non-modular brick sizes

Dimensions given are nominal; they include the thickness of the mortar joint. The actual physical dimensions of a brick would be smaller; when the brick is laid the mortar brings it to the size of the module. So for example a “standard” brick intended to be laid with 38 inch mortar joints might have actual dimensions of 3¾ inches × 1 78 inches by 7 58 inches, while a standard brick for ½ inch joints might be 3¾ inches × 1¾ inches by 7½ inches.

 

Recent pre-modular American brick sizes

Dimensions of the king and queen sizes vary by manufacturer.

Name Joint
thickness
Actual Dimensions,
in inches
standard 3/8 3 5/8 × 2¼ × 8
½ 3½ × 2¼ × 8
engineer standard 3/8 3 5/8 × 2¾ × 8
½ 3½ × 2 13/16 × 8
closure standard 3/8 3 5/8 × 3 5/8 × 8
½ 3½ × 3½ × 8
king 2¾ – 3 × 2 5/8 – 2¾ × 9 5/8 – 9¾
queen 2¾ – 3 × 2¾ × 7 5/8 – 8
3/8 3  × 2¾ × 8 5/8
3/8 3  × 2 5/8 × 8 5/8

Historical sizes

For readers hoping to date a building by its bricks, a word of warning from archeologist Ivor Noël Hume:

[Bricks] have also served as a kind of Rosetta Stone for architects and archeologists attempting to date old foundations and buildings. The sad truth of the matter, however, is that individual bricks are not nearly as informative as we are often led to believe, though when seen in their original coursing they can offer us a few general guidelines. … The fallacy of trying to date a building by its brick sizes is exhibited time and again when one measures numerous examples from one foundation and finds half a dozen different sizes used in its construction. These variations may be all of the same date, but they may also be derived from the long-established practice of robbing abandoned buildings of their bricks and re-using them in later walls. Such loot can often be identified by the presence of more than one type of mortar on a single brick.1

Source Name of brick
A statute of Elizabeth I (1571)   9
A statute of George I (1725) place brick 9
stock brick 2 5/8 9
Neve (1736)2 statute, small, or common brick 9
Great brick 6 3 12
Tabert (1804)3   4 9

18th century colonial American 8¾ by 4 by 2 58

Type Depth × height × length
standard 3¾ inches by 2¼ inches by 8 inches
jumbo 3¾ inches by 2¾ inches by 8 inches
3-inch 3 inches by 2¾ inches by 9 inches

The following are considered oversize bricks.

8 inch square 3 5/8 inches by 8 inches by 8 inches
12 inch square 3 5/8 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches
high brick 4 inches by 8 inches by 16 inches

1. Ivor Noël Hume.
A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.

Pages 80, 82.

2. Richard Neve.
The City and Country Purchaser’s and Builder’s Dictionary: or, The Complete Builder’s Guide. 3rd ed.
London, 1736.

3. Benjamin Tabert.
The Book of Trades, or the Library of Useful Arts. Part II.
London (1804 or 1805).

Reprinted Philadelphia, 1807. That edition was reprinted as Early Nineteenth-Century Crafts and Trades by Dover Publications in 1992. The quotation is from page 4.

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