Bricks are one of the oldest and most reliable building materials used in construction. With their versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal, bricks have been used for centuries to build strong and beautiful structures across the world.

When searching for “kinds of bricks,” “different brick types,” or “types of bricks in civil engineering,” users are looking for a concise overview of the various brick categories available.

They want to understand the distinctions between each type, their characteristics, and their common applications in construction projects.

By providing a clear and focused introduction to the main brick types, users can quickly grasp the essential information they need to make informed decisions for their building or landscaping projects.

This guide will provide a deep dive into the world of bricks – their manufacturing process, classifications, properties, and the various types used in modern construction.

Table of Contents

What is a Brick?

A brick is a block made of clay that has been molded, dried, and fired at high temperatures to create a solid, durable building unit. Bricks are laid down in courses using mortar to form walls, pavements, and other masonry structures.

The key characteristics of bricks are:

  • Rectangular shape for easy laying of courses
  • Presence of cores or voids to reduce weight
  • Burnt clay material that provides strength
  • Modular sizes for ease of construction

Bricks have been used as a popular building material for millennia owing to their longevity, aesthetics, affordability, and thermal insulation properties. Modern advancements in brick manufacturing have led to greater precision and uniformity in size and shape.

Classification of Bricks

Bricks can be classified in different ways based on their manufacturing process, materials, usage, and shape. The common classifications are:

Based on Manufacturing Process

  • Burnt clay bricks – Most common type, made by molding clay which is then fired at high temperatures. They have high strength and durability.
  • Concrete bricks – Made from concrete under high pressure. They have lower strength than burnt clay bricks.
  • Fly ash clay bricks – Manufactured from clay and fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion. They are more environmentally friendly.
  • Engineering bricks – Shaped precisely for special structural requirements. They have extra strength but are costlier.

Based on Materials

  • Clay bricks – Most ubiquitous, made from clay or clay mixed with additives. They have high durability.
  • Concrete bricks – Made from concrete. They are cheaper but have lower strength.
  • Fly ash bricks – Manufactured from clay and fly ash. They have good strength and are eco-friendly.
  • Sand lime bricks – Made from sand, lime and fly ash. They have low density and high fire resistance.

Based on Usage

  • Common bricks – The most widely used bricks in general masonry applications. They are relatively porous.
  • Face bricks – Used on exterior surfaces where appearance is important. They have a smooth uniform finish.
  • Paving bricks – Used for paving driveways, patios, footpaths etc. They are stronger and more abrasion resistant.

Based on Shape

  • Solid bricks – Brick made of solid material without perforation or voids. They are heavier and conduct heat better.
  • Perforated bricks – Bricks with patterned holes called perforations. The holes make the bricks lighter.
  • Hollow bricks – Bricks with big rectangular voids running longitudinally. They are light and have better insulation.

Different Types of Bricks

The choice of brick type is based on factors like application, structural needs, insulation, cost, availability etc. Advanced manufacturing now allows tailoring bricks for specific requirements.

types of bricks
brick types

Common Burnt Clay Bricks

The most commonly used bricks for general masonry structures. The are made from clay, fired at high temperatures for strength. Includes common, facing, and engineering bricks. They are durable, fire resistant, and have high compressive strength. Common bricks have relatively higher porosity and are suitably used for inner walls.

Clay Face Bricks

These bricks have an appealing uniform finish making them ideal for exterior facades. Face bricks come in different colors and textures allowing for creative freedom. They are more expensive than common bricks.

Sand Lime Bricks

Made from sand, lime and fly ash, these bricks have low density and high fire resistance. They also offer great thermal and sound insulation. The downside is their comparatively lower strength.

  • Their uniform shape presents a smoother finish that doesn’t require plastering.
  • They offer excellent strength for load-bearing structures.
  • They are gray instead of the standard reddish color. Different pigments can be added for ornamental purposes.
  • Less mortar is required during construction.
  • Edges are straight and precise, making construction easier.
  • They do not effloresce salts and minerals.

Concrete Bricks

Concrete bricks are cheaper, made from solid concrete poured into molds. They are traditionally used in internal brickwork but are more frequently used in exterior work, offer better sound and heat insulation, and have a uniform shape and size. On the flip side, they are not as strong as burnt clay bricks. Reinforced concrete bricks provide extra strength.

Engineering Bricks

Engineering bricks are used primarily in civil projects where strength and resilience against the elements are essential.

They are clay-based and can be mixed with many other materials. Shaped with precision for special structural requirements, engineering bricks possess high strength and load bearing capacity.

