do serve a purpose as aggregates in concrete manufacturing. They are of very poor quality and cannot be used in construction for any purpose.
7. Acid Brick
Acid Brick is a masonry brick that is specially made to be chemically resistant as well as thermally durable. It is also called an acid-resistant brick. High silica shale is the primary ingredient of creating this brick. It is formed when fired under high temperatures, higher than that used for standard bricks. Sometimes it can take over a week to make, depending on the manufacturer.
8. Sand Lime Bricks
Sand lime bricks are chemically set bricks. This means when the bricks are created, the process is completed by using heat and pressure elements. This helps accelerate the chemical reaction, which enables them to be fire resistant and have a smooth finish.
They are primarily used in India for several construction purposes. However, artists incorporate the bricks within buildings that have ornamental works of art. Artists also take advantage of the fire resistance to give their art a finishing shine.
9. Jhama Bricks
Jhama bricks have a strength that is considered equivalent if not more than first-class bricks. Even though they are known as “over-burnt” bricks and have some irregularities, they have a higher absorption capability for stress and are ideal for slab and beam construction, especially where concrete would not encounter water.
10. Concrete Bricks
Concrete bricks are custom-made to fit the size that is required for the job. They are created with components of cement, aggregates, water, and sand. They can be made on the construction site if needed; this would reduce the number of other materials required. They can also be customized for different colors during production.
These bricks are ideal for facades and fences but primarily for masonry and framing of buildings. It is suitable for foundations since it is not affected by termites and extreme temperatures. However, it can be used for retaining walls and even to soundproof rooms.
11. London Stock Brick
Created from yellow clay, this brick is very distinctive in color as well as its soft appearance. It is a handmade brick used primarily for London building until machine-made bricks took over in the early 1900s. Small quantities are still made today but only for heritage work.
The term stock brick indicates two things, either a hand-crafted brick using stock or a standard brick socked in the brickyard. These types of brick fell under the former and were looked for to use decoratively.
12. Sun-Dried Brick
The creation of these bricks is not based on burning them, rather than drying them. It is a three-step process of preparing the clay, molding the clay then letting them sit out to be dried by the heat of the sun. They are the most basic examples of bricks.
Sun-dried bricks are not durable or as strong as other bricks; therefore, it is best to use them for temporary structures. They do not have any fire or water resistance which makes them not suitable at all for permanent structures. They are utilized more in rural areas.
13. Lakhori Bricks
Lakhori bricks have a lot of different names, such as badshahi bricks or kakaiya bricks. They are thin flat clay brick that is burnt and is red in color. They originated from southern Asia on the subcontinent of India. Due to their small size, they were easily used in Mughal architecture, such as moldings and cladding.
14. Nanak Shahi Bricks
This type of brick is often confused with Lakhori Bricks since they were both created during the Mughal era. The Nanak Shahi bricks were produced and more popular in northwest India. This is a more decorative brick used on structural walls and was used in many fortresses and temples.
15. Porotherm Smart Bricks
This form of hollow brick is used for its quality of thermal insulation. They are made from clay, ash, granite, and coal ash. They are easy to use and very economical as well as environmentally friendly. They maintain a low weight but sustain durability and strength as well as fire resistance.
They are made in a variety of sizes and can be constructed horizontally or vertically. They are used for load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls. Furthermore, they are great for walling systems to provide thermal insulation—so cooler rooms in the hot months and warmer rooms in the cooler months.
16. Fly Ash Brick
This brick gets its name because it is manufactured using fly ash and water. Fly ash is a by-product when burnt coal is mixed with water. These bricks contain a high level of calcium oxide, a property used in cement production, therefore creating a self-cementing brick.
Fly ash bricks are lightweight and have fire insulation as well as high strength. They are undeviating in size, which makes them ideal for joints and plaster during construction. They are also utilized in the building of foundations and pillars.
Properties Of Bricks
There are a few qualities with bricks that everyone should consider, especially in the construction planning process. These properties are crucial to the effectiveness and longevity of whatever is being constructed. Choosing the wrong brick could have damaging repercussions.
Bricks do not look as though they are soft by any means; however, they are, for the most part, made of clay, which creates a porous surface. In a brick with a higher density, it would absorb less water. In areas that acquire a lot of rain, it is recommended to use bricks that allow a cavity system. Therefore, when water percolates towards the inside, the space provides more insulation. Thus, the water may never make it to the inside wall.
There is a test to measure the amount of water absorption. First, the brick is weighed in a dry state; then, it is immersed in water for 24 hours. After these 24 hours, the brick is weighed again, and the difference results are documented as a percentage of absorption.
During the manufacturing process of the bricks, they are baked in a kiln. Due to the step, bricks become stiff to the point that any scratch should not produce any impressions. This is a vital property because it determines the durability and longevity of the brick. Unfortunately, there is not an easy laboratory test to decipher the exact hardness of the brick.
One technique to test the hardness of the brick is to tap it with a hammer. By listening to the sound may help determine how hard the brick is. A dull thud means the brick is soft and therefore useless. However, if the sound has more of a ringing to it, the brick is considered challenging and sound. One way to ensure the brick is hard is to consider the other properties of compressive strength and water absorption, and frost resistance.
This property is also considered “crushing strength” and is a representation of the amount of weight that the brick per unit can withhold. The use of bricks is the assurance of the capability to withstand the weight of the structure above. The strength of the brick relies on the composition of the clay and the burning process. The hotter the brick is burnt in the kiln, the stronger the material would be.
There are a few methods to testing this property of brick. The first is a field test, where the bricks are dropped from approximately three feet. Once it hits the ground, it cannot break into pieces. More of a laboratory test is using a crushing machine. This process includes filling the brick grooves with mortar and letting them set. Using the crushing machine will determine a value of compressive strength for the brick. Of course, if the brick is wet, this value will be decreased.
Bricks can provide a lot of different insulation qualities, such as soundproofing and thermal resistance. Of course, this depends on the thickness of the wall, but ideal bricks possess this quality. The conduction of sound and heat varies based on the density and permeability of the brick. The denser the brick is, the more heat and sound will be conducted; however, the quality of insulation will be reduced.
The best type of brick would be light but also strong. This will maintain proper insulation for cold, heat, and noise. A thickness of 4.5 inches can soundproof a room of 45 decibels. As for thermal conductivity, bricks can save up to 30% of energy due to the absorption of heat at a quick pace and the slow disbursement of it. Hence making bricks a more energy-efficient option.
Bricks are created within a fire, therefore making them one of the top-rated fire-resistance materials. This makes them one of the most ideal choices for construction. When bricks are adequately manufactured as well as constructed efficiently, they can offer up to six hours of protection from a fire.
Efflorescence happens when bricks become wet and the water dries on the surface, creating a crystallized material from the natural salts found in the clay that forms the brick. This creates a white chalky substance on the brick and can have unfavorable effects on the aesthetics of the building. It is an occurrence that has been a persistent problem for the brick manufacturers without any solution.
Although it does not affect the building’s physical integrity, it can affect the surface of the brick itself. The more salt that is present, the more crystallization will occur, which could deteriorate the entire brick. There are laboratory tests to monitor this, which consists of saturating the brick in a warm room and letting it dry. The brick is then examined for levels of efflorescence.