AskDefine | Define brickwork

Dictionary Definition

brickwork n : masonry done with bricks and mortar

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Those parts of items that are made of brick.
  2. The quality of the construction of brick built items.

Extensive Definition

Brickwork masonry is produced when a bricklayer uses bricks and mortar to build up structures such as walls, bridges and chimneys. Brickwork is also used to finish openings such as doors or windows 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.
Bricks are laid to expose their ends (Header bricks), or sides (Stretcher bricks). As the work progresses, the bricks are laid in rows called courses. The manner in which the bricks overlap as they are laid up is called the bond of which there are two main types: half bond and quarter bond. Types of bonding arrangements include English bond, Flemish bond, and Herringbone bond, but the most common type of brickwork seen these days is the simple stretcher bond, showing only the long side-surface of the brick.
Because only the outside of finished brickwork is visible, cheaper grades of brick are commonly used for the hidden parts of a wall. In an old red-brick house, behind the front of red, the rest of the walls are often made of softer yellow bricks. The colour situation may be reversed if the house was built when red bricks were out of fashion. So with certain types of bond (e.g. garden wall bond) it is possible to use a higher ratio of cheaper bricks to more expensive bricks, making for a cheaper wall of the same dimensions. On the same house, sometimes a more economical "garden wall" bond has been used at the side and rear compared to the front.
The thickness of brickwork is casually quantified in units of brick referring to the length of a brick. A double-skinned wall will have some bricks laid across both skins or courses and therefore the wall will be as thick as the length of the brick. Because most typical bricks are roughly twice as long as the are wide, a single-skinned (or single course) wall with bricks laid end to end will be as thick as the brick as wide, which is roughly half the length of a the brick it is called "half brick" thick. Simply put, single-skinned walls are expediently or casually referred to as "half brick" thick and double-skinned walls "full brick" thick even though technically this is only an approximation relevant to bricks roughly half as wide as they are long.
If bricks are put down end-to-end with the long side facing you (stretchers) and then another row on top, the wall thickness is half a brick.
There are rules of bonding, which have some exceptions. These specify the overlap between courses that is visible outside the wall, and also the overlap which must be made within the wall, for walls which are more than half a brick thick.
Brickwork, like unreinforced concrete, has little tensile strength, and works by everything being kept in compression.
Brickwork arches can span great distances, and carry considerable loads.

Types of bond

When laying bricks, the manner in which the bricks overlap is called the bond. A brick laid with the longest side exposed is called a stretcher brick, as opposed to a header, where only the smallest end of the brick is exposed to the weather. The length of one stretcher is the same as two header bricks, side-by-side, including the 10mm joint between.
The thickness of a brick wall is measured using a unit of length known as 'the brick'. This standard can be used consistently with the wide variety of brick sizes available ("modular, "Norman" brick, etc.). The length of the longest face for a particular size of brick equals "one brick", for the purposes of measuring a wall built from such bricks.

Stretcher bond

Stretcher bond (also known as running bond) is the most common bond in modern times, as it is easy to lay, with little waste. Entirely comprised of stretcher bricks, set in rows (or "courses") that are offset by half a brick.
Running bond uses no header bricks, allowing for a thin wall of one layer (half of a 'brick' unit). Two such walls may be built close together with a gap between. The two "skins" are usually tied together at regular intervals using wall ties. For this reason this bond is sometimes known as "cavity wall bond", although it is possible to give the appearance of other bonds in a half-brick cavity wall, either through extensive brick-cutting or the use of purpose-made half-bricks. In some climates the cavity may be filled with cavity wall insulation.
Stretcher bond may also be used to build a single-wythe (one brick thick) wall without a deliberate cavity. In this case, wall ties are used to hold the two wythes together. The main advantage of this technique is that it allows walls with both faces visible, such as domestic dwarf walls, to be built using low-cost bricks that have only two fair faces, called "face bricks". Laying any such brick as a header would reveal a poorly finished header face on one side of the wall. These walls are also used in situations where stronger load bearing capacity is required than that given by a single stretcher bond wall with engaged piers.

