What Are The Common Types of Brick In The UK?

The landscape of commercial construction in the UK tells a fascinating story of reliance on one of the oldest and most versatile building materials: bricks.

These time-honored units, traditionally made of clay or stone, have played a pivotal role in building structures that have stood the test of time.

Bricks - An Overview

Bricks, in their simplest definition, are clay or stone-based building units bound together in construction using a cement-based mortar. This age-old building material has evolved over time, incorporating various materials like concrete or ash to meet specific building requirements.

  • Composition: Traditionally, bricks have been made from materials like clay and stone, offering a sturdy and lasting construction material.
  • Mortar Usage: Bricks are typically laid and secured with a cement-based mortar, providing stability and strength to the structure.

Key Takeaway 💡: Understanding bricks as fundamental building blocks in construction, characterized by their varied composition and reliance on mortar for stability, sets the stage for exploring their diverse types and applications.

Categorisation of Bricks

The categorisation of bricks is an intricate process, shaped by various factors like their usage, manufacturing method, and specific application.

This classification aids in identifying the right type of brick for different construction needs.

  • Usage-Based Categories:
    • Facing Bricks: Primarily used in visible wall structures.
    • Backing Bricks: More structural, often concealed within walls.
  • Manufacturing Process:
    • Unfired Bricks: Air-cured during manufacturing.
    • Fired Bricks: Processed in a kiln, offering added durability.
  • Application-Oriented Categories:
    • Common Bricks: Typically used in residential construction.
    • Engineering Bricks: Utilized in more demanding civil projects like sewers.

Key Takeaway 💡: The classification of bricks into facing, backing, unfired, fired, common, and engineering types highlights the importance of understanding each category’s unique properties to choose the most suitable brick for a specific construction project.

The 5 Unique Brick Types by Raw Materials

Categorising bricks by raw materials offers a clear perspective on the diversity available in the UK brick market. Each type comes with unique properties that make it suitable for specific construction requirements.

Burnt Clay Bricks

Burnt clay bricks are the quintessence of traditional brick-making. This process involves shaping wet clay in molds and then firing it in a kiln, resulting in a durable and classic brick.

  • Sub-Categories: These are classified into four classes, each indicating a different quality and cost level.
    • Class 1: Highest quality, suitable for visible construction.
    • Class 4: Lower quality, often used for internal structures.

Key Takeaway 💡: Burnt clay bricks, with their traditional appeal and diverse class system, offer a range of options for builders, from high-quality visible structures to more cost-effective internal uses.

Sand Lime Bricks

Sand lime bricks, also known as calcium silicate bricks, are a product of innovation in brick-making.

  • Composition: A mixture of sand, fly ash, lime, and sometimes pigments for color.
  • Manufacturing Process: Molded under high pressure, these bricks are not kiln-fired but rely on a chemical reaction for bonding.

Key Takeaway 💡: Sand lime bricks stand out for their uniformity and strength, making them an excellent choice for projects requiring a refined and robust finish.

Engineering Bricks

Engineering bricks represent a significant milestone in the evolution of brick manufacturing, showcasing an impressive blend of strength and durability that sets them apart in the construction industry. These bricks are a product of advanced engineering and precise manufacturing techniques, making them a staple in structures where integrity and longevity are paramount.

Unique Properties:

  • Extreme Durability: Engineering bricks are renowned for their exceptional durability. This is primarily due to the high temperatures at which they are fired during the manufacturing process. The intense heat enhances their strength, making them resistant to wear and tear and suitable for high-stress environments.
  • Low Porosity: One of the defining characteristics of engineering bricks is their low porosity. This means they have a very low rate of water absorption, which is crucial in preventing moisture-related damage and decay. This property makes them ideal for use in damp or wet conditions, where other types of bricks might degrade quickly.
  • High Compressive Strength: Engineering bricks can withstand considerable compressive loads, making them an excellent choice for load-bearing walls and other structures where structural integrity is critical.
  • Frost Resistance: Given the UK's climate, the frost resistance of engineering bricks is a significant advantage. They can withstand freeze-thaw cycles without deteriorating, ensuring the longevity of the structures they're used in.


  • Sewer Systems: Their low porosity and high strength make engineering bricks ideal for sewer systems, where bricks need to withstand constant moisture and significant environmental stress.
  • Retaining Walls: For retaining walls, especially those that support large amounts of soil or are exposed to harsh weather conditions, the robust nature of engineering bricks ensures stability and longevity.
  • Tunnels and Underground Constructions: In tunnel construction, the bricks must endure high pressure and potential water ingress. The strength and low porosity of engineering bricks make them well-suited for such applications.
  • Foundations and Basements: The foundational structures of buildings, particularly in areas prone to dampness or flooding, benefit from the use of engineering bricks due to their moisture-resistant qualities.
  • Industrial Structures: Engineering bricks are commonly used in industrial buildings and other structures that require materials capable of withstanding harsh conditions, including exposure to chemicals and significant mechanical stress.

Fly Ash Clay Bricks

Fly ash clay bricks represent a sustainable approach to brick-making, utilizing a by-product of coal-burning.

  • Composition: A mix of fly ash and clay, fired at about 1,000°C.
  • Properties: Lighter than traditional clay or concrete bricks and “self-cementing” when exposed to moisture.

Key Takeaway 💡: Fly ash clay bricks are a lighter and environmentally friendly option, suitable for structural walls and foundations, highlighting the industry's move towards sustainable construction practices.

Concrete Bricks

Concrete bricks, often used internally, are now gaining popularity for exterior work due to their modern aesthetic.

  • Manufacturing: Involves pouring concrete into molds.
  • Applications: Versatile in use, but not recommended for underground projects due to moisture sensitivity.

Key Takeaway 💡: Concrete bricks' adaptability and modern look make them a popular choice for contemporary construction projects, although their application is limited in moisture-prone areas.


Bricks have stood as a cornerstone in the construction industry, and their evolution has led to a variety of types each suited for different applications. From the traditional burnt clay bricks to the innovative fly ash and concrete bricks, understanding the unique properties of each type is crucial for selecting the right brick for any construction project. This guide serves as a comprehensive overview, helping builders, architects, and homeowners make informed decisions for their construction needs.

Whether you are embarking on a new building project or simply exploring the possibilities of brick construction, a deeper understanding of these materials is invaluable.

We invite you to email us for additional guidance tailored to your specific project requirements. Free samples are also available.


Join Our Trade Circle

Hear about new products and get exclusive disocunts!

Get In Touch With Our Expert Team

Recently viewed