Two places to buy Roman bricks in a wide variety of colors and styles

Roman brickCommonly chosen to emphasize the long, low architecture of ranch houses, “Roman brick” was a signature design feature likely used to build millions of American homes  in the 1950s and 1960s. We also see Roman brick frequently used on fireplaces. My immediate neighborhood reflects this trend — with about one in three homes built using Roman brick — including mine, that’s my brick above. We’ve received questions in the past about where to get Roman brick, so Pam sent me on a research mission, and I found two places to buy Roman brick in an impressive variety of styles and colors.

roman tomb

Roman bricks: Tomb on via Appia antica in Rome. Via WikiCommons

Roman brick — as the name suggests — can trace its history back to ancient Rome. Ancient Roman bricks were made in a variety dimensions, but always longer and flatter than traditional brick. Roman bricks were reintroduced into contemporary architecture in the early 20th century.

1950 ranch house

Gorgeous roman brick clads the exterior of this 1950 Dallas midcentury modern time capsule house — and the interior is full of it, too.

roman-brick-fireplace

The double-sided roman brick fireplace in Michael and Teresa’s 1962 house, from our 2013 uploader. UPDATE: Reader Tear-down Townie says these are “Norman bricks.” So there are distinctions within the distinction? Yup, Norman bricks — see this brick dimensions guide from Belden Brick. Thanks, Tear-down, for making us even smarter!

This long, thin brick was used extensively by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright for many of his Prairie style homes, because he liked how the brick helped emphasize the horizontal lines common to his home designs. The same held true when ranch house production boomed in postwar American. By the middle of the 20th century, we believe they were quite commonly used on and in midcentury modern and modest houses alike — we seem them in a lot of reader photos. Ranch houses simply look great, clad in roman brick, and golly, Roman brick fireplaces are awesome! If you need to renovate or change out the mantle of the fireplace in your midcentury house — be sure take a look at Roman brick as an option.

Two places to find Roman brick today

1. The Belden Brick Company — 13 Roman brick styles

The Belden Brick Company began as the Diebold Fire Brick Company in 1885 in Canton, Ohio. According to the company, it is the sixth largest (by production volume) brick manufacturer in the U.S. — and the largest family-owned and -managed brick company in the country. Belden offers 13 styles of Roman brick, which are available to purchase nationwide through their distributors.

From The Belden Brick Company website:

Roman Brick is ideal for creating a distinct and different look to any structure. It characteristically has longer and more linear dimensions than those of standard modern brick. Belden Roman Brick was used on the restoration of the Famous Frank Lloyd Wright “Martin House Complex” in Buffalo, New York. The dimensions of Belden Roman Face Brick are 3-5/8” x 1-5/8” x 11-5/8”.

Roman BrickAbove: Medium Range Ironspot (Shadow-Tex)

Roman BrickAbove: Red Shale (Shadow-Tex)

Roman BrickAbove: Red Shale (Smooth)

Roman BrickAbove: Belcrest 500

Roman BrickAbove: Dark Range Ironsphot (Smooth)

Roman BrickAbove: Frontier Blend (Velour)

Roman BrickAbove: Beaver Blend

Roman BrickAbove: Medium Range Ironspot (Smooth)

Roman BrickAbove: Light Range Ironspot (Smooth)

Roman BrickAbove: Light Range Ironspot (Velour)

Roman BrickAbove: Sunburst (Velour)

Roman BrickAbove: Mayo Blend

Roman BrickAbove: 8531

Links:

2. Cloud Ceramics — 29 colors, 8 textures

colors of bricksRoman BrickCloud Ceramics has been producing bricks in Kansas since 1946. Today the company makes some 29 different colors of brick, eight textures and several sizes — including Roman brick. Their bricks are sold nationwide and in Canada and can be ordered through distributors. Cloud Ceramics also offers brick matching — allowing homeowners and contractors to send them photos of an existing building — even one with aged brick — so Cloud Ceramics can suggest or custom make the best available match. The company will even send physical brick samples to you for match comparison purposes.

brick texturesAbove: Antique texture

brick texturesAbove: Rockface texture

brick texturesAbove: Rustic texture

brick texturesAbove: Shadowtex texture

brick texturesAbove: Smooth texture

brick texturesAbove: Velour texture

brick texturesAbove: Vertex texture

brick texturesAbove: Wiretex texture

Links:

Outside the US and still looking for Roman brick?

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Comments

  1. Laura says

    When are we going to have more dollhouse posts? I’m dying over here! Dying for miniature midmod fully-decorated beauty!

    • Kate says

      hahaha, I’m working on it Laura! Pam pulls me in a lot of different directions every week so I don’t always have time to devote to the dollhouse, but I’m hoping to finish it up soon — I’m so close! — so you can see it in all it’s glory! So glad you are enjoying the series!

  2. Robin, NV says

    I was just out strolling around my neighborhood yesterday, admiring the homes with Roman brick. One is a darling little 1940s cottage with a Roman brick fireplace. The house is currently empty, so I snuck a peak inside – the fireplace is a whole wall of Roman brick! Good to know you can still get it!

