Bricks are one of the oldest and most durable building materials, having been used for thousands of years in a wide variety of structures. From ancient palaces and temples to modern homes and commercial buildings, bricks have stood the test of time as a reliable and versatile construction material.
Understanding the different types of bricks, their dimensions, and the various bond patterns used in brickwork is essential for architects, builders, and engineers in designing and constructing structures that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
In this article, we will explore the different variations in brick dimensions and provide a comprehensive guide based on the most commonly produced sizes as provided by the Brick Industry Association.
Standard brick dimensions (dims):
The dimensions of standard bricks are denoted by their depth, height, and length, written as D x H x L, and vary depending on the country. These dimensions may be expressed in either imperial units, measured in inches, or metric units, measured in millimeters. To give you an idea of the differences, below are the specified dimensions of a standard brick:
|Country||Standard Brick Size in Inches (D x H x L)||Standard Brick Size in millimeters (D x H x L)|
|USA||3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 7 5/8||92 x 57 x 203|
|UK||4 x 2 1/2 x 8 1/2||102.5 x 65 x 215|
|Australia||3 x 4 1/3 x 9||110 x 76 x 230|
It is worth noting that brick sizes may differ across regions, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus solely on brick sizes used in the United States and UK. The sizes provided herein are industry standards for common bricks.
Understanding brick dimensions
Bricks can be molded into different sizes and shapes according to set standards, preference or applications. Different countries follow different standard brick sizes and measurements/dimensions.
Large bricks are difficult to burn and are heavy, making them cumbersome during use. When using large bricks in construction projects, masons find it hard to handle them with one hand. A lot of strength is therefore used up in heavy lifting at the expense of speedy work.
Conversely, if the bricks are too small, a lot of mortar is required, which is uneconomical. Usually, the standard dimension is set for various brickworks. The actual/specific size is the real measurement of an individual brick.
The normal size includes the actual size and the width of the mortar at the joint between consecutive bricks. This standardization serves to strike a balance between speed and economy through the individual brick size.
Most bricks are also made in such a way that the real sizes fit in a 4-inch grid. This obeys the modules of other materials and fittings like doors, windows, wardrobes among others.
Brick size nomenclature
Brick size nomenclature is the system used to describe the dimensions of bricks. It includes the below terms such as specified dimensions, actual dimensions, and nominal dimensions. These terms are used to differentiate between the different dimensions of a brick and to ensure that the final product meets the required specifications.
The nomenclature may vary depending on the region or country, and it is important to understand the system used in your area to ensure that you are using the correct dimensions for your project.
- Specified dimensions – Architects rely on specified brick dimensions when designing walls. These dimensions represent the anticipated manufactured size of a brick, without taking into account the thickness of the mortar joint. Architects will typically include the specified size in their drawings and specifications. In non-modular construction, the specified size is the only size used, as seen in the tables below. However, non-modular construction is less common as it can be more difficult to work with and require more precise measurements. It is important to note that using the specified size is crucial to ensure that the final product meets the required specifications and is structurally sound.
- Actual dimensions – Once a brick is manufactured, its final measurements are known as the actual brick dimensions. These dimensions are typically within certain tolerances of the specified size, which are defined in ASTM C216 (Standard Specification for Facing Brick) and ASTM C652 (Standard Specification for Hollow Brick). The tolerances can vary depending on the type and size of the brick, but they are usually minimal and should not significantly impact the architectural design. If you are interested in learning more about tolerances in brick manufacturing, you can refer to the Brick Industry Association Technical Notes 9A for further information. It is important to note that understanding tolerances is critical to ensure that the final product meets the required specifications and is structurally sound.
- Nominal dimensions – Nominal brick dimensions are typically used in modular construction and represent the specified size of the brick plus the width of the mortar joint. This type of dimensioning is commonly used with modular bricks, which are designed to fit within a standard grid of 4 inches. This grid size is often used to coordinate with other building materials such as doors, windows, and wood components, making it easier to ensure a uniform and structurally sound final product.
Understanding these different types of dimensions is crucial when working with bricks, as it ensures that the final product meets the required specifications and is structurally sound.
Brick dimensions: modular and non-modular
Modular bricks are designed to have nominal dimensions that are round numbers or add up to round numbers when grouped, making them easy to slot together in construction or renovation projects. These bricks have specified, actual, and nominal dimensions, allowing for precise measurement and uniformity in construction.
Non-modular bricks, on the other hand, lack nominal dimensions and have only specified and actual dimensions. They are typically used in unconventional builds that may require odd sizes, as they do not fit easily into conventional patterns or structures such as those around windows or doors.
