18th Nov 2022 -

An essential element of building work for thousands of years, today there are many types of brick available in the UK, for use within buildings, sewers, furnaces and more. In this quick guide from Building Materials Nationwide, we’ll look over the key types of brick you should know, giving some examples of where they could be used.

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What Types of Brick Are Available in the UK?

There are 3 main types of clay bricks; Facing bricks, engineering bricks, and common bricks. In addition to these, there are different options available, each serving a specific purpose within construction, or offering an alternative in the case of concrete bricks.

Facing Bricks

Facing bricks are clay bricks intended for visual use within building construction, typically as an exterior wall. This means that they will not only offer strength for load-bearing support, but they will also be designed to offer a consistent, attractive look, in a wide range of colours. Facing bricks can be used within most buildings, from houses to commercial units, typically to build the external walls. They can also be used to make an attractive garden wall. Facing bricks will typically be in the dimensions 225mm x 112.5mm x 75mm, but other sizes or shapes are sometimes available.

Engineering Bricks

Engineering bricks offer high compressive strength and great water resistance. They are not designed for visual use and are typically used in constructions where water contact will be frequent, such as contact with soil, sewers, or damp-proof courses. Engineering bricks are available in two classes, A and B, with A-class bricks being the superior choice. Engineering bricks can be used as a solid damp-proof course.

Common Bricks

Common bricks are designed for non-facing uses within a building, offering a lower strength and an inconsistent, unattractive look. They can be used for internal walls or for any use that will be obscured. They can also be used for more casual purposes, such as constructing a fire pit.

Concrete Bricks

Made from concrete rather than clay, concrete bricks, sometimes called concrete blocks, are also used within a range of constructions, offering strength, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. Concrete bricks are generally seen as less attractive than clay, though there are newer options with different looks. Hollow concrete bricks are also available, which can be strengthened through the insertion of steel rebars and cement to create extremely strong walls. Concrete blocks are suitable for use in a huge range of buildings, much like clay bricks, bringing their own benefits and drawbacks.

Air Bricks

Air bricks are clay bricks designed with many holes to aid the passage of air, either to resist damp or ventilate smoke. Houses with suspended timber floors will need air bricks to allow airflow into the void below, helping to combat the risk of dampness and eventually rot. Another use for air bricks is to ventilate smoke outside from chimneys, fireplaces, heaters, and more.

Refractory Bricks (Fire Bricks)

Refractory bricks are manufactured for fire resistance at high temperatures, for uses such as furnaces, kilns, and pizza ovens. To produce refractory bricks a special clay called “Fire Clay” is heated to high temperatures, and the bricks are often glazed.

Sun-Dried Bricks

Alternatively called mudbricks or air-dried bricks, a sun-dried brick will be cured in the sun rather than in a kiln. Sun-dried bricks have been used for a variety of buildings across history, but are only suitable for temporary structures. For non-structural outdoor uses, sun-dried bricks can have an attractive natural look.

Sand Lime Bricks

Made from a mixture of sand, fly ash, and hydrated lime, these bricks come with a smooth and attractive finish. Pigments can also be used to make them a range of colours. Sand lime bricks offer excellent strength.

Fly Ash Bricks

Fly ash is produced as a waste product from coal furnaces, and can be mixed with clay to produce fly ash bricks. These lightweight, high-strength bricks are popular in some areas but less useful in the UK, where their high thermal conductivity will make buildings colder in the winter.

Our Range of Quality Bricks For Sale

Building Materials Nationwide stocks a comprehensive range of bricks, with facing bricksengineering brickscommon bricks, and concrete blocks available through our website. We work with professionals across the UK, removing the hassle that can come with sourcing building components. 

We aim to offer everything you could need, all at great prices, delivered to you at home or the construction site. Customers within the industry can sign up for a trade account through our website, gaining access to your own dedicated account manager, a real person who can help you source materials through our network of suppliers, and arrange speedy delivery across the UK.

Open a trade account today.

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