Why we Use Bricks, Applications in Residential and Commercial Buildings

One of the main reasons bricks are used is because they are made from natural materials. In order to make bricks shale and clay are combined together and then fired through a kiln at a whopping two thousand degrees. What happens after that is that the two materials will vitrify and therefore fuse together in order to form a solid and durable material.


The truth is that a lot of people confuse regular bricks with clay bricks. Making concrete units involves using a cement paste for bonding the material together, but concrete units feature a grayish color which means that color pigments need to be used in order for them to be colored in the user’s desired color. When it comes to clay bricks though, the number of colors you can consider for them are endless and will definitely withstand the test of time.

It stood the test of time

Bricks aren’t manufactured the way they were made hundreds of years ago. They are highly regulated and manufacturers need to respect stringent standards to ensure a durable and overall quality product.

Brick offers better protection compared to other wall cladding materials – you can ask any masonry contractor and I guarantee they will confirm that statement.

If you want to make sure that the building you plan on erecting soon is going to be very rugged and durable, then you certainly need to consider using clay bricks. They are much better than regular bricks and provide shelter in 3 categories.

1. Fire Protection

The main ingredient in bricks is clay which everyone knows that is not combustible and that is why this is a very good choice for those who want to ensure the structures they build using bricks are going to withstand high temperatures.

2. High wind protection

Anyone who lives in an area that is prone to hurricanes should know that bricks are the best construction material they can consider if they want to protect their home from wind-blown debris. Compared to homes made using fiber cement siding or vinyl siding, homes made of bricks are a lot more rugged. In a test that involved shooting an object of seven point five by two point four feet in a vinyl and fiber cement siding home, the result was a complete penetration of the building. However, in order for the same object to penetrate a brick home, it would have to travel at a speed of eighty miles per hour.

3. Great moisture control

According to information from authority websites on the internet, a brick veneer wall assembly is going to provide better moisture protection compared to wall systems made using other types of materials. Therefore, if you want to minimize the chances of infestation by insects, wood rot and mold grown, then you certainly need to think twice before you choose a material for building your home.

Less maintenance and superior aesthetics

One of the most important benefits of bricks is that they offer a lot more value compared to other construction materials. For example, they don’t have to be painted, they don’t dent or rot and they’re also never going to be eaten by termites or get torn. You may also be surprised to hear this, but bricks are one of the few materials out there which, as they age, are going to look much better.

If you live in a noisy neighborhood or plan on moving in one where you’d like to build yourself a house, then make sure you build it using bricks. That’s because bricks are great noise absorbers, so compared to other construction materials they are excellent sound proofers.


High energy efficiency

Bricks have one quality that few other construction materials out there have and that is their ability of storing heat and then releasing it slowly. What this means it that during the colder months of the year the temperature inside your house is going to be high, while in the summer months your home is going to be cooler.

Green and sustainable building material

Bricks are one of the most highly used construction materials out there and for good reason. They help save a lot of energy and on top of that, they’re also green materials.

Made Using Natural Ingredients

Since they generally made form shale and clay which are highly abundant, bricks are environmentally friendly. Find more at this post – How are bricks made

Easy To Recycle

It’s easy to recycle bricks by crushing, chipping or reshaping them in order to adapt them to various projects.

Minimal Waste

All the mined clay is going to be used in order to make bricks which means that about eighty percent of manufacturers are going to make use of their fired waste material in order to make bricks or simply consider using it to make other products.

Can be certified as a green material by third party sources

The National Brick Research Center has found a way to easily check the amount of recycled content that bricks contain, the exact amount of resources used to make the brick and how much renewable energy was used in the firing process. Since this is possible, builders can easily get a certificate which confirms how green their building materials are, a quality which many customers are certainly going to appreciate.

Green manufacturing process

Over eighty percent of brick kilns use natural gas for firing purposes and many plants are also using fuels of bio based materials from waste products and other industrial applications. To number a few energy sources, they include sawdust from furniture manufacturers, but also methane gas from landfills.

Low embodied energy to manufacture brick

Given the fact that clay bricks can last for a very long time, you’ll never have to worry about buying replacement bricks for decades or even hundreds of years. The NIST assess the lifespan of brick masonry to be about one century long, but if you look around you, you’re certainly going to see buildings that are much older than that and are still standing.


