Bricks or blocks – which are better for construction?
A few years back it would have been the brick only era for constructions. All larger buildings relied upon the traditional red brick until construction industry decided to change things to suit the requirements and ease of access to turn towards AAC blocks.
People wanted sustainability and durability, and since people started being more sensitive and aware towards environment protection, blocks came just in time. Few years back the National Green Tribunal issued a ban against digging of earth for making red bricks without prior environment clearance (EC).
The brick-kiln industry faced a major blow, but soon enough the Fly Ash Bricks or AAC Blocks industry got a kick start as people found it easy to set up plants for them and the ease of building them is also relatively tempting. There sure are pros and cons of both bricks and blocks which can make us understand which should be used.
1. Heat protection in summer: Bricks have high thermal mass which is what makes them absorb more heat as compared to AAC blocks. The bricks absorb heat during the day and release it at night. You basically get the best possible option to keep your home warm in winter and comparatively cooler in summer. Days usually require less heat as compared to night which is where the thermal insulation properties of bricks comes to play.
2. Eco-friendly too: Those of you who commend on the environmental issues of creating red bricks totally forget that these bricks are made from materials that can be easily recycled and used for landfills. The same cannot be said about blocks. They are not as recyclable as bricks as they are made concrete. Al the renovation work that calls for breaking down of old structures to build new would only leave behind heaps of waste products that cannot be recycled.
3. Durability: Red traditional bricks are known to be more durable and the structures made from them are stronger than the ones made from hollow blocks. The durability of blocks is also said to last only if they are kept well maintained unlike bricks that can stand stiff through years if the construction is done keeping in mind the proper ways of durable construction and the material used, including the quality of brick is at par with the standards of strong buildings.
4. Burn less easily: Bricks are nothing but highly compressed earthen materials. The high compression makes them so dense that there is very less space left for combustion to ignite and spread. They have been given the highest fire rating. They can sustain a very heavy and fully developed fire far better than a home made from blocks or any other material.
5. Free of maintenance: Masonry bricks are almost free of maintenance. Once constructed with, they do not require as regular maintenance as block constructions do from time to time. In the long run, they do not incur any maintenance cost while block constructions need to be taken care of after few years or else they start falling apart at places.
1. Cheaper: Block masonry are quite cheaper compared to their brick counterpart. They are known to cost Rs. 1,500 lesser than brick masonry for per cubic meter. This is not a difference to be ignored. Reports suggest that the cost of building walls from AAC blocks come out to be 17.65 per cent lesser than the cost of wall made from traditional bricks. With lesser cost of constructing these blocks, they are also easier to make which reduces the cost even more if built at site.
2. Made from waste: They do not harm or deplete nature for being made. They are made from Fly Ash, which is nothing but a residue of thermal power plants. Whereas red bricks consume top soil in the production and manufacturing which is like robbing nature of its precious protective layer of soil. That is the top reason why the National Green Tribunal is so much against the red bricks.
3. Lighter in weight: AAC blocks are lighter compared to red bricks which offers them more workability, flexibility and durability. Their dry density ratio reduces dead load on structures which makes it more efficient and suitable for modern constructions.
4. Strength: Concrete blocks are known to be better in enduring earthquakes which are happening quite frequently these days, hurricanes and tornadoes. Countries that promote and encourage the usage of blocks lay great emphasis on their durability to withstand such natural hazards. The way of construction also makes them further durable and stronger.
5. Soundproofing: For those residing in industrial areas or areas that are near busy roads, some sort of soundproofing can be a bliss. Block walls have higher density as compared to brick constructions and hence they offer more soundproofing. Their efficient acoustic insulation is a big help if your home is constantly surrounded by noise that could keep you from getting a sound sleep. You can think of the advantage of soundproofing if you ever resided close to railways or airports.
6. Space saving: Builders and contractors are mostly recommending concrete blocks because they save quite some space at large. The width is less and durability doesn’t decrease which adds to space required in building walls. The usual 9 inch walls of the traditional bricks are getting replaced for good, especially since there is a lot of fight for space in big cities.
The Brick v/s block debate is a very close one and anyone who is about to get a construction started with have to deal with the comparing of pros and cons of both. However, a lot depends on place, budget and situation of the builder. For some, brick masonry constructions are necessary because they ultimately want lesser maintenance even when the cost of building is higher. Some people, on the other side would prefer less cost of construction and regular renovations to keep the blocks well maintained.
Making of red bricks is not so eco-friendly it seems but the same can be said about the blocks not being up for the purpose of recycle. Red brick-kilns remain under the scrutiny of government and NGT while concrete block industry are on the rise at many places.
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