Detail Post: Brick Bonds and Patterns

Detail Post: Brick Bonds and Patterns

Brick is one of the most common materials used in architecture. It’s inexpensive, durable and versatile. The brick detail can be an important feature to pay attention to when designing a building, due to the wide range of styles available. Here we will explore the different types of brick detailing and show you a multitude of examples of architectural projects that have been creative with their brick detailing.

Bricks are a modular building material and come in a huge range of colours, finishes, textures, sizes and types.

Brick is still a popular building material for modern construction to its bricks longevity and connection to the existing building fabric. The following is an introductory guide to detailing bricks, looking at bonds, patterns, finishes and setting out.

Brick Bonds

Designers and architects are experimenting once again with this material. They are pushing the boundaries with modern brick patterns and techniques, to provide cost effective and attractive exteriors to buildings. The following are just a few of the most common brick bonds.


dRMM’s Trafalgar Place is a great example of the ingenious use of brickwork. They created a pallet of brickwork from standard facing bricks to tie the building into its surrounding context.

Stretcher bond

Header Stretcher Bond

Caruso St. John uses a bold form for and a mixture of colours and bonds to create a separation between the street level in a dark header stretched bond and the top of the building, in a more traditional buff Flemish bond.

Header Stretcher

Flemish Bond

Flemish brick bond is a very common brick bond, especially within historic residential buildings in London. It is sometimes used in modern buildings to connect it with these historic surroundings.

Header Stretcher

English Bond

This brick bond is typically seen within historic buildings and is quite similar to the Flemish although less common. (pictured below Neues Museum – David Chipperfield Architects)

Header Stretcher


The Herringbone house is named after the bold brick bond it uses. As it is not possible to set out windows to this strange bond, the architects used a header detail around windows, doors and tops of walls. (pictured below Herringbone House by Atelier Chanchan.)

Brick Patterns

Once you have chosen your brick bond, you can play around with the patterns and depth. Below are some examples of how to do this, including protruding hit and miss brickwork, corbelling and protruding bricks. As well as all the examples shown, twisting brickwork, brick slips or using special shaped bricks can also add depth to a façade.

Protruding Brickwork

Protruding brickwork is a low cost way of adding depth to a façade. With the same or even different colored bricks, a pattern can be highlighted by pulling it either further out or into the façade. This adds further texture and shadows to a flat façade.

Silchester Housing – Haworth Tompkins

Horsted Park Proctor & Matthews Architects

House in Aggstall | Hild und K Architekten



The Corbelled Brick Extension – YARD Architects

Corbelling is traditionally seen in brick parapets to define the top of a wall and add further depth. Traditional structural corbelling can still be achieved with the simple rules that

  1. That the total overhang cannot exceed 1/3 of the wall depth (total wall depth ÷ 3, T/3).
  2. Each corbel much not exceed 25.4cm (1 inch).

However, more complicated corbelling can be achieved using precast brick panels, brick slips and other structural solutions. For example, Maccreanor Lavington uses precast panels with the structural corbelled brickwork integrated into the concrete panel so each piece can be craned into place.

(Image below Maccreanor Lavington – Bloomsbury Student Hall of Residence)

Hit and Miss Brickwork


Hit and miss brickwork has traditionally been used in garden walls to allow light and air to permeate. More modern examples can be seen in front of glazing to create a screen effect. It is key to speak to the manufacture when using this type of brickwork as it is more exposed to the elements and therefore not all bricks will be suitable. High water resistant solid brickwork is always recommended as bricks with frogs and holes will allow too much water ingress.

Pictured below Waterloo Lane Mews – Grafton Architects

Brick Mortar Joints


The mortar joint in brickwork is a key part of a brickwork wall, helping to join the brickwork together structurally and keeping the rain and elements out of the interior. There are many ways of specifying the mortar joint for your brickwork. The colour, for example, can make a huge difference on the appearance of the wall. The joint profile also changes how the brickwork creates a shadow and depth.


Below are some of the most common types of mortar joint:


Bucket Handle Joint

This type of joint is the most commonly used in which the face of the joint is compressed and provides the most durable profile.

Flush Joint

This is the simplest but potentially least durable. As this joint has not been compressed by a finishing tool it should not be used in areas of severe exposure. However, a skilled bricklayer will be able to achieve this finish with a compressed joint.

Weather Struck Joint

This joint is recessed at the top slightly sloping to allow for the dispersion of rainwater. It has excellent strength and water resistance. ‘Perpends’ or the vertical joint should also have this profile.

Recessed Joint

The maximum depth of the recess should not exceed 4mm and should be ironed to compress the joint’s surface. When using this joint profile consideration should be given to the exposure of the wall and brick type.

TDO House – Chelsea

Piercy and Company Hufton Crow – Turnmill

Mclaren.excell Kew House

Rosyln Road – Magri Williams Architects

This post was originally featured on Detail Library – to read the full and complete post head over to Detail Library

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Image Credits

For more stunning photos of the projects featured in this article please visit the architects websites by following the links below.

Trafalgar Place by dRMM

Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John

Neues Museum by David Chipperfield Architects

Herringbone House by Atelier Chanchan

Silchester Housing by Haworth Tompkins

Horsted Park by Proctor and Matthews Architects

House in Aggstall by Hild und K Architekten

The Corbelled Brick Extension by YARD Architects

Bloomsbury Student Halls by Maccreanor Lavington

Waterloo Lane Mews by Grafton Architects

TDO House by TDO

Kew House by Mclaren Excell

Turnmill by Piercy and Company

Rosyln Road by Magri Williams Architects


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  1. Great article, per your usual.

    Now you’ve opened the door for more!
    • Brick sizes and their names
    • Brick orientations: rowlock, soldiers, and sailors.
    • What is a “frog” and why is it called that?
    • The US term for hit-and-miss is “pierced.”
    • English bond (header courses every other), and US 5-course and 6-course headers
    • Water tables

    • Thank you Steve, appreciate your suggestions


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