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An introduction to Brick building

Fired clay bricks remain one of the most enduring building materials known to the world wide building industry. Some might argue that it is also one of the most beautiful and that it adds character to any building with its colour, strength and texture. Clay brick dates as far back as the Egyptian age and connects us with the history of our ancestors.

Being such a versatile building material and because of its very good climatic characteristics, it remains the material of choice for residential buildings in South Africa. Bricks have an excellent fire rating, it is weatherproof and has really good acoustic properties and is almost soundproof, and best of all it amount to only about 10 per cent of the total cost of a typical residential building. Homebuyers will almost always prefer to buy a house constructed out of clay brick as it does not deteriorate over time and has a higher resale value.

Bricks vary quite significantly in because of the diverse manufacturing processes and types of clay used in their manufacture in various regions. Often potential home builders make the mistake in thinking that all bricks are the same and there is no need to shop around for different finishes and colours. This can be costly as the quality of different brick manufacturers vary considerably as will also be reflected in the price. A very cheap brick might be of un-even size or may warp making building with them a lot more difficult.

Face brick

The use of face brick is often used in residential architecture for its low maintenance properties and often the aesthetics is overlooked completely. Face brick can be very aesthetically pleasing with its rustic look and a good architect might combine face brick with plastered areas to come to more a balanced aesthetic as face brick in its single form can be a bit overwhelming. When opting to build with face brick make sure you appoint a good builder with a good face brick portfolio as the jointing of a face brick wall can make or break the aesthetic of this type of construction. Also make sure you order sufficient bricks the first time as, because it being a natural material can vary noticeably per batch.

Cement bricks

These bricks are similar to a clay stock (plaster) brick but are more often used in regions where clay might be in short supply. There is usually not a big price difference between cement and clay plaster bricks and cement brick is mostly used as a substitute. When ordering cement bricks make sure that they are properly cured and dry before using them. If more that 5 per cent breaks upon delivery, have a knowledgeable person check the quality of the bricks.

Plaster (Stock) bricks

Cheaper than face bricks, a plaster brick still is manufactured to high standards to ensure uniformity of size and structure, but have to be plastered and painted thereby cancelling out the cost saving and has to be maintained at fairly regular intervals. Often great aesthetics can be achieved by combining plastered walls with face brick walls.