Compressed Earth Block Vs. Brick


Compressed earth blocks and bricks are both used as a building material for houses, buildings, and foundations, but is there any difference between the two? When planning to construct your home, you need to make sure that you use high-quality and durable materials that can withstand the test of time. Choosing the material for the foundation of your home can be hard. To help you get started, we have shared information about compressed earth blocks and bricks.

What is the difference between compressed earth blocks and bricks? As compared to mud bricks, compressed earth blocks or CEB are solidified and compressed through chemical changes that take place as they air dry. Hence, the compression strength of the CEB usually exceeds those of typical mud bricks.

What are compressed earth blocks and how does it differ from bricks? How strong are compressed earth blocks? What are the advantages and disadvantages that you can get from both materials? How long will a brick wall last? These are some of the questions that we will discuss in this article. Read the rest of the article below for useful tips that can help you decide which material you should use for your home construction.

Compressed Earth Block Vs. Brick
Image by Dominic Alberts from Pixabay

Compressed Earth Blocks Vs. Bricks

Compressed earth blocks differ from bricks in their composition and production. Bricks are made from clay and shale while compressed earth blocks are made from a mixture of non-plant soil, fine particles, and cement or lime. Bricks are formed, dried, and fired into a kiln until they harden. On the other hand, compressed air blocks are compressed and air-dried.

What is Compressed Earth Blocks?

Compressed earth blocks of CEB is a mixture of non-plant soil that consists of sand, gravel, and fine particles like clay and silt and aggregate binders like cement or lime. A brick press is used to compress the brick. The blocks are a manufactured construction material that increases the performance, strength, and durability of traditional earthen structures. Compressed earth block is an environment-friendly material that can build a two-story house as long as the compression and earth used are appropriate.

Compressed Earth Blocks Advantages

Structures made with compressed earth blocks can last for hundreds of years. They are ancient building material and techniques so there is no question that such structures are durable. Using modern techniques, compressed earth blocks have become more effective and durable than ever. Check out the advantages that you can get from compressed earth blocks below.

Renewable Materials

Unlike plywood, fiberboard, and other modern building materials, compressed earth blocks are a renewable abundant resource and their production does not need the use of dangerous and toxic chemicals.

Energy-Saving

Thermal mass plays a vital role when it comes to energy saving. This is the cooling and heating of the walls themselves, or also called passive heating and cooling. Using compressed earth blocks for building walls will absorb heat and release it evenly. This means that you will require less energy to heat and cool your home when you use CSEB for your walls.

Affordable

Compressed earth blocks are also affordable. The compression machines used to produce the blocks can be operated or powered by hand. The earth is readily available and there is no additional to import building materials. Moreover, it does not need a lot of energy to produce, unlike brick or concrete. You can also check out this article that we have written that discusses what hydrocal is. Basically, it is a material with the same properties as plaster of Paris which can be used to patch up holes and cracks on walls. You can check out the article for an in-depth discussion about the topic.

Environment-Friendly

Using compressed earth blocks reduces reliance on forest-based materials. It does not need the use of wood for construction.

Local

Compressed earth blocks are from local earth. Meaning, no fossil fuels are used to transport building materials.

Insect Control

Another advantage that you can get from compressed earth blocks is that they are insect-resistant. This will reduce the need for chemical pesticides and you can save money hiring pest control specialists to eliminate insects that seem to invade your home.

Compressed Earth Block Disadvantages

Like every other building material, there are also some disadvantages to compressed earth blocks. Below are some of them.

  • Requires skilled labor
  • Not ideal for wide-spans and high-rise buildings
  • Needs quality check at every stage of manufacturing to avoid low-quality products
  • Proper soil identification is needed

What are Bricks?

Bricks are rigid blocks that are rectangular in shape. They are used to construct many structures. Common house bricks are made from shale and clay. The color usually depends on the kind of clay mix that is used, kiln settings, firing temperatures, and any other additives (coke, coal, sawdust) used. Bricks are easy to obtain and are a durable finish that can be used to attain many styles to a façade.

Bricks Advantages

Homes built from bricks are stronger and provides better insulation. They also gave more thermal mass which means that indoor temperatures stay better regulated. Below are some of the advantages that you can get from using bricks.

Low Maintenance

 Bricks do not require paint or other treatments to preserve their durability and aesthetics. They can remain reliable, string, and maintenance-free even after fifty years. This will save you the time and money for the maintenance of your home as compared to lightweight materials.

