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10 Mar 2017

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‘Just WAIT until you hear this, dear. It’s just what we’ve been waiting for... Thermo blocks. Did you know they average 200mm in length, and they’re quite light-weight?’

Ah, bricks! Not exactly a riveting subject for most of us. Never in your life did you think the size, colour and material of a brick would be high on your list of dinner topics.

But here you are, sitting at the table getting hyped about these obscure details. It’s the day in the life of a self builder, really.

Every year, bricks, block and stone of all shapes and sizes are on the self-builder’s shopping list.

As a traditional building material, bricks play a significant role in the energy performance of our homes.

No wonder self builders get so dewy eyed.

But when it comes down to actually buying everything you’ll need, how do you know if you’re investing in brick that both suits your needs and is aesthetically sound for your build?

Don’t panic! We’ve come to the rescue. Here’s the guide to choose the right bricks and mortar.

Brick types

Although you were probably never lucky enough to hear this nugget of information, there are a multitude of brick types to choose from. And they can be made of either clay or concrete. Older Irish houses use clay, but concrete bricks have led the market for many years, mainly due to their versatility and value.

Building bricks are less expensive and are usually used for chimney walls or subterranean works. Engineered bricks are solid non-perforated bricks and have lower water absorption than most other bricks.

They can be used for most construction jobs because of their strength and durability. Facing bricks come in a variety of textures and colours. They’re designed for a building’s façade so emphasis is placed on their appearance.

Thermo-eco hollow blocks are made of woodchip aggregate concrete. The natural raw materials and the excellent heat insulation ensure that you are building in an ecological and economical way.

Thermo blocks can be used across a full range of architectural design and are light in weight and easy to handle.

The masonry wall system can also accommodate a wide range of traditional roofing finishes, windows, doors and services. The block is extremely easy and fast to work with.

Got all that? Good!

Sizing and Standards

Standard size facing bricks measure 215mm (length) x 102.5mm (depth) x 65mm (height).

Roughly 60 bricks are needed per square metre of facing. If you require special shaped bricks, the dimensions should co-ordinate with the standard block sizes.

Now we all know the Irish weather! So bricks should be fully durable and chosen with wind, rain, and everything in between in mind. FL bricks (Frost resistant & Low soluble salt content) have been subject to testing under UN 771-1.

F2 bricks are the highest rating and are resistant even under severe exposure to continuous saturation and freezing.

Laying bricks

Bricks and blocks are delivered to site in bales, either wrapped in plastic or tied with straps. Blocks are usually used straight from the bale or stacked ready for use.

Bricks are slightly different, in that the colour or texture between bales can differ slightly. To avoid a glaring shift in colours in your wall, it’s best to shuffle bricks between different packs so that the changes can occur at random.

In all masonry work it’s vital to maximise strength by laying the bricks or blocks in patterns called bonds. The simplest and most common bond in modern construction is the ‘stretcher’ bond, where each brick overlaps the one above and below by half a brick’s length.


High quality facing bricks can be bought for anything up to approximately €45 per square metre.

Standard stock bricks are much cheaper. The standard number of bricks in a bale is 152, minus a few that will always arrive broken. Concrete blocks come in lorry loads of 960.

For a local delivery in the Dublin area, the cost can be between €530 and €600. When ordering bricks make sure that your local merchant actually stocks them. Special bricks can take up to six weeks for delivery.

And there you have it! Plenty of info here to build on. (See what we did there?)

Are you thinking of building your own home?

Check out this handy guide to building your home in Ireland complete with accounts from EBS customers who have already built a home.

Find out how much you can afford to borrow with our mortgage calculator or book a mortgage meeting to suit you with one of our mortgage experts.

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for the latest home inspiration, news and great competitions.

The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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