Making sure your projects don’t RAAC up a body count – why building with clay brick is safer than concrete








Many schools across the country are temporarily closed due to concerns about RAAC concrete.

RAAC stands for Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete. It is a cheaper, lighter and more water-absorbent version of concrete. Built in the 1950s to 90s, it was widely-used for flat-roof structures. Many schools and hospitals fall into this category which has caused many emergency closures.

Clay brick v concrete brick debate

Why is concrete such a popular material for construction?

First of all, the biggest reason is that it is cheap. When building public infrastructure, the government often tries to cut corners and save money wherever possible.

This is what caused the mass use of RACC in the construction of schools.

Building them was seen as a quota to fulfil as opposed to quality. Concrete can work fine as a short-term solution, but if you want to avoid constant repair fees, and structural security, clay bricks have a longer lifespan.

Local authorities chose concrete structures because it is:

  • Fire-proof
  • Energy-efficient
  • Durable
  • Minimal waste
  • Deemed as low-maintenance

However, concrete can easily chip and crack which can spread throughout the structure. This could happen at any time. Newly installed concrete buildings have met this fate, meaning the initial low cost doesn’t matter due to the cost of repairing it straight away.

The RAAC concrete problem is a clear example of the financial and social cost that can be brought on by cutting corners. The safety of staff and students has been put at risk, alongside their education too.

Wirecut bricks can vary drastically in appearance. Our pressed pre-war common bricks display deep reds, oranges and the distinguished dark ‘overburns’ from the firing process. This manufacturing technique leads to a naturally weathered texture and appearance of burnt clay brick. They are hydraulically pressed to remove any shape imperfections and a great choice for developments in keeping within the local region.

Time-tested durability

According to a study at Leeds Metropolitan University, clay bricks have the potential to last up to an impressive 650 years. Many brick-built structures have stood the test of time:

  • Beverley Bar, East Yorkshire, c1409
  • Rye House Gatehouse, c1443
  • Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire, c1382

Compared to many 1950-80s concrete-built structures, which have already been bulldozed.

We believe that long-lasting structures are key to sustainability. This is echoed by our manufacturing practices. We ensure all our partners’ leftover material is reused for brickmaking. This ensures everyone involved in the supply line’s reduced carbon footprint .

Clay bricks are also excellent at insulating homes. This means less energy is required for heating homes in winter time. They are able to withstand hotter temperatures due to minimal amounts of thermal expansion and contraction. Whereas concrete bricks are more likely to develop cracks in hotter weather conditions.

Finally, concrete bricks just fail to match the charm that is brought by the use of clay bricks. If you think of British architecture, you think of brick. From red brick in the cities up north to London stock yellow bricks. This isn’t just because of their incredible durability and sustainability, but because they simply look better. Clay bricks, especially handmade ones, have character and uniqueness that mass manufactured concrete bricks fail to imitate.

Avoid the stress caused by repairs and maintenance that comes with using concrete. By using clay bricks, your projects will not only look great but continue to look great for generations.