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Types of Bricks Used In Home Construction

Brick is one of the oldest building materials in the history of professional construction practices. It is undoubtedly the most durable, since lots of brick buildings, walls, pillars, foundations, and road surfaces built thousands of years ago are still intact. Today, bricks are used for various purposes, such as home construction, wall construction, as an ornament outer wall surface, etc.

The brickwork of Shebeli Tower in Iran displays 12th-century craftsmanship

Once you decide to use bricks, the next step is considering the kind of brick to use in your project. Some types of bricks are sturdy and built for strength, while others are designed to make your house or building look appealing from the outside. Most bricks found today are eight inches long and four inches thick.

To find about the types of bricks used in home construction and how you can use them, read on.

Bricks Categorized

There are numerous ways to categorize bricks.

According to how they are used:

  • Facing bricks

This type of bricks are exposed and can be seen on the exterior of the structure.

  • Backing bricks

Backing bricks are used structurally and hidden from the eye.

According to how they are manufactured:

  • Unfired bricks

Air-cured bricks are known as unfired bricks.

  • Fired bricks

Bricks that are made hard by baking in kilns.

According to their typical use:

  • Common bricks

These type of bricks are commonly used for purposes of residential construction.

  • Engineering bricks

Engineering bricks are most commonly used in projects of civil engineering, such as sewers construction, road or bridge construction, etc.

According to their shape:

  • Brick veneers

These are thin bricks that are used for surface cladding.

  • Capping bricks

As the name suggests, these bricks are used to cap the tops of stalls that are freestanding.

  • Perforated bricks

Perforated bricks consist of many cylindrical holes drilled.

  • Paving bricks

These bricks contain iron, and they are used in underfoot paving applications.

  • Airbricks

Large holes are made in airbricks to lessen weight and circulate air. They are commonly used in cavity walls and suspended floors.

  • Bullnose brick

These bricks are molded and have round angles.

  • Hollow bricks

These are the lightest of all the bricks (about one-third of the weight of the regular bricks). They are mostly used where load-bearing is not required, such as in partition walls.

How to Identify the Quality of Bricks?

If you want to build a quality structure, it is essential that you observe the quality of materials. Here are some ways to identify the quality of bricks:

  • The structure of the bricks should be uniform and homogenous.
  • They should be burned well, have smooth edges, and smooth surfaces.
  • The brick shouldn’t break when dropped from a height of 1 meter.
  • The color of the bricks should be uniform and bright.
  • When placed in water, the bricks shouldn’t absorb more than 20% by weight.
  • The bricks should be soundproof and have less thermal conductivity.
  • When you struck two bricks together, a ringing sound should be produced.
  • If you soak the bricks in water for 24 hours, they shouldn’t have any white deposits on them.
  • The brick shouldn’t scratch when you scratch it with your nail.

Categorizing Bricks by Raw Materials

Here are some most popular types of bricks used in home construction:

1. Burnt Clay Bricks

As the name suggests, these bricks are made by placing wet molded clay into a kiln and then firing them up. They are the classic form of brick and are found in many of the ancient structures throughout the world. Even if they are not the most exciting bricks in the world, they can still be used in a lot of different ways. They usually have a reddish color.

The Roman Basilica Aula Palatina in Trier, Germany, built with fired bricks in the 4th century as an audience hall for Constantine I

To use these bricks in wall construction, they need to be plastered or rendered with mortar. Following are some uses of burnt clay bricks:

  • Masonry walls
  • Foundations
  • Columns

Following are the four classes of burnt clay bricks:

  • First Class

These are high-quality bricks that are more durable and have more strength compared to other classes. They are mostly used for constructing permanent structures. However, they are costly than other classes.

  • Second Class

These are moderate quality bricks that are made by a ground-molding process. They are also burnt in large kilns like first-class bricks, but as they are made by ground molding, they don’t have a smooth surface and sharp edges. That said, they provide strength and durability but need smooth plastering on the brick structure.

  • Third Class

These are the poor quality bricks that are not used for home construction, but temporary structures. They are also made by ground molding and burned in clamps. They are not suitable for coastal areas, and they have uneven surfaces and rough edges.

  • Fourth Class

Having the most inferior quality of them all, these types of bricks are not used in the construction of a structure. They are crushed and then used as aggregates in the manufacturing process of concrete. These are the result of over burning. Hence they can also break easily.

