Assessing the quality of good bricks is vital for success in the field of construction. Bricks are the literal building blocks of many of our most treasured structures; they provide stability, durability, and function to our offices, homes, schools, and municipal buildings. By determining that certain bricks meet the needed criteria, engineers, building professionals, and architects can choose the best quality bricks to ensure structural integrity and the long-term durability of their projects.
Key Qualities of Good Bricks
Use the following criteria to help you assess the quality of the bricks from various manufacturers and distributors. While there are many types of bricks, these are primarily the qualities of common clay bricks, which are the most popular bricks in the industry.
Uniform Size, Shape, and Color
Groups of bricks should be assessed to determine if they are of the same shape, size, and color. This is not just essential to ensure a pleasing visual appearance but also to make sure that the structure that is built is strong and secure.
Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and specifications to determine the uniformity of the size and appearance of the group of bricks that you are considering. Standard brick dimensions in the United States are 3-5/8in x 2-1/4in x 7-5/8in (DxHxL) 0r 92mm x 57mm x 194mm. to Use a measuring tool such as a caliper to assess the measurements of assorted bricks in the group.
Bricks should be rectangular with straight and sharp edges. When you lay two bricks side by side, the sides should run parallel. The brick color represents the brick’s ingredients as well as the firing of the brick. The color should be uniform from brick to brick to ensure similar composition and firing length.
The compressive strength of bricks varies according to the different materials used to construct the bricks. Reputable manufacturers will have guidelines and quality standards that can help you determine the compressive strength of their bricks. Bricks with good compressive strength typically range between 1000-2000 psi (pounds per square inch). This is generally the compressive strength common for 1st and 2nd class clay bricks and suitable for structural support.
Good bricks should be able to withstand abrasion from external elements. To easily determine if the bricks have sufficient hardness is to perform a scratch test. Use your fingernail or another sharp object and scratch it against the surface of the nail. If you can see a mark, it means the bricks are too soft. Good bricks will have no impression left on them when scratched.
The soundness of a brick means its ability to resist deleterious elements like moisture and still retain its strength and structural integrity. This quality is vital in ensuring that a brick building or structure is stable over time.
Test the soundness of a brick by striking two bricks against each other. This should produce a clear, metallic sound. If the bricks produce a dull thud, you should question the soundness of the bricks.
A good brick will not absorb excessive water. If the brick absorbs less than 15%-20% of its dry weight, it is a good brick. To test this, weigh a dry brick. Next, submerge a brick in water for 24 hours. Weigh it again to see if it has consumed more than 20% more in water weight.
Durability refers to the ability of the brick to resist cracking, disintegration, and other external damage. You can test one aspect of the brick’s durability by dropping it from a height of 4 feet. A good brick will remain whole and not crack or chip.
Efflorescence is white or grayish splotches on the brick’s surface. This indicates the presence of salt in the composition which can mar the appearance of the bricks. To check for this, place a vertical brick in a shallow tray with 1-2 inches of distilled water. Allow the brick to absorb water and then allow it to dry and add more water to the tray. Leave the brick to dry and then examine it for white marks. If more than 50% of the brick is covered in white or gray, it is not a good brick.
Examine the texture of the brick. The surface should be even and textured. The bricks should be free from pebbles and stones.
Fire experts consider clay bricks a fire-resistant material. Many manufacturers rank the resistance of their bricks using time increments of 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours and 4 hours. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the timeline of a particular brick’s fire resistance capabilities to see if they will work for your needs.
Clay bricks have low thermal conductivity. This means that a brick transfers heat slowly through its structure, so clay bricks provide good insulation. The thermal conductivity of a good clay brick ranges between 0.5-1.0 watts per meter per Kelvin.