March 12th 2021
Clay. It's the material that bricks are made of.
We reckon that's pretty common knowledge (although if you didn't know, there you go!)
If you're in the market for bricks, you may have wondered whether the clay used has any significant impact on the quality of the bricks themselves.
Can you even select bricks based on clay? And is it something you should put much thought into?
The short answer is no. The type of clay used won't have any significant impact on the quality or durability of the brick.
Of course, it can have an impact on what the brick looks like, so this may be something you want to know more about.
For those who want some extra info on clay and its use in making bricks, read on.
There are of course many different types of clay found on planet earth.
Clay is a type of fine-grained soil that is formed from a mixture of weathering and erosion to large rock formations over millions of years.
It's usually found in layers with different levels of minerals and elements in each. This can give each layer a different colour.
It's this colour that ultimately has the biggest effect on the end product.
Different kinds of clay can produce different colours of brick, whether that's an orange or red, a lighter yellow or an even lighter white or grey.
Different clay minerals can also react differently during firing, their composition changing how long they need to be fired for and what the atmosphere of the kiln should be like.
Colour isn't always affected by the clay however as this can also change during the firing process. For example, most blue bricks, such as the Staffordshire Blue, gain their colour from the high temperature they are fired at.
All these decisions are ultimately down to the manufacturer.
Manufacturers of brick, whether they are larger companies or smaller independents that specialise in handmade bricks, will make sure the clay they're using is top quality.
Before mining clay in the first place, the ground is tested for all the components of the soil found there.
One of the reasons brick is such a popular building material is that the clay used to make it is so abundant.
There are clay deposits all over the earth's surface and each one has its own unique properties producing the different colours we see in bricks.
Here's a bit of science/geology for you.
We won't go into too much detail because if you're anything like us, geology wasn't exactly our favourite subject at school (apologies to all the geologists out there).
Clay is different to other forms of soil in that it has a higher plasticity. This means when wet and fresh out of the ground it is quite mouldable.
This happens because the aluminium and silicon bonds in the minerals are connected by a film of water molecules. This allows these bonds to move around.
When bricks are fired, this water evaporates meaning the bonds fuse together directly, causing the rigidity that we know and love.
Within the most common kinds of clay, such as kaolinites and smectites, are often found small quantities of quartz, metal oxides and organic matter from millennia of formation. This all adds to the interesting composition of the clay.
Ok, science lesson over. The good news is, when you're picking your bricks, you don't really need to worry about the type of clay used.
Unless of course you are interested in where the clay has come from. This might be because you want your new build or self-build project to have its roots firmly in a particular area of the country.
That's a perfectly valid reason to want to know where the clay is from.
Fortunately, we might be able to help with that.
As a brick matching and brick selection provider, we can help you find the brick you're looking for.
We'll do the digging (not of the clay -- we'll leave that to the miners!) and get you some bricks with your origin of choice.
Just head here and get in touch.