Technical Note #36 Durable clay brick

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Clay bricks are ceramic products – they are fired in a kiln rather than just dried in the sun. Individual clay bricks are virtually indestructible once fired. A masonry wall is incombustible - it cannot conduct electricity or contribute to the spread of fires. Clay brick walls withstand saturation from flood water. 

Maximising the  inherent  long-term  durability  of brickwork in modern buildings requires an understanding of physical properties of the bricks and mortars, as well as the best bricklaying techniques.

The buildings degree of exposure to water, wind and weather influences what type of bricks and methods should be used. The Clay Brick Association of Southern Africa provides a wealth of knowledge of local masonry products and building methods on it’s website to supplement the experience of building contractors.  

Common enemies of any kind of interlocking masonry brickwork (including clay brick, cement brick and hollow block) are:

  • Fire
  • Water saturation (including rain and flooding)
  • Frost (exacerbated by water saturation)
  • Sea Salts and chemicals

This technical note looks at how contractors and property owners can maximise the inherent durability of clay brick through correct building design and bricklaying techniques.

Fire Resistance

  • SANS 10400-Part T
  • The difference between incombustible,ignition-resistant and fire resistant
  • Fire Resistance values for clay brick walls

Water Saturation

  • Frost exacerbated by saturation
  • Sulfate attack exacerbated by saturation
    • Vulnerable situations
    • Copings
    • Mortars
    • Mortar joints
    • Earth retaining walls
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