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This comprehensive study examines the US residential market for bricks, blocks, and pavers industry by product, application, market sector, housing type, and region. Historical data are provided for 2010, 2015, and 2020, with forecasts for the years 2025 and 2030 in current US dollars (including inflation) and units.
For the purposes of this study, brick units are defined as having dimensions of 3-5/8 inches by 2-1/4 inches by 7-5/8 inches. These are known in the industry as “standard brick units”, the production of clay bricks of other dimensions are converted into an equivalent volume of standard brick units.
Paver unit demand is also given in standard brick unit size, although it is important to note that pavers are generally laid with the largest face exposed, unlike bricks, which are typically laid with the long narrow face exposed (i.e., the height of the brick face is less than the depth of the brick in the wall). Similarly, block units are given in standard units measuring 7-5/8 inches by 7-5/8 inches by 15-5/8 inches, including interlocking wall block units.
Both standardized measurements are given in order of depth by height by length when the product is laid in a building wall in standard fashion (known as “stretcher” orientation when laying building brick). Furthermore, the dimensions given are actual dimensions. Nominal dimensions are slightly larger, generally to the next full inch, and include an allowance for mortar between each unit.
For purposes of this report, blocks include two main product types:
- structural concrete block
- interlocking wall block, including segmental retaining wall (SRW) blocks
For bricks, a number of different types are evaluated, including:
- building brick
- clay paving brick
- facing brick
- chemical resistant brick
- fire brick
- specialty bricks including industrial floor brick, and sewer and manhole brick
This category also includes glazed brick, hollow brick, and thin brick (brick veneer), which are not broken out in the study. For purposes of this report, refractory brick and glass blocks are excluded.
The study includes both brick manufacturing processes of extrusion and molding:
- Extrusion creates a more uniform brick shape with cores through the center.
- Molding, a more costly process used primarily in high-end applications, creates bricks that have a more artisanal appearance and are often solid or have frogs (indentations) on non-visible faces.
Pavers are categorized by two types:
- standard design
- permeable design, allowing water to pass easily between the units and seep into the ground
Pavers are made primarily from concrete although they are also made from alternative materials such as recycled plastics. Both types are included in this report.
The market scope of the study consists of new and renovation sectors for the following housing types:
- conventional single-family houses
- multifamily structures (e.g., apartments)
- manufactured housing
Bricks, blocks, and pavers have a variety of applications, most related to construction. Leading applications include:
- structural (primarily foundations and structural walls)
- hardscaping (paving, walls, steps, fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, and other decorative landscaping)
- indoor fireplaces and chimneys
Residential demand for blocks, bricks, and pavers is also segmented by the following US geographic regions:
Demand by Region
The primary determinant of residential demand for bricks, blocks, and pavers on the regional level is the overall level of residential construction activity. However, there are regional differences in building preferences, which have an impact on demand:
- Homes in the Northeast and Midwest are more likely than those in the South and West to have full or partial basements, impacting demand for structural blocks used in foundation applications.
- The South is more likely than other regions to use brick as a siding material and is a very intensive user of brick siding products; thus, demand for brick products in that region is high.
Residential demand for bricks, blocks, and pavers is projected to increase 1.9% per year through 2025 to $3.7 billion. Growth in single-family home construction and home renovation spending early in the forecast period will boost brick, block, and paver sales. However, single-family home construction will then proceed to slow by 2025, causing average growth over the 2020-2025 to decelerate significantly.
The South is, as a whole, the leading regional residential market for bricks, blocks, and pavers, reflecting its large inventory of existing buildings, as well as the strong regional economy, large share of the US population, and regional building preferences.
Bricks, blocks, and pavers are low-cost, low-value building products, which tend to see relatively slow growth in average prices over the long term. However, there are times when prices for these products can rise substantially. This occurs most frequently when energy costs increase, as both the clay brick and concrete block manufacturing processes are energy intensive. In contrast, during times when the construction industry is in a cyclical downturn, pressure can be strong for producers to reduce prices.
Changes in average brick and block prices can also be impacted by changes in the product mix favoring higher or lower priced products. Clay building bricks can sell for as little as 15 to 20 cents per unit, while concrete block products generally cost over $1 per unit:
- A decline in clay brick market share in unit terms could lead to an increase in average unit prices as a matter of course.
- Rapid growth in the use of clay brick coupled with slower gains in concrete block units could lead to a decline in average unit prices.
Specialty products can cost even more. Products that have been treated in order to achieve a different look generally have higher average prices than do basic products of the same type. For example, glazed clay brick is more than twice as expensive as common face brick.
Prices for most types of bricks, blocks, and pavers are expected to rise through 2025 due to cost increases for the raw materials used to manufacture these products.