Building a Common-bond Brick Wall

Common-bond Brick Wall

A common-bond wall looks very similar to a wall laid with a running bond. However, a common-bond wall is built with a header course (bricks laid perpendicular across the wythes) every second and fifth (or sixth) course.

The headers tie the wythes together, which is why a wall built with this pattern is much stronger than a wall of running bond. Because the headers present their short face and sometimes a slight color difference, they lend visual interest too. You can accentuate this feature by using a different brick color for the header courses.

As always, dry-lay a test run of the layout before using mortar. If the length of the wall is critical and comes out a fraction of a brick short or long in the test run, you can adjust the thickness of the mortar joints as you go to make it fit. Use grade SW brick in freezing climates and grade MW brick elsewhere.

One of the most common ways to lay bricks is aptly called a common bond -- essentially running bond with header bricks laid perpendicular to the others every fifth or sixth row. Start the first course with a full stretcher and the second with three-fourths of a stretcher, then headers. The third row starts with a full stretcher, the fourth row with a header then stretchers, and the fifth course with a full stretcher (just like the first course). Repeat this pattern until the wall is at its finished height.

Prestart Checklist

18 to 24 hours to lay a 3x10-foot wall

Tape measure, chalk line, level, mason's trowel, brick set, pencil, small sledgehammer, mason's line, line level, mason's blocks, concave jointer, story pole

Designing layout, excavating, throwing mortar, setting brick

2x4 lumber, spacers, bricks, mortar

Step 1

Lay out the bricks in a dry run with a full brick on the end of each wythe. Mark the edges of the wythes on the footing with chalk lines. Spread mortar on the footing and lay three bricks. Check for alignment and level. Lay three bricks of the second wythe, then lay two identical wythes at the other end of the wall.

Step 2

Cut two bricks to three-fourths their length and throw mortar on the first wythes. Push the cut bricks into place and check their height with a story pole. Start the second course at the other end.

Step 3

Throw mortar on about two-thirds of the surface of the remaining brick in the first courses. Then butter the long side of a brick (a header brick) and push it into place against the short bricks. Lay two or three more header bricks in this fashion -- both on this end and the other end of the wall.

Step 4

Attach mason's blocks and line to the ends of the first course, 1/16 inch away from the bricks and flush with the top edge. Start the third course on both wythes with a full stretcher brick and continue to build the leads with stretchers in this course.

Step 5

Working from the leads to the center, finish the first course of stretchers on both wythes, buttering the closure brick on both ends before setting it. Then finish the second course of headers from the leads to the center, moving the mason's block up as you go, leveling and plumbing.

Step 6

Continue filling between the leads on the third course (stretcher course) of the front wythe, moving the line up to guide brick placement. Check the wythe with a level and story pole. Continue building up new leads, starting the fourth course with a header, followed by stretchers, and the fifth course with a full stretcher and stretchers thereafter, exactly like the first course.

Step 7

When the front wythe is even with the leads, build leads on the rear wythe and fill between them the same way. Shift the mason's blocks and line to the rear wythe and move it up for each course. Check every other course for plumb and level. When both wythes are even with the leads, start the sixth course with a three-quarter brick, just like the second course, and build leads in the same order as the first five courses.

Step 8

Lay out your block in a dry run, spacing it with 3/8-inch plywood spacers. Mark all the edges of the course. Take up the block and spread mortar on the footing. Push the first block into the mortar until it's 3/8 inch above the footing. Mortar the ears of the second block and push it against the first.

Step 9

At this point, you can continue to build up the lead on one corner, then the other, or build both of them at the same time. To start the other lead, push a corner block into mortar at the other end. You can attach mason's blocks and line from one corner to the other to help keep them straight.

What If... The wall has corners? Step 1

Beginning with the front wythe, throw a short length of mortar on both legs of the footing and set a corner brick and one more along each leg of the footing. Then lay three bricks on the rear wythe, inside the front corner. Check for level along and across the wythes, adjusting bricks as needed.

Step 2

To start the second course, cut two bricks into three-quarter and one-quarter lengths (these are called closures). Start the course with a three-quarter brick on both legs. Then set the one-quarter lengths on the rear wythe. Begin laying headers in both directions.

Step 3

Continue laying two or three headers on both legs to complete the second course of the leads. Then build leads on the other end of the footing and lay the rest of the wall as shown on these pages. Check for level and plumb at least every other course.

Step 4

To set the cap row on a wall that turns a corner, mark both legs with a story pole to make sure the length of the rowlock course will equal the width of the wall. Set the rowlocks on one leg as shown, then set the other leg.

Comments (4)
Budda420 wrote:

Shoemakers shouldn't lay bricks or teach. I take pride in my work. Don't destroy my trade.

2/15/2013 11:09:07 AM Report Abuse
Budda420 wrote:

Dutch corner- lay your stretcher then on top place a header. After the header comes the 3/4 bat, then put headers. If your stretcher course has a header on the end then you would put the 3/4 bat on top.English corner- header overtop of stretcher as with Dutch corner but instead of a 3/4 you would use a 1/4 bat then put headers.if your stretcher course has headers on the corner youCANT start with a 1/4 bat. You would put a stretcher, then a 1/4 bat, then the headers

2/15/2013 11:02:50 AM Report Abuse
Budda420 wrote:

When building any common bond wall, multiwythe or not. Never put a 3/4 bat( cut) over top of a stretcher. When you do this you end up with stack bond in the corner as you can see in one of the pictures. THIS IS WRONG. To eliminate this you would do a Dutch corner or an English corner

2/15/2013 11:02:18 AM Report Abuse
billmartin50 wrote:

A real help for the Handyman, Do-it-yourselfer and Homeowner for laying Block and Brick is by using Masonry Joint Spacers. The can be found on the internet.

12/8/2010 10:33:44 PM Report Abuse
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