Essentials of
Masonry

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Part 3--Construct a Brick Wall

TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF BRICKS

A brick is a structural unit made from various kiln-baked clay and shale mixtures. Bricks are produced in a variety of colors and hardness by varying the clay/shale mixtures and the kiln temperature. They can be solid, hollow, or architectural terra cotta. Individual bricks may serve a structural function, a decorative function, or both.

3-1. Sizes. The standard-size brick manufactured in the US is 2 1/4 by 3 3/4 by 8 inches. Other brick types include the English (3 by 4 1/2 by 9 inches), the Roman (1 1/2 by 4 by 12 inches), and the Norman (2 3/4 by 4 by 2 inches).

3-2. Surfaces. The surface areas of a brick are the face, the cull, the side, the end, and the beds (Figure 3-1).

Figure 3-1.  Surface area of a brick
Figure 3-1. Surface area of a brick

3-3. Types of Bricks. Brick are used in various ways.

a. Building Bricks. Also called common, hard, or kiln-run bricks, these brick are made from ordinary clays or shales and fired in kilns. They have no special scorings, markings, surface texture, or color. Building bricks are generally used for the backing courses in solid and cavity brick walls.

b. Face Bricks. Face bricks are used in the exposed face of a wall. They are high quality, durable bricks with a nice appearance.

c. Clinker Bricks. Clinker brick are bricks that are over-burned in the kiln. They are usually hard, durable, and irregular in shape.

d. Pressed Bricks. The dry-press process is used rather than kiln firing to make pressed bricks, which have regular smooth faces, sharp edges, and perfectly square corners. Pressed bricks are generally used as face bricks.

e. Glazed Bricks. These bricks normally have one surface coated with a white or other color of ceramic glazing. Glazed bricks are often used for walls in hospitals, dairies, laboratories, or other buildings that are frequently cleaned.

f. Fire Bricks. Fire bricks are made to withstand high temperatures. They are placed in fireplaces and boilers because of their resistance to crack or decompose. Fire bricks are generally larger than regular structural bricks.

g. Cored Bricks. Cored bricks are made with two rows of five holes extending through the brick to reduce the weight.

h. Sand-Lime Bricks. These bricks are made from a mixture of lime and fine sand. They are molded under mechanical pressure and hardened under steam pressure.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015