Because genuine clay brick is made from natural materials.
Brick made from clay and shale – some of the most abundant, natural materials on earth – and then fired through a kiln at up to 2000 degrees. The reason the brick turns into such a durable material is that the clay/shale unit actually goes through a vitrification process in the kiln, which enables the clay particles to fuse together.
Many people may confuse clay brick with “brick” made from other materials. For example, concrete units rely on a cement paste to bond the materials together. Moreover, concrete units are inherently a grayish color, which means that users must inject color pigments before the setting process and use color sealant afterwards to have a color affect. On the other hand, clay brick has thousands of color and shade options that will not fade. Contrary to some people’s perceptions, clay brick is actually significantly stronger than concrete brick as well.
Because brick has been proven for centuries.
What began as a building essential in the Near East and India more than 5,000 years ago, wound its way through the ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization and the Romans and today has amazingly become the all-American building product throughout our country’s history. Just look at the structures and roadways in your community. Chances are, at least some of them are built with brick.
At the same time, bricks today are subject to much more stringent manufacturing processes than used in the past, which results in a more consistently performing end-product. While it is still possible to purchase hand-made brick, it is also possible to buy the type of architectural brick that meets extremely strict product specifications.
Because brick offers superior protection over other wall cladding materials
The story of the Three Little Pigs is just as true today as it was when it was first told to children long ago. Research confirms that genuine clay brick provides superior shelter in three major categories.
Fire Protection. Since the primary ingredient in brick is clay which is fired to around 2000 F, it is a non-combustible material. As such, it is an excellent cladding choice to resist or confine fires. In fact, both the National Institute of Standards and Technology and BIA conducted separate fire tests that conclusively demonstrate that nothing outperforms good old-fashioned brick in a one hour fire test and that today’s “advanced” materials, such as vinyl, are engulfed by flames within minutes. See for yourself.
High wind protection. A Shelter from the Storm study conducted in September 2004 shows that homes built with brick offer dramatically more protection from wind-blown debris than homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding. Conducted at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University, the study demonstrated that a medium-sized wind-blown object, such as a 7.5-foot long 2 x 4, would penetrate homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding at a speed of 25 mph. By comparison, the same object would need to travel at a speed exceeding 80 mph in order to penetrate the wall of a brick home. The tests found that homes made with brick exceed the 34 mph impact resistance requirement for high velocity hurricane zones in the Florida building code. Brick also exceeds Florida’s impact resistance requirements for essential facilities in hurricane areas. Brick is such a strong and durable building material that your insurance companies may even offer you a discount on your home insurance costs.
Superior moisture control. According to a nationally – renowned, independent building products research laboratory, brick veneer wall assemblies control moisture better than wall systems clad with other exterior materials. Therefore, brick veneer wall systems help minimize mold growth, wood rot and infestation by insects, and corrosion of fasteners embedded in wood better than other wall assemblies. Read the full report.
Because brick looks better, for far longer and with less maintenance, than other building materials.
Brick offers lasting value. It doesn’t rot, dent, or need to be painted, and it will never tear or be eaten by termites. Its modular units and variety of shapes have resulted in beautiful structures in just about every architectural style, ranging from colonial to Victorian to post-modernist. It is one of the few materials that can actually look better with age. Brick also absorbs noise, giving it an acoustic advantage over other materials – especially helpful in densely populated areas. Maybe this is why readers see ads for “all-brick” houses much more often than ads for “all-vinyl” or “all-EIFS” neighborhoods.
Because brick is naturally energy-efficient.
Brick is a building material that has exceptional “thermal mass” properties. Thermal mass is the ability of a heavy, dense material to store heat and then slowly release it. For you, this means that during the summer months your brick home stays cool during the hottest part of the day. During the winter, brick walls store your home’s heat and radiate it back to you. Vinyl, aluminum, wood, or EIFS (artificial stucco) are all thin, light building materials that do not have good thermal mass properties. The superior thermal mass qualities of brick have been known for centuries.
Because brick is the most sustainable green building material made.
Given the significance buildings have on energy consumption,* brick should be part of a comprehensive green strategy because today’s brick includes:
Inherently Natural Ingredients. Brick is predominantly made from clay and shale, which are among the most abundant materials available on earth.
Countless Recycling Options. Brick can be salvaged, crushed brick for sub-base materials, and chipped brick for permanent landscaping mulch.
Minimal Waste. Virtually all of the clay mined for brick manufacturing gets utilized, making the recycling and waste containment unequaled by any other building material. In fact, over 80% of our manufacturers re-use their own fired waste material or convert it into other products. And if you decide to pitch it, there is no special handling required because brick is simply earth, so it’s inert.
Brick is the first masonry material that can attain a “Certificate of Environmental Claims” from a third party source. The National Brick Research Center, an organization of the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University, has developed a standard to verify the amount of recycled content in brick, the utilization of renewable energy in the firing process, and the reduction in the amount of resources used to manufacture brick.
Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing Processes. More than 80% of brick kilns are fired with natural gas, and numerous plants use fuels of bio-based materials from other industrial applications and waste products. Energy sources include methane gas from landfills and sawdust from furniture manufacturers.
Low Embodied Energy to Manufacture Brick. With clay brick’s renowned longevity, no additional energy will be needed to make a replacement brick for many decades – if not centuries. The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) gives brick masonry a 100-year life, and many brick buildings older than a century are still in use today. In fact, brick is one of the few materials that building codes allow to be reused in a building application when it meets the ASTM standard for clay brick. Consequently, salvaged bricks are in high demand and represent a vibrant market.
*According to recent statistics, the impact of residential and commercial buildings account for:
- 65.2% of electricity consumption
- >36% of the country’s “primary energy use”
- 30% of total US greenhouse gas emissions
- 136 million tons of demolition and construction waste in the U.S. That equates approximately 2.8 lbs per person per day
(The Brick Industry Association)