Brick is still one of the most popular types of building materials in the world. It is used in almost every country due to the fact that it can still be made without any modern-day tools but are also easy to factory-make.
But when it comes to different types of bricks, not many people are familiar with what is available. There are about a dozen major types of bricks but only about half of them are popular in the United States.
Types Of Bricks Used In America
Although countries like India have a vast number of different types of bricks still in use today, the United States does not. There are only a few select types still in circulation and you can find them all right here.
Today, we have gathered seven major types of bricks. There are branches to each one but we’re only going to go over the base types and from there, almost every other type of brick is made. So here they are.
Burnt Clay Bricks
Burnt clay bricks are the most common type of brick. They are used to build everything from walls to patios and if you see a brick building, there’s a good chance, this is the type of brick you are seeing.
They are a great, solid brick that requires classic masonry by a mason to use. Mortar is placed in-between the bricks as they are laid. Each brick is given a class, from one to four to let you know the quality of the brick.
Sun-Dried Clay Bricks
This is a good alternative to burnt clay bricks because you can make them yourself. They are the oldest type of brick made by forming clay and allow it to sundry. The bricks can include straw and other strange ingredients.
While these bricks aren’t durable compared to modern-day bricks, they do look great for that rustic design. You can also buy them to ensure that they are made correctly and that they will last longer.
Concrete blocks come in many shapes and sizes and one of these types of concrete blocks is called concrete bricks. This is because they are the same size as bricks rather than the classic concrete block.
They can still be considered CMUs or concrete masonry units but this usually refers to the classic CMU and not the brick-sized ones so be careful using this term. Instead, stick to the term concrete brick.
Engineering bricks are used by structural engineers. They are very strong and load-bearing, making them perfect for the bones of a structure, and can be added to give extra strength to the internal structure.
These are really wonderful bricks that are resistant to moisture, chemical absorption, and insects. So they are perfect for basements, cellars, and homes too. Not just for engineers anymore, you can use these at home!
Sand Lime Bricks
This type of brick is made with sand and lime. They have great compressive strength and they work for load-bearing walls, surprisingly enough. Just because they are made with snd doesn’t mean they are weak.
Sand lime bricks are heated and compacted to make them extra strong. This is similar to the tale of the compacted and creating what was once thought to be the strongest material in the world: diamonds.
Fly Ash Bricks
Fly ash is a byproduct created by coal-fired power plants. The ash can contain very toxic metals like mercury. The bricks themselves are made with fly ash, lime, cement, and gypsum along with other ingredients.
Now you may be wondering if these bricks are toxic but making them actually helps reduce the chemicals released into the environment. So using them is actually eco-friendly! Which is wonderful news.
Firebricks get their name because they are extremely fire-resistant. They are made with clay that has silica and alumina in it. So the bricks can withstand temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
So if you see a pizza oven or chimney, it’s probably made with firebricks. They can be a little pricier than non-specialty brick but it is always worth it because these bricks are the only ones for the job.
Alternatives To Bricks
Bricks can be used for walls, wall coverings, patios, and more. Because of this vast amount of uses for bricks, there are also many alternatives, depending on what you were planning on using the bricks for.
For example, you can always use wood as a replacement for almost any other building material. But glass is not as strong nor as versatile and it can only be a proper replacement in some cases.
Paneling should not be underestimated. It should be seen as an affordable wall option, not a cheap wall option. Though the two are synonymous there is a big difference in the way the two are perceived.
Paneling can look just like the real thing and the price per square foot is surprisingly affordable. You can get paneling that looks just like brick too. You can get it in any color so it looks like painted brick.
Stone is probably one of the most obvious substitutions for brick because of the similar textures and strength. The biggest difference is that stone has a more natural like while brick looks more industrial.
Stone is an old favorite that is becoming less popular purely because it is difficult to work with and because it is pricey. But you can fake stone looks the same way you can fake brick looks, which can be fun and affordable.
Limewash is another alternative that is usually done on real brick but it can be used on a multitude of materials and it can make the material look more brick-like. This type of wall, limewash, is similar to whitewash only it’s used on brick.
It’s made primarily of limestone and water, with other ingredients added depending on the company or contractor making it. This is a great, natural way to cover anything without the need for chemicals.
CMUs are concrete masonry units that are blocks made of concrete and used to create large buildings such as skyscrapers. They have many other uses as well such as basements and cellars, more uncommon for upper floors.
When painted a brick red, these look just like large bricks. You can get smaller CMUs if you like the size of bricks and paint them. They are often quite a bit cheaper than bricks so that’s a good reason to choose them.
Plaster is an age-old technique that is made of lime or gypsum, water, and sand. It’s a simple technique that takes a lot of practice to get perfect. But when you do master it then the sky is the limit. Or perhaps the ceiling!
Plaster can be transformed into absolutely anything, replicating anything you can imagine and can be turned into such a steady structure too. Consider plaster the next time you have something to build.
Cob is a rare material used thousands of years ago. It is fireproof, weather-resistant, and eco-friendly, so it’s no wonder people are so interested in this unique building material. But what is it made of?
Cob is a natural building material made from dirt, water, straw, and lime. This formula can be adjusted but this covers most cob that you’ll see across the world. Read more about cob on our article about the material.
Pavers are a great alternative to brick primarily if you were going to use that brick to build a patio or walkway. This is because these are two of the most popular type of patio materials and they both work so well.
Pavers are slightly more common because of the sheer amount of options. Brick has far fewer options as far as designs styles go but it is as trusty as they come, not even needing mortar when used for walkways.
Concrete is another solid choice, literally! It can be poured for floors, walls, patios, and more. Although you need to know what you’re doing before you start, concrete is definitely a good substitute for brick.
In some ways, it’s easier to use because it can be poured and left to dry. Whereas brick takes a long time to build and it is done brick by brick, just like the saying, brick by brick! Takes a while to get it done!
Tile can’t be used in the ways that brick is used. However, it can be used to cover tileboard on a partition, which can be used as a substitute for brick walls. Tile is popular in bathrooms and kitchens.
When used outside it’s important that you use outdoor tile. This can be used to create a patio just as brick can but it is less tolerable to impact damage so be careful when using it outdoors in large areas.