What is the difference between Red Brick and White Brick (ALC/Hebel)?

In today post, we want to answer the most FAQ from our clients. It is about wall material. What is the difference between red brick and white one? And what are we suggesting to use for home building?

First let us go to describe each material:

Red Brick

The Red Brick

For years, the term brick is refer to the materials created by clay which is moulded and extremely heated to a kind of rectangular box which is used as a part of making walls along with other bricks, which is glued with mortar. The standard brick in indonesia used to be 10 cm in thickness, but up to this years, the material on market become less thick.

In history, the brick material was not always clay. It used to be limestones or sands. But nowadays, Indonesian refer brick to red clay brick.

Aerated Lightweight Concrete (Lightweight Brick / “Bata Ringan”)

The White Brick a.k.a. AAC/ALC/Hebel

During 1990s, the new material come to market. A white brick, lighter than the red and larger in dimension. The weight is really significant because you can feel it if you take red brick on your right hand and the white on your left. This “brick” are not made of clay but from the combination of  quartz sand, calcined gypsum, lime, cement, water and aluminum powder, which make porous material but quite stable to withstand force.

The other name of this ALC is AAC and Hebel (although Hebel is a brand name)

The porous properties itself make this white brick more resistant to fire. But there is rumour that this white brick is more prone to cracks. Later it is known that the crack is because of the error in mortar mixtures (further explanation below)

Why do Indonesian stick to Red Brick?

If you ask Indonesian home owner, which material they prefer to build their home, 60% of them will go with red brick. There are three main reason about this:

ONE : Home owner thought that the brick is the structure of the home, so more massive the wall, means better structure… Which is partially true, especially for home which is not built by quality contractors. The quality and know how contractors sees brick as weight not structure. So if the owner renovate the house in the future and require to break the wall, they can do it freely without any chance of building breakdown. So contrary with owner’s believe, lighter materials in brick preferable and makes the overall building cost lower.

TWO : Home owner thought that the red brick is stronger than white ones. So in case of theft. It will withstand the breaking force… However, both red brick and white bricks strength is based on the mortar quality as the glue more than its material properties. If the mortar is bad, then even thickest red brick will easily spread apart. We have many experience to destroy red brick walls with ease on older houses where the mortar application are bad. Furthermore, if a thief bring wall destroyer tools. The tools will destroy either red or white brick with ease.

THREE : Home owner as we stated above heard that white bricks prone to crack. This is due on first years of its production, people still handle white brick as replacement for red brick without any change in mortar as bonding agent. Red and White bricks come from different materials. The White brick have special mixtures in cement and sands which is different with red brick. So if you use red brick mixtures on white, It is like you want to glue steel with paper glue, and will surely cracks.

What are we suggesting?

Based on this reasons, as a contractors we will always suggest White Brick to the owners. Additional to those reasons, nowadays there are special mortar products which comes pre-mixed. So unlike red brick mortars, which we have to mix cement and sands on site, we can just open the sacks and mixed it with water. It is cleaner and less hassle.

How about Precast Panel?

Nowadays, many pre-fabricated materials are introduced to the market. One of them is precast panel. Precast Panel is a modular wall which have certain dimension, say: 1.2 x 2.4 meters, pre-fabricate, and after delivered to the site, we can just install it. It claimed to be faster and on large areas, it will reduce cost. Seems no brainer to use that, right?

Well, if you are building high rise building. we do encourage the use of Precast Panel. But for private custom home, today we are not so sure. The Precast Panel have weak point on its joint. It is the source of crack and leakage which is not guaranteed until today. We never compromise price with our client comfort, so today we do not recommend the use of precast panel for private homes. At least until we have a sure way to guarantee that the joint will not crack or leak.

We also do this kind of practice (not recommending new products) on previous materials like White Brick, Gypsum Ceiling, and lightweight roof frame until we know exactly how to handle those. Nowadays, we already know in and out about those materials and can use it to its full potential safely.

So after reading this, do you want to use red brick, white brick, or even precast panel for your home? Comment below.

Comments for this post are closed.