Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Report Product Guide - AMA Research

A Guide to the Products Featured in the Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Market Report

A Guide to the Products Featured in the Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Market Report

A Complete Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Report Product Guide from AMA Research

Following the release of our latest Bricks, Blocks and Precast Concrete Market Report 2023-2027, we’ve compiled a report product guide to showcase the categories featured in the report.

Underscoring a strong recovery in the overall market demand for bricks, blocks, and precast concrete products, the report covers the following key product sectors in depth: –

  • Bricks
  • Precast concrete blocks
  • Precast concrete structural products
  • Natural stone

While the report covers a wide range of bricks, blocks and similar products used in building applications, certain products are excluded from this analysis. Examples include concrete cladding, cladding roof tiles and decorative stone chippings. Each of the main product sectors will now be defined in more detail.

Bricks

This product sector incorporates the commonly accepted brick categories used in the UK, which differ by method of manufacture, as well as materials used. These are as follows:

Facing Bricks

Produced from soft mud and may be handmade, machine-moulded, or extruded, wire cut or waterstruck (released from the mould by water). They rank above other brick types in terms of quality and are used mainly for external applications, on account of being more durable and more aesthetically pleasing than baking bricks. 

Additionally, they have good sound and thermal insulation properties and are resistant to fire and extreme weather and temperatures.

Common Bricks

These are of lower quality than facing or engineering bricks. They are produced from ordinary clay without specific attention to colour or appearance and are generally used mostly for internal brickwork where there is less emphasis on aesthetics. They have low compressive strength and are thus unsuitable for use below ground.

Engineering Bricks

Engineering Bricks are defined by performance rather than appearance. As they possess both high compressive strength and low water absorption properties, they are particularly suited to sub structures and for damp-proof courses, in loadbearing situations and/or in extremes of climate. 

They are generally produced using the wire-cut process and are classified as either Class A or Class B, based on a minimum compressive strength of 70N/mm2 (Class A) and 50N/mm2 (Class B) and maximum water absorption above 4.5 and 7%.

In addition, bricks can also be defined by material type, as indicated by the following: –

  • Clay Bricks account for around 95% of bricks used in the UK. They are kiln-fired and may be fletton or non-fletton, with the majority (up to 85%) non fletton. The latter are produced using soft mud moulding techniques (hand or machine moulding), have a high water content (i.e. 20-30%) and generally have a frog, or depression.
  • Wire cut bricks have a moisture content of 20-25%, no frogs in their bed faces, and may be stained to achieve a range of colours.
  • Fletton bricks are made from Lower Oxford clays, using a semi-dry pressing process, and are used primarily in domestic RMI applications.
  • Concrete Bricks account for around 4% of all bricks made in the UK. They are produced from crushed rock aggregate and cement and are typically less costly than clay bricks, although they have superior sound and fire protective qualities. They also improve the thermal mass qualities of exterior walls, thus helping to conserve energy.
  • Calcium Silicate Bricks, accounting for less than 1% of total UK brick production, these are manufactured from a mixture of high calcium lime, fine siliceous aggregate and water, moulded under pressure and then cured in autoclaves. These bricks need less maintenance, requiring neither plastering nor decorating, while also allowing for the perfect matching of existing weathered brick on extensions or restoration/rehabilitation projects.

Precast concrete blocks

Precast concrete blocks can be segmented into the following categories:

  • Aggregate concrete blocks – dense, lightweight, aerated/aircrete.
  • Others, including special blocks or architectural dressings (cills, lintels, bond beams, quoins, cavity closers and coursing), as well artificial or cast stone blocks.

Aggregate concrete blocks are produced using cement, coarse and fine aggregate and water, together with a selection of additives and pigments. The mixture is typically vibrated, compacted into individual steel moulds, de-moulded and then cured. 

Secondary processes to improve qualities such as insulation, are usually carried out post-curing. They are available in the following varieties:

Standard Common Blocks

These are suitable for general building applications. However, since texture and appearance may vary, they are not generally used in facing applications but rather as a background for plastering and rendering.

Close Textured ‘Paint-Grade’ Common Blocks

These are more suitable for direct painting.

Standard Facing Blocks

Specially manufactured for use in applications where shape and consistency are key requirements.

Architectural Masonry Facing Blocks

Available in a wide range of colours, textures, finishes and shapes and are also used where visual appearance is critical.

Cast stone is defined by the British Standard as “any material made with natural aggregates and cementitious binder that is intended to resemble and be used in a similar way to natural stone,” with finished product manufactured to meet the requirements of either BS1217 or the more-stringent UKCSA (UK Cast Stone Association) Standard. 

Cast stone is produced using semi-dry, wet-cast or fibre reinforced manufacturing methods, with demand generally following trends in the wider precast building products sector. Cast stone offers numerous benefits, examples of which include:

  • It is similar in appearance to natural stone while costing significantly less.
  • Availability and ease of handling.
  • Superior to natural stone in terms of strength and moisture penetration, and it is also weathers well.
  • Design and aesthetics – cast stone may be used for a very wide range of three-dimensional geometric forms, and the ease with which additional details, effects and finishes can be added allows architects to replicate or complement existing brickwork, natural stone or rendering.
  • A high level of consistency in terms colour and texture.
  • Versatile and can be used in a very wide range of domestic and non-domestic applications, such as new build, extensions and refurbishments.

Precast concrete structural products

The precast concrete structural products sector is defined as including the following three key categories which are used in building (both residential and non-residential), as well as in some civils applications:

Precast Flooring

These are used in beam and block flooring systems, hollowcore flooring/slabs, wideslab ground flooring and related products such as stairs, landings & balconies.

Precast Panels

Use cases for precast panels include structural wall panels, gable panels, twin walls, spandrels and vertical cantilever panels, crosswall panels and panels used in precast basements.

Miscellaneous Precast Products

Including structural frames and columns, precast foundations, bathroom pods, stadia terracing, lintels, columns, dock leveller pits and other products.

This section of the report includes cast stone building products such as:

  • Ashlar Masonry.
  • Balusters.
  • Balustrades.
  • Columns.
  • Copings and Cappings.
  • Quoins.
  • Window Heads, Windowsills and similar products.

However, concrete cladding, concrete roof tiles and concrete pipes are excluded from this analysis.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is a versatile, durable and sustainable building material, which is used as traditional masonry, facades on backing panels made from other materials (such as concrete blocks), rainscreen facades, and also for a wide range of internal applications. It is suitable for both loadbearing and non-loadbearing applications, in newbuild and RMI. Products covered in this report include the following examples: –

  • Dimensional Stone
  • Worked Stone
  • Ashlar Blocks and Rubble Walling
  • Natural Stone Special Blocks – sometimes called architectural dressings or architectural stonework and which covers products such as quoins, sills, lintels and coursing stones.

The report’s definition of natural stone used specifically for building purposes includes products such as:

  • Lintels
  • Cills
  • Balustrades
  • Finials
  • Capping Stones
  • Pillars
  • Decorative Stone Cladding, etc.

However, products such as decorative stone chippings, mosaics and similar products are excluded from this report.

These products are explored in additional AMA Research reports, in particular the Floor & Wall Tiles Market Report 2023-2027 and the upcoming Domestic Garden Landscaping Materials Market Report 2024-2028.

Visit our Building Products, Distribution & Hire Hub to find our extensive range of market reports. 

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