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Bricks Used as material for Masonry, Building, Paving, Decorartion

Updated on December 6, 2014

Brickmaking at the turn of the century


Devalan Wisconsin historic brick street


How many of us really notice a common building material like bricks? Bricks are so much a part of our environment that we hardly notice them

 Bricks include clay bricks, glass bricks red bricks, brick tiles, paving bricks, patio bricks, and fire bricks. The uses include brick flooring, masonry, brick paneling, retaining walls, brick paving, brick buildings, and brick walls. 

There is even a game about bricks called brick breaker:

Brick Breaker is a Breakout clone[1] in which the player must smash a wall of bricks by deflecting a bouncing ball with a paddle. The paddle may move horizontally and is controlled with the Blackberry’s track wheel. When all the bricks have been destroyed, play advances to a new level.

From Wikipedia


. Generally we see them as a component of something else, such as a house. In the United States, at least, brick facades are popular in modern houses as opposed to actual brick. Sometimes they are used for very mundane things such as shelves to hold books, for those who still have books. Combinations of bricks and boards are very good for makeshift bookshelves or with some paint or stain you can make some rather attractive ones.

I like to get into older towns or neighborhoods that still have brick streets that may have been made over a hundred years ago and still work pretty well.

The oldest bricks found, according to Wikipedia, were shaped mud somewhere around 7500 B.C. and were found in the upper

tigress region. Egyptians also used fired brick. In the Indus valley civilization used clay bricks exclusively.



The Romans used fired bricks. The Roman legions had mobile kilns and they introduced bricks to many parts of the Empire. The mark of the legion is often stamped on roman bricks. In southern and Western Germany bricks can be traced back to the traditions that were described by the roman architect Vitruvius.

Milyanfen adobe brick house 8040
Milyanfen adobe brick house 8040 | Source
Pile of Bricks
Pile of Bricks | Source


Lowly unskilled artisans in pre-modern China did brick making.  The kiln master had respect a step above the brick maker. In 2009 traces of bricks were found in Xi’an Ruin site of about 3800 years ago. Prior to this it was generally thought that bricks first appeared in Western Zhou dynasty about3000 years ago. These were the first fired bricks. A Song Dynasty carpenter’s manual from 1103 had a method for glazing techniques.


Bricks from Northern western Italy were re-introduced to Northern Germany in the 12th century. An independent tradition there led to the  “Brick Gothic” which was a reduced style of Gothic architecture flourishing in Northern Europe. Especially around the Baltic Sea there is little natural rock. Brick Gothic buildings are found in Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia.

Visible brick walls were unpopular during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. They often covered the brickwork with plaster. In the middle of the 18th century visible brick started to regain popularity.

In Britain during the Industrial revolution buildings were often made with brick rather than rock for cheaper building costs. In a building boom to he 19th century Boston and New York City used locally made brick in construction for much the same reasons - economy of construction.

History Book Illustration published 1890 of Ancient Egyptian brick making.colorized
History Book Illustration published 1890 of Ancient Egyptian brick making.colorized | Source

Brick Manufacturing

Bricks can be made from clay, shale, soft slate, calcium silicate, concrete, or shaped quarry stone. Usually brick contains silica, Alumna, Lime, Iron Oxide and Magnesia.

The most common is clay brick and can be made by soft mud, dry press or extruded processes.



The most common method is the soft mud because it is most economical. Raw clay, preferably in a 25-30% sand mix to reduce shrinkage clay is ground and mixed with water, and then pressed into steel molds with a hydraulic press. The shaped clay is then fired at 900-1000C for strength.

In modern brickworks it is usually done in a continuously fired kiln. The bricks move slowly through the kiln on conveyors, rails or kiln cars to achieve consistency. Often lime, ash, and organic matter are added to speed the burning.


In India it is typically done manually. Most commonly used is the Bull’s Trench kiln based on a design that British engineer W. Bull developed in late 19th century. It is continuous like the rail system.

Dry pressed method is similar to mud brick but starts with a much thicker mixture of clay so it is more accurate and gives a sharper edge to the brick.

Extrusion For extruded bricks the clay is mixed with water and forced through a die to create a long cable of material. It is then cut into bricks.

