What makes Fired Clay Bricks a preferred building material?

Sameer Maithel | Tuesday 21 April 2020

Fired clay brick is the most popular walling material in India. As per Census 2011, almost 12 crore or 50% of the total houses in India were made using fired clay bricks.

Let us look at the reasons which makes fired clay bricks a preferred building material:

Long life: If we look around us, we will find several buildings made from fired clay bricks such as houses, temples, mosques, railway bridges, government offices, etc. which are almost 100 years old. Properly fired clay bricks can last for thousands of years, as shown by the bricks obtained in the excavation of Harappan civilization which are 4000 years old.

Structural strength: Good quality fired clay bricks have a compressive strength in the range of 100 -300 kg/cm2, which lends good structural strength to the walls. Brick walls are able to support built in cupboards, heavy shelves, geysers and wall mounted fixtures.

Safety in case of fire: Fired clay bricks are incombustible and hence resists rapid spread of fire. As bricks are fired at a temperature of around 1000oC during the firing process they are capable of resisting this level of heat without damage.

Safety in case of flooding: Fired clay brick is a ceramic material. A brick absorbs moisture in its pores when wet and dries out quickly once the water recedes.

Saving in electricity consumption: The thermal conductivity of a solid fired clay bricks is almost 1/3rd that of a solid concrete block, thus a wall made from solid clay brick conducts less heat compared to a wall made from solid concrete blocks. Brick wall also has good thermal mass. Houses made from fired clay bricks remains cooler during summer compared to houses made from concrete blocks or concrete walls. If a brick cavity wall (consisting of two solid brick walls with an air cavity) is employed or a wall with hollow clay blocks is made, then houses can be kept even more cooler. As the houses remain cooler, less electricity is required for air-conditioning.

Less maintenance cost: Fired clay bricks are an exceptionally durable material. Compared to walls made from AAC blocks, walls made from fired clay bricks suffer less cracks and less damage from water and hence the maintenance cost remains low.

No toxicity: Fired clay bricks are made from natural materials and does not generally contain any toxic material so the possibility of toxic material leaching out or getting released in the atmosphere are less.

Reusability: Fired clay bricks have a long life, they can be salvaged during building demolition and can be reused. In this way the resources and energy once used in the production can be utilized for hundreds of years thus reducing the future requirement of resources and energy.

Aesthetics and style: In India, most of the fired clay bricks are of red colour and mostly brick walls are plastered on both the sides. However, it is possible to manufacture fired clay bricks in various colours, such as red, orange, yellow, white, black, pink, etc. Exposed brick work from different coloured and textured bricks add to the aesthetic and style quotient of a building.

In recent years, environmental damage caused during the production of the fired clay bricks have attracted the attention of the government and society at large. It is the responsibility of the fired clay brick industry and the government to take immediate actions to address these concerns. It can be said that in coming years, use of alternate materials like fly ash bricks and AAC blocks is likely to increase, however if the fired clay brick industry and the government work together and take timely actions, then fired clay bricks are likely to remain the first choice of home builders for a long time to come.

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Sameer Maithel

The writer is the Director of
Greentech Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi



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