Anyone who chooses clinker brick has to face the multitude of offers differing not only in prices of the clinker brick itself but also in its type, features and technical parameters. Which product should I choose? What should I consider when choosing the clinker brick? Should the price be the only factor taken into account?
The prices of the bricks are very diversified. Fora and auctions are full of bricks offered for as low as several cents per piece. On the other hand, you can find bricks whose unit price reaches several euros. The price of a brick largely depends on its type. There are 3 types of bricks: construction bricks, facing bricks and clinker bricks.
The cheapest ones are construction bricks with no frost resistance certificate (long lasting and expensive laboratory tests are required to confirm frost resistance). Such bricks, regardless of whether they are solid or perforated, are suitable only for constructions protected against water – e.g. by plastering.
Another type of bricks are facing bricks. As opposed to construction bricks, facing bricks are frost resistant and can be used outdoors without the above mentioned restrictions. However, they usually have worse technical parameters (strength, water absorption) than the most expensive group of bricks, so called clinker bricks.
Apart from their frost resistance, clinker bricks are characterised by very low (up to 6%) water absorption, high strength (often over 30 MPa) and compact structure.
Another factor that affects the price of a clinker brick (and other types of bricks) is its type. The difference in price results from the quantity of the raw material required to produce particular types of bricks. Therefore, the cheapest are perforated bricks, slightly more expensive – slotted bricks and the most expensive are solid bricks because of an even 30% higher share of raw material as compared to perforated bricks and longer burning process which often requires temperatures higher than in the case of other types of bricks.
Fig. 1. Brick: perforated/slotted/solid
The price of clinker brick also depends on:
– clay type (the most expensive types are the pure ones which naturally burn into white or yellow);
– additional treatment: flashing (to obtain burnt spots and shaded bricks);
– engobing (covering bricks prior to burning with high-clay slurries of colours different from the base ones to achieve multicolour bricks); anufacturers of clay roofing tiles use the term “engobe” to describe high-clay slurry
– glazing, slugging or even decorating by bumping.
The last factor affecting the product price are the transportation costs – hence the bricks manufactured outside Poland, even though they do not offer the best parameters (e.g. hand-shaped facing bricks from Netherlands or Belgium), achieve much higher prices than domestic bricks.
Price of clinker brick: cost or investment
When calculating construction cost of a brick façade, apart from the cost of materials and workmanship, you should also take into account the cost of maintenance of such an investment. Let us consider the benefits of such a solution and whether it is worth to incur the cost, or maybe it is better to choose other technology which is cheaper at this moment, e.g. finishing the façade with plaster?
When we compare façades finished with clinker brick and plaster, it turns out that in fact the only thing they have in common are the structural wall and thermal insulation layer – and this is where similarities end. In the case of a plastered wall, thermal insulation has to be glued to the structural wall. Then it has to be fixed with mechanical fasteners, the surface of thermal insulation has to be covered with reinforcing layer made of glass fibre mesh embedded in mesh adhesive, after which the whole thing has to be primed, plastered and then painted once or twice.
When it comes to a brick façade, the thermal insulation does not have to be glued to the structural wall because it is shielded by a clinker brick wall and no wind pressure or suction forces act on it. The only thing we have to do when using this technology is to anchor the brick façade to the structural wall using wire anchors and, of course, to lay the brick façade.
Where do we invest money in both of these technologies? In the first case money is consumed by materials and construction layers (adhesives, meshes, mechanical fasteners) as well as workmanship costs. In the case of walls made of clinker bricks – in its greatest value, i.e. in the brick façade which, apart from the fact that it protects the whole system of wall layers against negative influence of atmospheric factors, requires no additional work (refreshing, painting etc.) because nature itself takes care of it.
Another advantage of walls with brick façade, especially when combined with thermal insulation provided by mineral wool, is a very high level of acoustic insulation. Buildings designed and constructed in such a way are really quiet. Fire resistance of brick-finished walls is much higher compared to façades finished with plaster: in case of fire the protection lasts longer and gives rescue services more time to arrive.
And the most important thing is that on the real estate market resale prices of buildings with brick façades are much higher when compared to buildings finished using other technologies. It is worth, then, to consider the façade of clinker brick as investment, not the cost.