Choosing brick is a major consideration for a house. It must fit with the style and décor because brick is a durable building material and once installed will last for a long time. All brick is made of clay, fired or baked into sturdy building blocks, but there are many options in color, size and texture. Finding the right brick for a house is mainly a matter of design, matching the brick to the type of house and the personal preference of the owner or builder.
Modern bricks are graded for exterior use. SW is the top grade, made to withstand below-freezing temperatures in a moist climate, such as much of the northern United States. MW is a second exterior grade, made to withstand freezing temperatures but in a drier and milder climate, like most of the southern United States.
A third brick grade, NW, is primarily for indoor use, although it can be used outdoors as “backup” brick, laid behind a layer or facing of more durable brick. NW may be used as facing brick outdoors in warmer and drier regions, such as locales that rarely get freezes or where rainfall is less than 15 inches a year.
Antique or Used
Another type frequently used on exteriors is antique or used brick, reclaimed from old buildings that have been torn down and cleaned of mortar. This style does not have modern exterior ratings, but usually is presumed to be acceptable if it lasted outdoors for 50 or more years. Used brick usually has less sharp edges than new brick and a more textured surface.
Most homebuilding brick today is façade or facing brick. Common brick, as the name suggests, is the most common form, typically red brick. Brick colors can vary, however, from almost black to almost white, through a range of browns, reds and yellows. The color depends on the clay and other components used to make the brick. Colors also can be intermixed for more variety.
Standard exterior or face bricks have smooth surfaces, but there are many variations. Some bricks are finished on one side with “struck” faces, inscribed with irregular lines. Others are “sand struck,” molded against sand to produce a rough texture. Another style is “glazed,” with a ceramic layer on one side.
Most bricks are solid rectangles, but “structural” or building bricks are made with two or three holes in the wide face. This reduces the weight of a brick wall without any loss of structural support. The holes also create a larger mortar connection and can be used in some situations for reinforcing with steel bars. Exterior structural bricks are most commonly used on freestanding walls and not as facing on a house.
Standard or common bricks are nominally 2 by 4 by 8 inches, but specific dimensions will vary by manufacturer and the allowance for 3/8- or 1/2-inch mortar joints. Other sizes include king, which is thicker and longer; Roman, which is thinner and longer; and economy, which is square and longer. It’s best to look at samples and measure the actual sizes before making a selection.Article From(homeguides.sfgate.com By Bob Haring)