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When building your dream house, you’ve got a wide range of materials that you can opt for, each of them coming with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that can match the versatility and popularity of using bricks as your main foundation.
Bricks have been used for a very long time in construction, and the main reason as to why they are still actively used to this day is because they evolved with building trends and construction needs in order to make sure that you don’t regret using them.
There are a lot of advantages to bricks, including the fact that they are incredibly durable, easy to use, and let’s not forget about how affordable they are in most cases.
Houses that were built with brick can easily withstand years upon years of weathering, while also keeping their traditional look even through the toughest of times.
With that being said, before you start working on your dream home, you first need to ask yourself what types of bricks you want to use as your building’s foundation.
This is because depending on the construction project itself, you will need to ask yourself how much weight your structure should be able to take, and from that you can find out which bricks you need.
Depending on your answer, here are the options you will need to consider:
- Color – By far the most commonly used colors are red, orange, blue and white
- Class – This classification is based around classes, with each class providing you with a higher level of quality. There are four classes in total
- Size – The sizes range from the standard brick to the jumbo-sized brick
- Purpose – The shape and size of the brick will be entirely dependent on their intended use
How and Why Are Bricks Categorized?
Back in the day, the term “brick” was used to refer to a certain shaped-clay building unit, but as the times changed, so did the terminology.
Nowadays, the term can be used interchangeably with any sort of clay or stone-based building unit that is used in construction.
The standard sized brick should be around 4” wide and 8” long, although this differs depending on the construction project you need it for.
A block on the other hand is slightly larger and it is used more so to lay the foundation of the building. Because of this, blocks are usually larger than your standard sized brick.
As mentioned previously, bricks tend to be categorized based on their color, size, class and intended purpose.
The color here does not represent quality, although this is entirely dependent on your seller as in some cases, a rarer color can also be a bit higher in quality.
At the same time, the higher quality the materials are, the more likely they are to be used for the exterior of the structure.
The tougher and rougher bricks on the other hand are more so used in places where their appearance isn’t visible. At the same time, you may also want to get your hands on bricks that are purely aesthetic.
These bricks serve no real practical use other than to make your building look better.
Why Are There So Many Different Brick Colors and Sizes?
Most of the time, the colors are used to classify and categorize different construction bricks, although this doesn’t always apply to all of them.
The same can be said about the general size of the bricks. But before we get into the sizes, how about we first explore what the different colors say about the quality of the bricks?
In order to make your own bricks, you will just need clay, sand, lime and Portland cement concrete. Depending on the amounts that you will be using in the mixture, the results will differ and so will the color of the bricks.
If you burn the brick to an extreme level, you will see the result in the final product’s color. Well-burnt bricks are usually reddish, while over-burnt bricks are browner. Under burnt bricks on the other hand tend to be more yellowish and they’re also a bit weaker.
As far as the sizes are concerned, there are several things you should know about what a bigger and a smaller brick has to offer.
Most of the time, the size dictates the different construction purpose you will need the bricks for. As such, the stronger and heavier bricks tend to be used for the foundation, which is why they are also bulkier and harder to maneuver.
The larger the bricks, the less aesthetically pleasing they are too, as they are not meant to be seen as much as they are meant to be strong and resistant to the surrounding elements.
Brick Categorizations Based on Class
There are a four different classes of bricks you may go for. These are the differences between them:
First Class Bricks
First class bricks are the highest quality bricks you’ll ever see being used on the exterior of the building. These are their main characteristics:
- You can see that they are thoroughly burnt and when it comes to their color, they range between dark red, copper and cherry
- They’re rectangular-shaped, smooth to the touch and they tend to have sharp and straight edges around every corner
- They shouldn’t have any cracks or stones in them, if you do find any imperfections you may call your supplier and ask for a refund
- They should have uniformity in their texture
- If you push your fingernails into them there shouldn’t be any impressions left on their surface
- There should be no lime in the brick fractures
- When you slap two first class bricks into one another, you should be able to hear a metallic ring
- If you submerge them in cold water for 24 hours, the absorption should only be around 12 to 15% of the brick’s dry weight
- As far as their crushing strength is concerned, it shouldn’t be under 10 N/mm2, although this can also vary depending on the region to live in
Second Class Bricks
The main difference between first- and second-class bricks is in their visual appeal, as they are a lot less aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Still, they are very popular to use in inconspicuous areas or just as reinforcement for the structure. They are generally very similar to first class bricks, with a few notable exceptions:
- You may be able to find small cracks or imperfections on them
- They can absorb a bit more water, standing at around 16-20% of their dry weight at most
- As far as their crushing force is concerned, it shouldn’t be any less than 7.0 N/mm2
Third Class Bricks
Third class bricks are very easy to tell apart from first- and second-class bricks, in that they are a lot worse in quality and as such they are only really used to build temporary structures. Other than that, these are their main characteristics:
- They tend to be under burnt
- They are usually light-colored and softer to the touch than the other classes
- They sound a bit dull when you smack them against other bricks
- They can absorb around 25 percent of their dry weight
Fourth Class Bricks
Last but not least we have the fourth and final class of bricks. These are the bricks that you will most likely end up using in foundations and floors. These are their main characteristics:
- These bricks tend to be over burnt
- They tend to vary a lot one from the other when it comes to their general size and shape
- They’re very brittle and weak, you can even break them apart if you smack them against each other too hard
Bricks Categorized by Color
Most of the time, if you were to ask anyone what color they think bricks should be, they will tell you that they’ve never seen anything other than red.
