The Common Types Of Bricks, And How You Can Pick The Right One

The Common Types Of Bricks, And How You Can Pick The Right One

One of the significant factors that builders, homeowners, and contractors must consider for a building, renovation, or extension project is the type of brick. Pick the right brick, and you are halfway to ensuring your project would meet your expectations. However, pick the wrong type, and you are for short and long-term issues. Choosing the right type of brick is essential for your project.

Bricks have been one of the top building materials in the world for centuries. For example, in the UK, there are hardly any buildings that do not have a brick in them in any size or form. When it comes to your building project, you can’t just go out and get the first brick you lay your eyes on. There are lots of factors you have to consider when making your choice. You have to consider the tone, color, texture, and so on.

Picking the right types of bricks can be a bit tricky. Notwithstanding, we’ve made the process less stressful for you with this guide. We’ll explain the different types of bricks, along with their costs. What’s more, we’ll show you ways you can make the right pick for your project. This guide also contains tips on bonds, mortar, and lots more. Let’s get started.

Types of Brick

In terms of getting your hands on the best types of bricks, you want to look out for the ones made out of clay. Clay is an ideal choice for building and renovation projects as it requires little or no maintenance, and what’s more it is resistant to fire and very cost-effective. Overall, it is
an efficient option. Other available options include lime and cement.

Machine Made Bricks

There are certain qualities that Machine-made bricks give you. Firstly, machine-made bricks have a smooth and clean finish, and more importantly they are very pocket-friendly.

There are different types of Machine-made bricks, but the most common and efficient one is the wire-cut clay brick. The clay is extruded into a column. The column of clay is wire-cut, thus giving it a smooth appearance. There is little or no modification to the column before it is sent into the kiln.

Soft mud bricks are another type of machine-made brick. They are produced by inserting the clay into sand-coated moulds. The end-product is a sanded face with different creases.

Water struck bricks are also machine made. The process of making them is quite similar to that of soft mud bricks; however no sand is used in the moulding process, rather water is used which gives it a less grainy appearance. These machine-made bricks have a uniform appearance, and shape, and are more cost-friendly.

Handmade bricks

Handmade bricks help to provide an original look that can accentuate the overall style and charm of your project. They are suitable for matching existing bricks and achieving an authentic look.

The production process is simple. Clay is rolled together with sand and then formed into a mould by hand. The major advantage of handmade bricks is that they offer flexibility and variety. They can be made into nonstandard sizes, as well as standard sizes.

In terms of physical appearance, Handmade bricks have a rougher surface. On the other hand, they offer a variation in terms of colours and sizes, and this is reflected in their price. While machine-made bricks are pocket-friendly, handmade bricks cost as much as four times more.

Reclaimed bricks

There are several instances when you can get your hands on some quality reclaimed bricks, and this is where Reclaimed bricks come into play. A good source of reclaimed bricks is the reclamation yard. You can source for a good number of used bricks here. However, finding the right quality and quantity might be difficult. If you pulling down a building or property, you can use bricks reclaimed from the original site for your new project.

What Is The Cost Of Different Types of Brick?

The cheapest types of facing bricks are wire-cut and are between £250/1,000 and £400/1,000, while distinctive handmade bricks are upwards of £600/1,000.

How Much Bricks Do I Need?

Knowing the number of bricks you need for each project is usually essential to the success of that project. If you purchase more than the required amount, it can lead to material and wastage. On the other hand, too little means you won’t have enough to complete the project.
This is why it important you get the range of required bricks correct.

To calculate the number of metric-sized bricks you need, you can employ several online calculators. If you want to do the math yourself, then find the size of the facing walls in square metres, and multiply by 60 (this is the standard number of bricks per metre square of stretcher bond brickwork).

Metric or Imperial Brick Sizes

Houses built before 1965 all used imperial-sized bricks. These bricks usually measured 9″ by 4.5″ by 3″. Now, most houses built after 1965 use metric-sized bricks. They are traditionally measured 215mm by 102.5mm by 65mm. Metric sized bricks are a little bit smaller than
Imperial sized bricks.

