Bricks - Composition, Properties & Uses of Brick (2023)

Bricks - Composition, Properties & Uses of Brick (1)

Bricks are the small rectangular blocks typically made of fired or sun-dried clay, typically used in building. The bricks are obtained by moulding clay in rectangular blocks of uniform size and then by drying and burning these blocks. As bricks are of uniform size, they can be properly arranged and further, as they are light in weight, no lifting appliance is required to them. The bricks don’t require dressing and the art of laying bricks is so simple that the brickwork can be carried out with the help of unskilled labours. Thus, at places where stones are not easily available, but if plenty of clay suitable for the manufacturing of bricks, the bricks replace stones.

The common brick is one of the oldest building materials and it is extensively used at present as a leading material of construction because of its durability, strength, reliability, low cost, easy availability, etc.


  • History
  • Brickwork vs Stonework
  • Composition
  • Harmful Ingredients
  • Qualities
  • Strength

History of Bricks

The bricks seem to have been produced since the dawn of the civilization in the sun-dried form. The Great Wall of China (210 B.C.) was built with both, burnt and sun-dried bricks. The other examples of the use of bricks in early stage of civilization could be cited in Rome and other places.

The medieval cities were of wood and because of the disastrous fire potential of wood; the bricks replaced the wood over the years. For instance, the great fire of London in 1666 changed London from being a city of wood to one of brick. A number of country farm houses still exists in Great Britain and profess to be monuments of the excellent hand-made bricks.

The bricks have been used all over the world in every class and kind of building. If the total bricks produced till today are to be counted, the figure would indeed be astronomical. It is understood that about 65 percent of the bricks in world goes into dwellings and the balance into commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

(Video) Types of Bricks in Masonry Construction – Properties & Uses

The bricks have established as an age old material right from the thatched house to the multi-storeyed buildings. They were initially handmade and used as load bearing material for various structures. With the passage of time and advent of cement and steel, the frames only are filled up with the burnt clay bricks. The production of burnt clay bricks on a scientific and modern basis including proper mining of clays can lead to availability of quality bricks.

In India, the process of brick making has not changed since many centuries except some minor refinements. There have been hardly any efforts in the country to improve the brick-making process for enhancing the quality of bricks. The main reason for this attitude is that the production of bricks has been largely remained confined to the unorganized small sector. Some of the large mechanized brick plants came up in the past but they failed for some reason or other. The result is that the construction industry is largely dependent on the small sector which is unable to deliver high quality bricks in view of rising fuel cost, outdated technology and lower efficiency of production.

Brickwork vs Stonework

The brickwork is superior to the stonework in the following respects.

  1. At places where stones are not easily available but where there is plenty of clay, the brickwork becomes cheaper than stonework.
  2. The cost of construction works out to be less in case of brickwork than stonework as less skilled labour is required in the construction of brickwork.
  3. No complicated lifting devices are necessary to carry bricks as they can be easily moved by manual labour.
  4. The bricks resist fire better than stone and hence, in case of a fire, they don’t easily disintegrate.
  5. The bricks of good quality resist the various atmospheric effects in a better way than the stones.
  6. In case of brickwork, the mortar joints are thin and hence the structure becomes more durable.
  7. It is easy to construct connections and openings in case of brickwork than stonework.

The brickwork is inferior to the stonework in the following respects:

  1. The brickwork is less watertight than stonework. The bricks absorb moisture from the atmosphere and dampness can enter the building.
  2. The brickwork doesn’t create a solid appearance in relation to the stonework and hence, for public buildings and monumental structures, the stonework is found to be more useful than brickwork.
  3. The stonework is stronger than brickwork.
  4. The architectural effects of better quality can be developed by the stonework.
  5. The stonework is cheaper at places where stones are easily available.

