Manufacturers produce bricks to their own specifications (the same manufacturer may even produce different sizes across plants), so it is important to confirm sizes; however, the sizes in the tables below come from the Brick Industry Association and are the most commonly produced sizes.

Understanding Brick Size Nomenclature

There are three different ways of discussing sizes when it comes to brick and it is important to understand the different sizes so there isn't any confusion - we will start by discussing the different dimensions: specified, actual, and nominal.

Specified brick dimensions are the dimensions that architects use in designing a wall. Specified dimensions are the anticipated manufactured dimensions of a brick without taking the mortar joint size into account. Architects will include the specified size in their drawings and specifications. In non-modular construction, the specified size is the only size used as you'll see in the tables below — non-modular construction is uncommon.

Actual brick dimensions are the final measurements of the brick as it comes out of the manufacturing plant. The actual dimensions of the brick are within certain tolerances of the specified size — tolerances are spelled out in ASTM C216, Standard Specification for Facing Brick and ASTM C652, Standard Specification for Hollow Brick. The tolerances vary depending on the type and size of brick, but they are minimal and will usually not affect the architectural design. If you are interested in more information about tolerances, start with the Brick Industry Association Technical Notes 9A.

Nominal brick dimensions are used in modular construction and are the specified size plus the width of the mortar joint. Most bricks are manufactured so that the nominal sizes fit into a grid of 4", which coincides with the modules of other building materials such as doors, windows, and wood components.

Brick Selection for Architects

Architects are mostly interested in the aesthetic appearance of the brick wall, but when it comes to detailing it is important to understand the sizes of bricks. That said, most architects will select bricks based on their color and bond pattern. The size of the brick is tied to the bond pattern and manufacturer specifics.

The size of the mortar joint is usually of no concern to the aesthetic (it is hard to tell the difference between 3/8" and 1/2"), but it is important in detailing — selection of the mortar size will come after the brick is selected and the manufacturer provides the specified size. However, a 3/8" mortar joint is usually used, which we will cover below.

A Word About Mortar Joint Sizes

The predominant mortar joint width used in construction is 3/8". In fact, the International Building Codes reference TMS 602 Specification for Masonry Structures, which defaults to a 3/8" mortar joint so this should be the main starting point for architects and engineers, but always confirm the specified size of your selected brick.

You will notice that the two different mortar sizes listed below both show the same vertical coursing dimensions. This is because the bricks are laid with mortar beds that vary to provide the common coursing dimensions listed. The mortar joint dimensions we call out are used for the Depth and Length dimensions.

3/8" Mortar Joint Between Bricks (Most Common)

Brick TypeSpecified Size
D x H x L (inches)
Nominal Size
D x H x L
Vertical Course
Standard3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 8Not modular3 courses = 8"
Modular3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 7 5/84 x 2 2/3 x 83 courses = 8"
Norman3 5/8 x 2 1/4 x 11 5/84 x 2 2/3 x 123 courses = 8"
Roman3 5/8 x 1 5/8 x 11 5/84 x 2 x 121 course = 2"
Jumbo3 5/8 x 2 3/4 x 84 x 3 x 81 course = 3"
Economy3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 7 5/84 x 4 x 81 course = 4"
Engineer3 5/8 x 2 13/16 x 7 5/84 x 3 1/5 x 85 courses = 16"
King2 3/4 x 2 5/8 x 9 5/8Not modular5 courses = 16"
Queen2 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 7 5/8Not modular5 courses = 16"
Utility3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 11 5/84 x 4 x 121 course = 4"
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1/2" Mortar Joint Between Bricks

Brick TypeSpecified Size
D x H x L (inches)
Nominal Size
D x H x L
Vertical Course
Standard3 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 8Not modular3 courses = 8"
Modular3 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 7 1/24 x 2 2/3 x 83 courses = 8"
Norman3 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 11 1/24 x 2 2/3 x 123 courses = 8"
Roman3 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 11 1/24 x 2 x 121 course = 2"
Jumbo3 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 84 x 3 x 81 course = 3"
Economy3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 7 1/24 x 4 x 81 course = 4"
Engineer3 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 7 1/24 x 3 1/5 x 85 courses = 16"
King3 x 2 3/4 x 9 3/4Not modular5 courses = 16"
Queen3 x 2 3/4 x 8Not modular5 courses = 16"
Utility3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 11 1/24 x 4 x 121 course = 4"

For more information on dimensioning and estimating brick, check out the Brick Industry Association Technical Notes 10, Dimensioning and Estimating Brick Masonry.

Masonry Manufacturers

Masonry and Related Products

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