Bricks around the world

Bricks of one kind or another have been manufactured from many different materials throughout the ages. Whether they be for the construction of a simple dwelling hut to a grand cathedral, bricks have been the staple building material for many centuries. The manufacturing process may change from location to location, but the overall use of bricks has remained pretty constant.

Bricks in the Middle East

The earliest known bricks were made from clay rich earth or mud and dried in the heat of the sun until they were strong enough to be used for building. The oldest discovered bricks, originally made from hand shaped mud were carbon dated to before 7500 BC and were found at Tell Aswad, in what is now Turkey. Other more recent brick findings, dated between approximately 7,000 and 6,395 BC in the Palestinian city of Jericho.

The Jetavanaramaya stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is one of the largest brick structures in the world. The height of the stupa is 400 feet and was the tallest ancient stupa in the world, the structure is no longer the tallest although it is the largest with a volume of 2,508,000 sq ft.

Ceramic, or fired brick was used as far back as 4500 BC in the early Bronze Age Indus Valley cities in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent.

Bricks in Rome

The Romans made very good use of fired bricks, and the Roman legions even had fully operational mobile kilns. This allowed them to introduce bricks to all the parts of the Roman Empire as it expanded year by year. The Roman bricks were frequently stamped with the mark of the legion that supervised their production. The use of bricks, described by the Roman architect Vitruvius, exactly matched the use of bricks in southern and western Germany much later on.

Bricks in China

Before modern times in China, the manufacture of bricks was the job of an unskilled labourer, but the kiln master was considered more worthy of respect. Very early traces of bricks were found in an old ruin site in Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, in 2009 and these bricks dated back around 3800 years. Before this discovery, it is widely believed that bricks appeared about 3000 years ago in the Western Zhou dynasty since the earliest bricks were found in Western Zhou ruins. These bricks are the earliest example of bricks that were made by the firing process. Early descriptions of the production process and glazing techniques of bricks can be found in the Song Dynasty carpenter’s manual, and this was published in 1103.

In China, the kilnmaster needed to make sure that the temperature inside the kiln stayed at a constant level that caused the clay to shimmer with the colour of molten gold or silver. He also had to know exactly when to quench the kiln with water so as to produce the desired surface glaze. The labourers had the job of brick production to carry out. They would mix the clay and water together and drive oxen over it so as to make a thick paste. Then they would put the paste into wooden moulds to produce a brick shape, smoothing the uneven surfaces of the brick clay with a wire, then removing them from the frames. The workers would then have to stamp the bricks so that they could be identified and fuel up the kilns for the kilnmaster. When the kilns had reached the correct temperature, they would stack the bricks in the kiln, removing them to cool while the kilns were still very hot and load the bricks onto pallets for transportation.

The idea of signing the workers name and birth date on the brick and the place where it was made was nothing new and certainly not restricted to brick making. The government of the day often required blacksmiths and sword makers to engrave their names onto weapons so that poor quality ones could be traced back to them should they fall below the high standards of the government.

Bricks throughout Europe

Brick Gothic is a very specific style of Gothic architecture that is common in Northern Europe, especially in Northern Germany and the regions around the Baltic Sea that do not have any natural rock resources. The buildings in question are essentially built from bricks. Brick Gothic buildings are found in the Baltic countries of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Sweden and Russia.

The use of baked red bricks in Northern Europe dates from the 12th century, the oldest such buildings are classed as the Brick Romanesque. In the 16th century, Brick Gothic was replaced by Brick Renaissance architecture.

Brick Gothic is characterised by the lack of figural architectural sculpture using built ornaments and the colour contrast between red bricks, glazed bricks and white lime plaster.

During the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, visible brick walls were deemed to be rather unpopular and the brickwork was frequently covered with plaster or some other kind of rendering. To this day, many properties still have external aggregate covered walls as opposed to bare bricks. It was only during the middle 18th century that visible brick walls started to regain some of their previous popularity.

The transportation in bulk of building materials such as bricks over any extended distance would have been rather rare before canals, railways or proper roads had been built. Before the former had been built, bricks were usually made close to the area they were intended to be used. In England in the 18th century transporting bricks by horse and cart for just a few miles along the very uneven roads would more than likely double the asking price of the bricks.

Even if raw materials like rock or stone were available locally, bricks were often used because structures could be built quicker and cheaper with bricks than with these materials. The buildings of the Industrial Revolution in Britain were mostly made from brick and timber. During the building boom of the 19th century in the American cities of Boston and New York, locally made bricks were often used in construction instead of the brownstones that could be locally sourced from New Jersey and Connecticut for the very same reasons.

