A Quick Guide to Brick Patterns

By: Laura Bullard

Whether you’re interested in laying a brick path from your driveway to your front door, a ground-level patio, or simply creating a safe and beautiful space for an above-ground fire pit or grill, bricks are an affordable, durable, and timeless choice.

Before you call a mason (or commit to laying the bricks yourself), you’ll need a brief education in brick patterns. If you decide to DIY the job, consider whether your space has curves and whether the pattern you prefer will require brick cutting. Both will require specific expertise, so consider hiring a pro. Here are the six most common brick patterns from easiest to hardest in execution.

1. Running bond (easy)

Also called subway tile or offset, the running bond pattern is one of the simplest and most common brick patterns. Bricks are laid end to end in a straight line and rows are staggered. This pattern accommodates slight curves easily and is an excellent choice for pathways and patios. Running bond patterns are a great choice for the novice bricklayer because there’s very minimal cutting required—the only cuts needed are right-angle cuts on the bricks at the very edges of the pattern.

Running bond patterns can be rotated 45 degrees (then called diagonal running bond) to add visual interest).

2. Stack bond (easy)

The stack bond brick pattern (also called jack-on-jack or straight lay) is similar to the running bond pattern in that it comprises rows of bricks laid end to end. The stack bond pattern is slightly less forgiving, though, because the rows are laid side-by-side (parallel) as opposed to the staggered structure of the running bond pattern.

While the whole process may be slightly more time consuming, the stack bond pattern accommodates curves very well and requires absolutely no brick cutting. If you’re not interested in splitting your bricks, the stack bond pattern might be your best bet.

3. Basket weave (easy)

The basket weave pattern is aptly named—it uses alternately laid pairs of bricks to create a woven, textured checkerboard look—and it’s quite easy to accomplish. Historically categorized as a non-load-bearing pattern, it’s only used on paths, patios, and other horizontal, ground-situated projects. You’ll never find a wall with a basket weave pattern. If you do, don’t stand too close.

The basket weave can accommodate slight curves and, like the stack bond pattern, requires absolutely no brick cutting. It’s stylish and slightly more complicated than a simple running bond pattern, but just as easy to lay.

4. Diagonal basket weave (medium)

The diagonal basket weave is exactly what it sounds like—the basket weave pattern turned 45 degrees. Instead of squares, the diagonal basket weave produces diamonds. Visually, it creates a more complicated look without having to use a significantly more complicated method.

This brick pattern accommodates curves extremely well (as long as you don’t mind a bit of mortar between the pavers), but it requires a good bit of precise brick cutting. If you’re uncertain about tackling 45-degree angle cuts by yourself, pick up a kit or contact a professional mason or bricklayer.

5. Herringbone (medium)

The herringbone pattern gets its name from the fact that it resembles fish bones. The bricks are laid at 45- or 90-degree angles in a zigzag pattern. First used to pave the streets during the Roman Empire, the herringbone pattern is one of the oldest brick-laying patterns.

A herringbone brick pattern must be laid with precision, but it requires minimal cutting around the edges, making it a manageable, albeit time-consuming, brick pattern for a novice.

6. Spanish bond (hard)

The Spanish bond pattern is a beautiful, but slightly more complicated pattern. Four (or more) bricks are laid to create a square around a space that is just large enough to accommodate a half brick. Because this pattern requires a brick cut each time the pattern repeats itself, many novice bricklayers choose to purchase kits that come with pre-cut bricks

The Spanish bond pattern does not accommodate curves very well and is most often used for patios or straight paths that begin and end in right angles.


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