Brick is one of the oldest building materials and is commonly used today for a range of construction and building purposes. Therefore, it is beneficial to understand the different options you can choose when building your project to select the most fitted one for you. We will outline the benefits of brick, the difference between double brick and brick veneer, and Australia's common types of bricks.
Deciding on the material to use for your dream house may seem daunting, but when you choose bricks, you can be reassured that you are selecting a product that has stood the test of time (centuries even) and provides an abundance of benefits – both seen and unseen.
Clay bricks are affordable, readily available, mass-produced, thoroughly tested modular building components. Their relatively high mass results in desirable acoustic and thermal properties. They require little or no maintenance and possess high durability and loadbearing capacity. All PGH Bricks are manufactured under tight controls to the Australian Standard requirements of AS/NZS 4455:1997.
Different Types Of Brick Used In Australia
- Fire protection: brick is a non-combustible material as they are fired at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius and an excellent choice to resist or confine a fire
- Double brick is an extremely durable choice, requiring very little maintenance. Double brick also acts as a good insulator keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Double brick also blocks noise and reduces the risk of termites or decay.
- Solid bricks: solid brick walls deliver great load-bearing capacity along with substantial thermal mass to provide a unique combination of structural, thermal and aesthetic benefits.
- Sound insulation: brick walls provide excellent sound insulation
What should you use for your home in Australia? Double brick or brick veneer
Brick is a popular choice for many homeowners due to its aesthetic appeal. It is important to consider the two different options when selecting the type of brick and understand the pros and cons associated with each option.
Both double brick and brick veneer visually offer the same style; however, they differ overall structural system. Double brick offers a more stable structure and is advantageous in a natural disaster. Double brick also offers lower thermal transmission and keeps interior spaces quieter by softening outdoor noise. Double brick construction also minimises the chance of termites and other damage caused by pests. The only downfall to double brick construction is that it tends to be significantly more expensive and sometimes more complicated than other methods.
Brick veneer offers a sleek and sophisticated aesthetic appeal like double brick construction. This type of construction allows you to reap the benefits of brick construction without having to fork out a ton of money on a double brick building. Brick veneer is also a lightweight material compared to double brick and requires less extensive support systems, minimising costs. In saying this, brick veneer also has a couple of disadvantages. This type of construction doesn't provide the same level of thermal performance as double brick and is subject to termites and other timber pests. Brick veneer is also thinner and less substantial; hence it won't provide the same noise transmission prevention qualities.
FAQs About Type Of Brick For House Construction
What is the most popular building material used in Australian construction? Brick is the most commonly used building material, cement, timber, roof tiles, and gypsum plasterboard.
Homeowners typically pay between $340 and $850 for 1,000 bricks but could pay anywhere from $250 to $3,730. Common clay bricks are less expensive; glazed or handmade bricks will run much higher. These prices do not include labour. The amount of bricks you'll need depends on your project.
Engineering bricks are rated as Class A or Class B, with Class A being the strongest, but Class B is more common. Class A engineering bricks have a compressive strength greater than 125N/mm² and water absorption less than 4.5%.
Sand And Clay: Clay Stock Bricks
They are fire-resistant and possess 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.
Cement Stock Bricks:
The cement stock bricks can bear the load of walls with reinforcement from other materials. The combination of crushed stone and cement make for a high-density brick that is a strong base for any building project at a fraction of the cost.
Common Types Of Brick Used In Australia For Construction
Common Burnt Clay Bricks
These bricks are one of the oldest and most commonly used construction materials. They are used for various jobs, including masonry walls, foundations, columns etc. In addition, burnt clay bricks are often used for general work, and when used in walls, they usually require plastering or rendering.
Sand Lime Bricks
These bricks are made from high pressuring a mixture of sand, lime, water, and autoclaving to firm a white building material. These bricks have a grey appearance and are often chosen when people don't want the regular reddish brick colour. Sand lime bricks also present a smoother finish and don't require plastering. They also have great heat and humidity accumulation and are fire resistant!
These are also known as concrete blocks and masonry units (CMU). Very commonly used among builders as a building material in the construction of walls. In addition, these bricks can be manufactured to provide different colours, providing excellent aesthetic design for facades and fences.