2. Sand Lime Bricks

Sand lime bricks, as the name suggests, are a mix of sand, lime, and fly ash. These materials are bonded together with the help of a chemical reaction that takes place in the middle of wet mixing. They are also called calcium silicate bricks. These sturdy bricks are known for their high load-bearing capacity. Additionally, they can carry their own weight really well.

Sand lime bricks can be used for several purposes in construction, such as ornament works in the home, masonry works, etc. They have a grey color, instead of reddish like the burnt clay bricks. They have quite a smooth finish and don’t require plastering. Following are some of their properties:

  • Good acoustic insulation
  • Good heat and humidity accumulation
  • Excellent fire resistance
  • Have a uniform shape and smoother finish
  • Require less mortar during construction
  • They don’t effloresce salts and minerals

Following are some uses of sand-lime bricks:

  • For constructing exposed brick walls and pillars
  • Structural foundations and walls
  • Can be used for ornament purposes by adding pigments

3. Concrete Bricks

If you are looking for solid bricks to construct your fence of façade, you should definitely consider concrete bricks. Although they don’t have a top-notch quality, they are excellent in blocking heat and reducing sound. Moreover, they offer a bold aesthetic that might not be liked by many people. If you don’t want these bricks in gray color, you can choose a different pigment during their manufacturing process.

They are made by mixing powdered cement, sand, gravel, and water. A typical concrete brick weighs 17.2 to 19.5 kg.

4. Fly Ash Clay Bricks

The manufacturing process of fly ash clay bricks include molding of fly ash and clay together, and then burning them in extremely high temperatures. If compared to burnt clay bricks, fly ash bricks are less porous. The main component of these bricks, fly ash, is a byproduct of coal-based power plants. It may sound weird, but the production of fly ash clay bricks can actually be eco-friendly compared to other types of brick manufacturing.

These bricks are also known as self-cementing bricks. They are lightweight, hence reduce self-weight of structures. Following are some properties of fly ash clay bricks:

  • High fire insulation
  • High strength
  • They have uniform sizes for better joints and plaster
  • Lower water penetration
  • Do not require soaking before use in masonry construction

Following are some uses of fly ash clay bricks:

  • Structural walls
  • Foundations
  • Pillars
  • Places where fire resistance is required

5. Engineering Bricks

Engineering bricks are available in two classes: Class A and Class B. The latter is the more widely used type. Class B engineering bricks are used not because of their physical appearance, but physical characteristics. Engineering bricks are made at extremely high temperatures. They are dense, strong bricks that have low water absorption (less than 7 percent) and high compressive strength (more than 75N/mm2).

On the other hand, Class A engineering bricks, in certain situations, are used as a damp proof course brick. They must have higher compressive strength than 125N/mm2 and a water absorption less than 4.5%.

Engineering bricks have a high load-bearing capacity, chemical resisting properties, and damp-proof characteristics. They are used in specific projects where strength, frost resistance, acid resistance, and low porosity is required. Following are some uses of engineering bricks:

  • Sewers
  • Utility holes
  • Retaining walls
  • And other civil engineering projects

Advantages of Brick Construction

  • Strength

All the types of bricks usually have excellent high compressive strength. This is why bricks were also used thousands of years ago to build durable fences and structures.

  • Sound attenuation

For a 4.5 inches thick brick, the sound insulation usually is 45 decibels while 50 decibels for a 9 inches thick brick. If you want better soundproofing in your house, you should go for brick construction.

  • Aesthetics

Bricks are available in a variety of colors and textures to choose from according to the structure you want to construct.

  • Insulation

Compared to other building materials, bricks exhibit more than normal thermal insulation. They can help regulate constant interior temperatures due to their exceptional ability to absorb and release heat slowly. This way, bricks can produce 30 percent more energy savings compared to wood construction.

  • Fire protection

If the bricks are prepared carefully, they can provide 6 hours of fire protection or even more.

  • Wear-resistance

Bricks have excellent wear-resistance compared to other building materials such as wood.

  • Porosity

Porosity is known as a measure of the void spaces in a material. The bricks can release and absorb moisture that regulates temperature and humidity inside homes.

Conclusion

Bricks come in a variety of types, but choosing the right one ultimately depends on your requirements. Every type differs from the other in terms of properties, characteristics, and strength. We hope that you like our article and find it helpful.

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