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What are the Different Brick Types?

Lakshmi Sandhana
Lakshmi Sandhana

Bricks can be used in various ways, and many brick types exist to meet the requirements of the construction industry. They can provide structural integrity or have decorative value. Bricks come in many forms, such as hollow bricks, solid bricks and cored bricks. Although different types of bricks might look similar, they vary greatly in their composition and possess unique characteristics. Some of the most important brick types are common bricks, facing bricks and engineering bricks.

Common bricks are also called hard bricks or building bricks and are made of clay. These bricks typically are of a lower quality than the other brick types and are not suited to underground construction. They are mainly used for internal brickwork and have low compressive strength. The color and surface texture of common bricks might vary greatly since no attention is paid to these aspects when they are fired in a kiln.

A brick trowel and bricks.
A brick trowel and bricks.

Facing bricks are bricks made of a mixture of water, clay and sand. They are mainly used for aesthetic purposes to give buildings an attractive exterior. These bricks are of much higher quality than common bricks and possess greater strength and durability. They are specifically hard-burned for use in exposed wall surfaces and are able to withstand all kinds of weather and environmental conditions.

There are many colors, styles and sizes of facing bricks, and they are designed to be visible. In general, facing bricks cannot be used in a freestanding fashion because of their inability to bear huge weights or stresses, and they require support in some fashion. They possess the greatest degree of uniformity, however, when compared to all the other brick types. Facing bricks are used for extremely detailed architectural work.

Engineering bricks are crafted to be extremely hard. They go through a complex process to attain a high degree of compressive strength. The clay is carefully selected, fired and molded to give the resulting bricks greater strength and durability. These bricks are hardier than the other brick types and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. They have a low water absorption rate and are extremely damp-resistant.

Of all the brick types, engineering bricks are the most impervious to frost and are mostly used for construction in wet and freezing environments. In addition to widely being used to build walls below ground level, they also are used at sites where it is important for the bricks to be extra strong or damp-proof. They are classified as A- or B-class bricks, depending upon their compression strength and water absorption capacity.

Discussion Comments


I agree, a very good article. In an attempt to answer Jester39's question, I believe (if I've understood everything I've read about engineering bricks is correct) using them in a warmer climate should be OK, purely because of their strength...?


This was a good article to explain brick types and styles. However, I'm a tad puzzled. If the Engineering bricks are hardier than the others and have a low water absorption rate, it sounds like they might be a good brick to use for an outdoor walkway.

But if these bricks are used mostly for construction in wet and freezing environments, are they the appropriate choice for a subtropical walkway with intense heat and plenty of moisture?

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    • A brick trowel and bricks.
      A brick trowel and bricks.