Q&A / 

Patios of Brick – Concrete or Clay

Kathy (my lovely wife) and I bought our first home in April of 1975. It needed a tremendous amount of work. It was an FHA "repo". The previous owners had defaulted on the mortgage. We bought it at an auction for $8,500. We fixed it up and sold it within nine months. By that time I was consumed with learning about rehabilitation and remodeling. I was doing various "experiments" with techniques and materials. Yes, "experiments" - that is what most rookies and homeowners do with building and remodeling projects - they experiment. You see, most people try to do a job and hope for good results - you know, just like a chemistry experiment. Anyway, I decided to experiment and put in a brick paver sidewalk. Paver brick is not flagstone, but installation of both materials is nearly identical. Read this Bulletin completely and you will learn exactly how to install flagstone.

Ants, Weeds and Sand

One day while picking up supplies at a brickyard I saw these neat, thin bricks. I asked what they were used for. The yard manager said that people used them for patios and walkways. Ah ha! Just what I needed.

Now, mind you, this was before those fancy-dancy interlocking concrete brick paving materials. I came home and told Kathy I had found a great product. In fact, I showed her a sample brick. She loved it. I had decided that setting the brick on a smooth bed of sand would make for a great surface.

I dug the lawn up and carefully installed the sand. Each brick was placed up against an adjacent brick. It was a good looking job - that is, for awhile. Before long, weeds began to grow between the joints. The neighborhood ants colonized my walkway as well. The first explorers found out how easy it was to mine the sand for ant farms. One year later I started over.

The Present Options

My brick paver experiment happened exactly 20 years ago. Today, I know better. Not only that, there are some exciting options with respect to paving bricks. Most projects can be tackled by serious DIY'rs who are not afraid of a little sweat.

If you are thinking of a brick patio, you must first decide on your material before you begin work. There are two primary materials: standard clay brick or fine grained concrete brick. The clay paving bricks are available most often in rectangular sizes approximately 4x8 inches. They can be purchased in two standard thicknesses: 1 1/2 inch and 2 3/8 inch.

The concrete paving bricks are available in a range of shapes and sizes. Often they are available in five or more colors. These bricks are usually only available in one thickness - 2 3/8 inch. They are an excellent example of the new mortarless technology that has blossomed in the past 15 to 20 years.

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