Fly Ash Clay Bricks
These bricks have a range of benefits, such as saving in labour costs and consumption in mortar. However, they are detrimental to the environment; with increased thermal power plants, fly ash causes air and water pollution.
What Are Bricks & What Are They Used For?
Bricks are one of the oldest building materials used for construction and are still relevant today in modern architecture. Since the main component of the brick is clay, the quality of this raw material is crucial. Given that, brick walls are durable, require almost no maintenance, and is recycled at the end of use. Also, brickwork makes houses more energy efficient because of their excellent thermal performance. If you carefully approach masonry, brick constructions can be a long-term life structural unit and provide all necessary conditions for a comfortable life. The average brick density is 125 PCF. You can get bricks in various colours, textures, dimensions, and shapes.
Uses Of Bricks
Due to its excellent performance, brick has found application in many masonry structural units:
- Brick flooring
Also, bricks are easy to manoeuvre and can be purchased in different shapes, sizes, and colours, so they're used:
- In Pavements
- As Facing Brick
- For Architectural Purposes
What Is Concrete & What Is It Used For?
Concrete is an artificial conglomerate made of Portland cement, aggregates and water. To improve its properties, additives are often added. Concrete blocks have found enormous application in modern house construction. Nowadays, concretes are so perfected that they have excellent insulating properties and meet all the criteria of their future customers. Concrete block has a lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emittance rating than wood, so they're a healthier choice because VOC causes headaches, nausea, sinus irritation, and damage to internal organs. Cement is the main component in this type of masonry. So, if you want a solid building and a fast masonry process, concrete blocks are the right choice. Before owning a concrete block house, homeowners should consider the advantages and disadvantages of this type of masonry.
Uses Of Concrete
- Blocks have found application in many aspects as a structural unit:
- Security Barriers
- Garden Walls
- Landscape Design
What Is The Difference Between Brick Masonry & Concrete Blocks?
To help you identify the main differences, we will pass through several major features:
- Cement blocks (solid and hollow)
- 200mm x 400mm x 200mm – bearing walls
- 100mm x 400mm x 200mm – partition walls
- 230mm x 110mm x 75mm (standard size)
- Both are quite heavy materials. Their weight depends on the materials and type of construction.
- The average clay brick mass is around 5 pounds, and conventional 8-inch concrete blocks are around 43 pounds.
- Mostly, the strength of a wall depends on the type of mortar used during masonry. Concrete blocks have a slightly higher level of compressive strength than clay bricks:
- The average concrete block – 3500 psi
- The average clay brick – 3000 psi.
- Concrete blocks with a cavity within provide higher insulation values, but compared to solid blocks, brick is better suited to provide insulation.
- Insulation value (R-value):
- Basic brick walls – 0.2 psi
- Conventional 8-inch concrete block walls – 0.08 psi
- Insulated concrete block – 1.2 psi
- Air-entrained block – 3.9 psi
The costs of brick construction and concrete blocks or brick may be similar, but the price of mortar and technical skill influence most. For example, the price of single clay brick is about $1.50, while an 8-inch concrete block costs about $1.35 (aerated concrete block $11.00 when installed), and a heavier block is around $15.00.
Advantages Of Bricks
- Energy-efficient – the perfect choice for passive building design with great thermal insulating qualities.
- Low maintenance -relatively maintenance-free, saving you on the cost and time.
- Creative and colourful – a bunch of colours and textures which provide impressive and lasting contrasts.
- Hard and durable – the quality construction, ageless brickwork, and secure your family for generations to come.
- Sustainable – long-lasting life cycle offers ongoing environmental and health benefits, durable, reusable, free from contaminants and resistant to fire.
- Economical – cost-effective, and easy to work with.
Disadvantages Of Bricks
- Time-consuming construction – it's more difficult to make possible structural changes on brickwork
- It cannot be used in high seismic zones – due to the earthquake comes easier to collapse
- Since bricks absorb water easily, therefore, it causes efflorescence when not exposed to air – stain and moss cleaning required
- Less tensile strength – rigid material that can crack easily while exposed to tension
- Cleaning brick surfaces is a hard job – you should probably need pressure cleaner
- The colour of low-quality brick changes when exposed to the sun for a long time – the facade will not remain the same colour but will change over time
Advantages Of Concrete (Blocks & Formwork)
- Low maintenance home in a high moisture location – doesn't attract mould or mildew when it remains wet; lower risk of experiencing structural damage over time.
