Common Types of Brick Bonds Used in Masonry

Brick bonds refer to the pattern in which bricks are laid during the masonry construction of walls, floors, arches, and other structures. The pattern determines the strength, appearance, and water penetration resistance of the masonry. There are several standard types of brick bonds used in masonry construction, each with their own advantages and suitability for specific applications. Understanding the most common brick bonds enables informed decision making when planning a masonry project.

Stretcher Bond

The stretcher bond, also known as running bond, is the most basic and commonly used bricklaying pattern. In stretcher bond, all bricks are laid lengthwise in each course, presenting their long, stretched sides. The vertical mortar joints align perfectly from course to course in this bond.

Stretcher bond has the following characteristics:

  • Simple and easy laying pattern, suitable even for novice bricklayers
  • End bricks need to be cut to size to fit dimensions, avoiding small pieces
  • Very economical, using the least amount of bricks
  • Uniform appearance with long horizontal lines
  • Lower transverse strength compared to other bonds

The stretcher bond is ideal for most brick structures as it uses bricks efficiently. It is commonly used for brick walls, chimneys, planters, and decorative boundaries.

Stack Bond

In stack bond, all bricks are laid vertically with their short end exposed in each course. The next course is stacked directly over the course below, offset by half a brick lengthwise. This creates a distinctive stacked appearance.

Features of the stack bond pattern:

  • Also known as header bond
  • Vertical orientation of bricks provides compressive strength
  • Alternating courses offset for stability
  • More mortar joints than stretcher bond
  • Used for arches over openings due to vertical compression strength
  • Decorative appearance for accent walls, planters, chimneys

Stack bond requires customized brick lengths and is more labor intensive than stretcher bond. It is ideal where concentric compression strength is needed, such as chimneys, interior partition walls, and decorative accent walls in both interior and exterior areas.

Flemish Bond

Flemish bond combines stretcher and header bricks in an alternating pattern for a distinctive decorative appearance. Each course has alternating stretchers and headers, laid so headers form a centered half brick overlap above and below.

Characteristics of the Flemish bond pattern are:

  • Alternating headers and stretchers make a decorative pattern
  • Headers provide transverse strength
  • Overlapping headers increase stability
  • Suitable for decorative brickwork at the wall face
  • More labor intensive, uses more bricks than stretcher bond

The Flemish bond is commonly used as a decorative pattern for facing bricks on exterior facades, garden walls, and fireplaces. It is not suitable for structural brick courses that need to remain hidden.

English Bond

English bond is similar to Flemish bond using alternating header and stretcher bricks. However, in English bond, courses alternate between stretcher and header courses as opposed to within courses.

Features of English bond brickwork:

  • Alternating stretcher and header courses
  • Headers bond opposite courses together
  • Decorative exposed brick pattern
  • Increased structural stability from overlapping headers
  • Suitable for one-half to one brick thick walls
  • Labor intensive, requires cutting bricks precisely

English bond provides added transverse strength and is used where both faces of a wall are exposed, such as garden walls. The patterned appearance also makes it a frequent choice for decorative exterior façade walls.

Common Bond

Also known as American bond, Common bond combines stretcher courses alternating with header courses every fifth to eighth course. This bond has five to eight rows of stretchers between each header course.

Things to note about the common bond pattern:

  • Mostly stretcher pattern with periodic header courses
  • Header courses lock together stretcher courses
  • Requires cutting headers to size
  • Commonly used for brick veneer masonry walls
  • Simple, faster laying than Flemish or English bonds
  • Recommended bond for cavity walls

Common bond is more efficient than decorative bonds while still providing added structural stability. It is commonly specified for structural masonry in the United States.

Basketweave Bond

In basketweave bond, stretchers and headers are interlaced in a checkerboard pattern. The appearance resembles woven basket strips. Header and stretcher courses alternate.

