How Are Bricks Made?
The ordinary bricks a bricklayer uses to construct a brick building are made from clay that is baked in an oven. The clay is mixed with sand and water. This “mud” is formed into a long ribbon, and then cut into brick sizes. The bricks are then fired (baked) in an oven called a kiln. The bricks are very hard when they leave the kiln.
Because brick making is practiced worldwide in so many cultures, current manufacturing technology ranges from traditional hand methods, virtually unchanged from the days of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, to modern automated mass-production techniques that produce millions of bricks each week.
Regardless of the technology employed, however, the basics of brick making are the same: to obtain and prepare clay, mix it with other substances as needed, form and dry the new bricks, burn them in a kiln, and cool them off.
In bricklaying, the bricks are arranged so that they overlap each other. This adds strength to the wall. A special kind of cement, called mortar, is used to bind the bricks together. Bricklayers usually dampen bricks before laying them.
The use of brickwork has declined in some areas due to concerns with earthquakes. Earthquakes such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the 1933 Long Beach earthquake revealed the weaknesses of unreinforced brick masonry in earthquake-prone areas. During seismic events, the mortar cracks and crumbles, and the bricks are no longer held together.