- Resistant to strong winds – and additional privilege in addition to excellent load-bearing; some structures can withstand speeds of over 200 mph.
- Provides a natural level of fire resistance – preferred in regions that experience frequent wildfires.
- Lowers home energy usage – heat loss can be up to 20% lower, especially if there's another layer of insulation.
- Soundproof – perfect for urban environments or properties near military bases; 75% of the outside noise gets blocked, so there's no need for additional sound insulation
- Healthy home choice – blocks allergens, radon, and other toxins that can be problematic.
- In case of disaster, cheaper to rebuild – combination with the steel reinforcing rods works well in regions that suffer from earthquakes.
Disadvantages Of Concrete (Blocks & Formwork)
- The building cost is much higher – the price of concrete and mortar varies depending on the region and can be up to three times higher in some regions.
- Lack of curb appeal – must add a layer of cement or stucco to the structure to be painted (another expense added to the final cost).
- Susceptibility to water seepage over time – it's porous, and it will eventually find a way through your wall to compromise the house.
- Not suitable for some regions – some construction crews might not have experience working with it; you may need the usage of reinforcing steel to improve structural strength.
- Easy to compromise environmental benefits by openings – required doors and windows purchased with excellent weather stripping.
Benefits Of Bricks
Are you thinking about building and knowing the best material to use for construction? Here's why bricks are best.
Bricks Are Low-Maintenance
Bricks don't need painting, sealing or protection from termites. Brick walls won't rot, fade, peel or disintegrate over time. All they need is a (very occasional) clean with a soft brush to maintain their good looks. As one of the earliest building materials known to man, brick buildings constructed more than 2000 years ago in Roman times are still in use – and still holding up well. Their inherent beauty is permanent, which is why property investors prefer them, knowing that their strength and beauty is long-lasting and easy to maintain.
Bricks Offer Thermal Properties.
Brick is a building material that has exceptional "thermal mass" properties. Thermal mass is the ability of a heavy, dense material to store heat and then slowly release it. This means that during summer, brick homes stay cool during the hottest part of the day, while in the cooler months, the walls store your home's heat and radiate it back to those inside. Ideally suited to Australia's sunny climate, they can be easily combined with insulation to provide the best heat-efficient building solution around.
Bricks Are Made From Natural Products.
Brick is predominantly made from clay and shale, among the most abundant materials available on earth. They are created with minimal waste, reusing them in future products. Because they are made of natural products and fired under excellent conditions, they can withstand almost everything that nature can throw at them without losing their beauty or strength. Clay bricks are inert and are not prone to giving off volatile materials. Clay brickwork and its constituents are non-toxic.
Protection From Fire, Wind And Moisture
Brick is non-combustible because the primary ingredient in brick is clay, which is fired to around 1000 degrees Celsius. This means it does not burn when exposed to bushfires and can help protect the more combustible items inside a house. In addition, brick is such a strong and durable building material that insurance companies often offer discounts on home insurance costs.
Brick veneer wall assemblies control moisture better than wall systems with other exterior materials. Although not completely waterproof, clay bricks resist rainwater penetration, including wind-driven rain. Therefore, brick veneer wall systems help minimise mould growth, wood rot and infestation by insects, and corrosion of fasteners embedded in wood better than other wall assemblies.
Studies have also shown that homes built with brick offer dramatically more protection from wind-blown debris than homes built with vinyl or fibre-cement siding.
Bricks Are Beautiful
Bricks suit every design style, from grand Victorian residences to ultra-modern homes and mid-century masterpieces. Versatile and tactile, they come in a huge range of colours, finishes and textures, allowing home builders to create their own unique home. Smooth-textured bricks and metallic finishes are perfect for contemporary or mid-century designs, while classic, artisan-style sand stock bricks work beautifully with traditional homes or industrial chic.
When building a home, you have to consider many factors before making a final decision. After constructing the foundation, the question of which material to use for wall construction will arise. There are several possibilities, from classic brick to modern concrete blocks. Both have exceptional features and a lot of thermal mass, which increases their insulating properties.
So, if you're planning to build a traditional look house, your choice will be brick for masonry work. On the other hand, solid concrete will be more suitable for a modern building. Despite their similarities, block and brick have some essential differences that you need to assume before deciding what suits you the best.