In Victorian London, bright red bricks were chosen to make buildings far more visible because of the heavy fog, or pea soupers that caused transport problems at the time. The vast majority of buildings from this time were constructed from bricks and although the amount of red pigment was reduced in the bricks production, red remained the most popular colour for the brick and still does to this day.

Brick lasts for a very long time

Long before anyone had even thought of the word sustainability, builders were using clay bricks because they lasted for a very long time and required almost no maintenance. Brick buildings are strong, durable and can resist extreme weather conditions through fire-resistant construction and resistance to impacts and wind-borne debris. No wonder bricks have been the preferred building material for many centuries.

Brick Articles

At ET Clay Products we have years of experience relating to all aspects of brick supply and usage. We have created a list of articles which we hope will be of use to our clients and the general public.

Antique or contemporary bricks for any build

When you are looking for the perfect brick for your building project, you will want to consider several factors. Firstly, you will need to ensure that you have the freedom to choose the brick colour and maybe even style fits in with the aesthetic of your area. Some areas only permit building with a certain colour of brick. Secondly, the texture is a consideration.

Brick built barbecues last a lifetime

As the weather warms up and the evenings get longer, many peoples minds turn toward that great summertime tradition, where the man of the house dons his apron and reverts back to his inner caveman to cook meat outdoors.

Brick built property extensions

Most people would like some extra room at home, whether it be for an extra bedroom, a bigger lounge or kitchen or even a hobby room. However, fewer people can afford to move house these days so they look for ways to improve their existing property.

Brick matching for all building projects

A frequent problem when making additions to any brick building is matching the bricks that were used to construct the original building. Whether the addition is an extension or a garage, the challenge will always be to source bricks that match the original ones.

Brick Matching Service from ET Bricks

How many times have you thought about adding to an existing brickwork construction, but have held back because you couldn't find the exact same bricks to match? Here at ET Bricks we are frequently getting enquiries from people who want to add on to an existing wall, or replace bricks that have been damaged by drilling.

Brick slips for that classic look

How many times have you watched a movie where the home set is in a converted factory or warehouse? Vast open plan spaces to live in with the charm of bare brick walls.

Brick sustainability

Bricks have been used for building countless structures over many thousands of years because of they last for so long and are very durable. This and a number of other factors make them a sought after building material and contribute to their inherent sustainability.

Bricks and their different applications

There are many thousands of different types of bricks, they cover an ever increasing range of coulours and finishes but they can be broken down into a handful of basic types. The majority of these bricks are made from clay and are fired in a kiln.

Bricks around the world

Bricks of one kind or another have been manufactured from many different materials throughout the ages. Whether they be for the construction of a simple dwelling hut to a grand cathedral, bricks have been the staple building material for many centuries. The manufacturing process may change from location to location, but the overall use of bricks has remained pretty constant.

Bricks in so many different colours

Depending on where you live, you may be restricted to a particular colour of brick for your property. The Olde Welwyn brick is a good example. A mellow red that is mixed with 25% grey tones to provide a mature weathered look, textured to give a traditional handcrafted appearance. These bicks form the bulk of properties in the Welwyn village and its larger neighbouring town of Welwyn Garden City, with very few exceptions.

Bricks inside as well as out

We all know that bricks are used extensively around the world to make dwelling houses and office buildings. We are also well aware that there are many different styles and colours of brick for such building projects. What many seem to be unaware of is just how good bricks can be when used as an interior building material.

Bricks: More than just a building block!

Rarely do we walk down the street and pay any particular attention to bricks. Bricks are everywhere and we generally take them for granted, why? Probably the reason we ignore bricks is because we are so used to looking at them on our own house when in the garden, or the view through the front or rear windows of our property may look directly at a very similar, if not the same type of build. Many people would think that a brick is just a brick, maybe different colours exist, but that's about as far as the changes go. In fact, the humble brick has more diversity and heritage than most would give it credit for.

Bricks: The best house building material

When it comes to choosing the right sort of building material for your house renovation or building project, what is the best material to go for? Brick and wood are practical choices as building materials for homes. They also come in a massive variety of colours, finishes, treatments and styles. Brick and wood are natural to look at and very durable and they insulate well too. You can build a house from all bricks, one from wood panelling or a mixture of both. What factors should affect your decision though when deciding what building material to use?

Dampening bricks before laying versus using dry bricks

Should you speak to any bricklayer worth their salt, they will tell you about the benefits of dampening any absorbent bricks before laying them!

Decorative bricks in and around the home

When most of us think of a brick, we tend to think of a red lump of fired earth that is used to build houses. Not very inspiring, but practical nonetheless!

Different uses for house bricks

Should someone ask you to think of the most obvious use for a brick, your mind would most probably start to focus on house building and the construction industry in general. Bricks are without a doubt used for building more than any other use, but just what else could the humble brick be used for?

