A brick bond is the pattern in which bricks are laid. It applies to both brick walls and brick paving for patios and paths, as well as to concrete block and other types of masonry construction. There are many different types of brick bonds and each has its own look, installation challenges, and in the case of walls, structural considerations.
How Brick Bonds Work
Most brick bonds require bricks (or other masonry units) of the same size, or at least compatible sizes. Uniform sizing creates a regular, repeatable pattern that can be applied over any size of area. Many bond patterns include some method of interlocking each row of brick (called a course) to the neighboring courses. If you stack up bricks in single-file columns, the stacks can easily topple. But if you stack them so that the joints are staggered, or are offset, between neighboring courses, the bricks are essentially woven together. In this way, the bond adds strength to the construction to make a mortared wall even stronger. When using mortar between bricks, keep in mind that the thickness of the mortar is added to the unit size of each brick.
Common Wall Brick Bonds
Brick walls may be structural, such as load-bearing walls, or they may be primarily decorative, such as a brick-veneer wall. Structural walls require some type of structural bond, while decorative walls may use any bond pattern. Here are some of the most traditional and popular brick bonds used for walls:
- Running bond: Bricks are staggered by 1/2 brick from the course above and below, in a classic 1-over-2 pattern. A simple, structural bond used for basic wall construction. All bricks are laid lengthwise, with the long sides, or "stretchers" facing out.
- Common bond: Running bond pattern with intermittent courses of "header bricks" (bricks laid with their ends facing out). Often used for double-thickness walls so that header bricks are flush on the ends with two stretchers laid side by side.
- English bond: Similar to common bond but alternating running bond (with all stretcher bricks) and all header bricks with each course.
- Flemish bond: Stretcher and header bricks alternating in each course.
- Stack bond: All stretcher bricks laid in a grid of identical courses. Joints are not staggered between courses. A non-structural bond used primarily for decorative interior walls.
Common Paving Brick Bonds
Unlike walls, which have to support themselves and sometimes loads from above, brick paving is entirely supported by the underlying surface. This means that brick bonds for paving can be much more flexible and decorative. Paving bonds are chosen for their look but also for their ease of installation. Patterns that involve less cutting are easier and faster to install. Paving patterns also can incorporate wood timbers or other materials integrated into the design. Brick pavers usually are laid flat with one of their large sides facing up.
- Running bond: This is the same pattern as with wall brick. Can be parallel, perpendicular, or diagonal to the length of a path or patio.
- Herringbone: A simple zig-zag pattern with each brick perpendicular to its neighbors. While it's a universally attractive pattern, it requires a cut brick at the end of every course to form a straight line.
- Basketweave: This is a square pattern with bricks laid side-by-side in pairs, each pair perpendicular to its neighbors. It's considered an easy pattern for square and rectangular areas.
- Pinwheel: This pattern is identifiable by its repeated assemblies of four bricks laid end-to-side to create a square with a half-brick space in its center. A half-brick fills the center.
- Stacked: Also called Jack-on-Jack paving. It's a square grid of even rows; no staggering between courses.