Monday, June 11, 2012

DIY: Antique Brick Pathway

A few months ago, Dave and I had a spontaneous moment and decided to repave our front walkway with antique brick.  It was mid-March and the weather was getting warmer, so the "lightbulb" idea to spend an entire weekend outside seemed like a brilliant plan.  And it was.  We had a lot of fun.  But, the work was a bit more labor intensive than you might think (bricks are heavy).  Here's how This Old House describes a brick pathway DIY:

Difficulty: Moderate
Requires stamina for digging and pounding, as well as an attention to detail 
time: 2 eight hour days
cost: $2.00 to $15.00 per square foot 

I would say that this assessment is pretty accurate.  Laying a brick pathway is not that difficult, depending on the pattern you use.  It does require a lot of stamina, and attention to detail (especially when cutting brick).  We spent about three days on this project, and our cost was around $42.00 (for joint filling sand); we used existing antique brick that we had in the backyard.

Here's how we did it:
simple concrete pavers, probably around $5.00 per square foot

We started with this walkway (above).  We think that the previous homeowners recently installed this path (maybe within the last five years?).  Made of simple concrete pavers, it was fine and very functional... but we wanted something with a little more character (to match our 120 year old home).  Enter, antique brick...

We inherited a weirdly constructed brick patio in our backyard when we bought this house.  It was an odd mix of new concrete pavers and heavy antique brick.  Many of the clay brick pavers were in excellent condition.  So, we decided to move these bricks and use them in our new front walk.  We needed enough brick to cover 100 square feet of walk (4' wide x 25' long), and this old patio provided more than enough material.  So, we began the arduous process of moving this brick, piece by piece, to the front yard.  We also gathered the necessary tools we would need for this project:

tools: work gloves, knee pads, a rubber mallet, a masonry hammer, measuring tape, chalk, stakes & string, levels, extension cord, an angle grinder, protective eye wear, an angle square, and a float.
not pictured: shovels, 3 bags of Quikrete sand, wheelbarrows full of brick, a push broom, and an immeasurable amount of enthusiasm. :)

Armed with a strategy, we began popping out the old concrete pavers...

Each piece popped out easily, and once removed, we could see that this walk had been installed by a professional.  Under the layer of sand was a layer of crushed gravel.  Everything was in excellent shape (and fairly new), so we kept it all in place and used it as the foundation for the brick. 

Here's a great diagram from This Old House illustrating the appropriate layers of crushed gravel and sand:

We looked at countless images of brick hardscaping for inspiration.  Based on that research, we decided that we wanted to use a running bond pattern for our new front pathway.  We tested out the measurements beforehand:  5 bricks + 2 vertical bricks (as the border) was the exact perfect fit.  This is the pattern we would use going forward:

rough fit of 5 bricks + 2 vertical bricks for edging

We added stakes with yellow line to mark the outside edging, and keep us on track.  We also added a center line to make sure our pattern was consistent the whole way through:

When we excavated the old patio, we found 6 bricks with an embossed keystone on the face (this is the Keystone State, after all!), so we decided to incorporate them as a focal point down the center of the new path.  Every 48" we added another Keystone brick. 

Before placing each new row of brick, grade the sand base and make sure it's level.  Since we used a running bond pattern, Dave had to cut many bricks in half with the angle grinder.  Once the pattern is cut and laid on center, pound each brick into place with a rubber mallet.  Repeat, repeat, repeat...

progress shot (and the area covered in brick dust from cutting the bricks in half)

Once all the bricks are in place, it's time to fill the joints with sand.

close up of the brick pathway before we filled the joints with sand

We used a Quikrete product with a polymer, to add a bit more stability to the pathway:

(we used 3 bags for 100 square feet)

Sprinkle the sand across your freshly laid brick pathway and sweep into the joints:

(you can see one of our Keystone bricks in the center of the pathway)

Once the sand is sprinkled into the joints, take out the garden hose and sprinkle with a light mist of water (step not shown).  We repeated this step with sweeping sand and misting with water a few times.  Once the pathway is complete, let the Quikrete set for about 48 hours.  After that, you're done!  Sit down on the porch and admire your work.  :)

We finished this project in March, and this is what it looks like today:

Obviously, we were very lucky to already have these antique bricks on the property-- and they make a warm, welcoming entry into our home.  The pathway looks like it was supposed to be there all along.  :)

If you're interested in using antique brick, I recommend checking Craiglist!  In Philadelphia, there are a ton of ads for reclaimed brick pavers (and cobblestone too!).  You can expect to pay anywhere from $1.00 per brick to $4.00 for brick (and cobblestone usually runs around the same price).  If you're interested in doing this DIY and can't get your hands on antique pavers, check with your local stone yard.  There are many new products on the market today that make excellent hardscaping material. 

For more information on this type of DIY, check this article from This Old House.  And, here is a great YouTube video of the same thing. 

And, if you need a little inspiration, here are the images that inspired us to complete this project.


No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

redbrickbuilding said...

We recently laid brick pavers in our garden. A good brickyard (not Home Depot or run-of-the-mill landscape supply places) will have a selection of antique looking bricks, which is what we used. Just under $1/brick, you get the exact number you need, and you don't need to mess around coordinating with potentially flaky folks on Craigs.

TJ said...

Looks SOOO much better! Can't wait to see the holly bush project, too!

Holly Gruszka said...

This looks great and you did a great job of explaining all of your steps. I also found it helpful to see the illustration from TOH of the layers underneath the brick. And I think that's so neat that there is a keystone on some of the bricks - gives it even more character.

Unknown said...

Your blog is pretty good to see and after seeing your blog i conclude that you have very well trained professionals to work with great effort starting from Brick removal to the installation of that very stuff.I like your working style. Thanks for sharing It will be useful for me in future.
Paves Miami

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