Bricks used in Building Construction in Kerala
It is known that the choice of materials for partition walls is important for structural stability and acoustics in any building construction. But it is less known that the choice of materials needs to be done carefully, striking the right balance between cost, quality, resource requirements, topographic environment and utility during building construction. In this post let us look at the following 12 types of bricks used in building construction in Kerala.
- Solid Concrete Block or Cement block
- Laterite stones or Vettukallu
- Interlocking Concrete blocks
- Fly ash bricks (Plain & Interlock)
- Wire Cut Red Bricks
- Stabilized Mud Block
- Terracotta hollow blocks
- Light weight Clay brick
- Aerocon AAC Block
- Cellular Light Weight Concrete Block
- Special Concrete Blocks
Before we delve into the details about each of these brick types, let us first understand the two types of building construction in Kerala.
Types of Building Constructions in Kerala:
Most of the building construction in Kerala fall into two categories, namely:
- Load Bearing Structures
- Frame Structure System
Even before starting the process of building a foundation, there must be a clear vision about the type of building construction to be adopted.
Let’s look into more details on the differences/ commonalities, merits/ demerits, what suits where and why.
Load Bearing Structures
This is one of the oldest forms of Building Construction in Kerala. In this type, a building is raised with thick, heavy masonry walls which are built either using strong bricks or stones. The walls constructed in this manner act as the load bearing component which support the entire load of the building including the horizontal floor slabs. The walls transfer the weight to the foundation structure. Walls, being the key element in this type of building construction, are of immense weight and thickness as the stability of the entire building constructed rests on these walls.
Load bearing Building Constructions are used today predominantly for the purpose of smaller residential scale units, but not very often for the construction of large high-rise skyscrapers.
Materials used in the construction of Load Bearing Structures
These are the types of blocks used in load bearing mode of building construction in Kerala.
- Solid Concrete Block or Cement block: Heavier and stronger than conventional bricks, these blocks are ideal for the making of large structures during building construction because of its durability, strength and fire resistance.
- Laterite Stones: Laterite Stone also known as Vettukallu, is one of the widely used building materials in Kerala. It is a red or brown colored sedimentary rock and is cost-effective when compared to bricks. Laterite stones have the capability to retain coolness inside the walls thereby creating more comfortable interiors in summer.
- Interlocking Concrete blocks: Walls can be constructed using interlocking blocks, without using cement mortar. It’s interlocking functionality helps save time during brick laying. Laterite Stone is one of the key ingredients of such blocks too, helps to retain coolness inside homes.
- Wire Cut Red Bricks: Wire cut Red Bricks are manufactured by machines, guarantees the dimensional accuracy, highly durable and robust for easy building construction.
- Rubbles: These are large pieces of irregular sized broken stones used for laying the foundations of load bearing Structures. Rubbles can be transported to the site directly from the quarry.
Merits of Load Bearing Structures
- Load bearing structures are solid, durable and are very economical.
- It is aesthetically pleasing and requires only simple tools.
Demerits of Load bearing Structures
- Load bearing structures are lesser resistant to earthquakes when compared to Frame Structures.
- It requires extensive manual labor as walls are built mainly of masonry, which is made by hand.
Frame Structure System
Concrete Frame Structures also known as the Column-Beam structures, are one of the most commonly used types of building constructions in Kerala in the recent times. This type of building construction consists of a framework of concrete which is a combination of beams, columns and vertical slabs. The flat ceiling is the vertical slab, horizontal elements are called as beams and the vertical elements are called as columns in this framework. The vertical slabs rests on the horizontal beam, the beam in turn transfers the load to the vertical column which in turn transfers the entire weight to the foundation structure. Here, the primary load bearing component is the column and so damage to a column could damage the entire building.
As already mentioned, frame Structure System is much preferred in the building construction of large structures and multi-storey apartments, when compared to the Load Bearing Wall Structures.