Their smooth finish adds to the aesthetics. Use is limited to specialized structures due to the high cost.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Bricks manufactured from clay and fly ash offer great environmental benefits as fly ash is a waste product.

They have good strength and insulation properties. This type of brick is sometimes described as self-cementing since it contains a high volume of calcium oxide and expands when exposed to moisture.

Making them requires less clay leading to conservation of topsoil.

Typical uses for fly ash clay brick include:

  • Structural walls
  • Foundations
  • Pillars
  • Anywhere that improved fire resistance is required

Hollow Clay Bricks

Their unique shape with longitudinal voids makes these bricks lighter than solid bricks. The voids provide insulation and aid in reducing structural weight. These are best suited for partition walls and infill in RCC framed structures.

Perforated Clay Bricks

Bricks with patterned holes or perforations are lighter and offer better sound absorption. They require less clay and are more sustainable. Perforated bricks are used for interior partition walls in houses.

What are the Different Types of Masonry Bricks?

Masonry construction using bricks requires choosing the right brick type based on structural requirements, appearance, climate etc. Here are some of the most commonly used types of masonry bricks:

Solid Clay Bricks

These are bricks made of solid clay material which are very dense and durable. They are laid in lime or cement mortar for masonry work. Solid bricks provide excellent structural strength but can be heavy.

Perforated Clay Bricks

These bricks are made by creating a pattern of holes in the clay during molding. Perforations make the bricks lighter and provide better insulation. They are most suitable for partition walls.

Hollow Clay Bricks

They contain two large cavities running parallel to the faces. This makes them lighter than solid bricks. Hollow bricks are easy to handle and have good thermal insulation properties.

Burnt Clay Facing Bricks

Facing bricks have an appealing uniform texture and color. They are used on exterior walls and other surfaces requiring an attractive appearance. But facing bricks are more expensive.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Bricks manufactured from clay and fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion. Fly ash improves brick properties while reducing topsoil depletion. They have good compressive strength.

Sand Lime Bricks

Made by mixing sand, lime and fly ash, these bricks have relatively lower strength but provide great insulation. They are also fire resistant and suitable for masonry structures.

Concrete Bricks

Though less strong than burnt clay bricks, concrete bricks offer excellent durability at lower costs. They are suitable for structures not requiring high strength. Reinforced concrete bricks provide extra strength.

Engineering Bricks

Shaped precisely for special structural requirements, engineering bricks are very dense and strong. They are used in masonry structures like chimneys, foundations and arches that require high load bearing capacity.

Types of Bricks for Building Construction

Bricks are among the most commonly used building materials in construction across all kinds of projects. The most suitable brick type varies based on the structural requirements and construction application.

Burnt Clay Common Bricks

With their high compressive strength and durability, common burnt clay bricks are used extensively for building construction. They are laid in courses with cement or lime mortar. Common bricks are suitable for most walls and structures.

Perforated Clay Bricks

Their strength combined with lightness and better insulation make these ideal for partition walls, infill panels etc. Patterning of perforations can be used decoratively in brickwork.

Concrete Bricks

Concrete bricks are a cheaper alternative to clay bricks. Though lower in strength, they still adequately serve in masonry structures not expected to handle very high loads. They are also more uniform in size.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Bricks manufactured from clay and fly ash, which is an industrial by-product, provide sustainability benefits. They have high compressive strength and are thus suitable for use in all kinds of buildings and structures.

Hollow Clay Bricks

Hollow bricks are extensively used for building partition walls. They are lighter and provide excellent thermal and sound insulation too. Cavities make them easy to cut and shape as needed on site.

Face Bricks

With their pleasing uniform texture and variety of available colors, facing bricks are ideal for use on external surfaces and facades. This allows creating interesting patterns and finishes. But they are costlier.

Sand Lime Bricks

Though relatively weaker in compression, sand lime bricks offer the advantages of fire resistance, thermal insulation and uniform shape. They are commonly used in regions with limited availability of clay.

Engineering Bricks

Their very high strength and densities make engineering bricks perfect for specialized constructions like tall chimneys, storage tanks and foundation footings that handle heavy loads.

Types of Bricks Used in Historical Buildings

The ancient architectural marvels built centuries ago often used bricks extensively in their construction. Available materials and required structural properties governed the choice of bricks used in these historical buildings.

Solid Clay Bricks

The most common brick type used in historical buildings across geographies is the traditional rectangular solid clay brick joined using lime or mud mortar. High compressive strength allows construction of durable load bearing walls.

Burnt Clay Bricks

Clay bricks burnt in kilns were prevalent in early architectures as firing imparted higher durability and water resistance compared to sun-dried bricks. The quality of clay determined the brick’s strength.

