Mortared Brick Patio

Learn where and how to start laying bricks for a mortared brick patio.

Intro

When mortaring brick on a patio, one of the first questions is where to start laying the brick. The answer depends on the pattern you intend to use, whether your slab is the same size as a multiple of whole brick, and whether the slab has control joints.

If the slab is the same size as a multiple of whole bricks (including mortar joints) lay the border first, then start setting brick at the border, as shown on these pages. If the slab has control joints, start along the control joints and work toward the edges.

Joint width depends on the relation of the brick's actual size to its nominal size. Generally if the actual size of a brick is 1/2 inch shorter than its nominal size, you'll make 1/2-inch joints. If it's shorter by 3/8 inch, you'll space the bricks at 3/8 inch. You can adjust spacing for aesthetics. Cut plywood of the desired thickness for spacers.

Checklist

Time
10 hours to 2 days to lay an 8x10-foot patio

Tools
Layout tools plus mason's line, 3-pound sledgehammer, mixing tub, mason's trowel, rubber mallet, circular saw and masonry blade, brick set, mortar bag, striking tool, cordless drill

Skills
Laying out square lines, excavating, basic masonry skills

Prep
Lay out and prepare site

Materials
2x lumber, gravel, deck screws, mortar, bricks

Step 1

Start the installation by setting the edging material of your choice. Then trowel a 1/2-inch coat of mortar on a roughly 4x4-foot section of the slab and comb it with the notched edge of the trowel. Apply only the amount of mortar you can use before it sets up.

Step 2

Tie mason's line to two bricks and set them outside the site, with the line pulled tight and parallel to the border. Use the line to guide your installation, repositioning it at least every three or four courses. Set each brick in the mortar with a slight twist, lining it up with previous bricks.

Step 3

As you lay each brick, set a short piece of 2x4 on it and tap it with a rubber mallet. Check each row with a straightedge to make sure all the surfaces are on the same plane. Pull up low bricks, back-butter them with additional mortar, then reset them. Reseat those that are too high by tapping them with the mallet again. Before spreading the next section of mortar, recheck the section you've just completed.

Step 4

After you've set the entire surface, let the mortar cure. Then go back and fill the joints with mortar, squeezing them full with a mortar bag. (You can mortar the brick with a trowel, but you might get more mortar on the bricks than between them.) Shape the joints with a striking tool.

Step 5

Let the mortar set up a bit, then lift off any excess from the surface with a pointing trowel. As a final cleanup, scrub off remaining mortar with a piece of wet burlap. Let the mortar cure for three days to a week before using the patio.


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