English bond

This bond is made up of alternating courses of stretchers and headers. This produces a solid wall that is a full brick in depth. English bond is fairly easy to lay and is the strongest bond for a one-brick-thick wall. If only one face of an English bond wall is exposed, one quarter of the bricks are not visible, and hence may be of low visual quality.
Quarter bond is formed by a part (or bat) brick known as a 'queen closer'. This is a brick cut in half lengthways, generally along the frog and laid in the course next to the corner brick or 'quoin header'. Whereas the stretcher or half bond is formed by successive courses being staggered by half a brick, the Flemish and English bonds are now staggered by a quarter, resulting in a stronger bond (the constructional self-weight being distributed over a greater area). This bond, as well as Flemish bond, does not necessarily have to be one brick thick, they can be built using 'snap headers' ie. headers cut to half their length, which give a full brick appearance. They are often used in cavity walls when matching existing solid wall patterns.

Header bond

Header bond (also known as Spanish bond) was a very common bond for bearing walls. It is composed of header bricks, set in rows that are offset half a brick, which produces a solid easy to lay bond which is useful when building circular work. It is the most used bond in historical Spanish brick constructions.

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. Again, this bond is one brick thick. It is quite difficult to lay Flemish bond properly, since for best effect all the perpends (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.

Garden wall bond

These bonds are variations on normal bonds. They use a high proportion of stretchers, and hence require fewer facing bricks than normal bonds. This makes them less sturdy, but cheaper to lay. As such they are most commonly used for garden- and other non-load-bearing walls.
Rat-trap 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.

Herringbone bond

When bricks are laid on alternating angles, it is called a Herringbone. This is primarily a decorative style, more often used for paving or fireplace reflectors than for walls. It is generally considered unsuitable for load-bearing structures, but may be found as infill in traditional timber framed buildings. This style is also sometimes called by its Latin name: Opus spicatum.

Basket bond

This decorative pattern imitates the weave of a basket. It's also sometimes called a basket weave bond, and there are many variations on the weave pattern, some very elaborate.

American bond

American common bond is made by laying the courses of headers where they are separated by approximately five to seven courses of stretchers. On occasion American common bond can be found with nine courses of stretchers between courses of headers. The stretcher courses are most often an uneven number. English common bond is an early variation with only three courses of stretchers between header courses.

Chinese bond

As in flemish bond, but all the bricks are laid on edge. Unusual, but used to make a light weight structure or economise on bricks. Creates a semi-cavity wall.


:Brick (or other masonry block) laid horizontally in the wall with the long, narrow side of the brick exposed. Commonly used for English bond and Flemish bond pattern, alternating with header bricks.
Brick is laid in a wall, usually connecting two rows of a double wythe wall. The smallest end of the brick is horizontal, aligned with the surface of the wall and exposed to the weather.
A complete course of brick laid on its side, with the shortest end of the brick exposed and vertical. Commomly used on the top course as a coping for garden walls.
Often a complete course of brick laid on end vertically, with the narrow side exposed in the face of the wall.
A "standing soldier" is the most common way of setting the soldier brick on end that is flush with the wall. A "walking soldier" is a soldier course laid so the bottom edge of the brick is sticking out to about an inch. Usually alternating every other brick with a standing soldier, but other variations have been seen.
Brick laid vertically on its end with the largest, broad face exposed.
Brick laid on edge like a sailor, but the broad face is set horizontally.
(or "coin" - are groups of brick that project slightly from the face of a wall at the corner of a building. The pattern often alternates with several courses projecting bricks, and several courses that are aligned with the wall. The pattern of projecting quions often alternates with the brickwork on the other side of the corner.
brickwork in Danish: Forbandt
brickwork in German: Mauerwerksverband
brickwork in Spanish: Aparejo (construcción)
brickwork in French: Appareil (architecture)
brickwork in Dutch: Verband (bouwkunde)
brickwork in Polish: Wątek (architektura)
brickwork in Portuguese: Aparelho (arquitetura)
brickwork in Swedish: Murförband
brickwork in Thai: การก่ออิฐ
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