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Brick construction

Updated: May 30, 2018

Brick is a common material used for construction due to its strength and longevity. Generally brick walls are covered with different types of mortars for added strength and durability as well as aesthetics. Although exposed brick has more to offer, Be it interiors or exteriors efficiently don’t exposed brickwork looks beautiful. Specially we enjoy giving the construction material its space and importance so leaving the brickwork showing not only lets the viewer understand and enjoy the construction but also shows the skilled labour behind the construction. Exposed brickwork has its advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantage being the visual interest it generated, the earthy and rustic look makes it more friendly and it compliments the surrounding, specially the greenery here in Auroville. It can be used in various ways and breaks the monotony with different types of bricks forming interesting patterns. It reduces the construction cost by getting rid of labour work for plastering and looks really friendly with nature.

Some disadvantages include the difficulty to conceal wiring which can be tackled through beadings or bands to conceal wiring which may affect the aesthetics. The joints of bricks can attract dust and bugs to breed. That’s why in the recent low cost construction of a public toilet in AVSRC New creation in Auroville, we used exposed brick work on the outside and mud plaster on the inside which fuses brilliantly with the surroundings.

In the construction of bearing walls for buildings over the centuries, care had to be taken to lap the masonry units in such a way that they formed a single element, to accomplish this, the fundamental rule which had to be observed was that each of the vertical joints between bricks on a course had to be covered by a brick on the course above. This was the case both on the face of the wall and on its width .It was not, however, necessary to set the brick in a precise position, which is the main difference with regard to bonded brickwork, where the bricks are set in such a way that the cross joints on non-consecutive courses are on the same vertical Iine. In bonded brickwork, each brick must be placed in a specific location.

Types of Brick

There are various types of bricks used in masonry.

1. Common Burnt Clay Bricks

2. Sand Lime Bricks (Calcium Silicate Bricks)

3. Engineering Bricks

4. Concrete Bricks

5. Fly ash Clay Bricks

6. Achikal bricks

Common Burnt Clay Bricks

Common burnt clay bricks are formed by pressing in molds. Then these bricks are dried and fired in a kiln. Common burnt clay bricks are used in general work with no special attractive appearances. When these bricks are used in walls, they require plastering or rendering.

Sand Lime Bricks

Sand lime bricks are made by mixing sand, fly ash and lime followed by a chemical process during wet mixing. The mix is then molded under pressure forming the brick. These bricks can offer advantages over clay bricks such as:

  • Their color appearance is gray instead of the regular reddish color.

  • Their shape is uniform and presents a smoother finish that doesn’t require plastering.

  • These bricks offer excellent strength as a load-bearing member.

Engineering Bricks

Engineering bricks are bricks manufactured at extremely high temperatures, forming a dense and strong brick, allowing the brick to limit strength and water absorption.

Engineering bricks offer excellent load bearing capacity damp-proof characteristics and chemical resisting properties. These bricks are used in specific projects and they can cost more than regular or traditional bricks.

Concrete Bricks

Concrete bricks are made from solid concrete and are very common among homebuilders. Concrete bricks are usually placed in facades, fences, and provide an excellent aesthetic presence. These bricks can be manufactured to provide different colors as pigmented during its production.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Fly ash clay bricks are manufactured with clay and fly ash, at about 1,000 degrees C. Some studies have shown that these bricks tend to fail poor produce pop-outs, when bricks come into contact with moisture and water, causing the bricks to expand.

Achikal bricks

These bricks were originated in India and used in the traditional roofing technique of Madras roof, due to its light weight and shape it was a good option. Its similar to the conventional burnt clay bricks in most aspects apart from the size, its thinner and sleek.

Reason behind popularity of brick construction

  • Aesthetic - Bricks offer natural and a variety of colors, including various textures.

  • Strength - Bricks offer excellent high compressive strength

  • Porosity - The ability to release and absorb moisture is one of the most important and useful properties of bricks, regulating temperatures and humidity inside structures.

  • Fire Protection - When prepared properly a brick structure can give a fire protection maximum rating of 6 hours.

  • Sound Attenuation - The brick sound insulation is normally 45 decibels for a 4.5 inches brick thickness and 50 decibels for a nine-inch thick brick.

  • Insulation - Bricks can exhibit above normal thermal insulation when compared to other building materials. Bricks can help regulate and maintain constant interior temperatures of a structure due to their ability to absorb and slowly release heat. This way bricks can produce significant energy savings, more than 30% of energy saving when compared to wood.

  • Wear Resistant - A brick is so strong, that its composition provides excellent wear resistance.

  • Efflorescence - Efflorescence forms on concrete structures and surfaces when soluble salts dissolved in water are deposited and accumulated on surfaces forming a visible scum.

  • Durability - Brick is extremely durable and perhaps is the most durable man-made structural building material so far.

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