Terra cotta breeze blocks aka solar tiles from D’Hanis Brick & Tile

clay breeze blockMy mega research on where to find breeze blocks continues — here’s another company — D’Hanis Brick & Tile Company of San Antonio, Texas — in business since 1905 — that sells terra cotta breeze blocks.  The company calls them “solar tiles, and there are five different designs. 

terra cotta solar block I actually was tipped to this company by an email from the owner himself, John Albert Oberman. After looking at their website I dialed him up, in particular thinking I was misunderstanding a detail. Was this company really in business doing terra cotta since 1905? Yes! he said.

Digging their own clay for 115 years

Not only that, but D’Hanis Brick & Tile has been digging their own clay from their own fields since that time — 115 years! Their clay pits are just a mile from their manufacturing site. But… but… wouldn’t they run out, I asked? Oberman replied that even after 115 years of digging,  they were only 30% into their reserve. Whoa!

clay breeze block
The clay is important to the D’Hanis story, because its properties mean that the finished terra cotta product has a peachy cast to it and reflects nicely, Oberman told me. In addition to the look of the product, Oberman cited various characteristics that differentiate terra cotta from concrete.  If you’re in the market, give the company a call to learn more. 

breeze block designs from terra cotta clay
The D’Hanis website does not show photos of these breeze blocks — so we have ’em here!  They also have a spec sheet that you can ask for with more details, for example, this clay product is not recommended for freeze/thaw climates, and these are not load bearing (other types of breeze blocks also are not load bearing, I believe — check with the companies or your own professional).

Most of the company’s business is in Texas and 200 to 300 miles around Austin, but that they do ship — and that shipping costs are not that bad, Oberman said.

red breeze block
How long have these terra cotta breeze block / solar tile designs been around? Oberman told me that when he bought the company 30+ years ago, the company had only one solar tile / breeze block design. Since then, they added to their lineup, and today, these solar tiles are “very very popular,” he said.

Deservedly so! Thank you, John Albert Oberman, for sharing this information, and for the photos too! 

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