Wondering about the difference between red bricks and cement bricks?

Maybe you’re in the midst of planning your home renovation, and your contractor has just given you the option of choosing red bricks or cement bricks.

You probably already know that cement bricks (the ones made out of sand) are cheaper compared to red bricks.

But what are the pros and cons of each? And since we’re in Malaysia, what are the advantages of using one type of brick over the other? Is it worth spending more on the pricier red bricks?

In this post, we’ll look into the differences between them and discuss what you should consider before buying.

Red brick, or otherwise known as clay brick

Red bricks are made by mixing clay, water, and aggregate together. They have been around for more than 10,000 years ago and are still extremely common today. 

You’ve definitely seen them used in your nearby housing areas.

Sekeping Tenggiri at Bangsar,

Today, we can still see them being used in residential, commercial, and even industrial buildings.

Cement bricks vs concrete bricks

There is a general misconception about cement bricks that is — cement brick is made entirely of cement.

The truth is cement bricks are composed of other building materials such as quarry dust, stone aggregates, fly ash, and more, not just cement – making them much stronger.

That’s why some contractors would refer to cement bricks as concrete bricks.

Concrete bricks used at a construction site.

Today, cement bricks can be seen almost everywhere, especially in modern structures. Their designs are simple and basic. They are also cheaper than red bricks. (more on this later)

What are the pros & cons of both bricks?

To help you choose between red clay bricks or cement bricks for your home renovation project, let’s go into some key factors that you want to be aware of.

1 – Compressive Strength

Compressive strength is the physical property of the building material to withstand pressure.

Generally, cement bricks have higher compressive strength compared to red bricks. This is primarily due to the way concrete bricks are manufactured and the materials that are being used.

That’s why cement bricks are mostly used in high-rise buildings as these structures will require higher concrete strength.

For you, determine where you’ll be using the bricks. Are you building a foundation for your home that will have lots of pressure applied? Or are you trying to switch up your terrace house into a different aesthetic?

2 – Sound Insulation

In general, red bricks are heavier than cement bricks, making them the ideal candidate for noise reduction. Sound travels via vibrations, so with a denser material like clay, less sound will penetrate through a red brick wall.

However, these days you can find bricks that are built with acoustic dampening properties. And they look no different than your ordinary concrete bricks.

So, it is always a good idea to check with your contractor on the type of bricks they ordered.

3 – Waterproofing ability

Cement bricks have great waterproofing ability.

This is especially helpful when the construction is being carried out in a damp and muddy environment. That is why most contractors prefer using concrete bricks.

Red bricks, on the other hand, have poor waterproofing ability. When exposed to a damp or moisture environment, red bricks will be easily damaged, leading to the formation of mold.

But the mold can be removed if proper maintenance had been carried out. To do that, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Create a cleaning paste by using detergent (half a cup) and salt (1 tablespoon).
  2. Mix them evenly with water.
  3. Use a damp cloth and apply the paste to the bricks.
  4. Let it dry for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the remnants by using a brush.
  6. Lastly, if there’s any remaining soot or dirt, apply vinegar to wipe it clean.

To avoid any hassle, we usually recommend cement bricks over red bricks and would suggest homeowners to spend their budget elsewhere.

4Controlling heat at home.

Cement bricks have higher heat conductivity. When exposed to sunlight, they absorb heat easily and tend to release heat slowly too. This means your house will get hot when it’s sunny and you will still feel a little heat lingering, as the day cools down.

In the long run, this could potentially increase your electricity cost as you switch on your air conditioner to cool your house down.

Red bricks are better at controlling the heat at home as they are more porous and so, they trap and release heat easily. The reason why not many developers or contractors use them is simply that they cost more.

5Eco-friendliness

Cement bricks are considered friendlier for the environment, as most cement bricks nowadays are made using fly ash instead of stone aggregates. 

Fly ash is a byproduct of thermal plants. Apart from dumping them, which is toxic to the environment, brick manufacturers had found a smart way to use them.

Fly ash, when mixed with cement bricks can improve its strength significantly. And since fly ash is a byproduct, manufacturers can buy them at a lower cost, which then turns into more savings for you.

As technology and automation continue to become even more efficient, the price of cement bricks will always be cheaper than red clay bricks.

Red bricks, on the other hand, have a higher carbon footprint compared to cement bricks. Their manufacturing process is complex and harmful to the environment. 

That’s why many green experts don’t recommend buying them for your home.

If you care a lot about mother nature, then you probably need to consider this (or do more research) before buying red bricks.

6 – Aesthetic value

Putting aside the environmental concerns, red bricks have a really good aesthetic appeal.

Structures built using red bricks are instantly striking and attractive to the eyes.

Compared to cement bricks, which are plain and sometimes boring, it’s obvious why many homeowners still choose red bricks.

If you have an eye for design and want something different for your home, then you can probably add red bricks into your watchlist.

Which brick type should you buy?

Developers or contractors will usually look at the construction type and project requirements when deciding between red bricks or cement bricks.

In most cases, cement bricks are preferred due to their many benefits and cost-effectiveness.

When constructing a high-rise building, cement bricks are preferred. This is because the structure of high-rise buildings will require high concrete strength and a strong foundation.

But if you’re constructing a two-story home, red bricks could be used for your home.

Ultimately, the type of bricks you choose will depend on your home renovation requirements and needs.

To help you decide, here are some factors to take into consideration when selecting brick materials:

  • Local availability
  • Cost
  • Structural and building requirements
  • Type of wall and application
  • Quantity required and productivity
  •  Home design
  • Aesthetic value

If you are planning your very first home renovation and aren’t sure about what you need, feel free to get in touch with some professionals on HOMA2U.

How much do red & cement bricks cost in Malaysia?

Both types of bricks are usually sold in bulk. The price of red bricks typically costs around RM1.20 per piece and cement bricks cost around RM0.30 per piece.

Cement bricks are cheaper because of their manufacturing processes. They are very straightforward and do not involve extensive labor work. Red bricks require drying and firing of a raw clay material, where the process takes a much longer process, adding up to its final selling price.

If you’re planning to buy red bricks for your home, we recommend buying them from a local vendor, preferably nearby your home to save unnecessary shipping costs.

Also, when preparing for your budget, you need to consider the costing of cement mortar as well.

Red bricks will typically consume a lot more cement mortar mix, as they are set and could potentially increase your overall construction cost.

Be sure to check with your contractor on this.

How long will red & cement bricks last?

The good news is that bricks, whether red or cement – are built to last.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI), the estimated lifespan of bricks is more than 100 years. Considering that you’re renovating your home to last many years, bricks usually don’t cause many problems.

Now that you know the difference, advantages, and disadvantages of red bricks over cement bricks, which one would you choose?

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


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