Choosing The Right Type Of Brick

One of the critical metrics in selecting the right kind of brick is to consider the materials used in your local area. Your local area already has a specific standard in terms of appearance. So, you should ensure that your brick color meets with the standard authorized by your local planning office. Materials used in your local area can affect the appearance you can go for.

Some colours are more peculiar to some areas than others are. Below are some of the brick colours indigenous to some areas.

  • Midlands are known for Blue bricks
  • Lincolnshire region is known for orange coloration
  • Cambridgeshire for yellow and cream
  • Red bricks are common in the north

However, if you want to use a different color scheme, you should approach your local planners, and as them about their take on different materials. You can always get planning permission for your project, even if it doesn’t meet with the already established standard in your area.

How is Clay Bricks Made?

The making of clay bricks is step by step process. The process starts from the quarry site, where the clay is extracted and then sent through a softening process, which makes the raw material mouldable. The clay is mixed with water and then moulded into shape. Typically, bricks are formed using a variety of methods, and these methods determine the traits of the brick.

What Colour Brick Should I Choose?

There are lots of colours to choose from. There are light shades ranging from cream to yellow and darker shades ranging from brown to red. The colours of bricks are usually a result of the position of the brick in the kiln as well as the firing temperature they attain.

Contrasting Brick Extension Exterior

Color is determined by the kind of clay, as well the staining that happens on the surface of the brick. Variation in color is inevitable when it comes to the manufacturing of bricks, and as such, it is always important to mix bricks from different packs before you lay them.

  • During delivery, ensure the batches are delivered on a hard, dry surface, rather than grass (or any wet surface) as they tend to absorb moisture.
  • Colours sometimes vary between batches, so it will be ideal to have your bricklayer work with the bricks within each batch, to void color banding in the entire work.
  • Cover the laid brickwork with a protective cover at the end of the day to avoid moisture from getting in contact with them.

Selecting The Ideal Bond Pattern For The Type Of Brick

The next step after choosing your brick type is to select the bond pattern. The bond determines the style and pattern in which the bricks will be laid.

Brick bonds play a key role in the aesthetics and beauty of brickwork. In addition, it will also impact load distribution. The horizontal row of bricks is referred to as a course, and it usually comprises of headers, stretchers, or a combination of both. While the stretcher has a longer face, the header has a smaller face. Out of the two types of brick bonds the most common is the stretcher.


In your building construction, it is ideal to have a test panel to lay down your bricks on before you commence building. This will give you a bird’s-eye view of the work and see how the patterns would form.

Adding in Design Detail

There are times when you want to add certain features and details to your brick wall. The good news is that there are design details you can incorporate into your work. You can go for a Dogs-tooth bond, or even a dentil bond, to achieve a stylish look. There are designs that can also be used to make corbelled eaves or decorative banding.

Selecting The Right Mortar

When choosing your mortar, you want to ensure it doesn't undermine the brick, and it is in harmony with the overall design and aesthetics of the work. The joint mortar surface usually varies from 18% to 22% for stretcher bond and header bond respectively.

Ensure your mortar is in synergy with the type of brick you’ve selected. For example, handmade bricks, do well with hydraulic lime mortar.

The mortar plays a vital role in the overall delivery of your desired result. It allows for natural movement while also adding to the visual appeal of the work. In addition, it offers protection against frost damage, while ensuring there are enough breathing spaces within the brickwork.

When it comes to using mortars, the key is to use the same mortar all through the project. This will help you reduce the likelihood of color banding. If you pick a mortar mix, don’t change it. Use the same sand, lime, and cement all through.

A change in the joint profile can cause a variation in the mortar color. Profiles can either be recessed, struck, weathered, curved, and flush.

Brick Standards

Bricks have to meet specific standards before they can be sent into the market. There are various production requirements and standards that bricks must comply with. Bricks are tested under British Standards to ensure they meet with specific requirements like strength, water absorption and so on.

All bricks must meet with the UK set standard of EN771-1. This standard certifies that the brick is able to withstand certain levels of rainfall along with frost attack.

Clay facing bricks are more susceptible to freeze-thaw, and as such they should meet with a minimum rating of ‘F’ (where F1 signifies the bricks can be subject to moderate exposure to the elements, and F2 signifies the bricks can be subject to severe weather conditions).