Basketweave bond features:

  • Decorative intersecting brick pattern
  • Compressive and tensile strength from integrated headers
  • Intricate pattern requires skilled bricklaying
  • Bricks must be cut to consistent lengths
  • Adds stability to masonry structures
  • Used for walkways, patios, driveways

The basketweave pattern adds aesthetic appeal, stability, and strength. However, it requires more time, bricks, and skill. It is commonly used for decorative horizontal masonry surfaces such as patios, walkways, driveways, and floors.

Herringbone Bond

Herringbone bond has bricks laid at a 45 or 90 degree herringbone pattern. At 45 degrees, bricks appear as angled rows of alternating headers and stretchers. At 90 degrees, alternating header rows project perpendicularly from stretcher rows for a stepped appearance.

The herringbone bond:

  • Provides both compressive and tensile strength
  • Is intricately decorative, requires masonry skill
  • Alternating orientation resists settling and weak spots
  • Used for driveways, walkways, patios, accent walls
  • Can be more labor intensive to lay

The angled herringbone pattern provides strength while forming a distinct decorative texture. It is frequently employed for sidewalks, driveways, floors, and accent walls in masonry structures.

Sawtooth Bond

The sawtooth pattern has rows of alternating headers protruding like vertical teeth from angled stretcher courses. This resembles a sawtooth wave profile. The stretcher courses step at 45 degrees while the headers project at 90 degrees.

Sawtooth bond qualities include:

  • Decorative stepped appearance
  • Strong and stable due to integrated headers
  • Intricate pattern requires skilled bricklaying
  • Used for terraced walls, decorative boundaries, accent walls
  • Labor intensive, uses more bricks than basic bonds

The sawtooth bond pattern combines aesthetics and strength for brickwork where both are required. The intricate pattern significantly increases laying time and difficulty. Sawtooth bond brickwork is frequently seen on terraced garden walls, stair-stepped planters, and decorative façade walls.

Rat Trap Bond

The rat trap bond consists of bricks laid on the long narrow side in a herringbone pattern, with the short end facing outwards. This creates a zigzag decorative texture with the long stretched sides showing at 45 degree angles.

Rat trap bond features:

  • Distinctive angled zigzag pattern
  • Stretcher bricks laid on the narrow side
  • Perpendicular bricks interlock for stability
  • Labor intensive, requires cutting bricks
  • Primarily used decoratively for distinct texture

Rat trap bond forms a unique zigzag pattern and is one of the more ornamental bonds. Due to the intricacy, it is generally used decoratively for smaller accent areas.

Diamond Bond

Diamond bond forms a decorative diagonal pattern with bricks turned at 45 degree angles and laid in alternating rows. Stretcher rows alternate with header rows for this intricate crisscross pattern.

Characteristics of the diamond bond:

  • Interlocking crisscross visual texture
  • Bricks oriented diagonally and alternated in courses
  • Compressive and tensile strength from integrated headers
  • Primarily decorative, adds visual interest
  • Intricate pattern requires skill to lay properly

The diamond bond pattern creates a geometric grid appearance suited to decorative masonry projects. It effectively adds visual interest and strength but is also one of the more labor intensive bonds to lay.

Diagonal Bond

Diagonal bond consists of brick courses alternating between the stretcher and header orientation. The courses are stacked in a diagonal step pattern, with each course perpendicular rather than parallel to the one below it.

Features of diagonal bond patterns:

  • Alternating stretcher and header courses
  • Stacked in perpendicular stepped courses
  • Visually distinctive, decorative texture
  • Adds stability and structural strength
  • Herringbone pattern without angled joints
  • Requires cutting bricks precisely

The stepped diagonal configuration interlocks courses for stability and strength while forming a unique visual texture. The diagonal bond works well decoratively for garden walls, planters, and façade walls.

Windsor Bond

Windsor bond combines a stretcher course between every header course. The courses alternate between a header row and stretcher-header-stretcher row. This forms a decorative pattern with the headers slightly recessed.

