Brickwork Types and Brickwork Bonds

If you need help and advice with regard to independent building surveys, structural reports, property surveys, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, independent valuations, home buyers reports or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.

We use lots of sketches and photos in our building surveys

Cement pointing and dampness

Have a look at this article as this is the quality that we use in our reports.

Our surveys are unique with sketches which are drawn especially for us and our photographs for which we use advanced digital photography. We have created our reports based around the feedback we have had from clients and have been developed for more than ten years.

We never rest on our laurels, we are forever looking to change and improve our surveys.

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Brickwork – an introduction

This article looks at brick bonds, we have seen all types of different brickwork over the years as we have carried out structural surveys on properties and we thought it may be of interest to you.

The history of bricks

The following is a short history of brickwork, by no means complete but we did wish to put something on our website for those interested in different types of bricks and brick bonds.

Originally brickwork consisted of sun dried clay. The Romans, as with so many things are credited with introducing the concept of burning of clay. Interestingly the art of brickwork was said to be lost when the Romans left Britain although we will never know for sure, and it wasn't until about the 14th Century when bricks started to be imported from the Netherlands that brickwork started to play its part again in the architecture of Britain. During the time without bricks, so to speak, we very much built from timber. To some extent it was this running out of timber that made us think of how else to build.

Brickwork wasn't really used in domestic architecture until the 16th Century due to its general scarcity and the cost. We then need to move rapidly to the 19th and 20th Century and 21st Century when the original handmade bricks moved to a more automated process with the industrial revolution giving the means of transport to allow us to have bricks throughout the country. Prior to that the predominance of brick was very much dependent upon the natural resources available in the area with most small towns having their own brickworks and if the area didn't have clay it would have its own quarry.

It wasn't until transportation costs were reduced with the coming of the steam and industrial age and mass production techniques were also developed that Britain really started building in bricks. As often seems to be the case wherever something is used a lot there is always a drawback and in this case it was the brick tax of 1850. This led onto the famous saying ‘daylight robbery' which related to the window tax which was later brought in after the brick tax; it is said that it meant that many people bricked up their windows and hence the term ‘daylight robbery'.

Other articles that may be of interest

Damp Proof Courses and Modern Property
Wall Tie Problems
Cavity Wall Problems
My property has been repointed in cement mortar, what can I do?
Types of Brickwork Bond

Below we give an overview of the different types of brickwork bonds.

English Bond

The term "English Bond" means that from the outside of the property, you can see a row of the ends of the bricks (known as "headers"), followed by a course above of the side of bricks (known as the "stretchers"), followed by a further course of the ends of the bricks. This pattern would repeat throughout.

Flemish Bond Brickwork

Flemish Bond Brickwork

The term "Flemish Bond" relates to the way the bricks are bonded together and have a pattern visible from the outside of the property that shows the end of the brick (header), then the side of the brick (stretcher), then the end of the brick, then the side of the brick, and this pattern repeats course after course, i.e. header-stretcher, header-stretcher.

Flemish Bond – Small header in red circle, large stretcher in green circle

Generally Flemish Bond brickwork is liable to penetrating dampness internally, dependent upon the condition of the brickwork and the exposure to the weather. It is essential that external faces be kept in good condition.

Flemish bond brickwork

Before the 19th Century, the practice of building timbers into external walls was almost universal. These were known as bonding timbers. They are of course prone to rot as solid walls allow dampness through. Unfortunately, without opening up the structure, we are unable to confirm if this is the case.

What do the red circles mean?

The red circles are a system that we use within our structural surveys, building surveys and schedules of condition to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is. In addition to this if the photographs do not, we believe, explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches.

Flemish garden wall bond

Flemish Bond Brickwork

Flemish garden wall bond

Flemish garden wall bond

Stretcher Bond Brickwork

Stretcher Bond

The term "Stretcher Bond" means that from the outside of the property, you can see a row of the sides of the bricks (known as "stretchers") followed by a course above of the same stretch of bricks set off so the joint is centrally above the "stretcher".

