How to Build a Mortared Brick Walkway

We'll teach you the steps for building a mortared brick walkway, plus explain the important differences between building a brick path and building a brick patio.

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Brick or precast concrete paver walks (whether laid on a sand bed or mortared to a slab) employ many of the same techniques used to build a similar patio. They offer the same potential for a varied, handsome surface, only on a smaller scale.

You will notice one difference, however, between a mortared path and a mortared patio. When building a paver path, you don't have to start in the center and work outward. All pavered walks start their paving in a corner.

Be sure to lay the base materials in layers and compact one layer before the next one. This is especially important if your walk will be subject to hard use, such as the movement of garden equipment. Base materials that shift under a sand-set path create ripples. In addition, improperly tamped slab bases can crack.

Depending on your skill level, you'll need between 20 and 40 hours to lay a 4x25-foot walk. Make sure you're comfortable designing a layout and working with mortar. 

Alternate Method for Laying a Brick Path

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What You Need

  • Layout and excavation tools
  • Concrete tools for a mortared structure
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape measure
  • Mason's line
  • Cordless drill
  • Circular saw
  • Concrete mixer
  • Mason's hoe
  • Screed
  • Broom
  • Wet saw
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • 2-1/4-inch screws
  • 2x lumber
  • Brick or precast pavers
  • Rubber mallet
  • 1x6
  • Mason's line
  • Stakes

Step 1: Lay Out and Prep Site

Lay out and prepare the site to dimensions that equal a line of pavers in the pattern of your choice. If you plan to set the border material on the slab, build forms 1/2 inch higher than the slab. Pour and finish the slab. When the slab is ready, spread about 1/2 inch of mortar on a 2x2-foot section. You can set a 2x2-foot section before the mortar sets up. With some practice, you can set larger areas.

Step 2: Screed and Comb Mortar

Cut a 2x4 slightly longer than the width of the forms and use it as a screed, pulling it across the forms with a seesaw motion. Fill any low spots with mortar and screed again. After screeding, comb the mortar with a notched trowel if desired.

Step 3: Lay Pavers

Whatever pattern you choose, start by laying pavers in a corner. Set them up against the forms, and space them with a plywood spacer. Use 1/2-inch spacers for 7-1/2-inch pavers; use 3/8-inch spacers for 7-5/8-inch units. Tap the bricks with a rubber mallet to bed them in the mortar.

Step 4: Mark and Lay First Course

To help keep the layout straight and perpendicular to the forms, tie mason's line to two bricks and set them outside the site to mark the edge of the first course. Then lay the first course of pavers.

Step 5: Lay Second Course

Move the guideline and lay the second course. The technique is the same: Separate the pavers with spacers, move the spacers with each new course, and bed the paving with a rubber mallet.

Step 6: Continue Laying Brick

After completing the first section, remove the spacers from the last course and check the section for level with a straightedge, resetting any high or low units. Continue laying the pavers in sections until you have finished the walk. Let the mortar cure, then mortar the joints.

Step 7: Fill Joints

Mortar that gets on the pavers is a chore to clean. To minimize the amount of misplaced mortar, use a mortar bag to fill the joints. Make sure the bag's spout is thinner than the joints. Fill the bag with mortar and slowly squeeze it into the gaps.

Step 8: Shape Joints

Let the mortar set up until it just shows a thumbprint when you touch it with light pressure. Shape the joints by pulling a concave striking tool along them.

Step 9: Clean Excess

As you strike the joints, you'll leave some excess mortar on the face of the brick. Use a wet soft-bristle brush or piece of burlap to clean off this excess. Cover the walk with plastic while the mortar sets.

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