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A Simple Guide to Brick Patterns

Mason Mark McCullough teaches host Kevin O’Connor about the different brick patterns homeowners can choose for their walls or walkways.

Mark McCullough talks about brick patterns. Mark shows Kevin the different patterns that homeowners can choose for their walkways and walls, explaining how each works from a design and structural standpoint. He explains the importance of header and running courses and some things to consider when choosing a design.

Brick Patterns Explained

Most folks know that there are different types of brick patterns, but they might not realize why that is. While brick is a structurally sturdy material, the patterns in which the masons lay them can lend more or less strength to the structure. Also, some patterns came from necessity, as they were designed to be strong but minimize the number of bricks necessary to complete the structure.

However, today’s brick surfaces are all veneers. This means they are essentially masonry skins over a standard frame substrate, or simply walkways overtop of compacted surfaces. The good news is that since these surfaces are simply veneers, homeowners can choose any pattern they desire.

Common Walkway Brick Patterns

The following are some of the most typical brick patterns that homeowners can choose from for their walkway projects.

Running Bond

running bond brick pattern
Running bond
Ian Worpole

Running bond brick patterns are the most common overall, and they’re popular for walkways. In this design, the bricks are laid on edge in courses, with the joints staggered in the middle of the bricks in the course before it.

Basket Weave

Basket weave patterns consist of pairs of bricks laid in 90-degree alternative directions. The finished result looks like a woven pattern, and it’s relatively simple to lay out. Since most bricks are 4 inches wide by 8 inches long, stacking two side by side in this pattern results in alternating 8-inch squares.

Herringbone

herringbone brick pattern
Herringbone
Ian Worpole

Traditional herringbone patterns include bricks laid on edge, situated at 90-degree angles to each other, creating a zig-zag pattern. These walkways use a lot of material since the bricks are on their 2-inch edges rather than 4-inch faces, and they do require cuts at the edge of the walkway.

Common Wall Brick Patterns

The following includes the most common wall brick patterns that homeowners can choose from for their veneered walls. Note that all of the following patterns include header courses, but they’re actually bricks cut in half for the header-brick look.

American Bond

The American bond pattern includes up to 7 courses of running bond brick sandwiched between header courses. Header courses originally tied two courses of brick together for additional strength. Since brick wasn’t always readily available in the early colonial era, the running bond patterns allowed builders to make the most of their materials before using a head course.

English Bond

English bonds include alternating courses of running bond and header courses. These walls are very strong, but the header courses do require a lot of material.

Flemish Bond

Flemish bonds are very strong and provide good looks. This wall pattern includes courses of bricks laid regularly (think running bond), with header bricks in between them.


Resources

Mark breaks down a variety of brick patterns popular with homeowners and where the patterns originate.

  • Running Bond—the most traditional look with bricks lined up at an offset either horizontally or vertically.
  • Herringbone—a diagonal pattern that mimics the bones of a fish.

3-5/8” pattern is thicker and requires less brick, making it more cost-effective.

2-1/4” pattern is when the bricks are stood on their taller side, which creates a different look. It’s more expensive because it requires more brick.

  • American Bond—Every 5 or 6 courses are headers, or the short side of the brick.
  • Flemish Bond—Bricks are turned on their header side every other brick. Gives almost a “diamond pattern” in the brick.
  • English Bond—Similar to an American bond, but every other row, the bricks have a header course to create a more distinct pattern. Really common in Victorian/Colonial areas and buildings.