Mud Bricks

Mud or adobe bricks were one of the earliest man-made building materials. They were unburnt bricks made from clay, mud and even straw. Though weak, they were inexpensive and used for constructing thick walls.

Sandstone Bricks

Sandstone bricks were made from blocks of sandstone cut into brick sizes. They have good compressive strength but are expensive to quarry and cut. Sandstone bricks lend a unique texture and appearance.

Limestone Bricks

Limestone bricks were used where this sedimentary rock was amply available. They are weather resistant but have lower strength than other stone bricks. Limestone details often adorned brick buildings.

Granite Bricks

Granite is an igneous rock brick type used in ancient structures where available. Granite bricks have extremely high strength and load bearing capacity but were difficult to quarry and shape by hand.

Travertine Bricks

This cream colored type of limestone was used by the Romans to construct many famous structures still intact today. Travertine has good strength and aesthetic qualities. But like most natural stones, shaping it into bricks was laborious.

Common Brick Types for Residential Projects

Choosing bricks for residential complexes like houses, apartments etc. requires factoring in cost, structural needs, insulation and aesthetics. Some of the most common brick types suitable for residential projects are:

  • Burnt Clay Common Bricks
  • Hollow Clay Bricks
  • Perforated Clay Bricks
  • Concrete Bricks
  • Fly Ash Clay Bricks
  • Face Bricks

Types of Bricks and their Uses in Construction

Bricks have remained a popular construction material owing to their versatility, with different brick types suited for various applications based on their attributes:

Common Burnt Clay Bricks

Thanks to their excellent strength and durability, these are the most widely used bricks for masonry construction in all types of walls, panels, surfaces etc. They are laid in overlapping courses using mortar.

Perforated Clay Bricks

The pattern of holes makes these bricks lighter than their solid counterparts. This allows building taller structures faster and at lower costs without compromising strength. They also have better insulation.

Face Bricks

Used in façade and exterior surfaces to enhance aesthetics of buildings. Variety of textures, patterns and colors available. More expensive than common bricks but add to the visual appeal.

Engineering Bricks

Very dense bricks manufactured for extra strength requirements. Use is limited to specialized structures like underground facilities, tall chimneys and retaining walls that handle high loads.

Hollow Clay Bricks

bricks have voids running throughout their length. This provides insulation benefits and reduces weight, allowing faster construction of high-rises. Hollow bricks are extensively used for partition walls.

Paving Bricks

Paving bricks have extra abrasion and weather resistance to sustain wear from foot traffic, vehicles etc. Different patterns can be created by layouts using distinct colors and shapes.

Lightweight Bricks

Bricks with lower density like hollow, perforated and cellular concrete bricks are useful where reducing structure weight is important. Lighter bricks also have better insulation properties.

Comparison of Brick Types – Pros and Cons

There is a wide variety of brick types to choose from in masonry construction. Here is a look at the relative pros and cons of some common brick types:

Burnt Clay Bricks

Pros – Excellent strength, durability, fire resistance and weathering properties. Wide availability.

Cons – Brittle failure under tension. Heavier and costly to transport. Needs firing fuel source.

Concrete Bricks

Pros – Cheaper than burnt clay bricks. Consistent sizing and uniform shape. Recyclable.

Cons – Less strong in compression and tension compared to burnt clay. Heavier than hollow bricks.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Pros – Utilizes waste fly ash, affordable. Good strength and fire resistance.

Cons – May have higher water absorption than clay bricks unless glazed. Limited availability.

Sand Lime Bricks

Pros – Good thermal and sound insulation. Uniform size and fire resistant.

Cons – Relatively weaker strength than other bricks. Not suitable for high load bearing walls.

Hollow Bricks

Pros – Lightweight, lower thermal conductivity, savings in mortar use.

Cons – Weaker than solid bricks. Not recommended for load bearing structures.

Guide to Choosing the Right Brick Type

With the wide variety of bricks available, selecting the optimal brick type for a construction project requires considering multiple aspects:

  • Structure Type – Load bearing walls need high strength bricks like engineering, burnt clay etc. Hollow bricks suit partition walls.
  • Location and Climate – Hotter and drier regions do better with burnt clay bricks. In colder locations, insulation properties should be prioritized.
  • Budget – Clay facing bricks add aesthetics but are expensive. Concrete bricks offer cost savings over burnt clay ones.
  • Availability – What raw materials and brick manufacturing facilities exist nearby? This impacts transportation costs too.
  • Appearance – Face bricks or special finishes available if aesthetics are important, like in exposed surfaces.
  • Sustainability – Fly ash clay and perforated bricks reduce clay usage and are more eco-friendly.
  • Insulation Needs – Hollow, cellular concrete or fly ash bricks have lower thermal conductivity.
  • Fire Resistance – Fire clay and high alumina bricks have the highest resistance to heat.