Energy-Efficient

Bricks combine perfectly with various building designs to provide natural sources of energy. This means energy-efficient warmth during the winter and coolness during the summer season. The thermal insulating and natural density qualities of clay moderates building temperature and reduce energy consumption. You can enjoy year-round comfort without spending a lot of money.

Stylish

Bricks are ideal for their creative design and colors. The colors vary from rich chocolate to vintage red, golden light sand, creamy almond, to shiny metallic and natural earthy tones. They are perfect for any setting and can provide a stylish look into your house. 

Weatherproof

Another advantage that you can get from bricks is that it is weatherproof and can withstand the test of time even under harsh environments. It is cost-effective and you do not have to worry about sealing, painting, and other high-cost finishes for maintenance.

Sustainable

Bricks are made from organic minerals found locally and their long-lasting life cycle provides ongoing health and environmental benefits. They are reusable, durable, free from contaminants, and resistant to fire and pests. You can also check out this article that discusses how to make homemade plaster. We have shared different methods that you can follow. It is a good an ideal DIY project that you can use to seal small cracks on your walls.

Bricks Disadvantages

Bricks also have their disadvantages when it comes to construction. Check out some of these disadvantages below.

  • Not ideal for high seismic zones
  • Less tensile strength
  • Time-consuming construction
  • Can cause fluorescence when not exposed to air because they absorb water easily
  • Hard to clean surfaces
  • Mold can grow on rough surfaces when not properly cleaned
  • Low-quality bricks can change color after many years of being exposed to the sun

How Strong are Compressed Earth Blocks?

Compressed earth blocks are made using manual press and compressive strength is in a range of 2 to 3 MPa. Higher strengths can also be achieved with the use of hydraulic presses and higher cement contents.

How Long do Compressed Earth Blocks Last?

Compressed earth blocks are durable, waterproof, fireproof, and sustainable which makes them last for many years. Some structures that are still standing are over a century old.

What are Compressed Earth Blocks Made Of?

Compressed earth blocks are made from soil that is 15 to 40 percent non-expansive clay, 25 to 40 percent silt powder, and 40 to 70 percent sharp sand to small gravel content. Roughly 65 percent of the soil on the planet can be used to make compressed earth blocks.

Which Type of Ceramic Used for Making Brick?

Earthenware is the type of ceramic that is used when making brick. This is because earthenware is lighter and easy to work with. For more information about this topic, you can check out this article that we have written titled, which type of ceramic is used for making brick? 

How Are Compressed Earth Blocks Made?

Compressed earth blocks can be made manually or with the use of a machine. The soil is broken up and the larger granules of sand, gravel, and soil are removed by sifting. The dry screened sand and soil are ten mixed well adding lime or cement to the mix. Mixing can be done by hand or with the use of rakes, shovels, or large machinery. Enough moisture is added into the mix to achieve 10 to 12 percent moisture content. The soil is then compressed and molded into uniform blocks, stacked, covered, and cured for one month.

Video – How to Make Compressed Earth Blocks

Sustainable Living shared the video below on YouTube. It talks about how to make compressed earth blocks. The steps and important principles to follow when making CEB is also discussed. Click the play button below for more tips and information.

How Long Will a Brick Wall Last?

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, brick buildings can last about 100 years or more. This will only happen if proper maintenance is done. To make sure that your brick walls last for many years, do routine inspections to help identify sources of leaks, cracks, and damaged mortars.

What is the Difference Between Stabilized and Unstabilized Compressed Earth Blocks?

Compressed earth blocks are stabilized by adding a small amount of lime or cement into the soil with some clay content. The lime with the small amount of moisture that is chemically combined with the clay turns back into limestone which locks the sand and gravel to form a stabilized CEB which are water-resistant. Compressed stabilized earth blocks are more expensive as compared to unstabilized ones.

Which is Better, Blocks or Bricks?

As compared to bricks, concrete blocks are more durable and can also carry heavy loads. Moreover, hollow concrete blocks also offer higher insulation because of the presence of the cavity within. They work better as compared to bricks. 

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this article that talks about compressed earth block vs. brick. We hope that the information that we have shared has helped you learn more about the two materials. Weigh out the advantages and disadvantages that you can get from each material to find out the one that is perfect for your budget, preference, and expectations.

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