Brick paving is a wonderful material, with a character all of its own. In the past only a limited range of bricks were durable enough for paving, but today there is a welcome revival in the use of brick, and special clay ‘paviors’ are now available the same size as bricks, which are suitable not only for terraces but also for drives and other heavy wear areas outside.
Brick can also be used as a team-mate to a second surface material, either natural or man-made, when it will help to soften and add intimacy to an otherwise potentially bleak area, or give definition to a lawn or border.
Because bricks are made from clay in different parts of the country, colors vary considerably, and paving can easily be found to match the facing brick of the adjoining house, or to harmonize with other hard landscape materials.
The surface appearance of brick also varies, and you should choose carefully with respect to the surroundings. While the crisp, shiny surface of a virtually indestructible ‘engineering’ brick will look fine next to a high-tech modern house, it would look quite out of place in a cottage garden. Conversely, an old irregular multi-colored brick would look quite wrong against a high-tech house.
An essential consideration when choosing brick is that it should be able to withstand freezing conditions in winter. Many ‘facing’ bricks were not designed to withstand the elements if laid on the ground, and will not do so. So, if you are considering a second-hand brick, you should first check it for durability.
Bricks can be laid either on edge or flat, provided that they do not have holes drilled through the side, or an indentation known as a ‘frog’. Laid flat, you will see rather more of the surface in relation to the joint, and, as with other types of paving, the depth of the joint will affect the final finish – a deep joint casting more shadow and adding emphasis to each module.
Laying a brick path
Brick paving patterns
1. ‘Stretcher bond’ is the pattern used in a wall, and it will give the surface ‘directional emphasis’. If laid across a terrace or path, the space will tend to be ‘drawn apart’ and seem wider. If laid down the length of a path, the eye will be led on, tending to accelerate and foreshorten the distance.
2. ‘Basketweave’ is a traditional pattern, laid in groups of two flat, or three on edge, each group forming a square.
3. ‘Herringbone’ is a visually exciting pattern. Here again, the bricks can be laid either flat or on edge, and either at right angles or at 45° to the path or terrace. The diagonal pattern is a complicated one to lay, and may involve considerable cutting where the paved area meets the edge restraint.
Stable pavers are another popular alternative to brick, and make a handsome non-slip surface, ideal for paths and terraces. Originally used as flooring for loose boxes and stable courtyards, they are approximately brick-sized, and made from extremely hard ‘engineering’ brick. Pavers are usually blue but sometimes red, and patterns vary. Some of the older ones are exquisite, but most have indented tops like a bar of chocolate, or in a diamond pattern. They make an excellent contrast material, but can look overpowering in a large area.
Because bricks and pavers are small modules, they take time to lay, and if you use a contractor the cost of laying will be relatively high.