But what these people don’t realize is the fact that, while red is the most iconic color around, there are also a lot of other options you should consider.
At the same time, different colors tend to have different features, which is why you should pick the right one for your construction project.
This is because the clay used in these bricks will have different colors based on the location they were obtained from.
Just keep in mind though that a lot of the time, brick makers will also change the final color of the brick to adjust them to their customers’ demands.
Yellow and red are by far the most common colors you will find on the market today, but you can also find a plethora of other variations out there too, including:
These are most commonly used in the Lincolnshire region of the UK, where people tend to go for them for residential buildings.
Most of the time, orange bricks can easily last 30 years or so. These bricks are well-colored and they tend to reflect the sun rays quite well, which is why they are so commonly used around this area in the first place.
While nowhere near as popular as orange, yellow or red, blue bricks can still be used occasionally, especially so around recreation centers.
Most of the time, blue bricks are used for their strength and appeal, although do keep in mind that they can usually only last around 20 years or so.
As such, they are perfect for small structures and one-storied buildings. They give any building a very unique look to say the least.
Soft and Light Red Colored Bricks
This color variation is actually a lot more common than you’d think. In fact, it may very well be one of the most popular options on the market.
Still, this color can’t hold a candle to the yellow or red-colored bricks, but they are still preferred in small-scale constructions nonetheless.
Most of the time you’ll find that this color variation is found in third-class bricks, which is why people that want to build large-scale constructions tend to stray far away from using them.
White bricks are unique in that in order to actually get this color, the brick makers will need to add in extra cement to the mixture alongside the clay.
This cement will add durability to the brick, but it will also change the color to a duller white. This is why white bricks are primarily only used for office buildings, as they sacrifice aesthetics for practicality.
Contemporary Brick Colors
If you want to build your own house these days, you have a wide range of styles you can go for. But by far the most popular style though is the modern and contemporary one.
So, if you want to a dreamy contemporary house with a brick exterior, these are by far the most popular brick colors:
Grey bricks are special in that they are unique and yet they don’t attract too much attention to them either.
This makes them perfect since they can add a sense of elegance to your house’s exterior while also not making your building too posh.
It’s a very stylistic design choice, and what’s even better about these bricks is that they’re actually quite easy to come by these days.
Sure, they are nowhere near as popular as the traditional red bricks, but they can still be found in almost every major hardware store out there such as Bunnings.
Grey and White Bricks
There is no calmer option out there than grey and white bricks. This is a time-tested option that has either been used for a single wall or for the entirety of the home to give it a very pleasant and calm vibe.
You can also use grey bricks with white joints, which will give your house a very trippy and aesthetically pleasing final design.
What’s even better about this is that most brick joints tend to be grey already, so if you use white mortar, you will instantly breathe new life into your home.
The only real disadvantage that comes with white and grey bricks is that they are a lot harder to come by, so you will most likely need to ask for a special order in order to get them which will cost you quite a bit more.
Clinker bricks have a very rich history attached to them, as back in the day they were considered to be nothing more and nothing less than waste product.
This is because clinker bricks are clay bricks that have been partially-vitrified while being fired. Because of this, they are denser, heavier and they are often irregular in size, which makes them harder to use.
Still, as of the early 90s, architects have started to use clinker bricks a lot more just because of their distinctive stylistic look, which they believed to add an extra level of variety and visual interest to the home.
They are commonly used alongside red clay bricks, and they do tend to be a lot more affordable than the standard option.
They are just as water-resistant and durable as standard bricks, although you will need to work around their irregular size a lot more than you would with any other brick type.
Last but not least we have by far the most popular modern option out there, the dark charcoal bricks. These are the bricks you go for if you want to give your home an exterior dramatic flair.
They come in all sorts of different shades of dark/black, but usually the darker the bricks, the more modern and sought after they are.
Dark/black/charcoal bricks come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes too, and you can easily design your dream house since they also have a lot of different joint variations too.
Why Do Bricks Have Holes in Them?
A lot of the time, when you think of bricks, you tend to picture them with holes. But why exactly do brick makers leave these massive holes inside?
Well, the holes themselves aid in the manufacturing and the use of the bricks for construction work. When it comes to the manufacturing process, the holes help them dry up which in itself makes it easier to pack the bricks and sell them.
At the same time, the holes reduce the amount of material that is needed for every brick. The less material is used, the lighter the bricks will be too, which makes them easier to transport and work with.
The holes will also help in the laying process because you can put mortar inside of them, which will help keep them from shifting under stress.
Just to reiterate what we already went over, when choosing the best color for your bricks, try to keep an open mind on it as a lot of the times the color doesn’t really indicate anything other than the aesthetic quality of the final product.
You can do your own research by asking the brick maker what the quality of the bricks is and most importantly you can look through the four classes we talked about above to make sure that you get the highest quality around.
As far as the style is concerned, you may go for whatever suits your personal preferences, after all, you should be the one to have the final say in the matter.
Sure, some colors can be a bit harder and more expensive to procure, but if you look far enough you shouldn’t have any problem finding the perfect option for you.