The Windsor bond has these attributes:

  • Alternating header and stretcher-header-stretcher courses
  • Recessed header courses form a shadow line
  • Decorative, dimensional appearance
  • Increased transverse strength from staggered headers
  • Suitable for accent walls and decorative structures
  • More labor intensive than plain stretcher bond

Windsor bond provides added strength for decorative masonry structures. The dimensional stair-stepped appearance also makes it an attractive bond for garden walls, planters, and fireplaces.

Garden Wall Bond

Garden wall bond consists of alternating rows of stretchers and headers. Three stretcher courses stack between each header course. This bond is similar to common bond but with more stretcher rows between the intermittent header courses.

The garden wall bond displays these properties:

  • Three stretcher courses between each header row
  • Headers bond opposite courses together
  • Suitable for freestanding one-brick thick garden walls
  • Provides stability with minimal use of bricks
  • Simplistic decorative pattern
  • Faster to lay than more intricate bonds

Garden wall bond offers a good balance of simplicity, efficiency, strength, and decorative appeal for freestanding knee-high garden walls. The repeating pattern also gives a cohesive visual texture.

Dutch Bond

Also referred to as Dutch cross bond, this pattern has alternating stretcher and header courses with the joints staggered. This gives the appearance of cross-bonding for added stability and visual interest.

Dutch bond features:

  • Alternating stretcher and header courses
  • Joints offset for interlocking strength
  • Enhanced aesthetic appeal
  • Does not require cutting bricks like Flemish bond
  • Suitable for freestanding walls in exterior and interior use

The Dutch bond combines strength, economy, and attractiveness. The offset joints lock courses together while the alternating rows create a cross-hatched texture. This makes it ideal for both structural and exposed masonry walls.

Monk Bond

Monk bond consists of two stretchers between one header. There is a repetitive course pattern of two stretcher rows and one header row. Half bricks are intermittently used to offset the vertical joints.

Characteristics of monk bond patterns:

  • Two stretcher courses followed by one header course
  • Half bricks offset the vertical joints
  • Minimal use of bricks while maintaining stability
  • Suitable for partition walls and freestanding walls
  • Faster to lay than decorative bonds

The monk bond is an efficient economical bond that uses fewer bricks but maintains structural integrity. It is commonly used where masonry strength is required without decorative exposed brickwork.

Block Bond

The block bond pattern has masonry bricks turned on the short narrow end and laid in a stretcher pattern. This exposes the long side vertically like a header, but in the orientation of a stretcher course.

Properties of the block bond:

  • Bricks laid on stretcher side but vertical like headers
  • Minimizes cross joints for greater strength
  • Simpler pattern than stacked headers
  • Often used for pavement and footpaths
  • Provides stability for load-bearing masonry structures

Laying the bricks vertically on the stretcher side reduces joint intersections for pavements and load-bearing walls. Block bond maximizes structural integrity and compressive strength.

Rowlock Bond

Rowlock bond consists of a row of headers on their short ends, with a stretcher course below. The stretchers act as a sill for the header row, which is laid with its end grain exposed.

Features of rowlock bond patterns:

  • Header rows laid on a stretcher sill course
  • Exposes the short end of the headers
  • Forms a layered ledge-like profile
  • Used decoratively for cornices, string courses, plinths
  • Also suitable structurally for window sills

Rowlock bonds create a decorative horizontal ledge pattern as well as serving functionally as a sturdy window sill course. The short end exposure of headers enables compression and span strength despite the minimal thickness.

Sailor Bond

Sailor bond has successive stretcher courses with the joints offset by half a brick lengthwise above and below. This gives a sailor course appearance where the staggered vertical joints resemble waves.

Properties of sailor bond patterns:

  • Stretcher courses with half-brick-offset joints
  • Wavy undulating appearance of “sailor courses”
  • Does not require cutting bricks
  • Purely aesthetic use for accent courses
  • Also known as sailor’s walk

The offset stretcher courses create a wavy visual texture, used decoratively to give a nautical appearance resembling a dock. Sailor bond does not add structural strength and is used solely for aesthetic effect.

