Curved Brick Path?

ralphxyzSeptember 23, 2011

How do you lay a curved brick path?

In the curve does every brick have to be cut with a taper?

Or only the inside and outside brick?

This will not be a mortared brick path but a sand set one.



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Amigo, the path will be built from the centerline outward. You don't cut bricks. What pattern are you using? some patterns lend themselves to curves more than others.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:34PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Hi, Ralph! I'm not going to try to give you advice, but I'm good at finding pictures, so I'm going to provide some picture links for this thread.

If you want the path to be the same width and none of the curves are too sharp, you can use a simple running bond pattern. Here's a plain example:
plain running bond path
and here are similar paths with a "soldier course" (the rows of edging at the sides):

another running bond with soldier course

Depending on the amount of curve in the path and the look you want, you can probably do a running bond path without any trimming except at the beginning and end.

Here are a couple of running bond paths that flare at one end, in case you want to get fancy:
narrower flaring path
wide-flaring path

Here are examples of brick patterns:
Google search -- brick paver designs

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 12:11AM
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This video has a good explanation of how you CUT the brick to make a curve:

Here is a link that might be useful: brick walkway

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 8:33AM
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The reason I asked what pattern you're laying is because it can make a big difference in whether you have almost no brick to cut, or many. The photos per MTO that show running bond with soldier course are about the easiest way to go, with only a little cutting at each end--and if you have very tight curves (best to be avoided) some possible mitering (creating "keystone"-like effects) of the soldier course. (Most people try to avoid this by not making their curves too tight.) In my opinion, the soldier course border strengthens the appearance of the walk...just like the frame on anything does.

The video per Dg shows good base and setting course prep. Use of the compactor is essential. Where I would differ from them in construction methods is by building outward on both sides from the centerline of the walk ...rather than starting from one side and working toward the other. (When starting at one side, a little miscalculation or "unseen" factor can be an issue.) Also, they didn't use the soldier course which looks better and usually makes installation easier.

If you don't mind cutting brick, you could have any pattern you "basketweave," or similar. Then, the field pattern would run square to itself and it would be cut (almost every brick) at the edge. A soldier course at the edge would still be desirable. You don't want to end up with a scheme that has very small cut pieces of brick at the edge. A soldier course is great for bordering any pattern.

A common mistake is to make the walk too narrow. The width would depend on several factors, including the purpose of the walk. The minimum width for a walk to a front porch might be 4'. Personally, I would consider this too narrow...especially if the walk is going to look nice like brick will. 5' or 6' will allow two people to walk to the door together. A garden path might be 3' wide, but 4' is probably better. Depending on the planting scheme along the walk, some of it might be "eaten up" by plants that overhang the walk.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:32AM
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I need to clarify my last post: Using a soldier course looks better and makes installation easier; not the opposite.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Adding a link to the (picture-heavy) thread about my brick path; had some trouble there figuring out how to lay the crossing of 4 directions (so the direction leading to the door didn't look like the path was passing by it).

Here is a link that might be useful: my old thread

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 11:22AM
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Wow thanks everybody for the help.

I had lost the link to this forum and didn't get a notice that anyone had replied.

I think I have seen every page on the web about laying a brick path.

The subject of a curved path with "how to" illustrations or even best practice are lacking.

I am going to use a Running Bond pattern with a perpendicular edge brick.

I have also been looking at every brick path I have seen to see how it was done.

So I think an answer to my question about the need to cut every brick is "It's up to you"!

A lot depends on how tight one wants the bricks to lay.

The biggest criteria is the look.

The thing about cutting every brick with uniform keystone cuts is that, at least to me, it sorta looses the charm of a rustic curving brick path.

I will be doing this sand set not mortar set with any space between the bricks filled with sand so I certainly do not want any gaps bigger than a 1/4" or so.

I also do not want any grass or weeds growing up in the cracks (which can have a nice look).

So I think I will just have to jump in and do something and adjust as I am doing it.

I can definitely see cutting the edge bricks and possible the ends of the running bond pattern but I just have to see how the bricks in the middle look.

Thanks again for all of your replies.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 7:24AM
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Now as far as cutting the bricks should the cuts be made on both sides of the brick making a keystone shape or could they be cut just on one side?

Most of the brick path videos only measure the distance (gap) and cut it from one end.