While non-modular bricks can be cheaper than modular bricks, as larger bricks tend to be less expensive, they may not have the same structural capabilities and may require additional reinforcement. Special sizes can also increase costs. Additionally, heavier bricks can be more challenging to work with from a labor standpoint, as they can be difficult to hold with one hand while building.
Regardless of whether you choose modular or non-modular bricks, it is important to understand the differences in dimensions and their implications for your construction project.
Modular brick dimensions chart (US)
|Brick Type||Mortar Joint Thickness (inches)||Specified Dimensions (D x H x L)||Nominal Dimensions (D x H x L)|
|Modular||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 7 5/8||4 x 2 2/3 x 8|
|Closure Modular||3/8”||3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 7 5/8||4 x 4 x 8|
|Closure Modular||1/2”||3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 7 1/2||4 x 4 x 8|
|Engineer Modular||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2-13/16 x 7 5/8||4 x 3 1/5 x 8|
|Engineer Modular||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 7 1/2||4 x 3 1/5 x 8|
|Jumbo||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2 3/4 x 8||4 x 3 x 8|
|Jumbo||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 8||4 x 3 x 8|
|Roman||3/8”||3 5/8 x 1 5/8 x 11 5/8||4 x 2 x 12|
|Roman||1/2”||3 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 11 1/2||4 x 2 x 12|
|Norman||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 11 5/8||4 x 2 2/3 x 12|
|Norman||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 11 1/2||4 x 2 2/3 x 12|
|Engineer Norman||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2-13/16 x 11 5/8||4 x 3 1/5 x 12|
|Engineer Norman||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 11 1/2||4 x 3 1/5 x 12|
|Utility||3/8”||3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 11 5/8||4 x 4 x 12|
|Utility||1/2”||3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 11 5/8||4 x 4 x 12|
|Meridian||3/8”||3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 15 5/8||4 x 4 x 16|
|Double Meridian||3/8”||3 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 15 5/8||4 x 4 x 16|
|Double Meridian||1/2”||3 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 15 1/2||4 x 8 x 16|
Non-modular brick dimensions chart (US)
|Brick Type||Mortar Joint Thickness (inches)||Specified Dimensions (D x H x L)|
|King||3/8”||2 3/4 x 2 5/8 x 9 5/8|
|King||1/2”||3 x 2 3/4 x 9 3/4|
|Queen||3/8”||2 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 7 5/8|
|Queen||1/2”||3 x 2 3/4 x 8|
|Standard||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 8|
|Standard||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 8|
|Engineer Standard||3/8”||3 5/8 x 2 13/16 x 8|
|Engineer Standard||1/2”||3 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 8|
|Closure Standard||3/8”||3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 8|
|Closure Standard||1/2”||3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 8|
Note: All brick dimensions are in inches. The nominal dimensions are calculated by adding the specified dimensions and the expected thickness of the mortar joint. The specified dimensions are the anticipated dimensions of the brick itself, without taking the mortar joint size into account.
The actual dimensions of bricks within a given type may vary slightly from the specified dimensions, but they will fall within specified tolerances as per ASTM standards.
Modular brick dimensions chart (UK)
There are a variety of brick sizes in the UK in accordance with the standards in use. The brick sizes have remained constant for quite a while. The standard brick dimension in the UK is 215 mm in length, 102.5 mm width and 65 mm height. The overall ratio for a standard brick is therefore 3:2:1.
Looking at the construction of a stretcher bond, the standard dimensions considering a standard mortar joint of 10mm, the stretcher bond’s dimensions will be 225 mm long and 75 mm high.
If the bricks are laid across each other, two widths (of 102.5 mm), and two mortar joints result to the same repeating unit which is same to the standard length of a brick, ie, 120 mm.
When the bricks are laid lengthways, 3 65 mm heights’ and 3 mortar joints result to the same repeating unit like the length of a single brick, ie 120 mm.
