Types of Brick for Homes

Updated February 21, 2017

Brick is a building material used in masonry construction. It is made primarily from baked clay and is used to construct structures such as walls, chimneys and foundations. Brick pavers are also used to create patios and walkways. Many different types of brick are available to homeowners, and each is chosen based on its function and design.


Face brick is the most expensive type, but it offers the smoothest and highest-quality appearance. Building brick is a lower-grade material designed for structural use and is generally not exposed. Brick veneer is a low-cost alternative made from thin, lightweight pieces of brick material. Brick pavers are thin, flat stones used in outdoor applications like hardscapes and patios. They are much harder and denser than other types of brick, which allows them to withstand foot traffic and heavy use.


Brick is available in a wide variety of colours and textures and may be made from concrete or fired clay. The colour of a brick depends on the source of the materials used in its fabrication. A standard-size brick measures three and five-eighths inches by two and one-quarter inches by eight inches, though sizes may vary internationally. Building brick is equipped with holes to reduce weight and to allow for faster installation. Most other brick varieties are solid. Face brick is categorised as Indoor Use Only, Severe Weathering (SW) or Moderate Weathering (MW). Severe Weathering brick can withstand extreme temperatures without cracking, while Moderate Weathering brick can withstand common temperature variations in most climate zones. Some pavers may also come with SW or MW ratings.


Brick structures are very durable and long-lasting and require little to no maintenance. They tend to have a desirable appearance without the need for paints, seals or other finishes. Brick is also a fairly classic material that can adapt to changing trends and decors. In addition, brick is highly resistant to flames and helps prevent the spread of fire in the home.


There are two basic methods of brick installation used in residential applications. The brick may be used as a structural component or as a veneer. Structural brick walls are load-bearing and are part of the building's framing system. Modifying or removing one of these walls would impact the integrity and safety of the building. Veneer walls have no impact on the framing of the home and only bear the weight of the veneer itself. They are separated from the house structure by an air space, which often contains insulation and moisture barriers. The veneer is tied to the house using brick ties or other fasteners for stabilisation but is fully self-supporting when it comes to structural load.


If you like the look of brick but are put off by the high price tag, consider using reclaimed brick instead. Reclaimed brick has been salvaged from old buildings and sold for reuse. This material can be found in many brickyards or construction salvage facilities. It can range from very old to fairly modern and comes in a wide variety of colours and sizes. Reclaimed brick is much more affordable than new brick and can give the home a classic look that can't be achieved with other materials. The use of reclaimed brick is a form of recycling and offers users a number of associated environmental benefits.

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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.