I think either method will work for the bigger radius curves but I do have some tight curves (less than 5 bricks) so I think I will have to keystone them.

I still do not know about the inside bricks.

For the tighter radius curves I can picture cutting at least three bricks.

Any suggestions or encouragement would be appreciated, I really need both.

I started out doing a 150' winding brick path.

Well it really started when we noticed our new neighbor had a big pile of used bricks. Our neighbor had just got done with a 5 year 10 - 15 million dollar addition and remodeling project and these bricks came out of somewhere possible the floor of a green house.

Anyway we are friends with the grounds crew and asked them what was happening with all of those bricks, they said they were just left over and they asked the owner if we could have them. So we ended up with 2-3000 "free" bricks. So as I was planning out the path we (my wife and I) started looking at our 20' by 40' front deck which needed a lot of repair.

A mutual friend of ours had recommended me to my wife 17 years ago to do some repairs around her place so that is how we met.

Anyway I did repairs to the deck then and told her she would be lucky if it lasted her 10 more years before needing to be totally replaced. When it was constructed 30 years ago they did not use pressure treated lumber for the under carriage.

We noticed that our neighbor also had a big pile of left over patio slate so we asked him for the slate also, after all we were helping to clean up his back yard. So he also gave us the patio slate.

So we pulled out the old deck which was unbelievable that we were actually walking on it was so rotted, through the years I had made some repairs by scabing on some pressure treated 2x4s and put some new 5/4 PT decking on.

So now I have a "FREE" 150' brick path and a 30' x 40' slate patio to do.

I am emphasizing FREE as warning to anyone else who might be blessed with some free bricks or patio tile.

This project is definitely a "Stone Soup" ( recipe.

Luckily I am on unemployment so I have lots of time on my hands when not sending out my resume so I had initially thought that I could do this by hand and with my snapper with bulldozer blade.

I googled brick pat and they all were saying to remove six inches of top soil which I figured I could do.

But then as I read more articles and watched the videos they started talking about digging down until the dirt color changed and finally I came across one that actually said to "remove the top soil".

So I started digging some exploratory holes and found out that I had 18" at the minimum of top soil to be removed. Well that was more than I wanted to do by hand and my Snapper.

We had to rent a backhoe bucket loader and now those free bricks and patio tiles are starting to cost us. Luckily I have lots of experience on a backhoe so we did not have to hire a operator as it is so far we have hired a local guy as a laborer to run the compactor while I was filling the path.

So be warned when you receive a free gift!

God I hate that term aren't all "gifts" free?


Here is a link that might be useful: Stone Soup

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 1:29PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If this "free" project is getting expensive, why not sell the topsoil you need to remove?

If you're removing 18" of topsoil and the path is 3' wide and 150' long, that would be 25 yards of topsoil!

A couple of months ago it was ... well, so high I've forgotten -- and where I live is not exactly high-priced suburbia! It was either $300 or 400 a load, I believe. [No idea how large the loads were.]

I was filling in the swale between the backyard and the pasture (the swampiness makes the northernmost apple tree unhappy); also filling in a would-be gully and several low spots in the lawn. So luckily it didn't have to be topsoil.

Yellow dirt.... Well, it's better than red clay. And the new grass will hide the color, right?


[If you're not re-using the sod, compost it and use the compost a year from now. Discussions on how to compost sod:]

As a former children's librarian, I love happening on folklore links!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 5:14PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

What the...??? Removing 18" of topsoil? Ralph, honey, unless you live in Alaska, and maybe even then, you do not have to do that. Where I live, on the west coast, I might remove an extra couple of inches of dirt under the bricks and replace with sand. Emphasis on the "might."

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 11:45PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

The most common reason why someone will mention removing 18 inches of top soil is so that you will hit stable hard pan or be below frost line.

"Top Soil" is in a constant state of decomposition. If you dig into the top few inches of top soil and lay down your stone or brick path / patio it is going to buckle and shift because the soil that it is sittiing on top of is decomposing.

This is why it is important to install a well engineered stable sub-base to bulid your patio or path on.... and you don't normally have to dig down 18 inches to do this.

Every site is different , but it is doubtful that your existing native soil structure is so plastic that you need to excavate down 18 inches.

Do a little research specific to your soil condition. Vist your county or city planner and ask what the typical excavation rate for a stone patio is in your area. If you don't have a city planner than consult with a highly regarded mason in your area.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 6:11PM
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