Composition of good brick material

Following are the constituents of good brick material:

  • Alumina: It is the chief constituent of every kind of clay. A good brick should contain 20% to 30% of alumina. This constituent imparts plasticity to the clay so that it can be moulded. If alumina is present in excess, with inadequate quantity of sand, the raw bricks shrink and warp during drying /burning and become too hard when burnt.
  • Silica: It exists in clay either as free or combined. As free sand, it is mechanically mixed with clay. In combine form, it exists in chemical composition with alumina. A good brick material should contain about 50% to 60% of silica. The presence of this constituent prevents cracking, shrinking and warping of raw bricks. It thus imparts uniform shape to the bricks. The durability of bricks depends on the proper proportion of silica in brick material. The excess of silica destroys the cohesion between particles and the bricks become brittle.
  • Lime: A small quantity of lime not exceeding 5 percent is desirable in good brick material. It should be present in a very finely powdered state because even small particles of the size of a pin-head cause flaking of the bricks. The lime prevents shrinkage of raw bricks. The sand alone is infusible. But it slightly fuses at kiln temperature in presence of lime. Such fused sand works as a hard cementing material for brick particles. The excess of lime causes the brick to melt and hence its shape is lost. The lumps of lime are converted into quick lime after burning and this quick lime slakes and expands in presence of moisture. Such an action results in splitting of bricks into pieces.
  • Oxide of iron: A small quantity of oxide of iron to the extent of about 5 to 6 percent is desirable in good brick material. It helps as lime to fuse sand. It also imparts red colour to the bricks. The excess of oxide of iron makes the bricks dark blue or blackish. If, on the other hand, the quantity of iron oxide is comparatively less, the bricks will be yellowish in colour.
  • Magnesia: A small quantity of magnesia in brick material imparts yellow tint to the bricks and decreases shrinkage. However, excess of magnesia leads to the decay of bricks.

Harmful ingredients in brick material

Following are the ingredients which are undesirable in the brick material:

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  • Lime: The excess of lime is undesirable in brick material.
  • Iron pyrites: If iron pyrites are present in brick material, the bricks are crystallized and disintegrated during burning because of the oxidation of the iron pyrites.
  • Alkalies: These are mainly in the form of soda and potash. The alkalies act as a flux in the kiln during burning and they cause bricks to fuse, twist and warp. As a result, the bricks are melted and they loose their shape. Further, the alkalies remaining in bricks will absorb moisture from the atmosphere, when bricks are used in masonry. Such moisture, when evaporated, leaves behind grey or white deposits on the wall surface. The appearance of the building as a whole is then seriously spoiled.
  • Pebbles: The presence of pebbles or grits of any kind is undesirable in brick material because it will not allow the clay to be mixed uniformly and thoroughly which will result in weak and porous bricks. Also, the brick containing pebbles will not break regularly as desired.
  • Vegetation and organic matter: The presence of vegetation and organic matter in brick material assists in burning. But if such matter is not completely burnt, the bricks become porous. This is due to the fact that the gases will be evolved during the burning of the carbonaceous matter and it will result in the formation of small pores. Hence, it is necessary to see that all these gases are removed during the process of burning for getting bricks of good quality.

Qualities of good bricks

The good bricks which are to be used for the construction of important structures should posses the following qualities:

  1. The bricks should be table-mounted, well burnt in kilns, copper-coloured, free from cracks and with sharp & square edges. The colour should be uniform and bright.
  2. The bricks should be uniform in shape and should be of standard size.
  3. The bricks should give a clear metallic ringing sound when struck with each other.
  4. The bricks when broken or fractured should show a bright homogeneous and uniform compact structure free from voids.
  5. The bricks shouldn’t absorb water more than 20 percent by weight for first class bricks and 22 percent by weight for second class bricks, when soaked in cold water for a period of 24 hours.
  6. The bricks should be sufficiently hard. No impression should be left on brick surface, when it is scratched with finger nail.
  7. The bricks should not break into pieces when dropped flat on hard ground from a height of about one meter.
  8. The bricks should have low thermal conductivity and they should be sound-proof.
  9. The bricks, when soaked in water for 24 hours, should not show deposits of white salts when allowed to dry in shade.
  10. No brick should have the crushing strength below 5.5 N/mm2.

Strength of bricks

Following factors affect the strength of bricks:

  1. Composition brick making material
  2. Preparation of clay and blending of ingredients
  3. Nature of moulding adopted
  4. Care taken in drying and stacking of raw or green bricks
  5. Type of kiln used including type of fuel and its feeding
  6. Burning and cooling processes
  7. Care taken in unloading

It is thus obvious that not only the bricks of different brick fields will have different strengths, but in the same brick field, the bricks of the same batch may have different strengths.

The average crushing strength and tensile strength of hand moulded bricks are 60,000 kN/m2 and 2000 kN/m2 respectively. The shearing strength of bricks is about one-tenth of the crushing strength. In practice, however, the bricks are not subjected to the tensile stresses.

