Despite outward appearances, not all bricks are alike, nor are they all used for the same purpose. For instance, did you know that bricks used for building vertical structures contain holes? These bricks—face bricks or structural bricks—come in a variety of types, all designed to ensure a structure's sturdiness. Generally, they're used for the construction of homes or walls, but for those of you looking for a creative DIY project or hoping to recycle your building blocks, holed bricks make for great candle holders, planters and more. The bottom line: holes make a whole lot of sense.
Bricks are designed to be laid flat or stacked vertically. When building a garden, house or wall, bricks with holes—often referred to as face bricks or structural bricks—are used. It's important to note that not all face bricks contain holes. For example, brick pavers, which are both heavier and stronger, are designed to lay flat on the ground.
There are three main types of face bricks: wire cutter, stock bricks and water struck. Wire cutter bricks are made by forming clay in a molding device, cutting the resultant clay column into individual bricks and then firing them in a kiln. Stock bricks are molded bricks, often with a frog indent. These are made by pressing wet clay into sanded molds. They often have a soft texture and irregular shape. Water-struck bricks are released from the mold with water and usually do not have holes.
Bricks often have two types of holes: core holes and frogs. Core holes are three evenly-spaced holes lined along the center of the brick, much like a hollowed-out traffic light. Frog brick contains one large hole that gives the brick a smooth and recessed look.
When bricks are laid in a bed of mortar, the mortar seeps into the holes and dries, securing the brick into place. This process ensures that the structure is strong and sturdy. Holed bricks are also lighter, easier to transport and faster to lay. Moreover, they are easier to manufacture because the heat from the firing easily penetrates into the center of the brick. They are also cheaper than solid brick, as they use less material.
There are a number of non-structural, artistic ways to use bricks with holes: as candle holders, platters or simply as a decorative facade. Stick candles in the holes for a decorative centerpiece for weddings or outdoor parties. For a more casual candle-holder, use citronella candles to ward off insects on your patio or deck. To use them as plant holders, place succulents in the holes to perk up your garden. For plants that require deeper roots, stack these bricks vertically, allowing the roots to grow downwards. You can also use holed bricks as pavers, allowing plants to grow through the holes.
Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Elle.com, New York Magazine, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She produces content on women's health/wellness, design/DIY and business for companies such as Meredith Corporation, Leaf Group and the business school, Hautes Études Commercials Paris. She's a former Production Associate and blogger at Show of Force, the production company behind Nicholas Kristof's and Sheryl WuDunn's, Half the Sky.