Brick Options For Your Next Masonry Project

Updated September 6, 2021
A mason can tell you exactly what kind of repair you might need. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Learn about the types of bricks used for masonry and home improvement.

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The first known bricks came from ancient Palestine and the city of Jericho. Then, the Romans were the first to use bricks fired in hot kilns. Today, bricks made of different materials are used in the masonry and landscaping trades. Here are four of the most common types of brick:

Calcium silicateCalcium silicate bricks are lighter in weight than those made of clay and can be colored in many more pigments. Silica sand is an ordinary type of sand, and it is mixed with lime for calcium silicate bricks. The lime normally used is hydrated lime or quicklime. The mixture is a form of dense cement. Ordinarily, calcium silicate bricks are shaped like clay bricks and similar in size. Still, other shapes are also manufactured for different uses and appearance. For instance, they can be formed into the shape of stones with coloration that is irregular and appears like natural stone.

ClayBricks made with clay are the most commonly used bricks. They may be selected according to their color, and the color is determined by the natural minerals in the clay and the added chemical coloring as well as the kiln environment and its temperature. Most of the time, clay bricks come out of the kiln in various shades of red. Some of the other colors are white, pink or yellow. Red clay bricks can turn from purple to brown, or almost white as the temperature rises more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

ConcreteConcrete bricks are manufactured using cement and aggregate or very small gravel and rock fragments. These bricks are formed in the same shape and size as clay bricks, or in other shapes and sizes. Concrete bricks are not as strong as clay bricks, but they are versatile and used in many different ways. Coloring is often added to the mixture before the bricks are formed to produce uniform concrete bricks in various colors. Concrete bricks are used for walls on the exteriors of homes and other buildings, as patios, roadways and landscape structures like fire pits and grill islands.

FireFire bricks have refractory or heat-resistant qualities, manufactured to withstand extremely high temperatures and rapid changes in temperature. These bricks are not as dense as clay, or as strong. They are also lighter in weight than clay bricks. Fire bricks are made of silica sand and aluminum oxide. They may also contain silicon carbide and clay. The bricks can line furnaces that reach temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can line home fireplaces and chimneys.

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