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What Are the Different Types of Brick?

Though it has since been resurfaced, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally paved in shale brick when it was constructed in 1909.
Face brick is made specifically for exteriors.
Bricks and a brick trowel.
Calcium silicate, which is often used in making bricks.
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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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Bricks come in all shapes and sizes and are made from many different types of materials in various ways of manufacture. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so when starting a home improvement project or attempting to do repairs, it can be daunting to figure out exactly the right type of brick to use. The most common types used today are made from clay, and they can be manufactured in a variety of different ways.

All forms of brick were originally handmade, dating back as far as 7,500 B.C. Handmade building materials were common up until the Industrial Revolution, when the process turned to mechanization. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, built in 1909, was originally paved with shale brick. During that same period, there was increased demand for quick and affordable housing in the United States, in larger cities in particular. Brick manufacturing was at an all time high, and in recent years, antique materials from that period have become a collector's item, with old Chicago brick in especially hot demand.

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As technology changed, brick manufacturing made use of newer methods. Pressed mud bricks are a type made from clay that is mixed with water, and with hydraulic machinery they are pressed into a steel mold to give a uniform shape. The clay is often mixed with a percentage of sand, which reduces the amount the final product will shrink. After being pressed into the mold, the clay brick is then fired in a kiln at temperatures well above 1,000° Fahrenheit (538° Celsius).

A similar style of fired clay brick is a dry pressed brick. The process for making this type requires longer cooking times in the kiln and more time pressed into the molds, which results in a more defined, more durable finished product. It is generally more expensive due to the technique used.

Face brick is another special type, made specifically for exteriors that will be seen by the public. This type takes appearance and color into special consideration, and it is for this reason that calcium silicate bricks are quite popular. Calcium silicate blocks add chemicals to increase strength and reduce hardening time, but also contain additives to alter the color. They can be made in a wide range of colors, from the traditional red to white and even pastel. These bricks are generally more uniform in size and shape, and are rougher to the touch.

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GiraffeEars
Post 3

@ Amphibious54- I am not sure where he found the bricks used for siding on the patio, but he said he found all of the sidewalk concrete over a six month period by driving around his neighborhood. When he saw sidewalk construction, he would stop and ask the workers what they were doing with the concrete.

They often said they were simply going to dispose of it, and were more than willing to give it to him and help him load it into his pick-up. He used old sidewalk from three or four different sidewalk construction sites in his area. He also said that old sidewalk concrete can be found at concrete recycling plants which can be found in most big cities. Good luck with your project.

Amphibious54
Post 2

@ GiraffeEars- That sounds like a great way to reuse waste materials. Where did this farm owner find all of the clinker bricks and old sidewalk used in the patio? I would love to make a large fire pit and outdoor patio on my property, and these materials sound like a sustainable and cost effective option.

GiraffeEars
Post 1

I took a tour of an urban garden residence in Phoenix and I saw the most interesting use of brick and stone for a patio. The homeowner created a brick patio and fireplace out of reclaimed bricks and old sidewalk concrete. Slabs of broken concrete were used to create the patio floor and patio wall, old bricks were used to build a patio fireplace and stove. Reclaimed granite was used as counter tops for the outdoor kitchen, and soy based stain was applied to the concrete. To top it all off, grape vines were grown across the latticed patio roof that produced grapes and created shade.

Almost everything on the patio was reclaimed. The entire patio was permitted and up to code, and the reclaimed materials were all free. The patio likely added thousands of dollars in value to the home, and only cost a few hundred dollars and some hard work.

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