Materials used in the construction of Frame Structure System
Concrete Frame Structures are mostly constructed using Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC). Cement Concrete has a very good compressive strength but the tensile strength is very low. In order to increase the tensile strength, reinforcement steel is used along with the cement concrete. The combination of steel bars along with cement concrete gives proper strength to the structure.
Concrete Frame Structures can afford to have thinner walls when compared to the load bearing wall structures. However, when it is necessary to have strong and sound-proof enclosures concrete blocks or stones can be used.
The following are the different types of building materials used in the construction of walls in frame structure.
Fly ash Clay Bricks are getting more popular these days in building construction. The major attractions are its reliability, durability and moisture resistance. It is mainly composed of fly ash, cement, clay and water.
Fly ash Clay Bricks are further classified as below:
- Plain Fly ash bricks are lighter compared to normal clay bricks, absorbs less heat and have higher compressive strength. Since it is less porous and uniform in shape, less mortar is required during construction. It requires no back coating of plaster and putty can be applied directly.
- Walls can be constructed quickly with Fly ash Interlock bricks as the blocks only need to be locked against one another. You can also reuse these blocks if required.
- Red Bricks are one of the oldest raw materials and are really suitable for Kerala’s environment. It is solid and resistant to heat & cracks. But, lack of proper availability of sand in Kerala has reduced the popularity of these bricks.
Types of red bricks available in Kerala used in this form of building construction are:
- Interlock Red Bricks requires less labor during building construction. It is also time-saving as plastering is not mandatory.
- Stabilized Mud Block is cost-effective which can be formulated using local materials at the site itself. It is aesthetically pleasing and plastering of walls can be eliminated.
- Lighter Terracotta hollow blocks have a certain amount of hollow space. In Kerala, they are predominantly used for making thin walls during building construction. Advantages are that it requires fewer joints resulting in reduced consumption of cement. This block is also highly resistant to sound, dampness and heat.
- Light weight Clay brick: These bricks are lighter than the terracotta hollow blocks and are more resistant to heat and sound. Plastering is not mandatory for this type of blocks.
In addition, there are a few other types of blocks which can be used for building construction.
- Aerocon AAC Blocks or Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Blocks: These blocks are mainly composed of cement, fly ash, lime, aluminium powder and water through the aeration process. These blocks have very good stability, strength and durability. Building Construction is easy with these types of blocks as these blocks can be used as substitute for clay bricks, concrete and hollow blocks.
- Cellular Light Weight Concrete Block (Foam Concrete Blocks) are light weight and best suited for making partitions during building construction. Minimum amount of cement and sand is required while using this option.
- Special Concrete Blocks are lighter bricks which require no putty. Another advantage is that you can directly apply paint on these blocks.
Merits of Frame Structure System
- Concrete Frame Structures are more resistant to earthquakes when compared to Load Bearing Wall Structures.
- Thinner walls result in enhanced floor area and fewer joints.
Demerits of Frame Structure System
- Building construction using Frame Structure is more expensive than Load Bearing Structures. This is because the major component in load bearing walls is brickwork, whereas in Framework System it is steel reinforced concrete.
There are many factors that you need to be consider before deciding on the type of building construction in Kerala. Keep in mind factors like location of the site, nature of soil present, water logging in the ground, availability and transportation of building materials etc. before choosing the type of foundation and bricks used in construction.
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As the saying goes a building is usually constructed ‘brick by brick’. The fundamental building blocks for any structure are the bricks themselves. The ground-level requirements and constraints should be the basis of choosing the right method of construction. Also the combination of bricks for building construction demands real expertise and experience and varies from site to site. This in every sense is a true decider on the longevity and stability of the building. Viya Constructions, with a pool of qualified, experienced and dedicated expertise, assist you in deciding the optimal mode of building construction in Kerala and in choosing the right quality and type(s) of bricks assessing all the perspectives, which retains the aesthetic design and imparts utmost strength to your dream home. We give the complete smart solution to your housing needs, customizing the delivery based on your requirements and constraints.