18th Nov 2022 -

Bricks have been a central building material throughout history, remaining popular to this day. Whether building a house, a footpath, or a factory, bricks offer strength, stability, and performance. In this guide from Building Materials Nationwide, we will answer the most popular questions about bricks: how they are made, what size they are sold in, how much they cost, and what options are available in the UK.

What was the origin of bricks?

Bricks as a building material date back nearly 10,000 years, with dried bricks of mud used within neolithic buildings situated in modern-day Turkey. From there bricks featured in civilisations across the globe, with fired clay bricks occurring in China as flooring and road paving, and large brick structures built throughout the Ancient Roman and Greek empires.

Bricks have been used in everything from the castles of continental Europe to the smokestacks of Victorian London. Today, bricks feature as a key building material in construction projects small and large, particularly houses where they remain the dominant choice.

The benefits of bricks

Red bricks stacked in blocks with a sledgehammer.

Bricks face competition in the contemporary world from other building materials like concrete, wood, stone, and steel. Bricks have some specific benefits, which can make them the ideal choice for a building project:

Attractive appearance

Bricks have a fetching look that has persisted over the centuries. Today, there is a range of different visual looks available for customers.


Bricks can be used easily within a wide range of structures due to their size and strength. This allows for complex brick structures to be made, and for additional sections to be added to an existing brick building.

Environmentally friendly

Bricks are produced from natural materials that exist in abundance, with minimal waste during the production process. In a lot of cases, bricks can be reused, further improving their sustainability.


Bricks offer solid thermal and acoustic insulation, helping to keep houses warm in winter and cool in summer. They have better insulation properties than wood, saving homeowners money on their heating bills.

Long-term performance

Bricks are protected from the elements, resisting wind and moisture. They also offer great fire performance, with no toxic gases released during combustion. They maintain their shape and are resistant to pressure within larger buildings.

Low maintenance

Unlike other external building materials, bricks will maintain their appearance. They will not need sealing or painting after installation. The continuing existence of ancient brick buildings shows the performance that can be offered over time by quality brickwork.

Alongside these benefits, there are a few disadvantages to know when considering the use of bricks in a building project:

  • Time-consuming installation: Each brick will need to be laid individually, which can be a lengthy process compared to other materials. They can also only be built during clear weather, as rain can cause issues during installation. Both of these factors will contribute to higher labour costs.
  • Struggles with temperature fluctuations: Bricks do not fluctuate with temperature in the way that other building materials can, leading to issues when moisture is frozen and unfrozen regularly. This can cause cracking in brickwork.
  • Issues with seismic activity: While not the biggest problem in most of the UK, brick buildings will perform poorly during seismic events like earthquakes, with cracking and more severe damage common.

What are bricks made of?

Bricks remain primarily made of clay, first used many thousands of years ago. They will be moulded into their set shape, and then heated to dry them. Clay can be mixed with other materials during the construction process, such as concrete, ash, or a range of chemicals. This process can lend bricks specific benefits.

The key types of brick

There are different types of brick used within UK construction, offering structural and aesthetic benefits.

  • Facing Bricks: Facing bricks are designed to be used on the external faces of a building, with a more attractive appearance and weather resistance. They will be manufactured from clay, and available in a variety of colours.
  • Engineering Bricks: Engineering bricks are designed for structural purposes, boasting high compression strength and low water absorption. They will primarily be used in larger buildings rather than houses, or in locations where water resistance is important. There are two classes of engineering brick; A and B, with A being the strongest.
  • Fire Bricks: Clay bricks that a dried at a far higher temperature, fire bricks are resistant to flames and heat, alongside moisture. They are used for things like furnaces, alongside for cooking purposes such as in pizza ovens.
  • Air Bricks: These clay bricks feature many holes through them in a grid pattern. This is to encourage air to flow through a wall or building. These can be used in buildings with suspended floors to avoid the levels of dampness and moisture buildup that could otherwise occur.

Quality Bricks For Sale in Bulk

  1. £526.89 £632.27
  2. £583.60 £700.32
  3. Low Stock In Some Areas - Contact Us Prior To Ordering

    • Crushing strength 7.3 N/mm²
    • Fire rating A1
    £2.70 £3.24

View All Bricks

What are bricks used for?

Bricks are commonly used to build houses and other buildings, but they have other popular uses. They can be used to construct walls, with attractive facing bricks blending well in outdoor spaces. Floors and paving can also be made from bricks, a popular choice for constructing pathways.

Bricks can be used for more complex designs like arches, perfect for creating shaded walkways. Engineering bricks are used for underground installations, like sewer tunnels or underground networks, offering great performance due to their strength and water resistance.

How are bricks installed?

Bricks are laid with mortar, which acts to seal all gaps between them and create a secure wall. There are different patterns that bricks can be laid in, such as upright, lengthways, and widthways. It is important for the pattern to be staggered to avoid creating a line of weakness. Accuracy and consistency are important when building any brick structure, ensuring strength and resistance.

What size are bricks?

Four rows of Light sand-coloured bricks stacked into piles.

Within the UK the most common size of a brick will be 215mm x 102.5mm x 65mm. There are other sizes of specialist brick available, and bricks can be cut to size or produced in different sizes. When considering the number of bricks needed, it’s important to keep in mind the average mortar width of 10mm around each join.

What does a brick weigh?

The weight of one brick will vary depending on the materials used, but our selection of facing bricks will weigh around 2kg at standard sizes. Weights per brick are sometimes listed, but if needed you can always request them from your supplier.

How many bricks are in an m2?

When calculating the number of bricks needed for an m2 brick wall you will also need to factor in the 10mm of mortar between each brick. When installing lengthways, you will need 48 and a half bricks to make an m2 wall. Most builders would buy 50 bricks per m2, to ensure that should there be an accident work can still be completed.

How much do bricks cost?

The cost of bricks will vary depending on several factors, the type of brick required, the current market, and the number of bricks you will be buying in one transaction. Building Materials Nationwide stocks a wide range of bricks, with lower-cost options within our facing bricks. This includes the Wienerberger Ewhurst Sienna Red Brick at around £340 before VAT for 400 bricks.

Our more expensive options cost around £450 for between 400 and 500 bricks, such as the Ibstock Brick Surrey Red at around £570 before VAT for 500 bricks.

How many bricks are in a pallet?

A pallet can contain around 500 bricks, with our range of facing bricks sold in pallets of between 400 up to around 550 bricks. If you require smaller numbers of bricks some suppliers will be able to sell you a smaller or specific amount.

How much do bricklayers get paid per brick?

Labour costs will vary based on where you are in the UK. The average cost for installing 1,000 clay bricks is between £700 and £900, or 70p to 90p per brick. Using different types of bricks, or a job with a tricky installation can work to increase this cost, particularly if scaffolding is involved.

Our range of bricks for sale

Building Materials Nationwide sells a broad range of building supplies, including bricks, offering nationwide delivery. We work with builders and contractors both large and small, removing the hassle that can come from sourcing bricks, timber, insulation, plasterboarding and more. 

On our website, you will find our selection of building materialsbricks and blocks, with facing and engineering bricks alongside concrete blocks. If you work within the industry then you can also take advantage of our trade accounts. You will be granted access to our network of suppliers, fast delivery options, and the services of a dedicated account manager. Sign up for a trade account online today.

  1. £555.30 £666.36
  2. £567.95 £681.54
  3. £551.96 £662.35

View All Bricks