Standard Brick Sizes

A guide to standard brick sizes and bonds​

Knowing standard brick sizes becomes a crucial skill for architects and builders when designing. Bricks have been used as a building material in construction from ancient times. They signify strength and durability through their load bearing abilities.

Typically bricks were made from clay due to the availability and versatility of this material during earlier times. The clay was moulded into desired shapes and then either sun-dried or fired in kilns at high temperatures in order to harden them and enhance their properties.

Due to advancements in technology, we now have bricks made from other materials like concrete and glass.

When it comes to standard brick sizes, there are quite a few more variations than you may have initially thought. Not only do standard brick sizes vary from country to country, we also have different ways of building with bricks, special bricks, different brick bonds, different mortar options, and different ways of determining brick dimensions. We will take a closer look at all of these factors in the following post.

Scroll to the end to download this article as a handy PDF guide!

Brick Terminology

Before diving into the specifics of brick sizes, let us have a quick look at some key terminology:
Brick Terminology 1

BED: The top and bottom faces of a brick.

HEADER: The shorter faces of a brick.

STRETCHER: The longer faces of a brick.

ARRIS: The edges of a brick.

FROGGED: Bricks with indentations on one or more faces.

PERFORATED: Bricks with holes passing through them.

Brick Terminology 2

UNIT: An individual brick.

COURSE: A single horizontal layer of bricks laid in a wall.

WYTHE/LEAF: A single vertical layer of bricks of one unit thickness within a wall. You will find that multiple wythes are often used in thicker walls to provide structural support and insulation. In such cases, the exterior facing wall is called ‘Outer leaf’ and the interior facing wall is called ‘Inner leaf’.

MORTAR: This is used as an adhesive to bind units (bricks) together and provide stability to the construction. It typically consists of crushed up sand, cement and water.

BED JOINT: This is the horizontal layer of mortar on which a unit (brick) is laid.

HEAD JOINT: This is the vertical layer of mortar between the end faces of adjacent units (bricks) in a wall.

Brick Orientations

Bricks may be laid in different orientations to achieve different visual effects. This offers architects and builders flexibility in design.
Brick Orientations
In addition to the six illustrated brick orientations, bricks can also be laid diagonally to add character to the construction.

​​Standard Brick Sizes

Bricks are essentially cuboids with main dimensions of Length x Width x Height. This format is what you will typically find their sizes represented in.

The standard brick sizes mentioned in this post are the true dimensions of the brick not accounting for the mortar.

If we were accounting for the mortar, it would be called the nominal brick size.

As mentioned earlier, each country has its own set of standard brick sizes and dimensions:

UK

A standard UK brick size is 215mm long x 102.5mm wide x 65mm high according to British Standards.

Standard UK Brick Size
As shown in the image below, the length of the brick is equal to twice its width plus one 10mm mortar joint, and three times its height plus two standard mortar joints.
Standard UK Brick Size
To learn more about coordinating brick dimensions see our Brick Dimension Tables Explained Guide – with free pdf download.
Brick Dimension Tables Explained (firstinarchitecture.co.uk)

USA

Standard US Brick Size

Australia

A standard Australian brick size is 230mm long x 110mm wide x 76mm high.

Standard AUS Brick Size
Here is a small table of standard brick sizes for some more countries:
Let us know what standard brick sizes are used in your country.

For the purpose of this post, however, we will be focusing on UK standards.

Special Bricks​

Special bricks are used to create different designs, shapes, features and detailing. There are a few British Standard special bricks that are widely available, these include:

Angle and Cant

Arch

Radial

Bonding

Bullnose, Double Bullnose

Capping

Coping

Plinth

Slips

Sill

Rebated

Cuboid

Soldier, Pistol Soldier

Forterra Special Bricks
Image Credit Forterra https://www.forterra.co.uk

It is also possible to get non standard bespoke bricks from different brick suppliers.

​Brick Bonds

Brick bonds are the patterns or arrangements in which bricks are laid in a wall. These could be using one or a combination of the brick orientations we saw previously.

The most popular brick bond patterns in the UK are:

Stretcher Bond

Stretcher bond

Stack Bond

Stack bond

English Bond

English bond

Flemish Bond

Flemish bond

Header Bond

Header bond
Other brick bonds include:

American Common bond

English Cross bond

English Garden Wall bond

Flemish Garden Wall bond (Sussex bond)

Monk bond

Herringbone

Types of Brick Mortar

The standard for brick mortar joints in the UK is 10mm.

Mortar joints can be finished with different profiles. The purpose of the finishing joints is to ensure rain is deflected away from the joint, but also there is an aesthetic element to the joint design too.

The most commonly used mortar joints in the UK are:

Recessed (not suited to exposed areas)

Mortar recessed

Weathered Struck

mortar struck

Bucket handle or curved recessed

Mortar recessed curve

Flush

Mortar flush

Each profile serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, contributing to the overall look and durability of the brickwork.

Helpful links

You can read more in detail about brick bonds and mortar joints in our Detail Post on Brick Bonds and Patterns. Be sure to check it out: Detail Post: Brick Bonds and Patterns

We also have a Free Brick Texture Pack that you can download to use in your architectural visualisations: Free Brick Texture Pack

 

Pinterest Board

Here are our Brick related Pinterest boards to help inspire you. Feel free to check them out.

You might also be interested in:

 

We also have lots of incredible brick content. Be sure to check it out!

Standard Brick sizes cad blocks FI
Brick Dimension Tables Explained FI
Technical Drawing Series Introduction

Download the Guide!

Download this helpful article as a pdf to keep for reference later!

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding standard brick sizes, orientations, special bricks, brick bonds, and mortar options is crucial for architects, builders, and all those involved in construction.

By mastering these basics you will be able to confidently work with this versatile building material and ensure that your brick structures will stand the test of time.

We hope this post has been a good starting point to help encourage you.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Author

Written by Emma Walshaw, Architectural Technologist and founder of First In Architecture and Detail Library. Emma has written a number of books about construction and architectural detailing.

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2 Comments

  1. I love this blog, thanks for publishing these articles. It’s so interesting to compare the UK approach to architecture and construction with the US practices I know.

    Here in North Carolina, we traditionally use lots of brick because the soil has a very high percentage of (red) clay. But in 35 years, I’ve never seen a frogged version. Our brick always has three cores.

    Another interesting variation is the size. We differentiate “modular” (7.625 inches long) from “standard” (8 inches long). Ironically, standard is almost never used. All the buildings I measure or design use modular so that the six orientations (stretcher, header, rowlock, shiner, soldier, sailor) all course without cuts. I can’t even find any local brick suppliers that sell the standard size. The only time I might see it is where longer veneer stretchers are needed to match larger 16″L CMU units behind and there aren’t any other orientations.

    We’re quickly loosing our brick traditions here. The labor is expensive and the detailing quite complicated with modern concerns for building envelope issues. Properly done, long, thermally broken brick ties are necessary to reach beyond 4 inches of rigid insulation and a healthy 2 inch air/water cavity behind the brick. And, contrary to the general public’s perception, brick doesn’t stop bulk water, so a quality water resistant barrier (WRB) is still required back behind the cavity on the face of framing. It’s hard to coordinate this with the brick ties.

    Reply
    • Thank you Steve, really interesting to hear your comments. Much appreciated. Emma

      Reply

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