It may be noted that the strength of brickwork mainly depends on the type of mortar used and not so much on the individual strength of the bricks.

Bricks - Composition, Properties & Uses of Brick (2)


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What is the main composition of brick? ›

Chief Ingredients of Brick and Their Functions. Silica (Sand) and Alumina (Clay), these two are the most prominent ingredients in brick clay. When mixed with water in proper proportions, it gains plasticity. The plastic mass can be easily molded and dried.

What are the properties of bricks? ›

The most important properties of bricks may be regularly detailed as physical, mechanical, thermal and durability. However, when going into detail, the vital properties of bricks may be described as: Strength – this is arguably the most crucial property of brick, mainly if they are being used for load-bearing walls.

What three 3 materials are used in the manufacture of brick? ›

Four main ingredients are required for brick making: suitable clay and sand, water, fuel and manpower. The clay must be easily available, be plastic when mixed with small amounts of water, develop strength upon drying and develop hard and durable use-strength when burned.

What materials are used in bricks? ›

Brick is made of clay or shale formed, dried and fired into manufacturing process. These variations are addressed by a durable ceramic product.

What are 3 types of bricks? ›

There are three main types of bricks - facing bricks, engineering bricks and common bricks.

What are the 4 types of bricks? ›

What are the different types of bricks?
  • Sun-dried bricks. Also known as unburnt bricks, these types of bricks are mostly used for decorative purposes because they are the weakest. ...
  • Burnt bricks. These bricks are divided into four categories:
  • Concrete bricks. ...
  • Lime bricks. ...
  • Engineering bricks. ...
  • Fly ash bricks.

What are common bricks used for? ›

Common bricks

They are good for building shared walls or a second internal wall layer. They're usually covered with render or other materials, as they're not made for aesthetic and can be inconsistent in colour. Most common bricks are manufactured with a simple clay mix.

What are the properties and classification of bricks? ›

They have a uniform red color. They are classified as Class A, class B, class C. Class A is the strongest but Class B is most used. They are used for mainly civil engineering works like sewers, manholes, ground works, retaining walls, damp proof courses, etc.

What are the two main types of bricks? ›

Both residential and commercial construction projects regularly use this versatile building material. Made from clay and fired in a kiln, many people are unaware there are two key brick types: face brick and common brick.

How bricks are made step by step? ›

  1. Preparation of clay dough :- The soil is excavated in steps and then laid on levelled ground.
  2. Moulding of bricks :- Bricks are moulded depending on the quality of bricks to be made.
  3. Drying of bricks :- ...
  4. Baking/burning of bricks:- ...
  5. Cooling of bricks:-

What is the most commonly used brick? ›

Burnt Clay Brick

The most common types of bricks used in construction are based on clay as the material. These include burnt clay brick and fire clay brick. These are usually referred to as common brick.

How many uses of bricks? ›

When used as a structural member, bricks are used for the construction of walls, retaining walls, arches, claddings etc, and as a non-structural member, they can be used as fillers and for ornamental purpose. It is commonly desirable to employ good quality bricks in order to be able to serve its purpose.

How are bricks made short answer? ›

The process of manufacturing of bricks from clay involves preparation of clay, molding and then drying and burning of bricks. The bricks are building materials which are generally available as rectangular blocks. The bricks do not require any dressing and brick laying is very simple compared to stone masonry.

Which type of brick is strongest? ›

Class A engineering bricks are the strongest, but Class B are the more commonly used. Engineering bricks vary in colour from red to blue.

What are the holes in bricks called? ›

Weep holes can be found on virtually all houses with brick siding, whether they're brand new or centuries old. Because bricks and mortar are porous, they absorb water that can seep through the bricks and then run down the backside of the bricks.

Which brick is more strong? ›

Generally, cement bricks have higher compressive strength compared to red bricks. This is primarily due to the way concrete bricks are manufactured and the materials that are being used. That's why cement bricks are mostly used in high-rise buildings as these structures will require higher concrete strength.

Which soil is mainly used for making bricks? ›

Bricks are mainly made from clay. Clay bricks require a soil with clay and sand combination of not less than 50% by weight. The three major types of soil found in India are Alluvial soils, Black cotton soils and Red soils. Alluvial soils contain around 20 to 30% clay and are good for brick making.

