Products > Brick

RIBA Core Curriculum
- Design, construction and technology

Knowledge level
- General Awareness

Almost everyone knows that brick is one of mankind’s oldest and most durable building materials. Maybe that is the reason why it is sometimes overlooked in ‘modern’ architecture, despite its countless creative design possibilities.

In this section
- Brick through the ages
- Why choose brick?
- Types of brick and their characteristics

            
                    
Navigate through each step of the CPD using the left and right arrows to review the content. At the end of each section are some questions, these are required if you wish to obtain a certificate upon completing the course.                     
                                     
            
    

Learning Aims

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Learning Aims

  • A brief history of brick through the ages.
  • To provide an understanding of modern brick manufacturing processes and the characteristics of different products.
  • How different colours and textures are created and can influence aesthetics.

Learning Aims

  • An overview of the different size formats available.
  • Decorative brickwork and bond patterns.
  • Guidance on mortar colour and joint profiles and how they can affect the appearance of brickwork.
  • Aesthetic options and case studies – Imaginative and innovative use of brick.

Why Brick?

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Why Brick?

Brick is still an excellent choice for construction.

  • Wide product range allows unlimited design possibilities
  • Suitable for any project type from traditional to ultra-modern
  • Natural and sustainable building material
  • Highly economical
  • No expenses for maintenance and repairs
  • Durable and stable in value over many generations
  • Maximum energy efficiency of the building envelope
  • Healthy indoor climate conducive to well-being

Versatility

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Here we have the same product (Smeed Dean London Stock) used in two contrasting styles.
 
Brick is often chosen as a building material in order to complement and integrate with the surrounding environment, especially in areas with listed buildings.

Brick Types

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There are several types of clay bricks made in different ways, each with differing characteristics.

Production Methods

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Modern clay bricks are formed in one of these four processes….
 
With information from the BDA we see how the divisions for different brick types are in the UK.

Common Brick Terminology

  • Stretcher – The longer face of brick showing in the surface of a wall
  • Header – The end face of a standard brick
  • Bed Face – The face of a brick usually laid in contact with the mortar
  • Arris – Any straight edge of a brick formed by the junction of its faces
  • Frog – An indentation in one or both bed faces of moulded or pressed bricks
  • Perforation – Holes through extruded bricks from bed face to bed face

Handmaking

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The moulding process has been used for centuries, using a ‘stock’. The bottom section illustrated would be fixed to a bench – the raised profile in the middle helping to spread the clay to the four corners to achieve a reasonable brick shape.
 
When the brick is inverted, the resultant cavity (commonly called a ‘frog’) can be seen.

Handmaking

The moulding process has been used for centuries using a ‘stock’.

  • Handmaker forms roughly shaped clot of soft clay
  • Clot is coated with sand and thrown into pre-sanded mould box
  • Kicker placed on mould bottom to form frog – Frogs help spread clay to corners of mould
  • Typical handmaker produces around 100 bricks per hour
  • Now a niche method of traditional production – Lower volume, prestigious market

Handmaking

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Hand making involves the forming of the clay by hand, coating in sand and throwing into a mould, machine making, as you will see, follows similar processes.

Modern Machine Manufacturing

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Machine manufacturing of soft mud bricks follows the processes of hand making, just automated and it varies in that stocks have the clay pressed into the mould rather than being thrown or dropped into the mould.
 
‘Handformatic’ brick ranges recreate the hand thrown technique by throwing the clay into sanded moulds using belts, creating the signature smile

Modern Machine Manufacturing

  • Soft mud clay is pressed into the sand lined moulds and as they rotate bricks are turned out onto drying trays
  • The close simulation of hand throwing creates crease patterns on brick faces
  • Outputs can be as high as 22,000 bricks per hour

Brick Types

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Soft Mud Moulded Stock

These are traditional brick types but as we saw earlier with the use of the Smeed Dean London stock in both contemporary and traditional design, they don’t have to be restrained by ‘tradition’. Using traditional brick types in a contemporary building links the historic surroundings to the designs of our time.

Soft Mud Moulded Stock

Characteristics

  • Traditional appearance
  • Sanded face
  • Frogged
  • Multi-effect colourings
  • Softer and warmer brick aesthetic

Waterstruck/Slop Moulded

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Soft Mud Moulding actually covers a number of manufacturing processes where bricks are formed using mould boxes. One of these is the Waterstruck process.
 
Clay preparation is critical in order to get the correct consistency/plasticity.
 
In this instance water is used as a releasing agent to prevent the clay sticking to the box (instead of sand).
 
The excess clay is struck off from the top of the mould as the bricks are turned out - This is where the term Waterstruck originates.
 
As with all other manufacturing processes the wet bricks are then dried and fired.

Waterstruck/Slop Moulded

Characteristics

  • Niche method of traditional production
  • Soft mud clay forced through dies into moulds
  • Release from moulds facilitated by water instead of sand
  • Use of water creates distinctive texture – brick looks old and handmade even when new
  • Bricks generally manufactured as solid

Waterstruck/Slop Moulded

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This process forms a relatively smooth, sand free texture.
 
Use of water creates distinctive texture – brick looks old and handmade even when new.

Waterstruck/Slop Moulded

Characteristics

  • Relatively smooth
  • Unsanded face
  • Irregular texture
  • Multi-effect colourings
  • Reclaimed appearance

Extruded / Wirecut

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For Extruded bricks clay is forced through a die to create a long column of material of the desired width and depth.
 
The column is then cut into smaller, more manageable pieces approx 1.5m in length known as ‘slugs’. This is then cut into bricks of the desired length by row wires.
 
The introduction of perforations reduces the volume of clay needed, and hence the cost. Perforated bricks require less energy for drying and firing and are also lighter and easier to handle.

Extruded / Wirecut

Characteristics

  • Most popular method of production
  • High volumes – Circa 20,000 bricks per hour
  • Plastic clay mix driven through extrusion head to form continuous column
  • Column cut into slugs and subsequently bricks (nominally 215 x 102.5 x 65mm)
  • Perforations formed by extrusion core bars,generally ≤30% volume
  • Perforations save clay, reduce drying and firing cycles and save weight = more efficient transport

Extruded / Wirecut

Extruded / Wirecut

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This process produces hard, dense bricks with a more regular size and shape, sharper arises and a more contemporary appearance.

Extruded / Wirecut

Characteristics

  • Very consistent size/shape
  • Sharp arrises
  • Contemporary appearance
  • Vertically perforated
  • Grooved rear face

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CPD Q&A

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The Brick Development Association (BDA) suggest bricks have a durability of how many years?

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