Masonry chimneys make your home more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. However, St. Louis weather can get pretty severe, making your chimney vulnerable to the elements. Luckily, the correct type of brick can improve strength and longevity. Continue reading to learn:
Each type of brick is made with different materials, and the composition of these materials affects the brick’s:
- Weather resistance
Now, let’s explore brick types to choose from and the qualities that differentiate them.
Burnt clay bricks are the most popular type of brick for chimneys. Identifiable by a reddish tint, it’s arguably the most classic type of brick. These bricks are formed by pressing wet clay into rectangular molds and followed by drying them in kilns. They can be red or brown, depending on where the clay was taken from. This natural palette makes them one of the leading options when constructing a new chimney. However, it’s important to note that burnt clay bricks are more expensive than some other types of brick because of their beauty and quality. Still, they’re highly sought after for their natural color, depth, and texture they provide to chimney design.
Fly ash refers to the residue left after large chunks of coal have been burned away. Coal contains a significant amount of calcium oxide, released when burned, solidifying the brick materials. Fly ash is often used as a fast-expanding material in materials like brick and cement. When mixed with water, it quickly hardens, making it easier to be molded into chunks of brick.
Fly ash bricks are very lightweight compared to other types of brick in chimneys and highly resistant to environmental factors like heat and moisture. While they’re easy to lay, they aren’t the strongest or most structurally sound; so, if strength is your main concern, you can check off fly ash.
Sand lime bricks, also known as calcium silicate bricks, are more versatile, as they’re made with sand rather than clay. This makes them significantly stronger than most other types of brick. During the creation process, sand is combined with lime powder, which is then molded under a high-pressure system to form the brick shape. Unlike most other types of brick, the drying and kilning steps aren’t necessary due to the chemical reaction that occurs between the two materials. This reaction increases the strength of sand lime bricks, making them the perfect option for homeowners prioritizing the strength of their chimney.
Concrete bricks are becoming more popular due to the rough and distressed look they deliver. Because concrete bricks can be formed in various shapes, their options work well for different brick patterns or uniquely shaped chimneys. However, it’s vital to note that while concrete is a stable material, it won’t hold up well to intense pressure or weight. Because of concrete brick’s low durability, they’re most often used for aesthetic purposes on chimneys.
Sun-dried bricks differ from most brick types because they are unburnt. Unlike other types of brick, they don’t undergo a baking process—but instead, use the sun’s heat to harden. They’re popular in rural areas or temporary structures. Because they don’t require high baking temperatures, sun-dried bricks are not as strong and have a lower resistance to fire and water.
Fire bricks are great for areas in your chimney that need to be highly resistant to heat. These bricks can withstand temperatures upwards of several hundred degrees, making fire bricks a safe choice to construct your chimney with.
Now that we’ve covered the different types of brick options available, let’s dive into a few tips to help find the right one for you. Evaluate the following factors, as your responses will help guide you in the right direction:
A key factor in narrowing down types of brick is considering the color palette you want for your chimney, as this impacts your aesthetic appearance and curb appeal.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Do you want consistent colors throughout your chimney or a variety?
- Which colors match the rest of your house the best?
- Do you prefer the natural shades clay delivers or the smooth gray of sand?
Additionally, picking bricks with complementary colors to the rest of your home will make your property look great and save you a lot of chimney renovation hassle if you decide to sell your home.
At the end of the day, if your brick isn’t performing an essential function for your chimney—what’s the point of having it?
This function could be anywhere from aesthetic purposes to durability and insulation. However, to make the best decision, you need to decide which of these qualities are most important to you.
For those focused on their chimney’s appearance, burnt clay or concrete bricks are your best bet. If you prefer strength and durability, you’ll want something like fire or sand-lime brick.
As always, finding a masonry provider you can trust goes a long way in helping you obtain and install the right brick for your new chimney.
Since 1991, Approved Home Improvements has provided high-quality masonry services throughout the St. Louis Metro area. With over three decades of solutions, you can rest assured knowing AHI does chimney jobs right. But don’t just take our word for it—see what our previous customers have to say.