Carefully analyzing the above factors for every construction project leads to choosing bricks that are structurally sound, visually appealing, affordable and sustainable.

Most Durable Types of Bricks for Driveways

Designing a driveway requires durable paving that can withstand vehicular movement, weathering and wear-and-tear over time. Some of the most durable types of bricks well-suited for driveway construction are:

Paving Bricks

Paving bricks meant for outdoor use are denser and hence more durable than standard bricks. They are specifically designed to endure wear from pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Fireclay Bricks

Made of refractory clays, these bricks are extremely hard and dense. Fireclay bricks are resistant to abrasion from friction making them last very long even under constant movement.

Engineering Bricks

Classified as heavy duty bricks, engineering bricks have very high compressive strength. This also imparts an ability to sustain substantial abrasive forces without damage.

Perforated Clay Bricks

Perforations make these bricks lighter than solid clay bricks but still durable enough for driveways. The holes also provide better skid resistance when wet.

Belgian Blocks

These are granite cubes cut into brick sizes. With their exceptional hardness, Belgian blocks maintain their shape and integrity over decades of traffic on driveways.

Concrete Bricks

Concrete bricks and pavers are cheaper options that offer the advantage of consistent dimensions for ease of laying. Reinforced concrete bricks can match clay bricks in durability.

Eco-friendly Bricks – New Sustainable Brick Types

With rising ecological concerns, efforts are ongoing to develop more sustainable and eco-friendly types of bricks with lower environmental impact:

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

These utilize fly ash, a waste by-product of coal power plants to manufacture bricks. This reduces both clay consumption and industrial waste. Fly ash bricks have good strength.

CLC (Cellular Lightweight Concrete) Bricks

CLC bricks are made by adding pre-formed foam to concrete to create air pockets, reducing the material weight. This saves costs, raw materials and energy used for transportation.

Perforated Bricks


Here are additional sections on tests on bricks, identifying quality bricks, and uses of bricks:

Tests on Bricks

To determine the suitability of bricks for construction applications, various tests are performed as per established standards:

Compressive Strength Test

This involves applying gradual compressive force on the brick until failure. The max load at failure divided by cross-sectional area gives the compressive strength. Minimum strength standards exist for different brick classes.

Water Absorption Test

The brick is first dried completely and weighed. It is then immersed in water for 24 hours, wiped and weighed again. The increase in weight indicates water absorbed as a percentage of dry weight. Lower absorption is better.

Efflorescence Test

This tests the soluble salt content in bricks which can leach out and leave stains. The brick is dosed with water and observed for deposit of white salt crystals as it dries. Lower efflorescence is desirable.

Soundness Test

Two bricks are struck together and the sound produced indicates the homogeneity of the material. A clear ringing sound denotes higher soundness while a dull thud indicates presence of flaws.

Dimensional Tolerance Test

The actual brick dimensions are measured and compared with the specified standard dimensions. Minor deviations are permitted within tolerance limits. Higher dimensional accuracy is essential for uniform brickwork.

tests on bricks

Identification of Good Quality Bricks at Construction Site

It is important to visually inspect bricks delivered at site to ensure they meet the quality standards before acceptance:

  • No visible cracks, flaws or lumps in the bricks
  • Sharp and clean edges without crumbling or chipping
  • Rectangular shape with right angled corners
  • Consistent coloring throughout without variations
  • Fine compact texture without loose grains or nodules
  • Clear ringing sound when two bricks knocked together
  • No significant efflorescence when brushed with water
  • Adheres to specified standard dimensions and tolerances
  • Meets minimum compressive strength specifications

Bricks satisfying the above criteria are likely to be of good quality and suitable for construction usage.

Uses of Bricks

Bricks have remained a popular construction material for centuries owing to their many structural and architectural uses:

  • Constructing walls and partitions for all kinds of buildings
  • Cladding material for exterior facades and fireplaces
  • Building supporting structures like columns and pillars
  • Paving driveways, footpaths, patios etc.
  • Building ornamental elements as part of brickwork arches, cornices etc.
  • Use as aggregates in concrete in place of stone chips
  • Manufacturing drainage pipes, flower pots and railway sleepers
  • Lining kilns and furnaces as refractory bricks due to heat resistance
  • Making cobblestone pavers for urban streets and public spaces
  • Constructing manholes due to durability and ability to withstand underground conditions

The versatility of bricks has ensured their widespread use across all kinds of construction and building applications.

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