The Ultimate A-Z of Bricks Part 1

July 14th 2021

The Ultimate A-Z of Bricks (Part 1)

Brick lovers and DIY enthusiasts one and all, gather round.

Do you know your Frogs from your Soldiers? Your Withes from your Courses? Some of you probably do.

But in case you need a pointer (not a tuck-pointer) or just want to see what the biggest terms in brick are, you might enjoy this.

This isn't a full glossary of brick terminology. Instead, we thought it would be fun to pick one brick related term for each letter of the alphabet.

Some letters were easier than others, that's for sure. But we've managed to find a unique term for pretty much every one. Of course we've included some also rans for each letter too.

Have a read and let us know what else we should have put.

And make sure to look out for part 2 when we finish the list!

First up....

A

Arch

A popular way of using bricks creatively is to build an arch. This could be a standalone feature on a garden wall or gate or they may look better incorporated into the brickwork above a window or door.

There are different ways of making a brick arch but one of the easiest is by getting Special Arch Bricks and laying them as soldiers (that is upright with the long narrow side facing you). These bricks are wider at the top than the bottom so they can create the arch shape when bonded.

Also: Admixtures, Absorption

B

Buff

In the brick world, Buff is a colour of brick.

A popular colour category that includes various shades of yellow, white and brown. They are created from a certain kind of clay and can often have streaks or specks of darker colours from the original soil, that show up more against the lighter tone.

Particularly popular in areas with a warmer climate and commonly seen in London townhouses.

Also: Bond, Bed Joint, Buttering

C

Clay

This one was perhaps a little obvious. We owe the creation of bricks to this natural substance.

Clay, which is one of the most prevalent soils on the earth's surface has been the basis of bricks for millennia and is still used today in brick factories around the world.

The type of clay used has a big part to play in a brick's colour and sometimes other qualities like strength and density.

Also: Cut, Course

D

Damp Proof Course (DPC)

A course is a continuous layer of bonded units in masonry. A DPC is a particularly important type of course as its purpose is to prevent rising damp from entering the wall and causing damage and structural faults.

A layer of impervious material is incorporated into the wall to prevent damp from getting in. A damp proof course can also be retroactively incorporated into a wall through a number of methods.

Also: Dog's tooth

E

Efflorescence

Something you don't particularly want to see but something to be aware of. This is a stain or residual powder that can appear on the surface of brickwork as a result of salts in the brick or mortar migrating to the surface.

This usually happens when damp has got into the brickwork. It can look a mess and usually indicates poorly constructed masonry. It's important when building walls to make sure the bricks are stored well prior to construction and that the wall is built in such a way that water is less likely to get in.

Also: Engineering bricks

F

Frog

We mentioned it above partly because it's one of the funnier brick terms.

A frog is actually an imprint or crevice in the bed surface (usually the top) of a brick. It's usually there to provide ample surface area for buttering the brick with mortar but it also often includes the stamp of the brick manufacturer.

Not all bricks have them and less so these days but they make a fun added feature.

Also: Fire Bricks, Forterra, Facing Brick

G

Gable

The triangle part of the end wall of the building. Here you'll often find a variety of brick shapes and possibly some specials as the shape of the wall requires a bit more creativity.

Also: Grout

H

Header

This is the name for bricks in masonry that are lying with just the width of the brick exposed. That is the smaller bit of the brick shown. 

They're usually incorporated into multi-layered brickwork along with stretchers (where the length is exposed) to create different kinds of bonds with different aesthetic and strength properties.

Also: Hollow, Herringbone

I

Ibstock

One of the biggest manufacturers of brick in the UK and the world, along with companies like Weinerberger and Forterra.

As well as being one of the largest, they're also one of the oldest brick manufacturers in the country with their origins tracing back to the 1820s. The name comes from the town of Ibstock in Lancashire where they are still based today, except they now have 22 locations all across the country where they make a lot of bricks each year.

J

Jumbo Brick

Ok, J was a difficult one so we've gone with Jumbo brick, which I'm sure you can imagine, is just a bigger brick!

You can have bricks that are 'jumbo' in different ways; length, width and more. They're generally used for partitions.

K

Kiln

Although they look different to how they used to, Kilns are still an essential part of the brick making process.

A kiln is simply an oven or furnace used for firing brick, making the clay hard and, depending on the length of the firing, imbuing the brick with certain properties.

Also: King Closer

L

Lime

Not a fruit in this case, Lime is usually added to mortar to provide a number of benefits both in application and when hardened as part of the brickwork.

These include improved workability and water retention when applying the mortar and improving frost resistance and reducing the potential for efflorescence when hardened.

Also: Laying

M

Mortar

The stuff that holds it all together.

Without mortar you wouldn't get brick walls, although the amounts of mortar required can vary.

Typically, it's a mix of cement, fine aggregate, water and other admixtures such as Lime.

Also: Masonry

N-Z

Eager to see the rest of the list?

Click here to join us for the latter half of the alphabet - We'll be looking at Tuckpointing, Plinths and more.

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