Solid Brick Walls

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3 Flemish Bonds

This bond is known as Flemish bond. It's most common in housing, particularly on front elevations. The bond is often built in bricks of two colours to provide a decorative pattern. It's not as strong as English bond but is generally considered to be more attractive. The bond can be adapted to suit thicker walls - most houses built in Flemish bond will have walls one brick thick (225mm or 9 inch). Some walls, built in cavity construction, used 'snapped' headers to give the appearance of Flemish bond but the external leaf is still a half-brick thick. This was not uncommon in the 1920s and 1930s but is very rare today because of the expense.
In Flemish bond headers and stretchers alternate in each course. To make the bond 'work' with the course above and below, additional bricks known as queen closers are required. The closer is effectively a quarter brick and it's usually positioned after the first header. In the right-hand photo below you can see the headers and queen closers next to the window. Alternatively a three quarter brick could replace the header and closer but this is not generally thought to be as attractive (look at the window above left).  The left hand image shows the 'odd' and 'even' courses of a one brick wall in Flemish bond; the right hand image shows a one-and-a-half brick wall (this requires half and three-quarter bats to maintain the bond). The queen closers are shown in a darker colour.
These two pictures both show elevations of Flemish bond. The left hand example is from about 1780, the right-hand one perhaps 15 years earlier. In both cases the mortar would have been based on lime with the addition of sand and/or ash (and possibly less desirable bulk fillers as well). The left-hand example shows reasonably good quality bricks with joints of about 10mm or so (3/8 inches). The right-hand example is made from more accurately shaped bricks and has been pointed-up in a 1:1 mix of lime and fine sand. This is expensive and slow work. In the best brickwork the bricks were made very accurately; true and square. This meant that very fine mortar joints could be used - in some examples the joints are as little as 5mm. 

In some cheaper work tuck pointing was used to emulate the best construction. In tuck pointing the bricks (usually with uneven edges) were jointed in a mortar which roughly matched the colour of the bricks. The joint was then finished (pointed) with a very thin ribbon of lime and silver sand. From a distance it looks as if very good quality bricks and fine joints have been used. Examples of this can be found in the pointing section of Mortars. 

This bond is Flemish Garden Wall bond. It's sometimes referred to as Sussex bond. Note there are two or three stretchers to every header in each course. It's quite rare, certainly much rarer then English Garden Wall bond. Like most solid wall bonds, queen closers or three-quarter bricks are still required to maintain the bond at quoins or window openings. Click here for another example.
This bond is Flemish Stretcher bond. In this example every second or fourth course is standard Flemish bond. The courses in between are in stretcher bond. However, unlike stretcher bond in modern cavity walls, the stretchers are offset by a quarter brick rather than a header. In the left hand example you can see that the first course of stretchers starts with a header followed by a queen closer. The next course is all stretchers. What you see in practice is sometimes a bit more higgedly-piggedly.
You will sometimes find Flemish bond in the outer leaf of cavity walls. It looks like a one brick wall but is only a half brick one - constructed using snapped headers. This construction was common in the 1920s - as cavity walls were being introduced. You sometimes also find Flemish bond half brick walls in cheap speculative Georgian construction - again, in many cases the brick cladding is only a half brick thick (but there is no internal leaf). The photos show a house built in 2004 - the outer leaf is only half a brick thick.
©2006 University of the West of England, Bristol
except where acknowledged
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