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cortlandkent 03-24-2012 05:49 PM

Building a basement out of brick
Hi, I was wondering if anyone knew if using old clay bricks to build a basement is a good idea?
I have about 2600 to start with. I have a 2500 square foot box in mind, 70 ft by 35, 18ft high. I plan to put a concrete footings, and either a concrete, or clay brick floor.

rjniles 03-24-2012 06:11 PM

Old brick is very porous and is a terrible choice. 2600 would only scratch the surface of what you would need. Laborious will kill you.

cortlandkent 03-24-2012 06:32 PM

Building a basement out of brick
ahh yes it is porous, though my property is in goldendale washington. its 3500ft up in dry country, well, sparse trees and brown grass. Its mostly basalt bedrock and about 200 ft to groundwater.

Daniel Holzman 03-24-2012 08:53 PM

Bricks are rarely used anymore as structural foundation elements, at least in the United States. Usually they are used as a veneer to give a concrete wall a pleasant appearance. It is very difficult to reinforce structural brick. Unlike concrete block, which can be reinforced using reinforcing rods and steel mesh, bricks are more complex to reinforce, and require special techniques.

This problem makes brick buildings generally a very poor choice in earthquake country, because the lack of ductile reinforcing allows a brick structure to fail catastrophically when shaken. By contrast, a properly reinforced concrete wall performs very well in an earthquake, and reinforced concrete block perform adequately (not as well as reinforced concrete).

So you may want to check and see if you are in a seismic zone. Even if you are not, as previously pointed out, laying all those bricks would be a Herculean task, not something to look forward to.

stuart45 03-25-2012 04:43 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Bricks used to be used to build basements here in Regency and Victorian times, with the backs being protected by a couple of coats of hot mastic asphalt.
Nowadays however blocks or concrete is a cheaper method for a retaining wall.
Brickwork used to be reinforced using Quetta bond as shown below.
Attachment 48092
Engineering bricks would normally be used. This is not used so much now because of the cost.

Daniel Holzman 03-25-2012 11:15 AM

Thank you Stuart for that interesting post. That must be a UK thing, I have never seen brick reinforced that way in the U.S., but of course brick is an ancient building technique, so there are many buildings in Europe that actually used brick as a structural system, and far fewer in the U.S. that actually rely on brick for structural support. Mostly brick veneer in the States, and often poorly done at that.

cortlandkent 03-25-2012 12:48 PM

Build a basement out of brick
Interesting brick work, I think though perhaps I should think about a concrete basement. I go to the university out in Portland Oregon and maybe I'll go to the architectural building to see if they have any ideas. There's definitely a challenge there. The bedrock is vesicular basalt, though where I want to build is more oxidized and loose, but still I might not get that far underground. In either case, even if I did manage to afford to dig down 9 ft for a basement, I think cinder blocks have a quarter psi strength than actual concrete(that's why I thought about brick) I was actually speaking of using the clay brick for underground! Sorry guys maybe I should have said that. In any case even though it is dry out there I don't think I can use wood, so that leaves concrete pretty much, but it's expensive to get a mixer to go out on property with no road yet:(

Daniel Holzman 03-25-2012 12:54 PM

I assumed you were planning to use the brick underground. As for the comment about cinder block being 1/4 the strength of concrete, that may have been true 100 years ago when you could actually buy cinder block made from coal cinders, but all block is concrete block today, and typically the minimum strength is 2000 psi, often 3000 psi, which is the same as typical cast in place concrete. And I don't quite understand the part about paying extra for a concrete mixing truck to get to your place without a road. Either they can get in or they can't, it should not affect the price. No concrete supplier is going to charge you a little extra and take a chance on delivery over a track that they are not absolutely confident they can get in and out of, the cost to them of having to get a two truck out to haul their concrete truck out is totally unacceptable.

jomama45 03-25-2012 01:11 PM

You would need a concrete truck to be able to get there to deliver concrete for the footings anyways. Sounds like you really need to think harder about this whole project. If you can't afford a decent driveway, you'll likely never be able to afford a new house.

PaliBob 03-25-2012 01:31 PM


Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman (Post 885081)
...Mostly brick veneer in the States, and often poorly done at that.

Years ago as we passed a new three story office building under construction in Santa Monica,
My wife's comment was "John Kelly would turn over in his grave"

She grew up in Philadelphia where John Kelly (also the father of Grace Kelly) was a famous Brick Contractor. Her comment was triggered when she saw that as the final step, a crew was cladding the exterior with brick veneer panels, starting at the top floor corner and working down.

PS John Kelly was a famous Philadelphia character that also came up with a way that made sure he got paid for brick work.
on this Link look under 'Early Life',_Sr.

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