The ways in which brick are cut and laid to create decorative patterns are ancient and infinitely varied. They are as intricate and demanding as the patterns found in weaving and embroidery or bead work or inlaid designs in wood. Sometimes these bonds bear similar names and designs.
There are weaves such as: Basket weave, Herringbone weave, and Della Robbia weave. There are braids such as: Nordic Braid, Scottish Braid, Parquet Braid, Diamond Braid, Appian Braid, Celtic Cross Braid, and Pinwheel. Names for bonds are inspired by places: Monterey, Corte Madera, Mediterranean, or taken from nature: Northern Lights, Snakeskin, Peacock, and borrowed from eras or styles: Regency, Chateau Nouveau, 3-D Cube.
There are even names for bonds drawn from peoples and stories such as: Macedonian, English Rowlock, Flemish, Cherokee, Roman Curb, and Jacob’s Ladder. There is a Hollywood bond also known as Drunk brick. In many ways, brick bonds are a lasting illustration of our history.
Joints and Courses
Bond A bond is the patterned arrangement of brick or stone in a wall. The brick must be lapped upon one another, to prevent vertical joints from falling over each other.
Mortar Mortar is a pasty building material composed of sand, lime and cement mixed with water. This mixture gradually hardens when exposed to the air. Mortar is used as a joining medium in brick and stone construction.
Joint A joint is the mortar bond placed between individual masonry units such as brick, block or stone.
When a brick is laid down the mason must decide which side of the brick will face outside towards the viewer. Will the brick be set flat or will it stand up? Will the wide side or the narrow side face out? The following are terms which describe how the brick is set. Is it vertical or horizontal? Does it show the long or or the short side? Does it show the narrow or the wide side? Is it laid down on the narrow edge or the wide edge?
Course Setting a course means to arrange in a row. A row of bricks, when laid in a wall, is called a course. It is a continuous level range or row of brick or masonry throughout the face or faces of a building. Each horizontal layer of brick in a masonry structure is called a course. Brick laid flat and perpendicular to the face of the wall are called headers. A header course consists entirely of headers (horizontal, short, narrow side laid on wide edge).
Parts of brickwork include bricks, beds and perpends. The bed is the mortar upon which a brick is laid. A perpend is a vertical joint between any two bricks and is usually – but not always – filled with mortar. The dimensions of these parts are, in general, co-ordinated so that two bricks laid side by side separated only by the width of a perpend have a total width identical to the length of a single brick laid transversely on top of them.
Stretcher Brick laid flat with the long face parallel to the wall are called a stretchers. When all the brick in the course are laid in this manner, it is called a stretcher course. (horizontal, long, narrow)
Header A brick laid flat with its width at the face of the wall, or parallel to the face of the wall.
Soldier A soldier course is one in which brick are laid standing on end with the narrow edge facing out. This type of course is sometimes used for decorative effects over door and window openings and in fireplace facings (vertical, long, narrow).
Sailor A sailor course is similar to the soldier course but with the wide edge facing out. It is used for decorative effects (vertical, long, wide). The width of a masonry structure can be measured by stretchers and joints. The height of a masonry structure can be measured by courses and joints.
Rowlock Occasionally a special type of course is used for either structural or decorative purposes. The rowlock or rolok is similar to the header course except that the brick are laid on narrow or face edge. This type of course is often used as the top course or cap of garden walls and as window and door sills (horizontal, short, narrow side laid on narrow edge).
Shiner A brick laid on the long narrow side with the broad face of the brick exposed.
The following are typical brick bonds found on the faces of veneers of buildings.
Running or Stretcher Bond The running Bond uses stretcher courses with the joints breaking at the center of each brick immediately above and below. This is frequently used for partitions and veneer and chimneys.
Common Bond Sometimes called the American Bond, this is a variation of the Running Bond, with a header course every 5th, 6th, or 7th course. This ties the wall to the backing masonry material. The header courses are centered on each other.
English Bond The English Bond is a form of bond in which one course is composed entirely of headers and the next course is composed entirely of stretchers. The header and stretcher courses alternate throughout the wall. Alternate courses of headers and stretchers are laid so the joints between stretchers are centered on the headers. Stretchers are centered on stretchers; headers on headers. This type of bond is especially popular for residential buildings.
