Know the basics

Photo Courtesy of Pine Hall Brick.
Breaking up patterns into smaller sections makes small areas appear larger.

When it comes to paver patterns, there is almost no limit to what you can create, except for your imagination, skill and, of course, the time and money your client is willing to spend.

Using a variety of stones, colors and patterns turns paving projects into veritable works of art. However, even with straightforward utilitarian projects, the design options can be confusing for customers and time consuming for you to propose and explain.

Narrowing down the options is a good start when working with a client to get a baseline of what they are willing to spend and what kind of look they want. Remember, as the “wow” factor goes up, so does the price of materials, labor and time to complete the job.

The classics

Some of the simplest and most elegant designs are also the oldest. The 300-page book on paver designs by Peter Joel Harrison, “Brick Pavement and Fence Walls: Authentic Details for Design and Restoration,” reveals a plethora of historic pattern styles used in the colonial period of America, including running bond, herringbone, stacked, basket weave, Spanish, whirling and diamond, with tips on how to detail corners and entry walks. The book is available through Wiley Publishers, www.wiley.com.

Photo Courtesy of Capitol Pavers & Retaining Walls, Inc.
A design with 9-by-15-inch, 9-by-12-inch and 9-by-9-inch pavers. The color combination adds more interest to the installation.

“Seeing the designs on paper are powerful because people can’t use what they can’t see,” said Harrison, whose series of books on colonial designs for walkways and fences have been used as a reference by Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. for historical accuracy in films and other projects.

“If you can show your customer an idea they like, they will buy it,” said Harrison.

Photo Courtesy of Capitol Pavers & Retaining Walls, Inc.
The types of pavers will change according to the size of a project, says Tom London, director of marketing for Capitol Pavers & Retaining Walls, Inc.
Photo Courtesy of Pine Hall Brick.
The double basket weave pattern.

Paver function

Patterns should be chosen not only for looks, but also for the functional purpose they are going to serve.

“Patterns can help define or change the scale of space,” said Ted Corvey, director of paver operations for Pine Hall Brick (www.pinehallbrick.com) in Winston-Salem, N.C.

To make small areas appear larger, break up the pattern into smaller sections.

Patterns can also be used to create an emphasis in a landscape, leading the eye to a focal point, such as a fountain or sculpture.

The types of pavers will change according to the size of a project, said Tom London, director of marketing for Capitol Pavers & Retaining Walls, Inc. (www.capitolconcrete.com) of South Amboy, N.J.

“If the area is large, you should consider going with a larger paver size. Using the same logic, if an area is small, it is generally recommended to use a smaller paver,” said London.

Herringbone patterns are best used for vehicular installations, such as driveways. With each paver perpendicular to one another in the herringbone pattern, it allows loads to be transferred and evenly distributed more effectively than any other pattern.

Harrison does not recommend using thin pavers for driveways, but solid bricks instead. “I would also do a foundation of 6 inches in concrete, with sand on top, and lay the bricks on sand,” he said, noting that his own driveway at his Raleigh, N.C., home is constructed this way and has required no maintenance for 30 years other than replacing a few cracked bricks.

Designs for pedestrian traffic, such as walkways, terraces, patios, courtyards, garden paths and surrounding a pool or pond, are often not limited by load considerations. However, more elaborate patterns will mean more cuts, which will increase the difficulty and cost of the project.

“If you don’t want to do any cutting, a basket weave with whole bricks is your best option,” said Corvey.

Material choices

Bricks, traditionally 4 by 8 inches, are often not uniform in size because of firing techniques that result in varying shrinkage. This requires premeasuring of a dozen or two dozen bricks to get the largest size, as the pattern needs to be laid according to the largest paver. However, some brick manufacturers, such as Pine Hall Brick, have perfected firing techniques to make the bricks more uniform in size.

Concrete pavers are uniform in size (with a tolerance of +/- 1/16 inch) and cost less than brick. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes. Many shapes, noted London, particularly 4-by-8-inch, 6-by-6-inch and 6-by-9-inch pavers, are ideal to create specific patterns, such as running bond and the various herringbone patterns.

Stone pavers are also available in a variety of shades and sizes, but are more expensive than bricks or concrete. Popular stone pavers include granite (which are strong enough for driveways), limestone, flagstone, slate, sandstone and bluestone.

Designs can incorporate just one material or several. “The most creative designs are being used with multiple patterns and separating them by bands of brick,” said Corvey. Many of the classic styles can be turned 45 degrees for even more interest. “It is all a matter of aesthetics,” he said.

“Let go of the idea that every pavement has to be one pattern with a border band,” said Corvey. While there is a learning curve to become efficient with new patterns, once you do that you can become more creative in your designs.

“The landscape is your canvas,” said Harrison, but first make sure you know the basics.

Photos Courtesy of Pine Hall Brick.
An example of the running bond pattern.
A single basket weave pattern.
Brick pavers in a herringbone pattern.

The Basic Patterns

Of the various designs used in historical brick pattern projects, about three to five basic patterns are still used today, said Harrington. These patterns can be expanded upon and combined in a variety of combinations. These patterns can be laid in 90 or 45-degree angles.

Running Bond and Stack Bond

The most popular pattern today is what was historically called the stretcher bond, today called the running bond, a simple but attractive pattern that requires almost no cutting. This pattern is used frequently in paved driveways (although the herringbone is recommended for added strength). This is also the most common pattern used on the façade of brick buildings. Stack bond pattern is the simplest of all paving patterns, since pavers are simply stacked, or laid, side by side, but can be laid at a 45-degree angle for more interest. The running bond is best for outdoor patios; stack bonds can stand up to more foot traffic, such as on walkways.

Basket Weave

The basket weave pattern is also called a “parquet” pattern. This design is a checkerboard-type of pattern hailing from old European courtyards. It is attractive and looks more intricate than it is to install.

Herringbone

The herringbone pattern can consist of various shaped pavers laid at either 45 or 90-degree angles. It is the strongest of the three patterns. The angles of the pavers create the greatest interlock between the pavers, making it ideal for driveways that require a sturdy surface.

The author is a freelance writer from Keene, N.H.