BRICK FAQS


What size is a standard brick?

The most common size is called a ‘traditional brick’ which is defined as being 230 x 76 x 70 mm (L x H x W). However this is a nominal size and the size of actual units will slightly vary from this. The Standard sets out a series of allowable deviations. Generally bricks are measured over 20 units and the size averaged.

What is an exposure category brick?
These are bricks that have been graded as suitable for use in saline environments. This is determined by a laboratory experiment.

What is efflorescence?
Efflorescence is a white, salty powder that appears on the surface of bricks or pavers. Most efflorescence comes from salts in cement and mortar and it is common in new brickwork that is still drying. Efflorescence is harmless and will usually weather away. Dry brushing will assist, although it may return if the salt source is still active.

What is 'Thermal Lag'?
Thermal lag is the delay in the transmission of heat through a wall. This is caused by the ability of the walling material to slowly absorb and release the heat energy. Only heavyweight materials such as brick offer this property, which is very different to insulation. Brickwork combined with energy efficient design factors such as orientation and shading will greatly assist in reducing heating and cooling bills.

How should new brickwork be cleaned?
Ideally brickwork should be cleaned as it is laid. This is the simplest, cheapest and most effective method. Mortar smears should be cleaned as soon as possible using a scrubbing brush, running water and a sponge. Acid cleaning is only required if the mortar smears are allowed to harden and should be viewed as a last resort.

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How are bricks made?
Bricks are made from clay, shale and selected minerals that are formed into the brick shape and fired (cooked) in a kiln at temperatures up to 1200°C. These natural ingredients and the high firing ensure a brick that will not lose its colour and make it an extremely durable building material.

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Are today's bricks as good as they used to be?
Modern bricks are made from the same basic ingredients as those of the past and fired in a high temperature kiln to lock in their colour and strength. However the technology of brickmaking has evolved greatly, even in the past 20 years. Today's bricks are stronger than ever and come in a wider range of colours and textures.

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What is the 'Face’ of a brick?
The brick face is the long side intended for display in the wall. Most bricks have only one face and it is the bricklayer's responsibility to ensure it is displayed correctly.

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Why do some bricks have holes?
These are extruded bricks and the holes are called core holes or perforations that allow the brick to be fired more evenly.

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Can bricks be reused?
Bricks are one of the few products that can be reused with all their original qualities intact. However, there are circumstances where a brick may not be reused, for example, a brick that was taken from an external wall may not be suitable for use in a saline environment.

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Are bricks environmentally responsible?
Definitely! All manufactured products have some environmental cost and for bricks most of that occurs in manufacturing. However, after they have been manufactured, bricks do not require coatings or finishes such as paint to maintain their colour or durability over an extraordinarily long life making them very environmentally responsible! Clay brickwork and concrete floors have relatively high thermal mass which reduces the need for artificial heating and cooling. This means less energy used which is important to the environment.

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