Reasons for the Strength of Brick Houses

Quck answer

Brick houses are strong due to the properties of the material and the way they are constructed. Bricks are made from clay or shale, which is fired at high temperatures, making them durable and resistant to weathering. The interlocking pattern of bricks, along with the use of mortar, enhances their strength. The weight of the bricks also contributes to their stability. Additionally, brick houses have a high thermal mass, meaning they can absorb and release heat slowly, providing insulation and energy efficiency. Overall, the combination of material strength, construction techniques, and thermal properties makes brick houses exceptionally strong.

While strolling through Wonderopolis farm, we overheard a conversation between three little pigs near the barn:

Little Pig #1: Hey! I’m thinking of building a house. Any suggestions on what material to use?

Little Pig #2: Well, you could use straw. Hee hee

Little Pig #3: Yeah! Yeah! Or sticks. Yeah, use sticks! Ha ha ha!

Little Pig #1: What’s so funny? Am I missing something here?

Little Pig #2: Are you serious?

Little Pig #3: Yeah, please tell us you’re joking!

Little Pig #1: I don’t get it. Would someone please explain what’s so funny?

Little Pig #2: Um…doesn’t this conversation remind you of a familiar story?

Little Pig #3: Yeah, you know, with three little pigs and a Big Bad Wolf?

Little Pig #1: You mean that story’s true? Yikes! I guess I should use bricks then.

Little Pig #2: Of course, it’s true. And, yes, you should definitely use bricks.

Little Pig #3: The hardware store over on Route 7 has them on sale this week…

Little Pig #1: Thanks for the advice! (wanders off)

Little Pig #2: You’re welcome. (shakes head)

Little Pig #3: That dude is totally going to be bacon by the end of the week!

We hope that Little Pig #1 listens to the advice of the other two pigs. It’s not wise to build a house with straw or sticks when bricks are available!

Humans probably used wood and stone for their first structures, but bricks were likely not far behind. Bricks have been around for thousands of years, even before recorded history.

The main component of bricks is clay, which is obtained from the ground. Clay is formed from the gradual breakdown of rocks. Various factors like weather, chemical reactions, volcanoes, and glaciers can transform rocks into fine powdery clay over time.

When wet, clay can be easily molded by hand. Early clay bricks were made by shaping the clay into a suitable form for a building block and then letting it dry in the sun.

Today, bricks are mainly produced by machines. Clay is pressed into molds and then fired at temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit until the bricks become extremely hard. The large columns of clay are later cut into individual bricks. In fact, a brick factory in England can manufacture up to 16 million bricks in a single week!

Many bricks have a natural red color due to the presence of iron in the clay used. By adding other substances to the clay before baking, bricks of different colors can be created.

So why are brick houses considered strong? Besides being able to withstand the force of the Big Bad Wolf, bricks require minimal maintenance. They do not break, rot, or need to be painted over long periods of time. Additionally, bricks are not appetizing to termites or other insects that would normally feast on houses made of straw or sticks.

What makes bricks so strong? When they are fired at extremely high temperatures, the clay particles fuse together to create a very strong bond, turning clay bricks into metamorphic rocks. Compared to concrete and other construction materials, clay bricks are stronger.

When bricks are arranged in an interlocking pattern and held together with mortar, they form durable structures that can last for hundreds, if not thousands, of years with minimal maintenance. For example, the Great Wall of China, built over two thousand years ago, is made up of nearly 4 billion bricks!

Give it a Try

Are you interested in learning more about bricks? Take part in the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • You may have seen many bricks before, but have you ever examined them up close? Take a walk around your town or neighborhood and observe the buildings made of brick. With permission, examine the bricks. How do they feel? What color are they? Do you notice any signs of wear? What patterns do they form? Feel free to talk to people about their experiences living in brick homes. Do they require a lot of maintenance?
  • Continue your walk around the neighborhood and incorporate some math. Use a pencil and paper to record the types of building materials used in the homes in your area. Keep track of the number of each type of home you come across. The materials may include brick, vinyl or aluminum siding, wood, and stone. Once you have a small sample (10-20 homes), create a graph that illustrates the use of each building material. Which material is the most popular? Discuss your findings with your parents. Does the location affect the choice of building materials? Why do you think certain materials are more popular in your neighborhood?
  • If you have dirt, sand, grass, weeds, straw, flour, water, and/or play dough, you can make your own bricks at home! Go online and search for instructions on how to make a brick. You will find directions for two different types of bricks. If you’re up for it, try making both types! What could you use your bricks to build? Once you’re done, discuss the project with your parents. Do you have a newfound appreciation for people who make bricks by hand?

Sources of Wonder



1. Why are brick houses considered to be so strong?

Brick houses are known for their strength due to the durability and composition of bricks themselves. Bricks are made from clay and other natural materials, which are then fired at high temperatures to create a hardened structure. This process makes them resistant to weathering, fire, and pests. Additionally, bricks have excellent load-bearing capabilities, meaning they can support heavy loads. The mortar used to bind the bricks together also plays a role in their strength, providing stability and preventing movement. Overall, the combination of brick material, firing process, and mortar make brick houses highly durable and strong.

2. How do brick houses withstand earthquakes?

Brick houses are designed to withstand earthquakes by incorporating certain features that enhance their strength and stability. One of the key factors is the use of reinforced masonry construction. This involves integrating steel reinforcement bars within the brick walls, which increases their resistance to lateral forces exerted during an earthquake. Additionally, the strong interlocking nature of bricks and the use of proper mortar further enhance the structural integrity of the house. The weight and mass of the brick walls also contribute to their ability to absorb and dissipate seismic energy. Overall, the combination of these factors allows brick houses to withstand earthquakes more effectively than other types of construction.

3. Are brick houses more resistant to fire than other types of houses?

Yes, brick houses are generally more resistant to fire compared to other types of houses. Bricks are non-combustible materials, meaning they do not burn or contribute to the spread of fire. This fire-resistant property is due to the high firing temperatures used during the brick manufacturing process. Additionally, the mortar used to bind the bricks together is also fire-resistant. The thickness and density of brick walls provide insulation and slow down the transfer of heat during a fire. This gives occupants more time to escape and firefighters more time to respond. Overall, the fire-resistant nature of brick houses makes them a safer option in terms of fire protection.

4. Can brick houses provide better insulation compared to other types of houses?

Brick houses have good insulation properties, but their effectiveness depends on various factors. The thermal mass of bricks allows them to absorb and store heat, releasing it slowly over time. This helps regulate internal temperatures, keeping the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. However, the insulating performance of a brick house can be further improved by incorporating additional insulation materials such as foam or fiberglass within the wall cavities. This extra layer of insulation enhances energy efficiency and reduces heat loss or gain. It’s important to note that insulation requirements may vary based on climate and building codes. Overall, while brick houses provide natural insulation, incorporating additional insulation can optimize energy efficiency and comfort.

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