Brick and Pavers
You'll probably choose brick for your project based on its color and texture. Colors range from reds and burgundies to whites and buffs. There are a variety of face textures. Other factors that play into your final choice are durability, maintenance requirements, the grade of the brick, and how you intend to use it. No matter what you choose, the brick grade must match your area's climate.
Pavers, face bricks, and building bricks come in three grades based on the severity of the weather they can endure. NW (no weather) brick is for interior use only.
An MW rating means the brick will stand up to moderate weather conditions, including frost and some freezing. SW brick withstands severe weather, including freeze-thaw cycles. Use SW brick for patios. MW is good for exterior walls in mild climates, but SW is a more durable choice.Brick for patios
When choosing brick for patios, avoid common brick, face brick, and firebrick, varieties not designed for paving. Some good choices are:
Pavers are hard and resist moisture and wear. Some types have rounded or chamfered edges, a feature which makes sand-set installations easier and more attractive.
Salvaged brick from old buildings and streets frequently comes with chunks of mortar left on, which many designers feel adds to its charm. You may have to chisel the mortar off for some uses. Salvaged brick varies widely in durability, however. If you like the look but not the risk, you can approximate a used-brick appearance with manufactured salvage brick.
Adobe pavers, impregnated with asphalt, resist water almost as well as clay brick. They are not fired at high temperatures, however, so they won't stand up to hard use. Install them in sand in dry climates where the ground doesn't freeze.Brick for walls
Common brick and face brick are good wall bricks. Common brick is less expensive and most are manufactured with three or more holes that make them lighter and easier to work with. The bricks build a stronger wall, too, because the mortar keys onto the edges of the holes. Standard modular bricks are 2-2/3 inches thick, engineer bricks are 3-1/5 inches thick.Designing with brick
Brick enhances any landscape. It conforms to gentle terrain changes, mixes easily with other paving materials, makes an excellent border for other path and patio materials, and if properly installed requires little maintenance. Pavers are set in a sand base (the easiest installation method) or mortared to a slab (a more time-consuming, costly, and permanent installation).
In damp climates and shaded areas, moss grows readily on brick and may make the surface slippery. Brick with smooth or glazed surfaces can become slick when wet.Brick patterns
Before you decide which brick you want to use, consider the pattern you want to lay down. Pattern affects the look of your project as well as the amount of time and money you'll devote to it. The simplest pattern is the running bond, in which each succeeding course is offset by one-half brick. It can be used to build walls and patios. A variation that's only slightly more complicated is the common bond, which is a running bond pattern that employs header bricks (bricks placed perpendicular to the rest) on a wall and half brick on a patio. The headers and half bricks are set every sixth row. Other variations are more complicated combinations of headers (or half brick) and stretchers; they require more brick, produce more waste from cutting, and take more time. Patterns such as the herringbone and basket weave are used only on horizontal surfaces, such as patios and walks.Pro Tip
You can buy brick at brickyards, lumberyards, or garden and home centers. You can even find distributors on the Internet (although you risk not knowing exactly what the product will look like when it arrives at your home). Most local suppliers will deliver a load of brick for a small fee.
Brick is sold individually or by the square yard. Order it on pallets to reduce breakage. To estimate how much you'll need, compute the area of your project in square yards. Multiply the area by 50. (About 50 standard bricks cover 1 square yard.) Then add 5 to 10 percent more to allow for waste from cutting and breakage. For other brick sizes, divide the project area by the face area of one brick.Design tip
Vary brick colors to add interest to a brick wall, walk, or patio. Keep the contrasts subtle -- red-brown bricks interspersed with dark red bricks, for example, will look more pleasing than sharply contrasting colors. Bricks set on edge expand your design possibilities, but the smaller surface of the edges will require more bricks -- and a larger budget.