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  • Shropshire Brick and Stone UK

British Home Building: The Humble Heritage of Brick Bonding

All our homes are built brick by brick, where these unassuming blocks come together to create long lasting, weather resistant structures. Most bricks are manufactured from clay, where their colour and durability depends on where the clay comes from.

 

Varying soil conditions can impact the properties of clay, meaning some regional clay brick types are more sought after than others. Red brick, for instance, has become a definitive feature of traditional British architecture.

 

Importantly, bricks can be arranged in a number of different ways, where this is known as brick bonding. Certain alignments can be used to make a wall stronger or more attractive, where these patterns have come in and out of fashion over the centuries.

 

Read on to find out more about our brick bonding heritage, with a look at cast stone’s place in this long history.


What Is Brick Bonding?


In the construction industry, brick bonding refers to the uniform pattern in which bricks are laid. These varying patterns can alter the appearance and strength of a brick wall, meaning it is important that the correct bonding type is chosen at the design stage.

 

In general, bricks can be positioned in three different orientations, where these can be combined in numerous ways to create brick bonding patterns. A brick can be positioned as a:

 

Soldier - standing upright

Stretcher - laid lengthways, its long edge along the wall

Header - laid widthwise, its short edge along the wall

 

A brickwork bond pattern could be created using just one of these orientations for a simple wall design. For instance, a stretcher bond means all the bricks are laid lengthwise. This is an economical use of building materials and helps to create simple, relatively strong walls. A header bond means each brick is laid with the short side facing outwards, where this can create a stronger wall than if stretchers were used.


A History Of Brick Bonding Methods


Over the years, complex brickwork bonds have been developed that utilise a combination of stretchers, headers and soldiers. Traditionally, decorative brickwork was a way to demonstrate wealth through complex architectural projects, where patterns that required more bricks were a great way to show off the affluent status of the residents within. Alongside this, brickwork patterns have also evolved to create incredibly durable walls that can stand strong for centuries.

 

Some historical bonding styles that we still use today include:


English Bond


The English brickwork bond consists of alternating rows of stretchers and headers, where headers are centrally aligned with the stretcher in the row above. Traditional Tudor buildings were some of the first to use this design, which remained popular until the late 17th century. This decorative bond remains a top choice for classic architectural projects today, where it can be used to create an attractive, timeless feel.

 

English bond walls are also relatively strong due to the interlocking pattern of headers and stretchers. As such this style can be used for a variety of building projects, including load bearing walls. However the English bond can be more expensive than simpler alternatives, as it requires a larger quantity of stretchers to complete the design.


Flemish Bond


The Flemish brickwork bond is created by laying alternate stretches and headers in each row of bricks. This attractive masonry option rose in popularity during the Georgian period, where it was used for the construction of stately homes that still stand today.

 

Less popular these days than it once was, the Flemish bond is also weaker than the English bond, meaning it is not usually used today for load bearing structures. Despite this, it is still a decorative substitute for traditional brickwork patterns, especially if alternating colours are used for the headers and stretchers.


Stack Bond


In addition to the simple stretcher bond, bricks can also be arranged into a stack pattern using this singular orientation. This is when stretchers are laid in a grid, instead of each row being staggered. As such, these walls aren’t typically chosen for load bearing.

 

Stack bonds aren’t particularly strong, meaning they are usually reserved for decorative purposes. Today they are often used to build stylish interior walls in modern properties, especially where exposed brick is chosen as an aesthetic design feature.


Herringbone Bond


The herringbone bond is created by positioning bricks at a 45 degree angle, instead of in a row. This creates an interlocking arrow-shaped pattern, where alternate courses can be laid in the opposite direction to form a zigzag design.

 

Traditionally, herringbone patterns were used to create brick paths and paving, where this technique has been traced back to Roman times. The herringbone pattern remains a popular choice for driveways and garden patios, where its interlocking bond is incredibly durable as well as decorative.


Our Red Brick Heritage


Historically, red brick has been used as a sign of British building excellence, where this colour remains a popular choice when it comes to constructing a property in a traditional style. These red bricks are often used with the English or Flemish bond for an aesthetically pleasing, classic feel.

 

As Industrial technology developed towards the end of the 1700s, red brick became a marker of modern innovation. As such, numerous stately homes and historical buildings that still stand today are constructed from centuries old brick in this distinctive colour.

 

The red brick colour comes from the specific type of clay used in the manufacturing process. The right chemical composition of the raw clay combined with oxygen determines its colour, where iron oxide produces a distinguished rust red tone.

 

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, red brick is also low maintenance and highly durable, meaning it can withstand centuries of exposure. The major downside is that these bricks make for an expensive option, especially if you’re looking to build a house from scratch. This is due to steep manufacturing costs and high demand for the red brick colour.


Cast Stone Alternatives


Fortunately, there is an alternative to clay red bricks that allows you to benefit from their aesthetic appeal without going over budget. Cast stone is made from precast concrete, where these blocks are manufactured to resemble natural bricks. They come in a wide range of colours, including the traditional rust red.

 

Today, many projects depend on cast stone substitutes to achieve a classic look at an affordable price point. They can also be colour matched to existing red brick in order to repair or rebuild sections of your property.

 

Beyond this, cast stone is much less expensive than natural bricks, where they can be replicated to create even sized blocks at a low cost. They are also more weather resistant than natural alternatives, as precast concrete will absorb less moisture when exposed to the elements.

 

Like natural clay bricks, cast stone can be laid in a variety of traditional patterns, including English and Flemish bonds. This means that you can achieve the classical architectural feel that you're looking for without overspending.


Shropshire Brick & Stone: Specialist Cast Stone Masonry Services


At Shropshire Brick & Stone, we can provide you with an array of specialist brick bonding services, where our expert team is adept at recreating English, Flemish and herringbone styles. We prioritise durability alongside aesthetics with every installation, where each of our stone walls is built to stand the test of time.

 

We also offer brick cutting services, where our precast stone can be manufactured into the shape of your choosing. This means that the design potential of our cast stone is virtually limitless. We ensure that each of our decorative stone installations looks just as good as natural alternatives, whilst providing you with an affordable, long lasting solution.

 

We’re proud of our extensive colour range at Shropshire Brick & Stone, where you can choose from terracotta, mulberry and cheshire tones to find your perfect shade of red. As leading reconstituted stone suppliers, we can advise you on the best shade for your build, particularly if you need to colour match with an existing structure.

 

In addition to wall building, we can also supply you with beautiful pier caps, porticos and post stones. Get in touch with our team today to find out more about our full range of attractive cast stone solutions.

 

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