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Brick Walls and Their Limitations

Written by GJ Stott

History of Brick Walls

Brick walls have been in use for several thousands of years; India and other near eastern countries first started building brick walls about 5000 years ago. The ideas behind the way brick walls and bricks are made have changed little over the years. Even the size of bricks has stayed relatively unchanged.

Brick Size

In order to build stable, strong brick walls, the bricks needed to be geometric duplicates. Standard brick size can be traced back to ancient American civilizations that standardized their bricks to a 4:2:1 ratio. Furthermore, the Romans were the first to use mortar as part of their standardized brick placement and later brought that knowledge to most of what is present day Europe. Today, most brick walls are constructed with bricks that are a standard 8 by 4 by 2.25 ratio.

Methods of Manufacture

Bricks designed for the construction of brick walls can also be referred to as compressed earth blocks, or CEBs. As the name implies, bricks are made by compressing a type of earth such as shale or clay. The actual shape of the brick can be produced in two different ways: the soft method and the stiff mud process.

The soft method is when the clay is compressed into a form. The other way of shaping brick is the stiff mud process, where the earth is pushed through the form and then cut to the desired size. Either way, the brick needs to be powerfully compressed. The more a brick is compressed, the more it adds to the durability of the final brick wall. A brick that has been highly compressed will absorb less water and can be used in outdoor applications where the brick wall is exposed to rain and other weather conditions.

Brick walls are made from compressed earth (see History of Brick Walls below) and, therefore, are susceptible to water absorption. When bricks absorb water, they deteriorate more quickly than other materials that do not absorb as much water, such as block walls or precast concrete fencing. Additionally, building brick walls can be very time consuming and expensive because each brick must be mortared and placed by hand.

Brick walls have long been traditionally used in areas of both residence and industry. While they can be quite beautiful, there are some destructive disadvantages associated with brick walls. For state-of-the-art alternatives, visit our precast fencing products page.

The Precast Advantage

Precast concrete fences provide a great alternative to brick walls, especially for outdoor use where they are exposed to climate conditions.

Precast concrete fences provide a great alternative to brick walls, especially for outdoor use where they are exposed to climate conditions. (See our brick wall images) Unlike brick walls, precast concrete fences absorb very little water, maintaining their structural integrity and lasting much longer than brick. Additionally, concrete walls are much stronger than brick walls, adding to their long-lasting durability(for example, our concrete hurricane walls).

AFTEC has made concrete fence style brick walls more affordable than masonry brick due to its patented Combo-Cast™ technology. Combo-Cast™ technology allows the concrete column and the wall panel to be cast and installed as one integral unit, reducing the amount of time and labor necessary to install the walls.

Visit our precast concrete wall products page to learn more about this new technology, or contact us directly to find a local licensee. We are also looking for qualified concrete wall manufacturers to become licensees and use our concrete wall manufacturing system.