Significance Of Bricks In UK Building Industry

Published: 08th April 2011
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Considered as a sustainable and durable construction material, bricks have been popular in the UK for centuries. This versatile material has always enjoyed a pride of place in the UK building industry, thanks to its superior load-bearing properties, high thermal mass, and potential low energy impact.

We can see that until recently almost all the British houses were completely made of bricks. Even though in the modern times, a combination of concrete blocks and other materials are being commonly used in building houses, many of them feature a thin sheath of bricks at the exterior. This kind of brick siding is used in order to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the house.

A Glance into the History Of Bricks UK

It is believed that bricks were first introduced in the UK by the Roman Legions, who were experts in making fire bricks using mobile kilns. The late 13th and early 14th centuries witnessed a revival of brick-making in eastern England due to the insufficient availability of local stone and lack of good timber supply. The influence of Europe which was renowned for its extensive use of brickwork has also been a cause for this revival. The Tudor period (1485 - 1603) saw the emergence of brick makers and brick layers as separate craftsmen.

The use of brick in the construction industry reached its peak in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (1714-1830). Bricks of high standard with greater consistency in shape and size were developed in this period. The introduction of brick tax in 1784 slowed down the demand for bricks. Bricks were considered as less fashionable in the 18th century. In the 19th century, bricks experienced a setback due to the trend of building multi-storey, high-rise office buildings which mainly used steel and concrete.

As stated by the Builders and Merchants Journal, production, sales and delivery figures of UK bricks have been improved in 2010, indicating the new confidence shown by the UK housing market. According to the report, facing bricks comprise the bulk of sales at almost 80 percent.

Superior Qualities of Bricks

The Brick Development Association (BDA), which represents the clay brick and paver manufacturers of the UK and Ireland, has listed out some of the superior qualities of bricks as compared to other construction materials. These are: bricks are eco-friendly construction material minimizing any environmental impacts; Bricks are cost-effective as proved by a study by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); and brick is a durable material, resulting in long-term performance of buildings and low maintenance.

Brick buildings are considered to be highly sustainable and energy-efficient. The recyclability of them adds to these characteristics. Clay bricks have a high level of thermal mass performance offering comfortable, healthy living and working environments.

In terms of design aspects also bricks can outperform many other materials. It can be effectively used to complement and integrate with the surrounding environs. This versatile material is equally good as structural material and as fade material.

Reusability, negligible amount of embodied energy, and durability are some other merits of brick as construction material.

In the UK, bricks have always enjoyed a superior place in the construction industry, which is clear from the existence of a number of brick associations namely: The Brick Development Association (BDA), the British Brick Society, and the Brick industry Association. BDA awards Brick Awards annually to honor excellence in design and construction using brick. Olympic Substation, which demonstrates many ways in which brick can be used, was declared the winner of the UK Brick Awards 2010.

Bricks UK will continue to have its undisputed position in the construction and building industry thanks to the efforts of brick organizations that promotes the use of bricks and encouragement by the government.

Right Brick is a leading supplier of facing bricks to the UK. The company with over 15 years of experience specializes in providing matching old and new brickwork for homes, offices, and commercial buildings. They have about 1500 bricks UK in their database to meet any requirements.

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