Clay bricks: A reassuring and sustainable building material

Clay brick is one of the oldest and most sustainable building materials available. Look around you and you will see brick buildings, brick walls, brick paths – some new and some that have been around for decades or even centuries. They’re all testament to the longevity, durability and aesthetic qualities of clay brick. Buildings made from brick provide comfort and reassurance and a safe and healthy place to live and work. Older buildings provide a link to the past while new ones help us to shape the future, building new landscapes and communities.

The wide variety of brick textures and colours makes for endless possibilities in terms of aesthetic design, from traditional to contemporary, complementing the landscape in which they sit. It is this, along with its strength and versatility as a building material, that makes clay brick a favourite of architects, engineers and housebuilders.

Made from natural materials that contribute to the wide range of colours available, clay brick is durable, requires little or no maintenance and can be recycled at the end of its use. It also contributes to thermal mass, resulting in buildings which need less energy for heating.

Looking for house bricks or clay facing bricks?

Forterra manufactures a wide range of house bricks and high quality clay facing bricks, all with BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing of Materials certification.

Wirecut bricks
Soft mud bricks
London bricks
Special shaped bricks
Bespoke blended bricks

Wirecut (also known as extruded) bricks are made by forcing prepared clay through an extrusion die to create a column of clay. This is then subjected to a range of different processes to create a variety of finishes and textures, including smooth, sandfaced, textured and tumbled, suitable for buildings ranging in style from classic to contemporary. Forterra’s range of wirecut bricks  are sold under the Butterley brand, a name synonymous with brickmaking for over 150 years.

Forterra manufactures three types of soft mud bricks: pressed, thrown and waterstruck. Pressed and thrown are made by “pressing” or “throwing” clay containing a high percentage of water into sanded moulded boxes – the sand allows the bricks to be released easily from the mould. Pressed bricks have a smooth, sand faced finish and thrown bricks have a traditional, handmade appearance. Waterstruck bricks have a smooth but irregular surface created by the use of water to release them from their mould. Available in a variety of colours, Forterra’s soft mud bricks are sold under the Ecostock brand.

London bricks, or Flettons as they are also known, are a semi-dry pressed brick formed from clay with a low water absorption. The clay is compressed into a mould to form the finished brick shape before being fired in a traditional Hoffman kiln. It’s a method of production that has changed very little since the first London Brick was made back in 1877. It’s why finding a brick match for an existing building built from London brick is relatively easy. London brick is available in a wide range of colours and textures.

Special shaped bricks can be introduced to give your building kerb appeal. Plinth, bullnose and angle and cant bricks are among the most common, but special shaped bricks can be tailor-made to almost any specification, enabling the construction of unique features. At Forterra, we have a factory dedicated to producing special shaped bricks, including British standard, non-standard and bespoke. Special shaped bricks can be manufactured to complement Forterra’s range of standard bricks.

Blending brick colours and textures is an effective method of achieving a bespoke aesthetic that satisfies architects and planners. Bricks can be blended to produce an even distribution of colour or texture across the whole facing brick façade, or to create intricate brick patterns typical of the Victorian era. Forterra’s blended brick service allows you to create your own bespoke combination of brick colours and textures from our Butterley, Ecostock and London Brick ranges.

Case studies

Sometimes, it is reassuring to read about other success stories before embarking on your own. Here, you will find examples of residential, education, commercial and public sector construction projects in which Forterra’s innovative products, and its skilled, approachable teams and flexible services, have played a significant part.

To showcase your own project featuring Forterra building products and services, contact us on

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