|Brick Type||Specified Dimensions (D x H x L)|
|Modular||92mm x 57mm x 194mm|
|Modular Frogged||92mm x 57mm x 194mm|
|Modular Unfrogged||92mm x 57mm x 194mm|
|Modular Handmade||92mm x 57mm x 194mm|
|Standard Unfrogged||92mm x 57mm x 203mm|
|Standard||92mm x 57mm x 203mm|
|Roman||92mm x 41mm x 295mm|
|Queen||76mm x 70mm x 194mm|
|Engineer Modular||92mm x 70mm x 194mm|
|Engineer Modular Frogged||92mm x 70mm x 194mm|
|Engineer Standard Frogged||92mm x 70mm x 203mm|
|Engineer Standard||92mm x 70mm x 203mm|
|Handmade Oversize||102mm x 70mm x 216mm|
|Builders’ Special*||76mm x 71mm x 219mm|
|King Narrow-Bed||79mm x 70mm x 244mm|
|King||92mm x 70mm x 244mm|
|Norman||92mm x 57mm x 295mm|
|Engineer King||71mm x 71mm x 244mm|
|Econo||92mm x 92mm x 194mm|
|Kingston||92mm x 70mm x 295mm|
|Saxon||92mm x 57mm x 397mm|
|Utility||92mm x 92mm x 295mm|
|Regent*||194mm x 92mm x 295mm|
|Roman Maximus||92mm x 41mm x 600mm|
|8-Square||92mm x 194mm x 194mm|
|Titan||92mm x 92mm x 397mm|
|Titan Plus*||194mm x 92mm x 397mm|
|Double Utility||92mm x 194mm x 295mm|
|Double Titan||92mm x 194mm x 397mm|
|Double Titan Plus*||194mm x 184mm x 397mm|
Note: All brick dimensions are in millimeters. The specified dimensions are the anticipated dimensions of the brick itself, without taking the mortar joint size into account. The actual dimensions of bricks within a given type may vary slightly from the specified dimensions, but they will fall within specified tolerance standards.
What is a brick?
Bricks are building materials that are used to form various parts of a building structure. Although they are mainly used to build walls, they can also be used in the construction of other building elements such as foundation, floors and even roofs. See El Cortijo House by Felipe Assadi Arquitectos for an example.
A brief history
Bricks have been in use for millennia. The earliest record of bricks being used in building construction is from around 7,000 BC, where the bricks used were hand-molded from mud then dried in the sun.
The industrial revolution marked the mass production of bricks, making it a very popular building material, even replacing the stone.
This happened for two main reasons: bricks had become much cheaper than stone, and stone had already gained a reputation for being a notoriously difficult and unpredictable material to work with.
Over time, bricks have remained popular in the construction industry. Their constant use has paved the way for more sophisticated building features such as columns, fireplaces, arches, chimneys, among other structural designs.
This is largely due to their ease of use and the fact that they allow the designer to be more flexible and creative in designing uses for them. Bricks are also extremely strong, durable and have cheap maintenance costs. They can also be easily manipulated into interesting and complex structures.
In the recent past, with increased innovations in building technologies, other building material solutions have been developed, most of which make arguably better building alternatives.
It has often been argued that compared to these new alternatives, bricks have become time-consuming, structurally limiting, expensive and take up too much storage space and labor on-site.
However, bricks have also kept up with changing times. If you do not want to use a traditional brick, you could always opt for pre-fabricated brick panels, or newer slimmer profiled bricks, such as Petersen Bricks Kolumba brick.
How are bricks made?
Today, bricks are made from a number of materials like clay, concrete and calcium silicate. Of these, clay is the oldest material, having being used as the primary component in brick making for thousands of years. There are several ways through which bricks can be manufactured.
There are the soft mud and dry press brick manufacture processes, which both start with curing the clay that will be used in the process.
As the name soft mud suggests, the bricks are made out of a thin mix of mud. On the other hand, dry press bricks use a thicker mud mix that results in a crisper definition. The greater the force applied in pressing the brick in the mold, the stronger the brick becomes.
Firing the bricks for a long time also makes them stronger.
There are also extruded bricks which are made through pushing the brick mixture through a die. This creates an extrusion, which is cut with a wire producing bricks according to the desired length.
Bricks can also either be compact solid or be perforated to reduce the amount of filler material used. They could also have indentations on their surfaces (either on one side or both), this feature is called a frog. The frog is filled with mortar during construction when they are laid.
The manufacturing techniques could also be used to categorize bricks. Here we have two categories of bricks: machine-made bricks and handmade bricks.
Machine made bricks – If you want a cleaner and smoother finish on your bricks, this is the best option. These bricks have more uniform shapes and are also cheaper compared to their handmade counterparts.
Handmade bricks – These bricks are more expensive because they have a rougher texture, an attractive creased face, and they also account for the physical effort put in while processing the brick. The bricks could also come in a range of sizes and colors.
Special bricks – The following are some of the special bricks that are made for particular circumstances.
- Radial, arch or tapered bricks.
- Angle bricks which form returns and chamfers
- Capping and copping bricks
- Plinth bricks 5. Sill bricks
- Bullnose bricks
- Soldier bricks- they form returns to soldier courses
- Brick slips used for cladding
There are also Engineering Bricks, which have high strength, good acid resistance, and low water absorption. These are used in civil engineering applications. Bricks can be cut to size to suit the function they are being applied for in the project.
