Building with Brick

Written by Morgan Kaenzig de Denus, AMAST Content

Photo by Madison Inouye on (

Brick is one of the oldest known building materials. For thousands of years, people have been building everything from houses to bridges to roads out of brick. Today, a wide variety of bricks are available, each with different qualities that make them better suited for use in different projects.

Different Types of Bricks

Burnt Clay Bricks
Burnt clay bricks are probably what come to mind when you think of bricks, as they are most commonly used in construction. There are different classes of burnt clay bricks, each with different strengths, appearances, and shapes.

First-Class Bricks
First-class bricks are table-molded and then burnt in kilns, resulting in bricks that have a standard size and shape. They also have smooth surfaces and sharp, well-defined edges. Due to their high quality, they are perfect for use in permanent structures. They are also more expensive than the other brick classes.

Second-Class Bricks
Second-class bricks are created through the ground-molding process and then burnt in kilns, resulting in a quite strong and durable material. While first-class bricks have very well-defined edges and smooth surfaces, this class of brick has rough edges and irregular shapes.

Third-Class Bricks
This class of brick is not generally used in permanent structures. These bricks are low-quality, so they are better suited for use in temporary structures. They are ground-molded and burnt in clamps, which results in rough surfaces and uneven edges.

Fourth-Class Bricks
Fourth-class bricks are brittle and break easily, so they should not be used in construction. They can be crushed and used as aggregates for concrete which can then be used in roads, foundations, and floors.

Concrete Bricks
Due to their strength, water resistance, ability to block heat, and ability to block noise, concrete bricks are a popular alternative to burnt clay bricks. They are made from a combination of cement, water, sand, and coarse aggregates. This type of brick can be manufactured on-site and needs less mortar than other brick types, so it is used for many projects, from façades to fences.

Fly Ash Bricks
Fly ash bricks are created using fly ash and water. With smooth surfaces, uniform size, and incredible durability, they are ideal for use in construction projects. They are highly resistant to water, weather, and fire, and they are excellent insulators, keeping buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Sun-Dried Bricks
These unburnt clay bricks have been dried via exposure to the sun. As a result, they are not as reliable or durable as many other types of bricks, so they should only be used in temporary structures.

Sand Lime Bricks
Sand lime bricks, or calcium silicate bricks, are made of sand, lime, and fly ash. These bricks do not need to be placed in a kiln because they are set by the chemical reactions that occur between the sand, lime, and fly ash. Sand lime bricks are strong, durable, and resistant to wind, water, and heat. They are uniform in size, color, and texture, and they have straight edges.

Engineering Bricks
These bricks have a higher density because they are created at incredibly high temperatures. Engineering bricks are heat-resistant and water-resistant, making them great for use in basements, sewers, and maintenance holes.

What Are the Benefits of Building with Bricks?

They Are Durable
Brick has been a popular building material for thousands of years, and it has proven to be a durable building material. It is no surprise that the National Institute for Standards and Technology has afforded brick masonry a 100-year life span. Bricks are resistant against pests, rotting, fire, and weather.

They Are Low Maintenance
In addition to being incredibly durable, brick buildings do not need much maintenance. Structures made with high-quality mortar and bricks can last for hundreds of years without maintenance. While other materials need new layers of paint every few years or must be replaced regularly, brick can last for generations.

They Can Reduce Noise Pollution
They can block sound, thanks to their thickness and density. Building walls with a high density of bricks can reduce noise pollution. Constructing walls with two layers of brick separated by a small space can block even more soundwaves from entering a building.

They Are Great Insulators
With bricks, you can conserve energy as well as money. They are slow to lose or absorb heat, so brick buildings can stay cool in the summers and warm in the winters.

They Are Highly Fire Resistant
Bricks are very fire resistant and can have a one-hour to four-hour fire-resistance rating, depending on the type of brick and the wall’s thickness. This means that buildings constructed from brick can maintain their structural integrity or confine a fire for one to four hours, giving people enough time to escape. Brick buildings will be able to resist fires much better than buildings made from wood, as wood can burn down in less than thirty minutes.


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