How can I identify different types of facing bricks?
Bricks are produced using a variety of manufacturing techniques which create very different aesthetic effects and performance qualities.
There are two general types of bricks – facing bricks and common bricks.
Facing bricks are the most popular type of brick and have been the façade material of choice in the Europe for thousands of years, particularly in the housing market. They are primarily used for the external walls of a building and so are generally chosen for their aesthetic qualities but they also must be weather resistant. Wienerberger manufactures the widest range of facing bricks available in the europe.
As the façade material has the biggest impact on the external aesthetics of a building, alongside the design, selecting the right material is a very important decision. With over 1000 different facing bricks available from Wienerberger, there is a style for all types of projects from traditional to ultra-modern.
The two main types of facing brick are soft mud (also known as handmade bricks) and extruded (also known as wirecut bricks).
The extruded/mechanical method is the most popular method of brick production as a high volume of bricks can be manufactured quickly, around 20,000 bricks an hour. The clay is driven through an extrusion head to form a continuous column of material in the desired width and depth. The column is then cut into smaller, more manageable pieces approx 1.5m in length known as ‘slugs’. This is then cut into bricks of the desired length by row wires.
One distinctive characteristic of an extruded brick is that they tend to have perforations or core holes running through the bed of the bricks. Perforated bricks require less energy for drying and firing and are also lighter and easier to handle.
This manufacturing process produces hard, dense bricks with a more consistent size and shape, sharper arises and a more contemporary appearance. Extruded bricks are available in a wide range of styles including smooth, dragfaced, rolled texture, sandfaced or even glazed.
Soft Mud Bricks (Handmade)
Soft mud bricks have a more traditional or reclaimed appearance, offering a softer and warmer brick aesthetic, without compromising on technical performance.
Soft mud brick moulding actually covers a number of manufacturing processes where bricks are formed using mould boxes. Hand-making involves the forming of the clay by hand, coating in sand and throwing into a mould. Machine manufacturing of soft mud bricks follows the processes of hand making, recreating the hand thrown technique by throwing the clay into sanded moulds using belts.
Soft mud bricks are available in a traditional sanded finish or in a handmade/creased texture, featuring a “frog” indentation rather than perforations like extruded bricks. Waterstruck soft mud bricks are made by using water instead of sand to release the clay from the moulds, creating a distinctive textured finish. As with all other manufacturing processes the wet bricks are then dried and fired.
Despite their name, common bricks are actually used as structural bricks for walls. They tend to have lower compressive strengths than facing bricks and are generally lower quality. There is also less focus put into a consistent appearance on common bricks.
Common bricks should not be used below ground level and are generally used for internal brickwork only.