  3. Cheryl Roberts says

    This is a great article. I wondered what my 1951 fireplace brick was and it appears to be the Red Shale (smooth). It was laid in a simple, but very well done, stacked pattern, with straight horizontal and vertical lines. The fireplace is over 8′ wide and takes up most of one wall. It is just under 5′ in height. The mantle is a simple, but appropriate, shelf that runs the width of the mantle. And, as per 1951 standards, there is a mirror above the goes to the ceiling.
    When I bought the house, several people suggested that I paint the fireplace–not a chance!
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Barb says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I have a few small repairs needed on my 1961 Roman Brick rambler. I believed Roman Brick was unobtainable. Thank you for finding sources!

    Barb

  5. lisa in Seattle says

    We have a Roman Brick fireplace that was added to our 1909 house in the 50s. It has been painted, which perhaps is for the best given the difference from the style of the rest of the house. It is dark taupe. I’ve often considered repainting but can’t decide on a color.

  6. Tear-down Townie says

    My eyes may be playing tricks on me, but the height-to-width ratio of Michael and Teresa’s Fireplace brick pictured above appears more Norman to me than Roman. Our 1956 house has a Roman brick fireplace in the downstairs rumpus room and a fireplace upstairs with bricks that are the height of a Roman (1 5/8″) but only 7 5/8″ long( split paver).

      • Tear-down Townie says

        I had no idea there were different types of skinny brick either until Kate’s post led me to the Belden site (awesome resource) and their sizing guide. Then I printed it out (like a big dork) and went around the house trying to classify all of our bricks. An interesting side note: Google thinks you probably want pictures of Norman Bates if you start typing in Norman brick!

        • pam kueber says

          hehe! We are all now brick geeks! Like I said, we can now amaze and impress (or bore to death) our friends at cocktail parties with our brickxpertise

  7. Mr. W says

    Oh that is awesome! I didn’t know you could still get roman brick, and in a variety of styles too! I always loved the look of it.
    It’s interesting to walk around a 1950s era neighbourhood and see all the different colours and patterns of it… when I was a kid, our house had orange roman brick (as well as “bottle-dash” stucco! but that’s a different story), and a house down the street had grey with red mortar; it looked very unique and interesting, and I’ve never seen it anywhere else. Sometimes the bricks are laid out in interesting ways too, such as on your house where they have a bit of a random appearance.

  8. Judy H. says

    My house is a ranch built in 1950 and as I find here, made of Roman brick. I always wondered what kind of brick it was. On my block there are three other homes constructed of the same brick. Their are two other homes constructed of what I would call a traditional brick and two more made of the ever popular yellow or buff brick. The rest of the homes are of wood construction. I find it very interesting that there are so many varieties of brick on the same block.

  9. says

    Wow, I always thought my fireplace bricks were cool because they were so long compared to “regular” bricks. I just got out the tape measure and measured then and it turns out they are Norman Bricks–who knew? Thanks for making us smarter!

  10. says

    one more comment. one of the things I like about our family room fireplace (the one with the norman brick) is the variegated color. I would never paint it–I think it’s so beautiful. I was wondering if there was any significance or history around the different colors? You can see it if you click on my blog.

    • Carolyn says

      Would it be sacrilege to pave over our late 70s boring brick fireplace with some cool Roman brick, maybe cut to be veneer?? I figure I’d be keeping to the original material, just a cooler version of it…would bring a much more interesting visual…am I bricking up the wrong tree?

  11. Carolyn says

    So weird that my comment got lodged as a reply to a comment–I didn’t intend it that way–I’m sorry, Tricia.

  12. mcmsdmike says

    my moms 1958 del webb mid century ranch has them on the fireplace , learned something new today ,we want to add the ash fork ariz stacked sandstone to the front porch and planters someday

  13. Joe Felice says

    And then there was “Miami brick”. . . . Very popular here in Colorado in the ’50s & ’60s. Don’t know how it got that name. It was normally light mauve, almost lavender, in color. For those unfamiliar with it, it consists of long, narrow bricks of varying lengths, placed in a staggered pattern. The texture was pretty rough. Wiretex texture was also very popular, as was cedar siding (painted) and Johns-Manville cementious siding, which contained asbestos. I never understood that product’s popularity (other than cost, since Johns-Manville is headquartered here). It broke very easily when hit by such things as baseballs, lawn mowers and hail. It was, however, fire-proof. I think this product was even called “Coloradobestos siding.” http://homerenovations.about.com/od/houseexteriorframework/a/artcemasbesside.htm

  14. Steven Meyer says

    Hi Kate, You have the exact same brick that my 1952 home is built with. I have a doorway and window to close in after remodeling.

    I had located and researched the Belden Brick selections and my local dealer seems to only to be able to get the light range ironspot which appears too orange with orange specks in the brick.

    What did you choose for your brick replacement?

    I am stumped with what to do for replacement and am considering a veneer siding that would be close in color but very different form.

    Steve Meyer
    Mt Pleasant WI

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