And if they meet the American Society for Testing and Materials, bricks can easily be reused in building applications. In fact, the salvaged bricks market is huge and many people are purchasing such bricks because not only are they much cheaper, but they’re still usable and sturdy.

Brick Manufacturing – How is it Made


Bricks are small units of material that are generally made from fired clay and secured with a bonding agent made with water, sand and cement. Bricks have many advantages compared to other building materials currently available and not only do they resist fire, but also withstand corrosion and retain heat. On top of that, bricks also require minimum maintenance and last for a very long time.

Making bricks

History book illustration of ancient Egyption brick-making, colorized for this file. Source – A General History for Colleges and High schools by P. V. N. Myers, published in 1890

In order to make bricks, raw materials need to first of all be crushed and then ground using a jaw crusher. There are several methods used to form the ingredients, so for instance, when it comes to the extrusion method (the most popular for making bricks), the ingredients are mixed together with H2O that is first of all passed through a special chamber that removes the air from it. This helps prevent cracking. While vinyl, plaster, aluminum, stucco and also wood are very notable competitors of bricks, they can’t really compete with it because they cost up to 175% more than bricks.

But if you don’t really like bricks or don’t want to use them for your specific project, then you can rest assured since there are many other building materials you can consider, including concrete masonry, cmu, artificial stone, stone, glass and precast concrete panels.

  • Raw Materials

The main body of the brick is made up by shale and kaolin. In order to create different shades, small amounts of barium, manganese, but also many other additives are blended with the clear, while the brick’s chemical resistance to the elements can be improved by mixing in barium carbonate.

  • Manufacturing the brick

To produce bricks, the raw materials need to first of all be crushed and grounded in a jaw crusher and separator. After that, the specific blend for each batch is chosen and filtered prior to being sent on to 1 of 3 brick shaping processes, including pressing, molding and extrusion. After the bricks are made, they’re going to be dried properly in order to prevent cracking during the firing process. In the last stage, they’re stacked automatically wrapped using steel bands and then padded.

Here is some version ob brick manufacturing process in India

  • Combining, sizing and grinding raw materials

Each ingredient needs to first of all be conveyed to a separator where the oversized material will be properly removed. The particles will then be crushed to smaller pieces by the jaw crusher. The correctly sized material will be sent to storage silos, while the larger material is going to go into a hammer mill.

  • Extrusion

This is the most common way to make bricks and it involves feeding pulverized material and water into 1 end of a pug mill. This is where the material will be cut through and folded together. After that, the blend will go into an extruded which consists of 2 chambers: one of them uses a vacuum to remove air from the ground clay while the second one compacts the material in order for the auger to easily extrude it through the die.

  • Brick chamfering

At this point the bricks are going to be indented. Depending on the type of chamfering machine used, it can produce as many as twenty thousand units per hour.

  • Coating

When the brick is extruded the manufacturer can choose to coat it in sand, but this depends on how soft or hard the extruded material is. For instance, in order to coat soft material, a continuous vibrating feeder is used, but when it comes to textured material, the coating needs to be rolled on or brushed.

  • Drying

The brick cannot be fired until it’s properly dried to remove moisture. If there is still moisture left in the brick during firing, then the brick is undoubtedly going to crack.


  • Firing

After they are dried, the bricks are going to be loaded onto cars, fired and cooled down.

  • Setting and Packaging

The bricks at this point are already fired and cooled down, so they’re going to be unloaded from the kiln and placed in stacks. The stacks are wrapped in steel bands and fitted with plastic strips in order to protect the corners.

  • Quality Control

After they’re manufactured, bricks are checked for mechanical strength, density and physical dimensions in order to make sure they fall into the required quality standards. The truth is that many quality control tests nowadays aren’t as effective as they should be and while they do work in laboratories, in the real world there is much room left for improvement. That is why in order to address this problem, a lot of manufacturers have started to develop their own tests that ensure they can easily separate poor quality bricks from the top quality ones.

  • The Future

The use of bricks is steady and industries around the world use between 7 to 9 billion of them a year. Compared to the amount used in the early nineteen hundreds (around fifteen billion a year), this is about 50% less, but that’s to be expected.