Cobblestone Bond

Cobblestone bond uses curved bricks laid with randomly angled joints, resembling natural round cobblestones. The irregular curved bricks interlock haphazardly like an old cobblestone street.

Characteristics of cobblestone bond:

  • Curved, rounded bricks laid with angled joints
  • Irregular, random appearance
  • Interlocking curves increase stability
  • Decorative, organic texture
  • Requires special curved bricks
  • Used for patios, walkways, accent walls

The cobblestone bond creates a visually appealing organic pattern reminiscent of classic aged streets. The curves make laying the bond more challenging but add to the handcrafted aesthetic.

Raking Bond

Raking bond refers to horizontal mortar joints raked back about half an inch from the face of the wall. This exposes the header faces in relief, forming visible indented joints for a decorative shadow effect.

Features of raking bond patterns:

  • Horizontal mortar joints set back from the face
  • Creates shadows to emphasize the header faces
  • Provides a dimensional, layered visual texture
  • Primarily decorative rather than structural
  • Enhances the pattern of any bond aesthetically

Raking back the mortar joints highlights the pattern of the underlying brick bond. It adds visual drama and textural appeal. Any bond can be raked back in this way for added aesthetic effect.


There are numerous varieties of brick bonds available to construct aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound masonry projects. The most fundamental bonds rely primarily on stretcher courses, while more decorative bonds incorporate header rows in varying patterns for added visual interest and structural integrity. When planning a project, consider the advantages of different bonds to balance appearance, construction requirements, skill level, and resources. Thoughtful brick bond selection and execution allows masonry structures to achieve both beauty and durability.

Frequently Asked Questions about Common Types of Brick Bonds Used in Masonry

What is the most basic and commonly used brick bond?

The stretcher bond, also known as the running bond, is the most elementary and prevalent bond used in bricklaying. It consists of courses of all stretchers with continuous vertical mortar joints.

Which bonds should be avoided for structural brick walls?

Bonds that are primarily ornamental, such as sailor, sawtooth, and rat trap bonds, lack the structural integrity needed for load-bearing walls. Stick to bonds with frequent header courses such as English, Flemish, or common bond.

What are the most economical brick bonds?

Stretcher and common bonds tend to use bricks most efficiently. More ornate bonds require cutting bricks to size and integrating customized shapes, resulting in material waste and added labor.

What bond offers the most weather resistance?

The Flemish bond provides excellent weather resistance because the overlapping header courses seal out moisture penetration better than aligning vertical joints. The English garden wall bond is also quite weather resistant.

Which bond has the most compressive strength?

Stack bond exerts excellent compressive strength as all bricks are laid on their ends like columns. Vertical header orientation enables bricks to handle compressive forces.

What bond should be used for a freestanding garden wall?

The garden wall bond, also known as American garden wall bond, provides an ideal balance of simplicity, strength, economy, and decoration for freestanding knee-high garden walls.

What is the easiest decorative bond for beginners to lay?

The English bond’s simple alternating stretcher-header course pattern creates an attractive decorative appearance while remaining straightforward and beginner-friendly to lay, unlike more intricate weave patterns.

Which bond can span openings well?

The vertical brick orientation provides excellent strength over openings. Stack bond and rowlock bond are frequently utilized for structural lintels spanning windows, doors, and arches.

When should raking joint bonds be used?

Raking the horizontal mortar joints is primarily an aesthetic technique to create shadows and highlights the profile of the bricks. Raking does not add structural strength, so its use is mainly decorative for exposed brick surfaces.

What bond is most suitable for paving driveways and walkways?

Herringbone and basket weave bonds provide both decorative visual appeal and compressive strength to support foot traffic and vehicles for driveways, walkways, patios, and outdoor floors.


Brick bonds encompass a wide range of patterns beyond basic stretcher courses to form exceptionally strong, aesthetically interesting masonry structures. Choosing the right bond for each application allows brickwork to perform optimally while achieving the desired appearance. With knowledge of the full range of bonds available, masons can build creatively to fulfill both practical and artistic visions.