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A wall built in Flemish bond

Brickwork is masonry produced by a bricklayer, using bricks and mortar to build up brick structures such as walls. Brickwork is also used to finish corners, door and window openings etc. in buildings made of other materials.

Where the bricks are to remain fully visible, as opposed to being covered up by plaster or stucco, this is known as face-work or facing brickwork.


Brick dimensions

Brick sizes are generally coordinated so that two rows of bricks laid alongside, with a mortar joint between them, are the same width as the length of a single brick laid across the two rows. That allows headers, bricks laid at 90 degrees to the direction of the wall, to be built in and tie together two or more layers of brick. The thickness of a brick wall is measured by the length of a brick, so a wall one brick thick will contain two layers of brick, one and a half bricks is three layers etc. A common metric coordinating size is 215 x 102.5 x 65mm, which is intended to work with a 10mm mortar joint: 75mm course height, 215mm wall thickness etc. This is based on the earlier inch sizes. There are many different standard brick sizes worldwide, most with some coordinating principle.

Wall thickness and construction


Solid brickwork

The simplest type of wall is constructed in solid brickwork, normally at least one brick thick, and the different bricklaying patterns are ways of incorporating headers to tie together the layers of brick.

Cavity walls

In a cavity wall, two layers (or leaves) of brickwork are tied together with metal ties, with a cavity or 2 to 4 inches that may be filled with insulation.

Brick facing

A non-structural outer facing of brick is tied back to an internal structure: a layer of blockwork, timber or metal studwork etc.


A stretcher is a brick with the long side of the brick exposed on the outer face of a wall, while a header is a brick with the short end of the brick exposed.

Brick Types. There are two main types of clay bricks: pressed and wire cut. Pressed bricks usually have a deep frog in one bedding surface and a shallow frog in the other. Wire cut bricks usually have 3 or 4 holes through them constituting up to 25% of the total volume of the brick. Some ‘perforated’ bricks have many smaller holes.

Brick Usage. There are three main categories of use, and both pressed bricks or wire cut brick types are used in all three categories.

Facing brickwork is the visible decorative work.

Engineering brickwork, often seen in bridges and large industrial construction but may also be hidden in ground works where maximum durability is required e.g. manhole construction.

Common brickwork is not usually seen and is used where engineering qualities are not required; below ground in domestic buildings and internal walls for instance.

Frog up/down. Pressed bricks are laid ‘frog up’ when maximum strength is required especially in engineering work. This method also increases the mass of a wall and decreases sound transmittance. Pressed bricks may be laid frog down; this method is favoured by the bricklayer since less mortar is required for bedding. There may also be a marginal increase in thermal insulation due to the entrapped air pockets. A disadvantage of this method is that with bricks having a very deep ‘V’ shaped frog there may be some difficulty in making reliable fixings to the wall when the fixing hits an air pocket.

Wire cut bricks may be laid either way up but some types of wire cuts have a textured (combed) face creating folds in the face of the brick which is directional. It is advisable to lay these bricks with the folds hanging downwards to maximise the weathering characteristics of the brick.

Ties or cavity ties are used to tie layers of brickwork into one another, to form a structural whole. A common type is a figure-eight of twisted wire, generally stainless steel to avoid failure due to corrosion. The loop at either end is buried in the mortar bed as the wall is built up.

Mortar is a mixture of sand, lime and Portland cement, mixed with water to a workable consistency. It is applied with a bricklayer's trowel, and sets solid in a few hours. There are many different mixes and admixtures used to make mortars with different performance characteristics.

Brickwork bonds

Flemish bond

Flemish bond, also known as Dutch bond, has historically always been considered the most decorative bond, and for this reason was used extensively for dwellings until the adoption of the cavity wall. It is created by alternately laying headers and stretchers in a single course. The next course is laid so that a header lies in the middle of the stretcher in the course below. This bond is one brick thick. It is quite difficult to lay Flemish bond properly, since for best effect all the perpendiculars (vertical mortar joints) need to be vertically aligned. If only one face of a Flemish bond wall is exposed, one third of the bricks are not visible, and hence may be of low visual quality. This is a better ratio than for English bond, Flemish bond's main rival for load-bearing walls.

A common variation often found in early 18th century buildings is Glazed-headed Flemish Bond, in which the exposed headers are burned until they vitrify with a black glassy surface. Monk bond is a variant of Flemish bond, with two stretchers between the headers in each row, and the headers centred over the join between the two stretchers in the row below.

Stretcher bond

Stretcher bond is the simplest repeating pattern but it is only suitable for a wall half a brick thick, the thinnest possible wall. Such a thin wall is not stable enough to stand alone, and must be tied to a supporting structure. It is common in modern buildings, particularly as the outer face of a cavity wall, or as the facing to a timber framed structure.

Garden wall bonds

Scottish bond has one row of headers to five of stretchers.[1]

Rat-trap bond

Rat-trap bond, also known as Chinese bond, is a type of garden wall bond in which the stretchers and headers are laid on their sides, with the base of the stretcher facing outwards. This gives a wall with an internal cavity bridged by the headers, hence the name. The main advantage of this bond is economy in use of bricks, giving a wall of one brick thickness with fewer bricks than a solid bond. Rat-trap bond was in common usage in England for building houses of fewer than 3 stories up to the turn of the 20th century and is today still used in India as an economical bond, as well for the insulation properties offered by the air cavity. Also, many brick walls surrounding kitchen gardens were designed with cavities so hot air could circulate in the winter, warming fruit trees or other produce spread against the walls, causing them to bloom earlier and forcing early fruit production.[2][3]

See also


  1. ^ Grieve, N. F. (2007-09-03). "Brickwork". The conservation glossary. University of Dundee. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  2. ^ "Rat Trap Bond for Walls". Architecture & Development. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  3. ^ "SZ5086 : Rat trap bond". The Geograph British Isles Project. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See Flemish and bond


Flemish bond

Flemish bond

Flemish bonds

Flemish bond (plural Flemish bonds)

  1. In bricklaying, an arrangement of bricks such that each course consists of alternate bricks having their short sides (headers) and long sides (stretchers) facing outwards, with alternate courses being offset.

See also

  • English bond
  • stretcher bond
  • garden wall bond
  • Herringbone bond
  • Basket bond


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