Brick is a common material for patios and yards and is fairly easy to install yourself. Although a wide variety of bricks are produced, most people use one of two types of brick: rough-textured common brick and slick-surfaced face brick. Of the two, the common brick is the most popular, both because it is familiar and the more inexpensive of the two.
Face brick is more expensive than common brick, but can be used sparingly for accents and edgings. Brick paving entirely with face brick is not generally a good idea, because its slickness can present a safety hazard. Common brick varies much more in its size and color, and is rougher, making it better for patio surfaces than face brick.
Bricks can be found at building supply stores, masonry suppliers, or many other places that sell building materials. When buying bricks for brick paving, make sure that you ask about delivery fees, which are often not included in the price. In addition, make sure you have taken accurate measurements of the area to be paved, so that you buy the correct amount of bricks needed.
Brick paving is something that can be done by inexperienced people, as bricklaying does not require a lot of skill. Brick in sand and dry mortar are the two techniques which are easiest for beginners, while wet mortar bricklaying is better for people with more experience. Cutting some bricks will likely be necessary, and can be done with a "brick set" — a tool much like a chisel.
Before brick paving, make sure that the ground is prepared. Brick can be laid on concrete if it is in good condition, or fill which has settled. Dry cement can help hold fill in place. Any invasive plants with strong roots should be removed before brick is laid, since the roots can interfere with the bricks.
To lay bricks in sand, an edging must be built around the patio to hold the bricks and sand in place. Spread the sand in each section and using a screed, or a flat board used for smoothing, smooth the sand until it is level. Tamp the sand down and repeat. Next, set the bricks down on the sand in a pattern, using a mason's line or level as needed to make sure that the bricks are straight. Tap the bricks into place with a hammer handle. When the bricks are laid, throw sand over the entire surface and sweep it into all the cracks. Lightly spray water on the area so that the sand settles. Repeat if necessary.
Brick paving with dry mortar is similar to laying bricks in sand. The bricks are set the same way, but Portland cement is added to the final sand and swept into the joints. This may end up sticking to the bricks and leaving a stain, but it generally just ends up adding to a rustic look.
Bricks can be laid in many different patterns. A jack-on-jack pattern is one that has the bricks laid out in neat rows and columns, while a running bond has bricks laid out in rows, but slightly offset from the bricks above and below. Other more elaborate patterns include the herringbone pattern, basket weave pattern, and pinwheel pattern. Patterns can also be created by using different colors of bricks.
Written by Bronwyn Harris