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Brick

"Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves."

Exodus V. 7

History
This quotation from the old testament in the bible attests to the fact that bricks were well known many years, in fact millennia, before the birth of Christ. The Tower of Babel was probably built of brick, as was the city of Babylon built by Nebuchadnezzar (not the one in The Matrix) in the sixth century BC. Historians have asserted that bricks were first made in Mesopotamia, 2000 B.C. Characters and figures fired onto the older bricks have been invaluable in conveying historic facts to the present just as characters and hieroglyphics have helped us understand ancient Minoan and Egyptian cultures.

Augustus (63 B.C. to 14 A.D) boasted that he "found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble." Bricks embedded in concrete were certainly a mainstay of the Roman construction method as can be seen in the ruins of Hadrian's villa (below), among other places.

The Romans made bricks that were long and flat, about 1.5 inches thick and 2 feet square, more like our modern tiles. The name of the emperor and the date are stamped on bricks used for civic buildings, which is how we know that the Pantheon was, in fact, built by Hadrian and not Marcus Aurelius, even though his name is emblazoned on the architrave.

These were used to make many Roman private and civic buildings, the majority of which were later covered in marble. The marble has long since been removed, but the brick is still intact and readily observable. If bricks were used as a veneer on a Roman building, chances are that the structure of the building was concrete. Frank Lloyd Wright, among others, found the long, slim, dimensions of Roman brick pleasing and used them in many of his designs.

There were bricks recorded to be made by the Romans in England in 44 B.C, thereby starting a long and rich tradition. The Renaissance in England (Henry VIII and Elizabeth I) saw the first real enthusiasm for brick as a building tool both for fireplaces and exterior finishes. The size of bricks were regulated by Charles I in 1625, and these are the sizes that we currently use.

Definition
Literally, a brick is a mass of clay and sand formed into a rectangular shape, dried in the sun, and then fired in a kiln to be used in building. If the rectangular mass is only dried in the sun and not burned in a kiln, it is called an adobe. Vitruvius, the first author of architectural treatises, describes how bricks that are dried and not fired should be made in the spring or the fall so that they dry evenly, and that the best bricks are dired for five years.

Burning of the clay mass in a kiln actually changes the chemical character of brick, and thus it has totally different strengths and applications. Before burning, the clay/sand block can be re- hydrated and made, once again, into a plastic, formable mass. After burning, this is impossible.

Click Hotpoints for descriptions of terms in both text and images.

Parts of a Brick

Parts of Bricks

In brick bonds, the header is traditionally used to tie the two parts of the wall together. The Running or Stretcher Bond and the Stack Bond are the only two bonds that are appropriate for brick veneer unless the bricks are cut for decorative "headers".

Running Bond or Stretcher Bond

Running bond is created exclusively with stretchers.

Stack Bond

Stack bond has stretchers in vertical parallel rows.

Common Bond

Common Bond is composed largely of stretchers with a header course every 6 courses.

English Bond

English Bond is alternating courses of stretchers and headers.

Flemish Bond

Flemish Bond alternates headers and stretchers in each course.

Monk Bond

Monk Bond is a Flemish Bond with two stretchers instead of one between each header.

Running Bond or Stretcher Bond

Running bond is created exclusively with stretchers.

Running Bond or Stretcher Bond

Running Bond can be in single or double courses. It can be called Cavity Bond, if there is a space for insulation between the courses.

Stack Bond

Stack bond is usually a gold or brown colour, not the traditional red.

Stack Bond

Stack bond has stretchers in vertical parallel rows.

Common Bond

Common Bond is composed largely of stretchers with a header course every 6 courses.

Common Bond

Common Bond is always double coursed.

Flemish Bond

Flemish Bond alternates headers and stretchers in each course.

Flemish Bond

Notice the headers on the left are smaller than the other headers. This is an English Corner.

Flemish Bond

Flemish Bond alternates headers and stretchers in each course.

Flemish Bond

 

English Garden Wall Bond

This bond is a mixture of Flemish and Monk Bond, one stretcher and one header mixed with two stretchers and one header.

? Bond

 

Oversized Brick

The standard brick sizes (stretcher =header x 2) were replaced in the 50's, 60s, and 70s with brick sizes that were decorative but with no structural value.

Shaped Brick

For extra texture on a building, bricks have been manufactured with convex and/or ornate surfaces that create a pleasing pattern.

Brick Patterns

Brick bonds were developed to create strong, efficient walls. Brick patterns were developed to decorate brick walls.

Basketweave
Dog-tooth
Herringbone

 

 

Herringbone and Basketweave

This mixture of patterns is often found on Tudor Revival homes. On the left is a herringbone pattern. On the right is a basket weave.

Basketweave

Here we have a basket weave pattern within a lunette.

Herringbone and Basketweave

This mixture of patterns is often found on Tudor Revival homes. On the left is a herringbone pattern. On the right is a basket weave.

Basketweave

here we have a basket weave pattern within a lunette.

Brick Shapes

Brick bonds were developed to create strong, efficient walls. Brick patterns were developed to decorate brick walls.

 

Gothic Brickwork

In Italy, brick is usually orange or red. This facade in Pisa is particularly fine.

Victorian Gothic Brickwork

Victorian Gothic is a late 18th century style that generally has very fine craftsmanship.

Brick Colour - Tan

Brick is often paried with stone for extra effect.

Brick Colour - Yellow

Bricks are often used to create styles that are traditionally stone. Here a hood or label mold and label stops is made out of brick. This brick has a high lime content.

Brick Colour - Orange

This brick has a high iron content.

Brick Colour - Red

This red brick also has a high iron content.

Brick Colour - 70s

Brick veneer in the 60s and 70s is often made up of many different colours.

Soldier Course

Soldier courses are used on building as a decorative feature. They have no structural value.

Definitions

 


Basketweave bond
Common bond
Diagonal bond
dogtooth course
Flemish bond
Flemish diagonal bond
Rowlock
Stack Bond