English Cross Bond or Dutch Bond A form of bond similar to Old English bond. This bond uses alternate headers and stretcher courses. The joints of the stretchers center on the stretchers two courses above and below; headers center on headers. This type of bond is used where strength and beauty are required.
Flemish Bond A bond consisting of headers and stretchers which alternate in every course. The headers in course are centered above and below the stretchers in the other course. It is so laid as always to break joints, each header being placed in the middle of the stretchers in courses above and below.
Stack Bond All courses are stretchers and all joins are in line. This is used primarily for aesthetic purposes. It has relatively little structural value.
The following are typical brick bonds frequently used for paving.
Basket Weave Bond This pattern imitates a basic in-and-out weave. It looks as if the weft and the warp each had two threads. In terms of brick, if one viewed the horizontal paving as if it were the side of a vertical wall one could describe this bond as consisting of a course of two stretchers laid in a stack bond next to two soldiers and this pattern is repeated for the course. The stack and soldiers alternate on each course. The narrow side of the brick can be presented to the viewer but usually the wide side of the brick faces up.
Herringbone Bond This pattern imitates a herringbone weave. In terms of brick, if one viewed the horizontal paving as if it were the side of a vertical wall one could describe this bond as consisting of a course of one stretcher laid next to one soldier and this pattern is repeated for the course. The stretcher and soldier alternate on each course. On a 45 degree angle a stairway of stretchers can be seen. Soldiers stand on one edge of each step. The narrow side of the brick can be presented to the viewer but usually the wide side of the brick faces up.
Pinwheel Bond This pattern imitates the assembly of a pinwheel. It calls for the insertion of a cut half brick or a closure in the center of a square. If one viewed the horizontal paving as if it were the side of a vertical wall one could describe this bond as consisting of a course of one stretcher laid next to one soldier and this pattern is repeated for the course. The stretcher and soldier alternate on each course but this time their order is reversed on each course. Even courses: stretcher, soldier. Odd courses: soldier, stretcher. The narrow side of the brick can be presented to the viewer but usually the wide side of the brick faces up. Two courses form a series of squares with a closure in the center.
Della Robbia Weave Bond This bond is not commonly used. At one time we called it the Walton Weave because Dennis Walton invented the pattern. Alas, there is nothing new under the sun, at least not in masonry bonds. One day we discovered the proper name for this pattern. It is a variation on a basket weave, but it uses only one brick (or thread) for the weft and warp. It
consists of a course of one stretcher laid next to one soldier and this pattern is repeated for the course. However the stretcher is centered on the soldier and the soldier is centered on the stretchers in the courses above and below. The stretcher and soldier alternate on each course. Quarter closures fill in the gaps making a small square out of each centered soldier and each centered stretcher. Three courses form a pattern that looks something like a capital I next to a dash: I-I-I-I-I- or a series of the capital H: HHHHH with thread weaving in and out of the crossbar on the H. The wide side of the brick faces up.
Running Board Bond The pattern is the same as a Running Bond in a wall. It uses stretcher courses with the joints breaking at the center of each brick immediately above and below. In terms of brick, they can be viewed as soldiers.
Drunk Brick or Hollywood Bond After you master the rules, you can break the rules. It’s very difficult because it goes against everything a mason has been taught. Brick are sticking out or hacked and courses are slanted. This type of bond is an artistic rendering of brick courses designed to make the construction appear as very rustic and thrown together. It has the look of a fairytale cottage.
Weeping Joints Sometimes the mortar is left to ooze and drip down from the joints between the brick courses.
The following are typical stone bonds frequently found in walls or used for faces on buildings or used for patterns in paving.
Ashlar Pattern An Ashlar pattern is usually done with squared (quarry cut) stone. Unlike brick, the height and width of the stone will vary. Coursed Ashlar lays stone of equal height but unequal length in regular courses. Each course may use stones of a different height, but all stones in one course have about the same height.
Random Ashlar Pattern This is a type of ashlar construction where the building blocks are laid apparently at random, but usually are placed in a definite pattern which is repeated again and again. There are no regular courses of one height. Stones of different heights and lengths are laid next to each other.