July 28th 2021
Bricks are kind of old-fashioned right?
After all, is the future not made of aluminium, glass and 3D printed houses?
Well, we don't think so. At least we certainly hope houses don't start looking like that.
Obviously, we're a little biased. We want brick to remain a popular building material.
And change is inevitable. The way houses are being built is slowly changing.
The good news though, is that it still plays a pretty major role in construction.
In this article we look at the main reasons why, in the UK at least, bricks aren't going anywhere and why they're still the go to material for building houses and more.
Brick masonry is still the most common means of housebuilding in the UK but the building material market is slowly becoming a little more diverse.
Pre-manufactured solutions are increasingly used for larger buildings. These are becoming easier to manufacture and provide builders with a reduction in time and cost.
However, brick still features heavily, even if just for the aesthetic.
Brick has fallen out of favour at various points throughout the 20^th^ Century including during the large-scale building of prefab and pre-cast reinforced concrete housing, a lot of which is still around today even if it looks dated.
There was a slump again in 2008 due to the financial crash and a sharp decline in demand for housing. Architects on the cutting edge did briefly move away from brick as a building material.
However, since the early 2010's demand has been on the rise again in the UK. At the end of the day, you can't escape the sense of using brick.
There's a reason why brick has been the UK's building material of choice for so long.
Clay brick can withstand the broad shifts in temperature and weather we have here, are resistant to damp and also don't need much maintenance.
Not only that but they're never not in fashion and it certainly seems like they're having a heyday again. More on that below.
Yes, many housing developments use timber frames and concrete to create the load bearing structure of houses. But whatever the primary building method, brickwork will still make it into pretty much every home in the UK in one way or another.
Even if it's only one part of the external structure, us Brits love our brick.
Here's some reasons why it ain't going anywhere.
One of the reasons why builders continually return to brick is that it's just plain reliable.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster there has been an increased suspicion of many alternative building materials, particularly for large residential buildings and MDU's.
The infamous disaster in which an enormous residential block in London caught fire, leaving 71 people dead, was partly the fault of exterior cladding being unfit for purpose.
Panels on the exterior were made from aluminium composite material with a polyethylene core. This, along with insulation panels and PVC window frames meant the tower was engulfed in flames within 20 minutes.
Subsequent enquiries have questioned whether this highly combustible material even complied with building regulations. Even without that it certainly didn't help the popularity of alternative forms of cladding.
Bricks are non-combustible and fire spreads much slower in buildings made from brick and blocks. It's safe to say bricks are a much safer option and instil even more confidence in buyers.
For the time being lots of houses are being built in the UK.
Incentives such as stamp duty holidays always help but regardless, as long as there's people to house, there will be developers building houses.
There will always be a market for bricks because people want brick homes. As a facing material it's still the most popular option and will always be more in demand, due to the durability and aesthetic it provides.
As a result of recent growth in demand for the building material, large UK brick manufacturer Ibstock announced they were building a new £60 million factory on their site at Aldrige.
There aren't many better signs of an in-demand product than that!
Of course, one of the great things about brick in general is that there are so many different styles, textures and colours available.
A wide range of core materials are readily available and affordable from local merchants so it makes most sense to go with this. On the other hand, alternative materials are harder to come by and assuming they're any good are probably going to be more expensive.
There's another angle to this. One of the benefits of the shift away from complete brick masonry to brick veneers and even brick slip panels, is that you potentially have more control over the look and at a more affordable price.
Because you're not buying bricks for the load bearing aspect of the walls this reduces the number of bricks you need to buy by quite a lot.
You may be able to buy a more expensive brick or blend and still make a cost saving due to the reduced number.
This is good news for developers too as it reduces the overall cost of the build and they can sell more cheaply.
Arguably one of the biggest reasons why brick's not going anywhere is one of the oldest. It looks damn good.
The aesthetic qualities of brick are still hugely appealing to house buyers and self-builders alike.
But even away from the housing market, bricks are very much in fashion.
Look through many of the major architectural awards and prizes from RIBA in the UK and the Architecture prize and you'll see brick buildings popping up and being recognised not just in brick categories but in the main ones too.
The Dorothy Garrod building which we are featuring in our Brick Buildings We Love series is one such example of a building which used handmade brick in creative and practical ways and has been recognised for its achievement.
There really are so many ways you can use brick and there are some really exciting creative projects being built all the time. Just take a look.
Recently a high-rise residential building called Chesterfield house was built in Wembley, London, completely out of brick masonry. We're talking real hand laid brick. It's not even a façade.
Brick's back. In a big way.
If this reinvigorated your confidence in brick and inspired you to crack on with that brick building project you've been thinking about, we've done our job.
If you need to get your hands on some bricks, you're also in the right place.
No matter your project we can help. If you've got an existing structure, try our brick matching service. If you need a quote for a large number of bricks, head to our quotation service. Or if you just want to see what's out there, have a browse of our brick library.