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Last edited 21 Dec 2022
Types of brick bonding
 What is brick bonding?
Bricks are typically laid to an offset pattern to maintain an adequate lap between joints from one course to the next and to ensure that vertical joints are not positioned above one another on consecutive courses.
 What is the objective of brick bonding patterns?
- Distribute loads throughout the structure to achieve maximum strength.
- Ensure stability.
- Achieve the desired aesthetic.
There are a great number of brick bonding patterns available. Factors affecting the selection of a brick bonding pattern include; the strength that is required, the thickness of the structure, the part of the structure (for example, a course of bricks over a window might have a different bonding pattern) the aesthetic requirement, the type and size of brick being used, local tradition and so on.
Stretcher bond is the most commonly used brick bond pattern in the UK. It is formed using only stretchers (bricks laid lengthwise), with the joins on each course centred above and below by half a brick. This type of bonding is not particularly strong.
English bond is a pattern formed by laying alternate courses of stretchers and headers. The joins between the stretchers are centred on the headers in the course below. This is one of the strongest bonds but requires more facing bricks than other bonds.
English garden wall bond is similar to the English bond but with one course of headers for every three courses of stretcher. The headers are centred on the headers in course below. This gives quick lateral spread of load and uses fewer facings than an English bond.
English cross bond alternates courses of stretchers and headers, with the alternating stretcher course being offset by half a brick. The stretchers are centred on the joins between the stretchers below them, so that the alternating stretcher courses are aligned. Staggering stretchers enables patterns to be picked out in different texture or coloured bricks.
The Flemish bond is formed by laying headers and stretchers alternately in each course. The headers of each course are centred on the stretchers of the course below. This bond is strong and often used for walls which are two-bricks thick.
The Flemish garden wall bond (or Sussex bond) is a variant of the Flemish bond, and uses one header to three stretchers in each course. The header is centred over the stretcher in the middle of a group of three in the course below.
The alignment of joints results in minimal bonding which means that this bond is weak and often structurally unsound unless wire bed-joint reinforcement is placed in every horizontal course or, where loading is moderate, every alternate course. This is often used purely for decorative purposes and in rain-screen applications.
The 2018 International Residential Code (IRC), published by the International Code Council (ICC) defines running bond as: ‘The placement of masonry units such that head joints in successive courses are horizontally offset not less than one-quarter the unit length.’
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