Brick manufacturers though aren’t really happy about the number and that is why they are considering many efforts in order to increase demand in new markets and also improve productivity and quality. Fuel efficiency has also increased a lot and by the year 2025 it is a expected that a large number of brick manufacturers are going to fire their bricks with solar energy.

On the other hand, even if there will be a continued and increased demand of bricks, the industry will need to comply with environmental regulations, especially when it comes to fluorine emissions. If you don’t know what fluorine is, you should know that this is a dangerous byproduct that results from the process of making bricks.

If humans are exposed to it for long period of time, it can cause changes in bones and teeth, digestive problems, but also liver and kidney damage. The damage of fluorine can be reduced though, but only if manufacturers install scrubbers. However, these are pretty expensive and not every brick manufacturer wants to use them.

Currently, a lot of brick manufacturers in the US are trying to reduce their emissions, but there are also manufacturers that won’t be able to comply with these standards. As a result, many of them are faced with the possibility of going out of business which is only going to cause the worldwide brickmaking industry to shrink.

How are Brick Wall Openings Supported – Lintels, Arches, Steel Beam

When it comes to brickwork, it’s a must that it should be supported over openings. This can be done in 5 different methods, including directly from the reinforced concrete structure, prefabricated brickwork, prefabricated reinforced concrete steel angles or bars and brick arches. The support required for the brickwork can be completely provided by the steel angles, but they can also be attached to the main structure so the load can therefore be transferred to it.

Brick arches

How are Brick Wall Openings Supported Lintels Arches Steel BeamCarrying brickwork over an opening is traditionally done by using brick arches of different curvatures. However, in order to build an arch, you need to build a timber formwork first and then, after the arch is completed, you should remove it and make sure the mortar is properly set. The good news is that this can also be achieved using regular rectangular bricks with moderately tapered joints, but only if the curvature’s radius is large enough.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a tight arch, then you should taper the bricks which undoubtedly increases the amount of time required to complete the project. On top of that, arches also need a massive amount of adjoining wall to stabilize it against the arch’s outward thrust.

Steel supports

If you’re dealing with short spans of up to 3feet, then they can be easily spanned by using a flat bar. If your spans are longer than that though, then you’ll need to consider using stronger sections or angles. Since the lintel is going to increase to a minimum of one hundred millimeters over the opening, the width of the leg in the bed joint needs not be larger than the width of the joint (usually ten millimeters). The steel needs to be properly protected against corrosion by using hot dip galvanizing which’s density is going to be influenced by the environment’s corrosion level. The good news is that when it comes to highly corrosive environments, stainless steel can definitely be used without any problems.

In the majority of cases, the bottom of the steel angle is going to be exposed at bed joint level. While some people may decide to leave it as is, if you don’t like it then you could paint it in order to improve its aesthetic appeal.

Brick only soffit

Depending on the project you’re working on, you may want to consider a brick only soffit and in this case you can also reinforce the bed joints of a few courses above the opening by using proprietary stainless steel helical strips or better yet, galvanized steel rods. Keep in mind that if you decide to go down this route, it’s essential to hire an engineer to design it who will probably recommend you to use fifteen millimeters of cover to the steel.

Proprietary galvanized steel bar lintel system

If this is not something you may want to consider, then you could go for a proprietary galvanized steel bar lintel system. What makes this different than the previous one is that it’s embedded in the bed joint above the opening. In terms of the amount of lintel you’ll need per leaf, one should be more than enough. Keep in mind that when doing such installations, it’s vital that you follow the instructions laid out by the manufacturer or engineer.

What is Concrete Masonry Unit, Advantages, Sizes, Configuration, Systems

CMU – Concrete Masonry Unit

Concrete Masonry Unit Advantages Sizes Configuration SystemsA lot of people are familiar with CMU and that is because they have been used for a very long time now. In fact, if you look around, you’ll realize that every low rise building is made using these materials, from industrial, to commercial, education and also residential buildings. Not only do they offer the buildings a great aesthetic appeal, but they’re also durable as well.

To make CMU, manufacturers need to use very stiff and dry concrete mixtures. The way it goes is that the low slump or no slump material will be placed into the appropriate molds, vibrated, compacted and eventually de-molded swiftly. When they finally make it to the curing chamber, the units will be stiff enough to hold their shape. Next, they’re palletized and prepared for shipping.