On the other hand, mortars have to meet with the BS EN 998-2 standard if they are factory- made, and BS1996-1-1 if they are site batched. These standards signify that the bricks meet with a number of properties.

Buying Your Bricks

After selecting your color, bond, and brick type, you can go ahead to purchase your bricks. There are lots of places you can purchase bricks for your project. You can get from brick manufacturers, reclamation yards, materials market, and so on. There are even online stores where you can purchase your bricks.

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Building In Brick

Below is a list of some of the costly mistakes you can avoid when building in bricks.

Ensure your bricks are dry

After construction, there are lots of changes your brickwork can experience. Keeping your bricks dry is very paramount as it reduces the likelihood of efflorescence. Efflorescence is a phenomenon that involves the transportation of soluble salts to the surface of the brick by water. It can lead to the appearance of white deposits on the surface of your building, thus leading to an unattractive look. The more the salt crystals accumulate, the more lead to other complications like cracks in your brickwork.

Pay attention to staining

Staining is another problem that is caused by the exposure of bricks to water. Staining usually occurs on colored clay products. If you have colored bricks lying around, it is essential that you protect them from moisture, so they don’t suffer from staining. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of color changes.
When storing bricks for use, ensure the bricks are kept on a clean leveled surface and covered
adequately against moisture.

Choose the right mortar

Your mortar is major part of the project. It plays an important role both in terms of aesthetics and performance of your bricks. Stronger mortars have a darker appearance than the regular
mix ratios. Dry silo mortar is usually recommend for projects that require color consistency.
Using ready-mix mortar is not advisable as it can easily be contaminated on-site, and thus
compromise your project.

Coat Your Steelwork

Steel exposed to moisture over time can suffer from corrosion, and the excessive build-up of corrosion can lead to cracks and damages. The accumulation of rust on the steel can lead to unnecessary expansion, which puts extra pressure on the building structure which it was not constructed to handle.
Coating your steel supports during the construction process means you save yourself from any unnecessary complications going forward. You can ask your contractor for coated steel supports for an additional dose of protection. You can also ask the people that will be handling your project if they have the proper knowledge and experience with flashing and tight joints.

Brick Matching

If you are working on an already existing building or property, you want to match the already existing bricks with your new bricks. The matching process can be done by professionals. You can get in touch with a professional outlet, and utilize their brick matching service. Brick Weathering and Brick Tinting are two processes that are quite useful when it comes to brick matching. You can source for new bricks with a close relation to your already existing bricks, and then use the tinting process to harmonize the appearance.

Useful Brick Contacts

  • Imperial Bricks
  • HG Matthews
  • BDA
  • Ibstock
  • MBH plc
  • Bulmer Brick and Tile
  • York Handmade
  • Hiring Bricklayers

You would normally see bricklayers in groups of two or three (one/two bricklayers and a labourer). Their work spans from bricklaying to insulation, building joinery, wall tiles, and so on.

The estimated time for laying the bricks is usually dependent on some factors such as experience of the bricklayer, special requirements needed in the project, and lots more. Whereas a Flemish bond might take lots of time, and requires an extra bit of technicality, Stretcher bond is simple, straightforward and repetitive.

Questions To As When Hiring Bricklayers

  • Ask about their experiences and knowledge
  • If they’ve handled small household projects or more complex tasks
  • The types of bricks they’ve worked with?
  • The bonds they have the most experience with
  • You can ask for references as well as a portfolio of their work.

There are simple works with straightforward designs that require a high level of output, usually in the region of 350 to 450 bricks daily. On the other hand, there are other complex tasks with extra demanding bonds that can only bring about 150 to 250 bricks output daily.

How Much Should You Expect To Pay For A Bricklayer?

Some bricklayers base their charges on a fixed hourly rate, while others use a daily rate or sometimes on the number of bricks laid. Some bricklayers charge between £300 to £400 per 1,000 for a simple task involving a stretcher bond. While for a project that requires a certain level of expertise would attract a day rate between £150 to £200. Labourers usually charge around £100.

Xploited Media
Author: Xploited Media

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