What type of brick is used for walls? ›

Burnt Clay Bricks

Burnt clay bricks are also known as common bricks because they are the most abundant brick type in modern construction. These bricks are used in columns, walls, foundations, and more with a wide variety of purposes.

Which is the best bricks for construction? ›

Burnt Clay Bricks :

These bricks are of good quality and are used for the construction of walls, columns, foundations, etc.

What makes bricks strong? ›

Why is brick so strong? When fired at extremely high temperatures, the clay particles fuse together to form a super-strong bond that makes clay bricks into metamorphic rocks. Clay bricks are stronger than concrete and many other building materials.

What are the strongest bricks made of? ›

First-class burnt-clay bricks are the best, offering the best quality and strength. These high-grade burnt clay bricks have no noticeable flaws and cost more than lower classes. When burnt clay bricks are used in walls, they require plastering or rendering with mortar.

What are the common types of bricks used in brickwork? ›

Types of bricks
  • Sun-dried bricks. These are un-burnt bricks made of clay. ...
  • Burnt clay bricks. Burnt clay bricks are made of clay and put into the kiln for burning. ...
  • Fly ash bricks. ...
  • Concrete bricks. ...
  • Engineering bricks. ...
  • Calcium silicate bricks. ...
  • Eco bricks.

What are the properties and uses of first class bricks? ›

First Class Bricks

So, these bricks contain standard shape, sharp edges and smooth surfaces. They are more durable and having more strength. They can be used for permanent structures. However, because of their good properties they are costly than other classes.

What bricks to use for foundation? ›

Sand and Clay: Clay Stock Bricks

They are fire resistant as well as possessing insulation properties along with thermal and acoustic insulation. These features are what make sand and clay bricks from a trusted construction supplier the best option when it comes to building your home's foundation.

What is standard brick size? ›

The most popular brick size is a Modular brick measuring at 3-5/8" thick by 2-1/4" high and 7-5/8" long.

What is the main ingredient of a good quality brick earth? ›

Good brick earth should contain 50 – 60% of silica. It prevents cracking, shrinking, and wrapping of raw bricks. Silica imparts a uniform shape to the bricks. The excess of silica makes the bricks brittle.

What type of mixture is brick? ›

Brick is made up of different materials like clay, sand, lime, concrete etc. The ratio of these components in brick are not fixed and also composition of brick is not uniform throughout. Thus brick is heterogeneous mixture.

What is good brick earth composition? ›

Composition of good brick earth:
  • 1) Silica. Good brick earth should contain 50 – 60% of silica. ...
  • 2) Alumina. Good brick earth should contain 20 – 30% of Alumina. ...
  • 3) Lime. It should not be greater than 5% for good bricks.
  • 4) Iron oxides. It should be in the range of 5 – 6% for the good bricks.
  • 5) Magnesia.

What is the mineral composition of bricks and tiles? ›

Bricks and tiles are made from clay minerals.

Which soil is best for brick? ›

Bricks are mainly made from clay. Clay bricks require a soil with clay and sand combination of not less than 50% by weight. The three major types of soil found in India are Alluvial soils, Black cotton soils and Red soils. Alluvial soils contain around 20 to 30% clay and are good for brick making.

What is the best chemical to clean brick? ›

There are three effective types of cleaning solvents for brick, including soapy water (for general brick cleaning), a bleach formula (for mold and mildew), or muriatic acid (for the toughest-to-remove stains).

What are the harmful ingredients and composition of bricks? ›

  • Lime.
  • Iron pyrites.
  • Alkalis.
  • Pebbles.
  • Vegetation and Organic Matter.
Apr 17, 2014


1. Brick/ Manufacturing of bricks/ properties, types & uses of bricks/Civil Engineering/ SUMANTA DAS
(L square)
2. Characteristics of good clay bricks
(Mounika Ganta)
3. composition of bricks| Function of constituents of Bricks | Proportion of ingredients of bricks
4. Uses of Bricks in Civil Engineering | Classification of Brick (Brick Masonry)
(Civil Engineering 54)
5. Clay Bricks Vs Hollow blocks |Saving costs of building in foundation
(Owomugisha Mukiza Darwin)
6. How Bricks Are Made. (Brick Classification,Manufacturing, Properties & Tests.)
(Easy Teach Civil)
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