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Is brick always red?

Brick is one of the most common building materials used in construction. Its durability, affordability, and aesthetic make it a go-to choice for everything from homes to commercial buildings. When most people think of brick, they imagine the classic red brick. However, brick actually comes in a wide variety of colors beyond just red. While red is certainly the most popular brick color, examining the broad spectrum of brick shades provides insight into the versatility and customization possible with this trusted building material.

The Origins of Red Brick Popularity

There are practical reasons behind red brick’s ubiquity and status as the “default” brick color. Brick’s red hue stems from the high iron content of the clay used to form it. Iron oxide, which is red, occurs naturally in clay found throughout different geographies. Historically, brickmakers utilized local clay, which lent itself to red brick due to naturally occurring iron oxide concentrations. Red brick became widespread because it was the simplest, most readily available brick type across different regions.

Red brick popularity also owes some of its prestige to savvy marketing. In the late 19th century, brick promoters worked extensively to elevate the material over wood and stone construction. Brick was marketed as being strong, fireproof, and beautiful. Red brick complemented prevalent architectural styles of the time, including Victorian and Craftsman homes. Although other brick colors were available, the familiar red shade benefited from successful branding campaigns cementing it as a traditional, classy choice.

Common Brick Colors

Despite the popularity of red brick, it only scratches the surface of available brick colors. From warm natural tones to bold painted shades, brick offers vast design flexibility. Some of the most prevalent brick color options include:


Brown brick provides a muted, earthy aesthetic. It can appear in lighter tans or deeper, darker brownish shades. The color variation depends on the clay composition and firing method. Brown brick offers a relaxed, inviting look popular for cottages, farmhouses, and Craftsman designs.


Yellow brick makes a cheerful, sunny addition to any building. Ranging from pale lemon to deep gold, yellow brick injects brightness into exterior walls. Yellow brick remains relatively uncommon compared to red brick, but provides a lively punch of color.


Grey brick shows off its versatility with cool, muted tones. From hazy greys to nearly black, it adapts well to a variety of architectural styles. Modern and industrial buildings often incorporate grey brick. The color also complements historic brick structures as a repointing choice.


White brick stands out with its clean, bright look. The crisp, neutral tone works with any style from traditional to contemporary. White brick remains less widespread than red, but makes a noticeable statement. It brings light and brightness to any building exterior.


At the other end of the color spectrum, black brick provides a dramatic, eye-catching effect. Black brick is formed by firing clay at extremely high temperatures. This deep, charcoal hue works beautifully for modern designs and creative accents. Black brick makes any building feel bold and contemporary.


Purple brick certainly attracts attention with its regal shade. Ranging from soft lilacs to deep violets, purple brick adds a touch of royalty and elegance. This color works best for accenting, as large expanses of solid purple may feel overwhelming. But as an accent or mosaic pattern, purple brick packs visual punch.


Blue is another brick color that pops against an exterior facade. From navy to pastel blue, the color feels both trendy and timeless. Blue brick often gets painted or glazed to achieve an intense, uniform finish. This vibrant brick color choice enhances traditional, Mediterranean, and eclectic home styles.


Green brick also brings life and color to building exteriors. Soft minty greens complement traditional architectures while bolder kelly greens feel fresh and contemporary. Green brick can get produced through special firing methods or paints and glazes. This earthy, nature-inspired color feels both stylish and relaxing.

Achieving Different Brick Colors

What gives brick its rich range of colors? Brick makers utilize a few key techniques to achieve different hues beyond standard red. These include:

Clay Composition

The minerals found naturally in clay give brick its inherent color. Iron oxide yields classic red brick. But clay from different quarries contains varying mineral content, resulting in bricks of different colors. Using clays with less iron oxide allows brickmakers to produce natural shades of tan, brown, yellow, and grey brick.

Extreme Kiln Temperatures

Firing methodology also impacts brick color. Firing brick at very high temperatures causes the clay to vitrify, forming black or nearly black brick. Extending the firing duration can also darken red brick to brown and black shades. Bricks fired at lower temperatures maintain a reddish or tan hue.

Glazes and Coatings

Applying special surface treatments allows nearly any brick color to get achieved. Glazes and coatings like paints, oxides, and patinas introduce different colors into the bricks. Green, blue, purple, yellow, black, and white bricks often get produced this way. The finishes penetrate the brick surface for permanent, lasting color.

Most Popular Brick Colors

Red brick still reigns supreme as the most popular brick color by far. But exact statistics on the different brick color proportions provide helpful insight:

Brick Color Percentage of Brick Market
Red 82%
Brown 5%
Grey 4%
Yellow/Tan 3%
White 2%
Other Colors 4%

As shown, red brick dominates with over 80% market share. But brown, grey, yellow/tan, and white brick also claim notable proportions. Custom brick colors like purple, blue, green, and black compromise a smaller niche. But their vibrant hues make them popular choices for statement accents.

Color Trends in Brick

Brick color preferences evolve over time alongside wider architectural and design trends. Here are some notable brick color trends to watch:

More Neutrals

Warmer, muted neutrals like beiges, browns, and grey continue gaining ground over red brick’s prevalence. These earthy neutrals feel soothing and flexible for a variety of building styles.

Brighter Palettes

Vibrant painted bricks in shades like azure, emerald, and violet bring energetic punctuation to building exteriors. Brighter palette bricks inject color while still offering a natural material texture.

Increased Customization

Custom mixing brick textures, sizes, and colors grows more popular. Blending brick types adds visual interest through contrast and dimension. Many designers mix standard bricks with brighter colored accents.

Historic Hues

Classic reds and burnt oranges feel fresh again, speaking to a return to traditional styles. But these iconic, historic hues get updated in more unique blended applications rather than monolithic facades.

Local Clays

Sourcing local, regional clay also rises in popularity for its sustainable implications and inherently region-appropriate hues.

Choosing the Right Brick Color

With so many options to weigh, choosing the perfect brick color may seem daunting. Keep these tips in mind when selecting brick colors for your next project:

  • Consider your overall design style. Match brick color to the architectural look you want to achieve. Neutrals suit traditional homes, while bold colors work best on contemporary buildings.
  • Think about color scheme. Coordinate exterior brick with trim, shutters, and accent colors for a cohesive, attractive combination.
  • Look at surrounding structures. Try to complement nearby buildings so your facade doesn’t look jarringly out of sync with the area.
  • Assess maintenance considerations. White and light brick shows dirt more easily. Darker earth tones hide wear better over time.
  • View color samples. Look at actual bricks to get a true sense of the color, texture, and how light plays across it.

With the right approach, you can pick the ideal brick color to suit your architectural vision, surrounding environment, and practical needs. Don’t hesitate to go beyond traditional red brick to find a shade that expresses your unique personality and design goals.


Brick no longer means just red. An expansive spectrum of brick colors gives architects, designers, and builders more choice than ever before. While red brick maintains well-deserved popularity, alternatives like brown, grey, white, yellow and custom colors open new possibilities. Blending brick types and embracing trends like bright accents, muted neutrals, and eco-friendly local sourcing point the way toward the future of this trusted building material. Brick’s flexibility empowers creativity in exterior designs across every architectural style. Whether going for a traditional look in burnt orange, or a modern vibe in emerald green, brick’s range of colors delivers on both form and function. So don’t be afraid to think beyond red when incorporating brick into your next project.