Many bricks are made from clay and reddish in colour, but you can find bricks for your home in all kinds of colours and materials. Red, buff, yellow, grey and charcoal-coloured bricks are possible. You can use coloured bricks both inside and out to achieve different effects. You can construct brick patios using different colours to create decorative mosaics, or use coloured bricks to highlight architectural features.
Bricks are made by baking clay mixed with various additives in a mould at a high temperature. Modern bricks are dense and strong. Many bricks have holes in the middle to make them lighter and give a better grip to the mortar. The constituents of the clay and the temperature at which the bricks are baked contribute to the colour, while the moulding methods create the texture.
Types of Brick
Modular building bricks are rough and may not be uniform in colour. Face bricks are placed on the outside of a building to enhance its appearance. They are more expensive but typically have a smoother finish and a more uniform colour. Paving bricks are used to create drives, paths and patios; they are available in many colours. Brick veneers are slices of real brick used to create faux brickwork in a range of shades.
Red, Brown and Pink Brick
Red brick is made from clay baked at a high temperature. Trace amounts of iron in the clay give it a red colour. Red brick creates a traditional effect. Depending on the amount of iron present in the brick, the temperature at which it is fired, and the amount of oxygen present, shades from salmon pink to brown can be produced.
Buff, Gray and White Brick
If the clay used to produce bricks contains lime (calcium hydroxide), different colours can be produced. Small amounts of lime change the usual red colour of clay bricks to grey, while higher percentages produce white brick. Clays with a low percentage of iron produce a buff brick rather than red.
Cream and Yellow Brick
Clay containing traces of iron and large amounts of chalk can be baked into cream-coloured bricks. If there is more iron present, yellowish colours may be produced.
Black, Blue and Purple Bricks
Clays containing high percentages of iron oxide can be used to make blue-tinted bricks. Depending on other minerals present and the temperature at which the clay is fired, purple shades are also possible. Clay containing both high percentages of iron oxide and significant quantities of manganese can be baked into black bricks. The presence of vegetable matter in the clay may also create dark-coloured or black brick.
Concrete bricks are normally a uniform grey. Concrete can be coloured and moulded to mimic clay bricks, although the colour is usually more uniform than clay.
Glazed bricks are much more expensive than ordinary bricks. They get their colour from ceramic glazes applied to the surface. Glazes allow a greater range of shades and a high-gloss effect.