Why Use Clay Brick?
Clay bricks are highly regarded in the construction industry for their durability, strength, fire resistance, thermal performance, and acoustic insulation. They offer design flexibility, with a range of colours and textures, and contribute to sustainable building practices. Clay bricks are valued for their longevity, structural integrity, and ability to regulate indoor temperatures to aid in the homeowner reducing energy consumption. Additionally, their local availability and recyclability make them an environmentally friendly choice. Overall, the construction industry appreciates clay bricks for their reliability, aesthetic appeal, and contribution to safe, energy-efficient, and sustainable construction projects.
Brick today, brick tomorrow.
Clay Brick is one of the world’s oldest building materials, and the construction industry keeps on using it. Why? Because with 6000 years of improvement, brick manufacturing keeps developing. Its core benefits (non-combustibility, design versatility, thermal efficiency, strength, durability and more!) have remained the same for millennia, but advancements to modern production methods, equipment, materials and innovative technology have continued to highlight how sustainable clay brick production has evolved. Brick producers continue to be motivated in making the process more efficient and reduce emissions, continuously striving for a more sustainable product for tomorrow.
Clay brick production often incorporates the use of reclaimed or recycled materials, exemplifying the industry’s commitment to sustainability and resource conservation to embrace a circular economy. Recycled bricks can also be used to substitute secondary raw materials for the production of new bricks. All bricks have the ability to be recycled as graded aggregates for use in sub-bases, hard-core and for concrete. Other applications include crushing into granules for use with composites and into brick dust for use in lime mortars and in brick tinting.
A fired brick’s colour is influenced by the mineral and chemical content of the raw materials, the kiln atmosphere and what temperature at which the clay is fired at. As the vitrification continues, the porosity of the fired product becomes lower, the raw materials are glued together, and its final colour becomes apparent. Additional ceramic coatings can be added to facing bricks for further variations in appearance.
Textures also play a vital role from the creased appearance of a handmade to the smooth sand-faced extruded faces or dragwires, dimples, tumbled and so much more.
There are thousands of aesthetic choices for clay bricks across the UK. To order a swatchbook of over 100 blends from the Michelmersh Group click here.
Clay bricks exhibit remarkable resilience, as they remain undamaged even after prolonged submersion in water. Moreover, clay bricks possess the remarkable ability to restore its initial moisture content, shape, and appearance.
Embodied Carbon is the amount of carbon emitted during the creation of the building and its materials.
Operational Carbon is the amount of carbon emitted during the life of the building and maintaining those materials.
Whole-life cradle-to-cradle carbon should incorporate both embodied and operational (in-use) carbon in order to compare products like for like.
Clay Brick can last for hundreds of years and requires minimal if any maintenance, therefore it produces little to no emissions during its operational life and makes its overall lifecycle carbon impact extremely minimal.
Clay bricks have a typical lifecycle of over 150 years, and often last much longer. The oldest fired bricks were made 6000 years ago and many are still here today.
Qualities supporting their longevity include good versatility, durability and an ability to fulfil multiple uses. It is both adaptable and recyclable whislt also being reusable at the end of the building’s life.
The Environmental Audit Committee warns of 7,000 heat-related deaths a year in the UK by 2050 and also complains about “a lack of regulation to prevent overheating in buildings”, according to representatives from Modern Masonry.
As homes become more highly insulated, it becomes harder for unwanted heat to escape during the summer months, resulting in a greater risk of overheating, a problem exaggerated by our ever-warming climate.
Alongside adequate ventilation and shading, the thermal mass provided by masonry construction offers a simple means of tackling overheating.
Clay brick has high thermal mass. This inherent feature enables a brick clad dwelling to store heat and remain cooler for longer than lightweight structures, meeting the needs of climate change and keeping buildings cool in an energy-efficient environment.
The durability of brickwork is determined by its resistance to the effect of freeze/thaw cycles. Clay brick is a naturally durable material, and is able to take substantial abuse before a replacement is needed.
The most important stage of the firing process is called “vitrification” which refers to the transformation of the raw materials into brittle, non-crystalline glass – the qualities that give a brick its incredible strength and durability.
Clay bricks are inherently natural products that have the advantage of not emitting harmful substances, ensuring a positive impact on indoor air quality.
Clay bricks can last for centuries and therefore if carefully extracted during demolition phase, they should be re-used again and again to serve the life of multiple buildings and remain as a reusable asset for generations.
As with other masonry materials, clay brick provides excellent resilience to the impacts of climate change, which include an increased risk of flooding and hotter summers.
Brick can fulfil multiple uses from small extensions to full facade renovations or alterations to allow for internal configurations to change.
An important factor from a whole-life perspective is the ability to easily alter or extend brick constructions to meet users changing future needs, helping to ensure homes remain useful and extending their lifespan.
Clay brick is non-combustible and as a material doesn’t contribute to flammability, ignitability or the spread of flame. With clay brick, housebuilders, contractors, engineers, planners and specifiers can have confidence in the products’ safety credentials.
A report published by Exova Warrington Fire on 23rd August 2018, provides further expert confirmation of the products classification as “A1 non-combustible”, the best fire classification achievable by construction products.
There are thousands of brick blends made across the country with each plant’s bricks having an identity and aesthetic tailored to its local area. Clay is sourced from adjacent quarries, ensuring that the bricks’ colour and finish seamlessly harmonise with the natural and built landscapes of the surrounding area. Indeed, the use of local quarries is environmental as well as aesthetic and at Michelmersh 85% of its raw materials are sourced within 2.5km of its manufacturing plants.
Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC is excited to release SustainableBrick.com, a bold new initiative that aims to showcase the many benefits of clay brick to specifiers, construction professionals, homeowners and housebuilders.
The Michelmersh Groups’ dedication to decarbonisation is well known throughout the construction industry.
Michelmersh is pleased to announce that its team of HGV operators have completed a driver efficiency improvement programme and continues to show high standards with progressive results from the fleet’s drivers being scored daily.
Michelmersh has announced its successful bid to the BEIS, Industrial Fuel Switching competition to conduct a feasibility study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in the brick making process.
The Michelmersh Group is proud to release its 2021 Sustainability Report. The Report offers an insightful and detailed account of Michelmersh’s established sustainable practices and its plans for achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Michelmersh is proud to announce its sponsorship of the Sustainability Award at the RIBA Regional Awards 2021.
The Brickmakers Quality Charter (BQC) is a new quality mark credentialing scheme by the Brick Development Association to promote responsible sourcing of clay bricks and to provide the supply chain with assurances of high-quality product, manufacturing and ethical standards.
Since the beginning of 2021, Michelmersh made a firm commitment in reducing the use of stretch-hoods and shrink-wrapping plastic from its product offering, where non-essential for product protection, safe storage and transport.