Brick buildings shape South Africa’s architectural heritage – in every province you will find beautiful and functional schools, social infrastructure, hospitals, churches, stately homes, forts and lighthouses. You will also find affordable brick homes moulded from South African soil that have protected and served South African families across several generations.
Brick masonry does not rot, tarnish, puncture, fade, rust, scuff, peel, erode or burn. The average clay brick structure last over 100 years, and there are numerous brick buildings older than 500 years. The Bell Tower at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town – South Africa’s oldest building – has braved the Cape of Storms since 1684.
Clay brick structures have impressively high load-bearing capacity, high dimensional stability and compressive strength. These properties limit cracking and ensure structural integrity. This provides opportunity to dissipate all embodied energy over its life cycle, reducing its carbon footprint. Bricks vary in compressive strength ranging from a minimum of 7 MPa for NFP bricks, to greater than 50MPa for Face Brick Extra and Engineering products.
Maximum Fire rating
Clay Brick is incombustible, and therefore cannot contribute to the start or rapid spread of fire. Double leaf clay brick walls achieve maximum fire ratings of 240 minutes of resistance with impairing structural strength. Brick walls do not conduct electricity or lightning. During production, clay bricks are fired at temperatures between 1000°C and 1200°C so they are capable of resisting this level of heat without damage.
Water Resistant Ceramic
Clay Bricks are fired in a kiln, not dried in the sun so they can withstand saturation from flood water without being adversely affected structurally. They are water resistant and impervious to all weather. They absorb moisture so that walls that become damp, dry out just as quickly without ugly colour changes.
Clay brick is a dense construction material, and protects against natural disasters like flooding, lightning and hail, as well as civil crime, vandalism and unrest. The Great Wall of China protected half of Asia from the Mongolian invaders.
Bricks are manufactured to SABS specifications and their use is controlled by strict national building regulations to protect home owners and property investors. SANS 227:2007 and SANS 1 575:2007 classifies the South African National Standard for burnt (or fired) clay bricks and paving units.
Durability in tough environments
Clay brick withstands severe climate zones and industrial areas where high acid or alkaline discharges occur. At the coast, salt sea mist, high water tables, soluble sulphates in the soil, and rapid temperature changes combine to create a corrosive environment. Green Point lighthouse, a landmark from 1824 and South Africa’s first lighthouse, is built from brick.
Bricks have the structural density to support built in cupboards, heavy shelves and wall mounted fixtures. You can even remove a non-load bearing wall entirely without compromising the integrity of the building. Property owners have the opportunity to do alterations and extensions. Double leaf brick walls protect conduit and piping without reducing accessibility.