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A Quick Start Guide To Bricks - Types And Brickwork

A Quick Start Guide To Bricks - Types And Brickwork

BeforeBricks Marketing Team
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October 18, 2021

What are bricks?

A brick is a type of block used to build walls, pavements, and other elements in masonry construction. Properly, the term brick denotes a block composed of dried clay but is now also used informally to denote other chemically cured construction blocks.


A brief history of bricks

Bricks have been around for a very long time. The earliest bricks that have been discovered are estimated to be from 7000 BC. The bricks in question were uncovered around the ancient city of Jericho, in the south of modern-day Turkey. These were likely made from mud clay, shaped into bricks and then sundried in the open air. Bricks from a similar time frame - between 7000 and 3500 BC - have been discovered in other areas of the middle east and the Persian Gulf, around the Tigris region. Air dried, mudbrick houses have also been found in Pakistan and other areas of south Asia.

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Types of bricks

The main types of different bricks are as follows:

  • Facing bricks
  • Engineering bricks
  • Common bricks
  • DPC bricks

Facing Bricks


Facing bricks are the most popular type of brick and probably the one you are most used to seeing, a facing brick is one that will face outward from a building in full view of the rest of the world. Facing bricks are also designed to be stronger as they are the foundation of a building structure.


Engineering Bricks


Engineering bricks have high compressive strength and low water absorption. They are used for their physical characteristics and not their appearance and are only classified by these properties. They were traditionally used in civil engineering and are most suitable for applications where strength and resistance to frost attack and water are important. Engineering bricks are most commonly a smooth red colour although blue engineering bricks are also widely available. Wienerberger manufactures a market-leading range of both red and blue engineering bricks.


Common Bricks


Despite their name, common bricks are actually the least common brick types in the UK. They tend to have lower compressive strengths than facing bricks or engineering bricks and are generally lower quality. There is also less focus put into a consistent appearance on common bricks. Common bricks should not be used below ground level and are generally used for internal brickwork only.  


DPC Bricks 


Damp-Proof Course or DPC bricks are bricks designed to have a low absorption rate, making them suitable for use as part of a damp-proof course construction. To create better resistance to the overturning of a wall in comparison to flexible damp-proof courses, build two courses of DPC bricks with a cement-rich mortar bedding as the base of a retaining or free-standing wall.  A rigid damp-proof course like this will be effective against rising damp, but not the downward flow of water.

How does the weather affect laying bricks?

Do not lay bricks in the rain! If you lay bricks in the rain then first and foremost, you will be exposing all brickwork to water over a prolonged period of time. This means that there is an increased risk of leaching, while cement residues and efflorescence will rise and that can lead to a poor finish to the front facing bricks. Also ensure that any fresh brickwork is completely covered from the elements. If brickwork is exposed to water for a prolonged period of time, the risk of leaching, cement residues and efflorescence will increase which can cause an unsightly finish. Use Water repellent creams & sealants for un-painted brickwork to stop the bricks from getting wet.


Size of bricks

Does brick size matter?

When it comes to designing and building with brick, size matters. Brick sizes have an impact on a wide range of things such as how the building is designed, the overall aesthetic appearance of a project and how easily the bricks can be laid.


What is the UK standard brick size?


Nowadays most bricks in the UK are made to a standard brick size of 215mm long, 102.5mm wide and 65mm high (215 x 102.5 x 65mm) and laid with a nominal 10mm mortar joint. However, there is a growing trend towards more non-standard brick dimensions, such as Wienerberger's Roman and Megaline bricks.


Are bricks worth it?

10 Advantages of building with bricks:

  1. energy efficient
  2. low maintenance and durable
  3. weatherproof
  4. creative and colourful
  5. Secure
  6. high in compressive strength
  7. cost-effective
  8. sustainable
  9. carbon neutral
  10. A popular and readily available building material

6 Disadvantages of building with bricks

  1. Time consuming construction.
  2. Cannot be used in high seismic zones.
  3. Since bricks absorb water easily, therefore, it causes fluorescence when not exposed to air.
  4. Very Less tensile strength.
  5. Rough surfaces of bricks may cause mold growth if not properly cleaned.
  6. Cleaning brick surfaces is a hard job.

5 fun facts about Bricks


  1. The standard brick size in the UK is 215 x 102.5 x 65mm.
  2. The Great Wall of China was made from 3.8 billion bricks.
  3. The oldest discovered bricks were made from shaped mud and date back to 7500 BC in the upper Tigris region of Mesopotamia.
  4. The minerals used to create a brick determine its colour. Red bricks are red because of the iron in them, and higher temperature firings produce darker coloured bricks.
  5. Bricks are energy efficient because they hold sunlight throughout the day and release that energy after the sun goes down.


