Close up of brickwork on roof gable end showing different brick bond patterns

A guide to brick bonding patterns

Bonding is the industry term that’s given to the pattern in which the bricks are laid. Whilst the primary purpose of a brick bond is to ensure the brickwork is strong and stable, it can also have a dramatic effect on the visual appearance of a wall.

There are a number of ways in which the stretcher (the longer, rectangular face) and the header (the shorter, square face) can be laid, so deciding on a preferred style up front is crucial. 

Types of brick bonding patterns

Stretcher bond

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.


Header bond

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.


English bond

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.


Flemish bond

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 From the beginning of the 18th century, the Flemish bond superseded English bond.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.


English garden wall bond

The decorative English garden wall bond has three courses of stretchers between every course of headers, often in a different colour. Laying stretchers uses up fewer bricks than laying headers however it is also less strong hence its use in traditional walled gardens and other modest structures.


Stack bond

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.


Wild bond

A wild bond is where the bricks are laid in a seemingly random formation, which delivers a cobbled, authentically traditional appearance.


Brick orientation

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.

Diagram of bricks on bed, soldier and on edge

Mortar joint profiles

Further to bond patterns, mortar joint profiles also provide a number of options that will impact on the overall look of the finished build. It also plays an important role in the weather resistance of brickwork. The choice of joint profile should be based on technical performance requirements as well as appearance.

We would always recommend discussing joint profiles with the architect to get their advice on suitability for the area, the climate and also potential cost variations.

Bucket handle mortar joint diagram
Bucket Handle Mortar Joint
Weather struck mortar joint diagram
Weather Struck Mortar Joint
Weather struck and cut mortar joint diagram
Weather Struck and Cut Mortar Joint
Flush mortar joint diagram
Flush Mortar Joint
Recessed mortar joint diagram
Recessed Mortar Joint
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