Calcium silicate bricks include lime mixed with quartz, crushed flint or crushed silicate rock. It is molded and cured.



Bricks are used in building and pavement. In the USA brick pavement was discarded because it apparently did not stand up to heavy traffic. However it is making a comeback as a way to calm traffic and in some places as a decorative surface in pedestrian precincts.

Bricks are also used in the metallurgy and in glass industries to line furnaces. In the United Kingdom bricks have been


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for visiting. Your comment is appreciated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      this was really usefull..

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting and rating.Real brick is sort of hard to come by now.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great hub on the history of bricks! I live in a Victorian house that was built over 135 years old and it still has all the original bricks that it was built with. They sure stand up well! Rated up and useful.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I guess that is what we are trying to do is show how interesting ordinary things that we don't think about can be interesting. I learned a lot just researching it. Thanks for the comment and ratings.

    • toknowinfo profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey Dahoglund,

      Great hub. I never thought about bricks and their history. Such an ordinary thing, yet full of a rich history. Thanks for sharing such interesting info. Rated up awesome and useful.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am glad you found it interesting.Thanks for your comment.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      8 years ago from Bangalore,India

      I live in India and I am building a new home with bricks. The pile of bricks in front of my home made me look up your hub. Thanks for making it interesting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I recall laces in Illinois where the brick streets were still being used.Most "brick" houses now just have an outer layer of brick, not structual brick.Thanks for the comment and rating.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Brick houses are very common in Texas as a building material. Like you I enjoy seeing the beauty of those old brick streets in historic places. They are occasionally used decoratively here for just portions of streets in upper end neighborhoods. Good hub! Rated up and useful.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you creatveone for reading my hub and commenting on it.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund, for the heads-up on the use of bricks, very informative. Thanks for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm glad some readers endorse my choice of subject.I appreciate your comments and the information you add to the story.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 

      8 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      My father is a mason with his work at his community college still on display, because of his skill. I worked with him occasionally doing fireplaces, chimneys, and home facades.

      Brick is a wonderful device that doesn't hurt the environment, as masonry is a completely natural process of construction.

      What a great topic, oh, and the hardest brick to lay? Glass block--it is the mason's nightmare as the mortar in between can not be left on the block. Glass walls need to be clear and mortar needs to be in the mortar

      Voted up and definitely an "evergreen" story.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Enjoyed your article. Flag up and useful!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      I think I have only seen adobe in pictures but it may have better insulating qualities than standard bricks. Thanks for adding that information and for commenting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Rod Marsden

      Everything was backbreaking back then, I think. We tend to miss little details like that when trying to follow the main story. Thanks for commenting and for the additional information.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      8 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Adobe bricks are still commonly used out here in Arizona. The art of making these bricks which are slightly larger than a standard brick, has been passed down through generation of our Mexican neighbors. To me a finished adobe project has a beauty you just can't find in a standard brick job.

      What a unique subject, and well written hub!


    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 

      8 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      A lot of good information here, dahoglund.

      In the story of Moses in the bible the slaves of Egypt made clay bricks out of mud and straw. I have seen documentaries where bricks have been made this way. It is a dirty, back-breaking process but it does apparently work.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      Thanks for the comment.Sometimes the more common something is the less aware of it we are.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      Although I always liked brick houses I was never really aware of bricks until I moved to the moline,IL area where it was much more common, although not so much now.Thanks for commenting.

    • nakmeister profile image


      8 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      You don't get much more common than brick, and you don't get many things with so long a history. A great hub, thanks!

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Enjoyed this hub. When I moved from Scotland to London it took me a while to get used to the brick buildings. Scotland traditionally used quarried stone.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Interestingly when I lived in Moline, Illinois i found that brick was very common there, although I don't think it is as plentiful as it used to be. where I live now it is not used as much because it is not so easily available.I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for commenting on it.

    • AskAshlie3433 profile image


      8 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

      Hey there Dahoglund! How you doing sir? Very cool hub. I have always wondered how they would get so crafty with brick laying and all the masonry work. I never knew they had glass bricks. In Charleston, the streets are lined in bricks. It gives it a unique beauty. The town I live in has nothing but old brick buildings. I just like the look of brick, especially on the roads. Cool hub. I enjoy reading of the past. Learn something new everyday.


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