Types of Brick Bonding Patterns
Bonding refers to the way in which bricks are laid. The primary purpose of bonding is to ensure the brickwork is strong and stable. However, it can also have a dramatic effect on the visual appearance. To point you in the right direction, here's a summary of the most commonly used bond patterns below.
With the stretcher bond, courses are laid as stretchers with the joint of one course falling midway between the joints of the courses below. As the outer leaf of a building envelope is now only half a brick thick in modern construction, stretcher bond has become the most popular bond as it is time and cost effective to use.
Popular during the 18th century, the header bond pattern often employed contrasting brick colours to give a decorative effect. This bond uses so many bricks that it is usually reserved for very high-quality buildings. It can also used for radial brickwork, as the header faces can accommodate smaller radii.
The traditional Flemish brick has alternative stretchers and headers on every course, with the headers centred over the stretchers underneath. From the beginning of the 18th century, the Flemish bond superseded English bond. Flemish bonds can be replicated in the half-brick outer leaf of a cavity wall by using whole bricks as stretchers, while the headers are created by half bricks called bats or snap-headers.
The traditional English brick bond alternates between stretcher and header courses, with headers centred over the stretchers underneath. This is the oldest pattern, and was commonly used until the end of the 17th century. English Bond is considered stronger than Flemish bond, so continues to be used for civil engineering projects, such as bridges, viaducts and embankments.
In vertical or horizontal stack bonds, the bricks do not overlap. As this arrangement is inherently weak, it is typically used as a decorative laying pattern which delivers a striking visual effect. To compensate for the lack of bonding, typically bed-joint reinforcement is built into every third bed-joint.
The direction in which a brick is laid can create interesting patterns and add value to virtually any wall. The most popular orientation is brick on bed, where the stretcher face is displayed.
To create a feature detail, the brick can be placed on end in a soldier course orientation. The quoted compressive strength of the brick will reduce in this orientation.
The brick can be placed on edge to create details such as cappings (this is also known as Rowlock). The quoted compressive strength of the brick will reduce in this orientation.
Mortar accounts for 15 - 17% of the visible brickwork of a wall, depending on the bond pattern, so another key consideration for determining the overall appearance of a building is mortar colour.
The same brick can have a totally different appearance depending on what mortar colour it is paired with. It is important to check that your mortar will suit the surrounding built environment, particularly when repointing existing brickwork.
We would recommend trialling different mortar colours as part of the selection process, in order to ensure the end product has the exact look and feel that you’re looking for.