Constructing Brick paths

Apart from building walls, bricks can be used for making paths and for informal gardens they provide a path more in keeping with the style than concrete paving would. The base for laying brick paths is the same as that used for concrete drives and paths. First the vegetation and garden soil have to be removed and although the hardcore sub-base is not needed it can be used to build-up the path to the required level. An alternative is to lay coarse gravel over the area and roll it well to make a firm foundation.

When this base has been rolled firm and solid, about 25 mm of sand is laid on it ready for the bricks. Not all bricks are suitable for paths, most of the commons are too soft and it is best to get the advice of the merchant or the makers before buying any bricks.

The face side of bricks makes an attractive path, but if they are laid flat, as in walling, they will cover more ground. An edge restraint is needed because the bricks are only laid in sand, not mortar. The edging is bedded in concrete to hold it in place. If the sand base is levelled and rolled the bricks can be laid straight on to it without any joints being made. Later sand is brushed over the surface of the path so that it will fill any slightly open joints.

Bricks also lend themselves to pattern making, and instead of straight courses, herringbone or basket designs can be laid. Herringbone is the most difficult as it needs not only a string-line down the centre of the path to keep the pattern straight, but also a line across the path to keep the pattern level across. This pattern needs a lot of cut bricks too for filling in at the sides of the path.

It is not necessary to level brick paths accurately, because they often look better if they follow the contour of the land. A minimum fall for the paths is 1 in 60, but a more generous fall will help the path to dry out quicker and will also discourage the growth of moss and lichen, which although attractive in many ways, can cause slipperiness.

When bedding the bricks, they should first be set up about 6 mm above the finished level of the path so that they can be tapped down. A straight edge is used to keep the courses in line and to keep the surface reasonably level. A popular form of edging for these paths is to set bricks at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees in concrete down the sides. It takes about 50 metric bricks to lay a square metre when laid flat and about 60 when they are laid on their sides. A square yard takes about 40 imperial size bricks laid flat and about 48 when they are laid on their sides.

Paths near the house must not cover the air bricks which ventilate wooden floors. They must always be at least 150 mm below the damp proof course level.

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