How much do Bricklayers charge per hour?


Bricklayer rates will vary depending on location, with prices in London typically skewing higher. They will either quote their day rate or provide a set price for a certain amount – typically per 1,000 bricks or 10-12 m2. Costs range from £500/1,000 at the cheaper end of the spectrum to £1,200/1,000 for handmade bricks. In good working conditions with no accessibility issues (i.e. the need for scaffolding), the average bricklayer will lay 500 bricks per day. If working on a day rate, most will charge between £150 and £200 per day.


How many bricks on average does a bricklayer lay a day?

On an average day, a bricklayer will lay between 600 to 800 face bricks a day. Mason David Chavez from Las Vegas, USA holds the world record for fastest bricklayer. He laid 678 bricks in one hour.

Cost of bricks

In 2016, The cost of a single brick on a London home has increased by 65 per cent over the last 10 years to reach £118. 

Common bricks

Common bricks are the cheapest, starting at around £600/1,000. 

Engineering bricks 

Engineering bricks (Class A or B) will cost from around £500/1,000 bricks. 

Facing bricks

Facing bricks can cost in the range of £700/1,000 to £900/1,000. The average cost per 1,000 bricks is £800.

Manufacturing of bricks

What is the process of making bricks?


Essentially, bricks are produced by mixing ground clay with water, forming the clay into the desired shape, and drying and firing. In ancient times, all molding was performed by hand. A brickyard, or brickfield, is a place or yard where the earthen building material called bricks are made, fired, and stored, or sometimes sold or otherwise distributed from. Brick makers work in a brick yard.


How to choose the right brick for your home?

  • Decide On The Colour
  • Select Your Type Of Brick
  • Brick size
  • Texture
  • Mortar Impacts The Colour
  • Select A Bond Pattern
  • Orientation
  • Special shaped bricks
  • Other Materials

How do you prevent frost damage on bricks?

  • Next time it rains make sure your rainwater system is working properly.
  • Sometimes a dripping overflow pipe can wet the masonry.
  • Check any other pipework fixed to the outside of your home for damage, blocks or leaking from a joint.
  • Check the brickwork for signs of repeated wetting.
  • Check the condition of the masonry, that the mortar is even and in good condition not crumbling to leave deep gaps into which water can seep.

How do you prevent efflorescence on brick?

You can prevent efflorescence by washing the clay during the manufacturing process and adding a barium salt to react with the calcium sulfate.  RadonSeal Efflorescence Cleaner is extremely effective for the removal of efflorescence, dissolved salts, lime, and alkalis.


How to prevent brick spalling:

  1. Ensure water is properly draining from around your foundation.
  2. Install a snow/rain cap on your chimney.
  3. Avoid pressure washing your brick, which can weaken it.
  4. Check your house for leaks. ...
  5. Inspect your brick and your chimney regularly to look for cracks. ...
  6. Keep crawling vines in check.


Repairing and restoring bricks

What kills black mould on brick?

Oxygen bleach kills black mould on brick which is safer to use outdoors than chlorine bleach. It can effectively remove black mildew with little scrubbing required.


What is the best cleaner for brick?

A mixture of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle is the easiest and best way to clean brick if you don’t have an efflorescence cleaner. Spray the mixture on the brick and let it sit for a few minutes. Once it has stayed on the bricks for a while, you can go ahead and use a brush to scrub the bricks. Make sure to neutralise the acid after by adding an alkaline solution.

Can I use white vinegar or brick?

Yes, white vinegar can be used to clean indoor or outdoor brick when you mix it with water. However after washing the brick wall once using this mixture, you need to neutralise the acid with an alkaline solution like diluted ammonia.

How do you remove green mould from brick?

Removing green mould from brick just requires an equal mixture of bleach and water to scrub the affected area with a brush. The bleach may lighten the brick so try an inconspicuous area first.

What can you put on bricks to make them shine?

Use a water based clean masonry sealant to make your bricks shine.

How do you restore bricks to a house?

  1. One of the most obvious options is replacing a loose brick.
  2. Repointing brick mortar joints is something which should happen regularly.
  3. Lifting stubborn stains on the bricks with acid cleans is something that you can include into your daily routine.
  4. Cleaning dirty bricks with household items frequently helps for the bricks to maintain their shine.

Cleaning and decorating bricks

Is painting bricks a bad idea?

Most types of bricks are not designed or made with painting in mind. Although it is possible to paint bricks, in many cases it is not a good idea to. Paint blocks the natural pores in the brick's surface, which can cause existing problems to become exaggerated over time. Brick that's chipping, deteriorating, molding or in overall poor condition is always a bad candidate for paint.

