Picking a brick isn't as easy as it sounds. With the proliferation of styles, sizes, qualities and costs, making the right choice can be critical. The owner and architect/designer must identify which qualities and properties of brick are appropriate to consider for a particular project.
Brick selection is based on several factors: aesthetics; physical properties (compressive strength and absorption for durability); application (moisture penetration, movement of materials and structural loads); cost; and availability. "While aesthetics are most often the primary consideration, durability, availability and cost are also important," says Jim Bryja, manager of engineering services, General Shale Products Corporation, Johnson City, Tenn. "The selection process can be difficult since each person involved in using brick has different requirements. Unfortunately, seldom is the mason contractor a part of the selection process."
Aesthetics: Color, Texture, Shape
The use of brick as a building material dates back centuries General Shale has a brick in its museum dated from 10,000 years ago, found in the area of the Biblical city of Jericho. Because of brick's enduring qualities and limitless appearances and effects, designers can satisfy their creative styles. Brick is readily available in many sizes, colors, textures and shapes that can be adapted to achieve virtually any desired style or expression.
Brick's small module can be related to the scale of the wall. Some of the sizes available are shown in Figure 1. Brick size influences scale, appearance and wall cost larger units require fewer bricks, normally resulting in less labor. These sizes can be combined in such a way as to create different appearances and patterns. When specifying the size of units, dimensions should be listed in the following order: thickness by height by length. The dimensions given should be specified, not nominal, dimensions.