October 15th 2021
Someone typing 'Roman bricks' into Google, could be after two different things.
Bricks manufactured and used extensively in the ancient Roman Empire or more likely the modern reincarnation of this ancient style, which is still used in buildings today.
Either way it typically refers to a longer, thinner brick than those used in most constructions, providing a unique aesthetic.
In this article we'll look at the history of this style of brick and how and why you might use it today.
Roman bricks as we know them today do bear a resemblance to those used by the Romans.
Indeed, early Roman bricks are some of the earliest known examples of mass-produced brick in the world.
Developing from early sundried mud bricks, they would later be made in greater number, using kilns. The Romans ability to produce bricks at scale led to an increase in public building projects and a proliferation of roman brick buildings across their once vast Empire.
This was enabled by mobile kilns which would be transported by roman legions as they roamed Europe. Individual bricks would be stamped with the mark of the legion that supervised the production of those bricks.
As such these bricks act as geographical and historical records of the Empire across Europe and beyond.
The Romans were ahead of their time (as with a few things) and after the fall of the Empire brick production in Europe would drop off massively. Their bricks would be reused however in other buildings during the Medieval period.
The modern Roman brick started popping up at the beginning of the 20^th^ century as a distinctive alternative to the standard modern brick.
Their dimensions have never been universally fixed as is the case with standard bricks, whether using the imperial or metric standard, but they have still been distinguished by greater length and shallower depth.
Today, many manufacturers offer these bricks in a range of heights, lengths, and widths.
Roman bricks were particularly popular during the post war housing boom in America in the 50s and 60s. The use of Roman bricks can be found in long ranch houses and prairie style homes, popularised by Frank Lloyd Wright.
You can still see this style quite prominently in some areas of America. It was also popularly used in house features such as fireplaces.
As we mentioned above, Roman bricks can come in a variety of sizes but typically they might be somewhere in the region of 400mm long, 100mm wide and 40mm high.
That's compared to standard bricks in the UK which are 215mm long, 102mm wide and 65mm high.
It's possible to get Roman bricks that are as long as others but maybe with an increased height. You can also get huge variety in colours and textures, providing a range of potential looks.
A lot of bricks are handmade to give them that rustic and nostalgic look and an attractive texture. However, this isn't guaranteed.
You may also see this type of brick being called a long format brick.
This is more of a grouping that includes other longer bricks, but specific Roman Bricks will still be categorised as such.
Within this category you may also find what are known as Megaline bricks by a lot of manufacturers.
These have a similar size to Roman bricks but are usually made by extrusion to give a more precise shape and therefore a cleaner, crisper and more modern finish. This will generally create a cleaner, more urban aesthetic when used in brickwork.
So, why use these today when it would be easier (and cheaper) to just use standard bricks?
Well, if you're after a unique design and want to make a statement with your build, what better way to do that than with a unique brick style?
When a nice colour and texture is coupled with a decent choice of mortar, Roman brickwork can look exceptional.
Indeed, with the recent resurgence of brick as a stylistic building material, more architects are looking for fresh ways to use brick. Roman bricks provide a way of doing that, giving a building an old fashioned, vintage look but with a distinctive style.
If you're not ready to build an entire building out of them just yet, you can use them for smaller features such as a fireplace, as mentioned above, or perhaps just parts of the brick façade, to give it a little flourish.
What Roman bricks do best is accentuate the horizontal and linear aspects of the architecture so if you're keen to do this, they are ideal.
If we've convinced or inspired you to try Roman brick, you're probably wondering where you can get your hands on some.
Well, the good news is you can get them on our site. Just head over to our brick library.
The only downside is they're not always in production, particularly if there is a material shortage. As they're not as popular or as essential to the brick supply chain, it's always possible that production of Roman bricks will have halted.
That said, our site is always a good place to check, and we'd be happy to point you in the right direction if you're looking for them.