Bricks are a versatile building material and allow a good degree of design freedom. They vary in colour, texture and size and can be used to create both traditional and ultra-modern structures. Whether you're building a new home, adding an extension or creating an outbuilding, selecting bricks for the job is one of the most important build decisions you'll make. Here's an overview of the most popular types of brick and why your choice of mortar should also be carefully considered.
When selecting your bricks, consider whether there's existing brickwork that new bricks could potentially clash with. If you're adding on to an existing brick building, try to match the colour and texture of the existing bricks. You should also consider how light will hit each side of the building and the impact of local weather patterns. For example, in coastal areas, erosion can occur on textured bricks over time due to the salt concentration in the air and coastal wind and rain.
Burnt clay bricks are created with moulds that are hardened in a kiln. They are strong and have sharp edges, and these bricks are commonly used for foundation work and wall construction. First-class clay bricks are smooth and have a modern appearance, while second-class clay bricks have a rough texture and may have fine cracks, so these bricks are used in areas that will be coated with plaster.
Engineering bricks are ideal for belowground projects, such as basements, or builds that require careful consideration of the impact of moisture damage. They are manufactured using very high temperatures, and this makes them stronger and less porous than burnt clay bricks. They bear loads well and are resistant to chemical erosion and damp.
Concrete bricks can be used above and below a building's damp proof course, and they can be manufactured with or without aggregates. The use of aggregates can provide variation in colour, which may be desirable when trying to blend a new build project into an already established landscape. Concrete bricks are dense and rain resistant. They also offer good thermal conductivity, which can help regulate inside temperatures throughout the year.
Mortar colour should be considered carefully, as your mortar needs to suit the brick colour and surrounding environment. Build sample panels with your chosen bricks and test out a few kinds of mortar before committing to a colour and joint type, such as raked or flush. Ready-mixed mortar is suitable for most building projects, but if you're adding on to original brickwork, you may want to consider a lime-based mortar, which has superior moisture release capabilities and can help prevent damp.
If you're unsure of the best type of brick for your build project, consult your local builders' merchant. They can provide advice and show you a range of materials best suited to your needs.
For more information, contact a building supplies provider.