History and Overview

In the last century, concrete masonry units have transitioned from the traditional hand cast process to one that is 100% automated. This means that presently, CMU are produced to a much higher standard of quality and also much faster than ever before.


Determining which attribute of concrete masonry units is its best can be harder than you can imagine. However, given the fact they are non-combustible is really important. On top of that, they also offer a great finish, are long lasting, very durable and can be easily reinforced in order to meet demanding structural applications. Depending on the client’s needs, they may also contain recycled materials, but don’t require any types of treatments to preserve their properties and contain no VOCs or other possibly dangerous off-gassing materials. Lastly, they provide thermal mass which helps a lot in maintaining uniform temperatures.

If we are to look at it from a construction perspective, one thing that’s really amazing about CMUs is that it doesn’t require too much space to stage the construction. Even though it’s a bit harder to build, compared to other materials out there, it’s can be easily made and can also be produced in larger quantities since the materials needed to make it are available off the shelf.

Systems, Configurations, Components And Sizes

Since CMU is modular, the most common size is a nominal eight by eight by sixteen inches. In order to minimize cutting of units, window and door openings need to be positioned in a certain way. Walls containing a single vertical layer of units are known as single wythe, while if they contain 2 layers, they’re known as double wythe. Building these types of walls is very common and when they’re separated using a continuous vertical space, the assembly will be known as a cavity wall. The units are then going to be held together using mortar.

Concerning proper reinforcement, the units are going to be placed into vertical and horizontal cavities as required using grout. By doing so, the walls will be able lot resist the forces that act on them and also carry loads.

For exterior and interior faces, insulation can be added inside special unit cavities and between withes as well. One pro about keeping the insulation inside the wall is thanks to the durability of the masonry faces. But in order to complete the wall, attach finishes and promote proper drainage, extra accessories may be required.

If you’d like to look at something potentially better than CMU’s look at this video:

Concrete Masonry Unit Installation Procedures

How to lay masonry unit walls

During installation, it’s important to consider drawing masonry blocks from a minimum of 1 pallet. Concerning the exterior mortar, it needs to absolutely include a water repellent additive that matches the color of the units. The additive needs to then be added in the right amount to each batch depending on the type of mortar being made (N, S or M) according to the instructions given by the manufacturer.

For cold and hot weather construction practices, you can refer to the National Concrete Masonry Association TEK notes.

Concrete Masonry Unit Installation ProIn order to properly lay the masonry units, you should refer to the best concrete masonry practices. As defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials C90, all defective units need to be rejected and only good quality units should be installed. Each block needs to be laid with the face true, plumb, and level to the line strung horizontally at the ground face. Units need to have uniform three eights inch wide joints vertically and also horizontally on the wall’s finished side. When they get finger-hard, the joints should be tooled neatly in order to make them uniform and straight.

To ensure bond and consistency are properly maintained, you should size and then carefully place the cut pieces accordingly.


In order for any masonry work to be done correctly, proper lighting is essential to avoid errors. All lights should be carefully placed at a certain gap from the wall. Trough lighting is not recommended to be used.


Using motor driven masonry saws, you should make all unit cuts which also includes the ones for boxes, holes, bonding and so forth. The recommended blade for this operation should be either a diamond or an abrasive blade. Make sure to always locate for a great appearance and cut neatly.

Mortar Jointing and Bedding

  1. Units need to be carefully laid with complete mortar coverage on bed joints and heat, but make sure you don’t block cores that need to be filled or grouted with masonry insulation.
  2. When dealing with concave configurations, make sure to tool all mortar joints carefully.
  3. Removing mortar from the masonry units should be done with care and before the mortar has managed to set.
  4. For proper appearance, you should also tuck-point the joints of the scored units, especially the exterior ones since this way you can prevent water damage.

Watch this video showing in detail hot to lay masonry blocks:

Masonry Work and Flashing

Abiding by the best masonry flashing practices, you should consider installing flashing at the points mentioned in the plans.

Weep Vents and Holes

Vents and weep holes should be installed at suitable intervals at any water courses stops over beams, doors and windows and above grade.


All textured faces need to conform to American Society for Testing and Materials C90’s requirements when they’re viewed in normal lighting from 20′ away at a 90 degree angle to the wall.

Custom Architectural Masonry Units

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