How do you treat brick before painting?

As brick and cement are porous and absorb water, you need to apply a maximum of two layers of masonry sealer before painting. You can use a roller to apply this and it generally takes four to twelve hours for the surface to dry.

Can you render a house without planning permission?

Rendering or weatherboarding your house does not require planning permission as long as the materials used are of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the house.

Can I render onto brick?

The simple answer is yes, you can. But several factors come into play when it comes to rendering the outside of your home. ... We advise that you leave the actual process of rendering your walls to experts, due to the possible complexity of the job. Rendering over brick can be beneficial to your home both inside and out.

How much does it cost to render brick?

The cost of rendering a 3-bedroom semi-detached house is typically £3,800-£5,200.


Does rendering damage bricks?


Cement renders on old houses can cause a lot of damage to the bricks - Old houses are built with stone, soft brick or lime mortar - all of which move around quite a bit with heat and seasonal changes, cement does not on the other hand so it cracks rapidly. As cement is non porous, it traps water so in a few months you get a damp wall.


Alternatives to using brick as building material

What is the alternative to brick or block solid walling?

  • Ferro-cement Panel (precast and cast in situ)
  • Sandwich Panel (ferro-cement lined and metal laminated)
  • 3D Panel
  • Stabilised soil bed to replace brick flat soling
  • Stone

What can I use instead of bricks?

  • Sun-Dried Bricks
  • Pressed Blocks
  • Stabilised Soil Blocks
  • Sand Lime Bricks
  • Fly Ash Lime Bricks
  • Fly Ash Sand Lime Bricks
  • Flyash Clay Bricks
  • Rubble Filler Blocks

What is the alternative for red bricks?

  • Terracotta Hollow Blocks
  • Laterite Stone
  • Natural Bangalore Stone
  • Interlocking Mud Blocks

What is tuckpointing?

Tuckpointing is when you remove and replace the mortar joints between the brickwork on a wall. It is seen to be a more preventive and aesthetic fix compared to repointing.

Why is tuckpointing so expensive?

Tuckpointing is so expensive due to the labour involved. If you live in an area with higher labour rates for construction jobs, you’ll be paying a lot for tuckpointing.

How often should tuckpointing be done?

You should do tuckpointing in your home every 10-15 years.

How do you tuck point bricks?

  1. First you must chip away all the cracked and loose mortar using a chisel and a hammer, as well as remove the existing material so that you have a depth of approximately an inch.
  2. Next, prepare the mortar you’re using, allowing the mixture to set for roughly five minutes.
  3. Brush the joints with fresh water.
  4. Apply the mortar using a pointing trowel. It is pie shaped.
  5. Wait for a week or two after the mortar has had the opportunity to see before applying a coat of high-quality acrylic or silicone masonry sealer to the entire surface.

Brick use ideas

Here is a list of 20 creative home improvement projects that can be built using bricks:

  1. Build a brick path
  2. Create Planters/Candleholders
  3. Make a Garden Bench
  4. Make Brick Edging for Garden Beds
  5. Build a Brick Waterfall
  6. Build a Birdbath
  7. Make Colourful Yard Art
  8. Edge Your Walkway
  9. Build an Herb Spiral
  10. Build a Brick Fire Pit
  11. Make Brick Books
  12. Make a Tree Ring
  13. Build an Amazing Walkway
  14. Build an Outdoor Fireplace Grill
  15. Create Raised Planters
  16. Make an Artistic Sculpture
  17. Build a Natural Pond
  18. Easy Fire Pit
  19. Add a Stepping Stone Pathway
  20. Make Garden Markers


Brick weight

How much do bricks usually weigh?


A standard brick weighs approximately 4 pounds.

Bricks, the environmental, and sustainable building

Are bricks eco-friendly?


The most eco-friendly type of brick is natural clay brick. Bricks are mostly sustainable. The bricks that are sent for disposal cause no environmental problems and bricks can be cleaned and recycled. Bricks also have no negative impact on the soil or groundwater. However, Red bricks are bad for the environment as a result of the burning of fuel required for firing bricks. The process emits gaseous pollutants and ash into the air.


What is the hardest brick?

Accrington bricks, also known as Nori. It was made in Accrington, Lancashire, England from 1887 to 2008.

How many years do bricks last?

Depending on where the bricks are used the life expectancy differs. For example, brick walls can last more than 100 years while chimney, fireplaces and brick veneers can last a lifetime.

Why are bricks a good building material?

Bricks are incredibly strong, known as a load bearing material they are able to fully support a building. Bricks are strong and long lasting but they are also great agers. Thanks to the durable and strong nature of bricks, a brick building is low maintenance and low worry.

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