Joints and Courses

Bond     A bond is the patterned arrangement of brick or stone in a wall. The brick must be lapped upon one another, to prevent vertical joints from falling over each other.

Mortar     Mortar is a pasty building material composed of sand, lime and cement mixed with water. This mixture gradually hardens when exposed to the air. Mortar is used as a joining medium in brick and stone construction.

Joint     A joint is the mortar bond placed between individual masonry units such as brick, block or stone.

Wall Laid in English Bond

When a brick is laid down the mason must decide which side of the brick will face outside towards the viewer. Will the brick be set flat or will it stand up? Will the wide side or the narrow side face out? The following are terms which describe how the brick is set. Is it vertical or horizontal? Does it show the long or or the short side? Does it show the narrow or the wide side? Is it laid down on the narrow edge or the wide edge?


Course     Setting a course means to arrange in a row.  A row of bricks, when laid in a wall, is called a course. It is a continuous level range or row of brick or masonry throughout the face or faces of a building. Each horizontal layer of brick in a masonry structure is called a course. Brick laid flat and perpendicular to the face of the wall are called headers. A header course consists entirely of headers (horizontal, short, narrow side laid on wide edge).

Rowlock   Occasionally a special type of course is used for either structural or decorative purposes. The rowlock or rolok is similar to the header course except that the brick are laid on narrow or face edge. This type of course is often used as the top course or cap of garden walls and as window and door sills (horizontal, short, narrow side laid on narrow edge).

Stretcher     Brick laid flat with the long face parallel to the wall are called a stretchers. When all the brick in the course are laid in this manner, it is called a stretcher course. (horizontal, long, narrow)

Soldier     A soldier course is one in which brick are laid standing on end with the narrow edge facing out. This type of course is sometimes used for decorative effects over door and window openings and in fireplace facings (vertical, long, narrow).

Sailor      A sailor course is similar to the soldier course but with the wide edge facing out. It is used for decorative effects (vertical, long, wide).

The width of a masonry structure can be measured by stretchers and joints. The height of a masonry structure can be measured by courses and joints.

Back to Top