Elements to consider when selecting a brick dimension
Below we discuss various mortar joint types used in the US and UK, as well as different brick orientations, bonds commonly used, and a brief overview of the types and grades of bricks together their usage applications, to aid architects and engineers in selecting the appropriate brick for their projects.
When it comes to aesthetics, the size of the mortar joint is typically not a major concern as it’s difficult to differentiate between joints that are 3/8″ (10mm) and 1/2″ wide. However, the joint size is a critical aspect when it comes to detailing and selecting the mortar size usually happens after the brick has been chosen and the manufacturer has provided the specified dimensions.
That said, 3/8″ (10mm) is the most commonly used mortar joint width in construction, as per the International Building Codes reference TMS 602 Specification for Masonry Structures.
It’s important for architects and engineers to always confirm the specified size of the selected brick. The vertical coursing dimensions of both 3/8″ and 1/2″ mortar joints are the same as the bricks are laid with varying mortar bed thicknesses to provide the common coursing dimensions listed.
In the context of depth and length dimensions, we call out the dimensions of the mortar joint.
Mortar joints are a vital aspect of brickwork, and their finishing can greatly affect both the aesthetic appeal and the functionality of a structure. The primary goal of finishing joints is to redirect rainwater away from the joint and prevent water ingress, but the design also plays a significant role in the overall visual appearance of the building.
There are several types of mortar joints commonly used, in the US these include:
- Concave Joint: This type of joint has a curved profile, with the mortar being recessed slightly from the face of the brick. It is a popular choice for historic buildings, as it creates a classic and traditional look.
- V-Joint: The V-Joint has a triangular shape, with the mortar being cut at an angle to create a V-shape. It is a versatile option that can be used for both modern and traditional buildings.
- Flush Joint: Flush joints have a smooth, flat finish with the mortar being level with the face of the brick. They are a popular choice for contemporary and modern designs.
- Grapevine Joint: Grapevine joints have an irregular shape, with the mortar being applied unevenly to create a natural, rustic look. They are often used for more informal structures, such as garden walls.
- Beaded Joint: Beaded joints have a rounded profile, with the mortar being pushed through a small tube to create a bead-like effect. This type of joint is often used in combination with other joint types to create decorative effects.
- Struck Joint: A struck joint has a slightly recessed profile, with the mortar being pressed back from the face of the brick using a special tool. It is a popular choice for commercial and industrial buildings.
…and in the UK:
- Raked Joint: This type of joint has a shallow triangular profile, with the mortar being raked back from the face of the brick. It is a popular choice for contemporary designs, giving a crisp and clean appearance.
- Weathered Struck Joint: This type of joint has a sloping profile, with the mortar being angled away from the face of the brick to deflect water. It is a popular choice for traditional and heritage buildings, as it has a classic appearance.
- Flush Joint: Flush joints have a smooth, flat finish with the mortar being level with the face of the brick. They are a popular choice for modern and minimalist designs.
- Bucket Handle Joint: Bucket handle joints have a curved profile, with the mortar being recessed slightly from the face of the brick. They are a popular choice for contemporary designs, as they add a subtle visual interest.
- Recessed Joint: This type of joint has a deep rectangular profile, with the mortar being recessed from the face of the brick. It is a popular choice for traditional and heritage buildings, as it has a classic appearance.
- Tuck Pointing: Tuck pointing involves applying a thin layer of colored mortar to the joint, with a second layer of white or light-colored mortar being applied to the top to create the illusion of a thinner joint. It is a popular choice for creating a more intricate, decorative appearance.
In addition to their functional and visual properties, mortar joints also contribute to the structural integrity of a building. The thickness and depth of the joints must be carefully considered to ensure they can withstand the stresses and strains of the building’s weight and environmental factors.
There are various ways to lay bricks with different surfaces exposed to the exterior. Although common terms like vertical, horizontal, sideways, or lying flat are used, they do not convey the complete position and attitude of the brick.
To more accurately describe how bricks are laid in walls and other structures, specific terms have been created.
- A header refers to a brick laid flat with its short side facing towards you.
- A rowlock is when the short side faces you, but the brick is turned on its side to be taller.
- A stretcher is a brick laid flat with its long side facing towards you.
- A shiner is the same as a stretcher but with the brick taller as it rests on its narrower edge.
- A soldier is a brick standing on its end with the narrow side facing towards you
- A sailor is a brick standing on its end with the wider side facing towards you.