This pattern would repeat throughout.

Flemish Bond Brickwork

Flemish garden wall bond

Flemish garden wall bond

Tie bars

Cavity walls were first used in Victorian times. It originates from solid walls not always being waterproof against driving rain and not providing a good degree of heat insulation.

The design of cavity walls makes them relatively unstable and they depend upon the wall ties.

Stretcher Bond is sometimes known as Cavity Bond. Today the cavities are filled with insulation.

Thermal Imaging

The real difference between solid walls and cavity walls is the amount of heat that comes out of them. Thermal imaging can be very useful as it identifies where colder and damper areas are. Here is an example of our thermal image camera in action.

Thermal image

Heat loss in a poorly insulated house

Surveyors with Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal image


It can be dangerous for Surveyors using thermal imagers if they do not have enough experience of working with them. We have developed knowledge of thermal imaging cameras over the many years we have now worked with them. We have even given lectures about thermal imaging cameras at Universities.




Wall Tie Failure In Cavity Walls

As mentioned, walls of cavity construction should incorporate ties to hold together the inner and outer leaves of masonry. In properties built before the early 1980s there can be problems with wall tie failure. As this is a progressive condition there is a risk that repairs/renewal might be required in the future.

It is possible to replace defective ties and a specialist contractor should be engaged to investigate further to establish the extent of the problem and the cost of remedial works. All works of repair should be undertaken by a reputable and experienced company offering a minimum twenty five year guarantee on completion .




Types of bricks

Engineering Brick

We often come across Engineering bricks being used as a damp proof course.

Engineering Brick Defined

A clay brick of high compressive strength and low absorption, e.g. Staffordshire blue bricks and some reds. Class A bricks are stronger than 70 N/mm² and have an absorption below 4.5%. Class B have a 50 N/mm² compressive strength and maximum 7% water absorption.

Fletton Bricks

Now a more general term we would say used for typical everyday bricks.

Fletton Brick Defined

A low cost pale red brick made from Oxford clay with traces of coal that burn during firing, saving energy. It is pressed like many clay bricks and can be sandfaced, pigmented, or textured for use as facings.

Common bricks

The term used generally for all types of brick. We would say that originally it was more specifically used for internal or side wall brickwork that was not to be seen.

Facing brickwork

These are the prettier bricks that tend to be on the front of properties or all over modern properties. We are aware that a modern brick would tend to have an applied face as well meaning that the actual face you see has been specifically applied to the brick to give a look.

Silicone Bricks

Silicone bricks are something from the 1970's, the main problem that we have come across with them is that they very easily snap.


Why have an independent building survey?

Always have an independent building survey as this will highlight any property problems. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

Remember the building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.


Independent Surveyors

We provide an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports/engineers reports/specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters .

We are more than happy to meet you at the property whilst carrying out the survey to discuss any specific issues you may have or have a general chat about what we have found at the end of the survey. Please contact 0800 298 5424 to speak to a surveyor.


The Good, Bad and Ugly survey

Our good, bad and ugly survey is a building survey which is sometimes known as a structural survey which our surveyors have developed over many years, in fact several decades. We have listened to feedback from our clients and amended and altered our surveys to make them easy to read and describe issues clearly. We believe the key factor is our surveys are easy to understand in plain English but do not take our word for it call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and ask for an example of one of our surveys to be emailed to you.

Our surveyors have normally carried out a building survey similar to the property you are considering buying and therefore we can show you an example of the type of structural survey you will be receiving. We would recommend that you do not just book a survey but with whoever you decide to have your independent building survey with you talk to them, receive an example survey as well as meet with the surveyor at the property.

There are various ideas we have developed over the years to make our surveys more readable everything from 16x optical zoom digital photographs next to the problem which show and explain what the problem is to sketches that clarify any issues particular ones that we cannot photograph but know are present. We have commissioned our own sketches to explain property issues which you will not find with any other Surveyor.


Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .


Surveying articles

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the website are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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