Choosing the Best Brick Bonding Pattern
Updated: Oct 17
When you’re having a brick wall constructed around the perimeter of your property, not only do you want this to be structurally sound but you want it to be attractive - after all, it will be what you see when you’re in your garden or looking out the window (granted, it will still be better than having to watch passing traffic either way). That’s where brick bonding comes in.
Brick bonding does what it says on the tin - it involves bonding bricks together. However, there is a lot more that goes into this, with it having both a structural and an aesthetic purpose. Read on below as we go on to explain all you need to know regarding brick bonding patterns in construction.
What is Brick Bonding?
As we have already briefly mentioned, brick bonding involves the laying of bricks in an arranged way in the process of creating a structure.
A brick can be laid in three ways: either as soldiers (standing upright), stretchers (laid lengthways) or headers (laid width wise). There are then numerous brick bonding patterns that can be created while using these three different laying positions.
What is the Purpose of Brick Cutting and Brick Bonding Patterns?
The cutting and bonding of bricks in specific patterns is actually important for the structural integrity of a wall. Brick bonding patterns allow for the wall to be strong and stable since weight is better distributed throughout the structure, with some patterns being more effective at ensuring this than others.
In addition to this functional purpose, the other main purpose of brick bonding is to achieve a desired aesthetic. Different brick bonding patterns can have a dramatic effect on the visual appearance of a wall.
However, these are not the only two factors that need to be considered when choosing a pattern, since there are other factors that can affect what kind of pattern may be used. These factors could include (but are not limited to):
● If a certain strength is required
● The thickness of a structure
● The part of the structure where the bricks will be placed (e.g. around a window)
● The type and size of the brick being used
● Local tradition and/or regulations
Types of Brick Bonding Patterns
The stretcher bond is the most commonly utilised brick bonding pattern used for buildings throughout the UK, being the type that you will likely see on most houses. This type of bond is aptly named since all the bricks will be laid as stretchers.
The bricks are placed so that the joint (where two bricks meet) of the bricks on each layer will sit at the midway point of a brick on the layer below. Though having the joints misaligned in this way offers some stability, it is not the strongest of bonds. It is, however, cost effective to use in modern construction.
A variation of this bond is the raking stretcher bond, in which the overlap between layers of bricks usually sits at a third or quarter of a brick, rather than at half the brick.
Contrary to the stretcher bond, the header bond instead exclusively lays the headers of the bricks facing outwards. The similarity between the two is that this type of bond also offsets each layer of bricks by half a brick.
It was very popular during the 18th century, with bricks often being placed in contrasting colours to give a more decorative effect. Since it uses so many bricks, nowadays this pattern is more typically reserved for very high-quality buildings, although it is more commonly used for radial brickwork, since the small size of the header makes it easier to create curves.
Unsurprisingly, the header bond is stronger than the stretcher bond, not only because it uses more bricks that means they are more tightly aligned, but because laying the bricks this way means the wall being created will have full brick thickness.
One of the strongest bonds that there is, the English bond is formed by having alternate layers of stretchers and headers, with the joints of the stretchers being centred on the headers in the course below and vice versa.
This is recognised as the oldest brick pattern, and was in common use up until the end of the 17th century; nowadays, it is not used as much for homes since it requires the use of more facing bricks compared to other bonds. It is, however, still used in civil engineering applications, such as for bridges, viaducts or embankments, thanks to the strength that it offers.
English Garden Wall
The English garden wall bond uses the same technique of alternating between headers and stretchers, however for every course of headers, there are three courses of stretchers. This uses up less bricks than the traditional English bond and allows for a quick lateral spread of load, however as such it does make it less strong in comparison, hence why it is used more traditionally for garden walls and other modest structures.
Whilst the English bond has alternating courses of stretchers and headers, the Flemish bond uses alternating headers and stretchers within a course. In terms of how these courses are then layered, the headers and stretchers themselves are centred over each other in each layer, rather than their joints being centred. This creates an alternating pattern of heads and stretchers vertically, as well as horizontally.
Though not as strong as English bond walls, this is still considered a strong brick bond, with it often being used for walls that are two-bricks thick, though the pattern can also be replicated in walls that are one-brick thick by using whole stretchers and half bricks (known as bats or snap-headers) for the headers. It is also considered more aesthetically valuable and economical than the English bond.
The use of the Flemish bond superseded the English bond in popularity from the start of the 18th century.
Flemish Garden Wall/Sussex Bond
The Flemish garden wall bond is a variant of the Flemish bond. Utilising the same layout, there is a slight difference in that there are three stretchers per header within a course, with the header then being centred over the stretcher in the middle of the group of three below it, keeping the aesthetic value of the pattern.
Despite its name, this bond was not typically used for garden walls, with it likely being named so to reflect the similarity of the English garden wall bond having an additional three courses of stretchers to every header in comparison to the normal English bond. Instead, it is most commonly found used for buildings in West Sussex and Hampshire (where it can be found on up to 10% of the historic buildings) - hence why it is also known as the Sussex bond.
The monk bond is also a variant of the Flemish bond, however rather than having one or three stretchers per header in each course, this one has two. The other difference then comes in how the courses laid atop each other; rather than centring the header over the middle of one of the stretchers in the course below, it is instead centred over the joint of these two stretchers. This ensures that the headers remain vertically aligned up the expanse of the wall.
This is seen as an elegant bond with a simpler pattern, very much used for its visual appeal.
Done either in soldiers or in stretchers (more commonly the latter), a stack bond is where bricks are laid with their joints aligning, creating the visual effect of these lines running vertically down the wall. Since the joints are aligned, there is a lack of bonding between the bricks, making this pattern an inherently weak structural arrangement.
To compensate for this, wire bed-joint reinforcement is typically used in every horizontal course. Due to its weak structure, stack bonding is most typically used for decorative purposes rather than to create a wall with strength and stability.
Brick Bonding & Wall Protection Services
If you’re planning to have a wall repair or new wall to be erected on your property, then you need Shropshire Brick & Stone. We manufacture and supply architectural cast stone and quality construction materials that will ensure your walls withstand the test of time, without compromising on visual integrity.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your requirements and arrange your stone delivery.