Efflorescence on bricks: The causes, prevention and cure

We have probably all seen it! That nasty white powdery coating that spoils the look of brick buildings. A recent development of luxury home in Hertfordshire looked amazing when they were finished, but within a short space of time, the majority of these attractive red brick dwellings were white with efflorescence. So what is the cause of this phenomenon and what can be done to prevent or cure it?

ET Bricks and other brick manufacturers

ET Bricks can source virtually any brick you want. We have been leading the way as a brick merchant for many years and not only manufacture superior quality bricks, we supply them from other renowned brick manufacturers too, so our customers can be certain of getting the bricks they want.

ET Clay Products and Wienerberger: The perfect partnership

ET Bricks can source virtually any brick you want. We have been leading the way as a brick merchant for many years and not only manufacture superior quality bricks, we supply them from other renowned brick manufacturers too, so our customers can be certain of getting the bricks they want.

Facade and Cladding Information

A facade is the front or face of anything,  but the term is mainly reserved to refer to a building. Facade is a pretty common word that is used for anything that changes the face of anything. The exterior face of a building which is the architectural front, is sometimes distinguished from the other faces by more elaborate architectural or ornamental details.

Glazed bricks for that extra splash of colour

Glazed bricks have been used to great effect in many building projects over the years. They can really stamp the property with its own unique look and feel when incorporated into a period restoration project.

News of a UK house brick shortage: ET Bricks have the answer

It has been claimed recently in the media that Britain is currently facing a shortage of house bricks! The sudden flurry of house building activity following the recession has been blamed for the severe lack of house bricks available.

Quality Indian Sandstone

When people think about having a new patio, they are faced with a bewildering array of paving slabs to choose from. Many of the slabs for sale at the local DIY centre look great, but are they really up to the job?

Reclaimed house bricks

If you are you building a new property or possibly even refurbishing an old property, you may have considered using reclaimed bricks.

Reconstructed, Reconstituted, Artificial and Synthetic Stone

It's no just bricks that ET Clay Products are famous for, we have a vast range of cast stone and it really is taking off in a way we knew it always would! Cast Stone is often referred to by different names such as reconstructed stone, reconstituted stone, artificial stone, synthetic stone, manufactured stone and art or artistic stone. The two most popular names the buying public use for this product seems to be reconstructed stone and reconstituted stone, but the industry term for it remains 'cast stone'.

Special shape bricks for all your building projects from ET Bricks

When somebody thinks of a brick wall, they tend to imagine a flat vertical surface constructed of bricks, but depending on the design or terrain, it can be so much more!

Special shaped bricks

There’s far more to bricks than just the standard shapes! Imagine how monotonous architecture would be if all buildings were constructed from standard bricks.

The history of bricks and brickmaking

Bricks are without doubt, one of the oldest known building materials. They date back to 7000 BC where they were first found in southern Turkey and around the city of Jericho. The first bricks were sun dried and made from mud. Fired bricks were found to be more resistant to the harsher weather conditions, which made them a far more reliable brick to be used in the construction of permanent buildings, where mud bricks would not have been sufficient. Fired bricks were also very useful for absorbing any heat generated throughout the day, and releasing it at night.

What type of bricks are available from ET Clay Products

If there's one thing we really know about at ET Clay Products, it's bricks! We stock literally thousands of bricks in every conceivable size, shape, colour and texture. Choosing the right brick for your building project can be pretty daunting when you are faced with such a massive assortment of bricks, but then that's why we have friendly and experienced staff always on hand to help that process go smoothly.

Wienerberger Dartmoor Heather Brick

The Wienerberger Dartmoor Heather Brick is a glorious red brick that has been a perennial favourite with our customers for quite some time. The enduring qualities of this versatile brick are the reason why customers continuously ask for this particular brick over many others.

Wienerberger Peak Bordeaux Brick

The Wienerberger Peak Bordeaux brick is a glorious red multi brick that is ideal for so many building projects that require a naturally rustic looking red brick.

Why build with bricks

A home that has been constructed out of bricks displays more than just a style. The bricks allow you to offer a personal reflection of the people who live in the property. With bricks the designs are endless, there are so many wonderful finishes that can be achieved. You can transform your home into a beautiful, living experience with countless ways to have bricks make a real statement about the sort of person you are. It really depends on the sort of look and feel you want to achieve, a classic or modern design, one that is quietly understated with traditional lines or boldly announced in a look that could well be years into the future. The simple fact is that bricks, unlike any other building material can make for an unmistakably individual home.

Why use weathered bricks?

At ET Clay Products, we frequently receive enquiries from customers regarding weathered bricks. There are many reasons why a client will need bricks that have a weathered appearance. Probably the most obvious reason for wanting weathered bricks will be for an extension to an existing brick built building.