A course refers to a horizontal layer of brick, and when a row of bricks is laid in a wall, it is called a course. In a stretcher course, all the bricks are flat and parallel to the wall, while in a header course, all the bricks are flat and perpendicular to the wall.
As a result, it will take more bricks laid side-by-side in a header course to complete the same wall width than if they were laid side-by-side in a stretcher course, creating a thicker wall.
Brickwork utilizes bond patterns for various purposes, and building faces often feature the following bonds:
- Common Bond: A series of stretcher courses with a header course every fifth, sixth, or seventh course, similar to the running bond.
- English Bond: Alternating rows of header and stretcher courses, creating a thick and sturdy wall even with just one brick thickness.
- Flemish Bond: Alternating stretchers and headers in each row, providing a slightly more symmetrical look than the English bond but slightly less sturdy.
- Stack Bond: All courses consist of stretchers, with each brick directly placed on top of the one below it, creating a symmetrical aesthetic but with little structural value, often used as a veneer.
- Header Bond: All courses are headers, and overlap occurs at the half-width of the bricks, often used for thick brick walls.
- Stretcher Bond: A bond comprising only stretchers, which creates less wasted material as bricks do not need to be cut to size. Sometimes called a running bond.
- American common bond: is similar to English bond but has only one course of headers in every 6 stretcher courses.
- English cross bond: has alternating courses of headers and stretchers. The alternating stretcher course is offset by half a brick.
- Sussex bond-it: has three stretchers and one course of headers.
- Garden wall box: has one course of headers against three courses of stretchers.
Other brick bonds may be used in non-load-bearing situations, such as veneers and road paving. Examples include the Basket Weave Bond, Herringbone Bond, and Pinwheel Bond.
When selecting bricks for a project, architects consider various factors such as the application, load capacity, durability (as defined by Grades), and appearance. To aid in this selection process, the table below provides information on the main types of bricks, and their typical usage applications.
|Brick Type||Usage / Application|
|Building Brick||Used for structural and non-structural purposes where appearance is not a major consideration|
|Facing Brick||Used for structural and non-structural purposes where appearance is an important factor|
|Hollow Brick||Used as building or facing brick in combination with anchors or reinforcement|
|Thin Veneer Brick||Used for direct application as a veneer|
|Pedestrian Paving Brick||Used for paving areas with pedestrian or very light vehicular traffic|
|Heavy Vehicular Paving Brick||Used for paving areas with standard or heavy vehicular traffic|
|Ceramic Glazed Brick||Used for standard glazed brick applications|
|Single Fired Glazed Brick||Used for glazed brick where the glaze is fused during firing of the main brick body|
|Firebox Brick||Used for residential fireplaces|
|Chemical-Resistant Brick||Used for brick exposed to chemicals and acids|
|Sewer and Manhole Brick||Used for structures that convey sewage, storm water, and industrial waste|
|Industrial Floor Brick||Used for surfacing industrial floors|
The durability of a brick in the face of moisture and freezing is indicated by its grade. This grade is determined by three factors: compressive strength, water absorption, and saturation coefficient.
Bricks with a Severe Weathering grade are the most durable and can be used in applications where they will be exposed to freeze-thaw cycles when wet or in contact with the ground. The majority of manufacturers produce bricks that adhere to Severe Weathering standards.
Moderate Weathering grade bricks are suitable for use in areas where they will not be exposed to freeze-thaw cycles when wet. They have a slightly lower compressive strength than Severe Weathering grade bricks.
Negligible Weathering grade bricks can be used in indoor applications where they will never be exposed to cold or damp conditions.
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FAQ’s about brick dimensions
What is the standard size of a brick?
The standard size of a brick varies depending on the country and region. In the United States, the standard brick size is 2 1/4″ x 3 5/8″ x 8″, while in the United Kingdom, the standard size is 102.5mm x 65mm x 215mm ( 2 1/4″ x 3 3/4″ x 8 1/2″). However, there are many variations and sizes of bricks available for different applications and designs. It is important to confirm the specified size of the selected brick for a particular project.
What is brick dimension and volume?
The dimensions and volume of a brick can vary depending on the type and size of the brick. Generally, the standard brick size is 3 5/8 inches (9.21 cm) in height, 2 1/4 inches (5.72 cm) in depth or width, and 7 5/8 inches (19.37 cm) in length.
However, there are also other sizes available such as modular bricks which are slightly larger at 3 5/8 inches (9.21 cm) in height, 2 1/4 inches (5.72 cm) in depth or width, and 7 5/8 inches (19.37 cm) in length plus a 3/8-inch (9.52 mm) mortar joint. The volume of a standard brick is around 0.015 cubic meters or 0.53 cubic feet.