How to Lay a Brick Walkway Like a Pro

Learn step-by-step how to lay a mortared brick walkway, including the important difference between building a brick walkway and building a brick patio.

Exterior of house brick walkway porch add-on
Photo: Edward Gohlich
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 day, 16 hours
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Brick or precast concrete paver walkways (whether laid on a sand bed or mortared to a slab) employ many of the same techniques used to build a patio. They also 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 brick walkways start their paving in a corner. You'll want to be sure to lay the base materials in layers and compact one layer before adding the next one. This is especially important if your walkway will be subjected to frequent or hard use, such as the movement of garden equipment. Base materials that shift under a sand-set path create ripples, and an improperly tamped slab base can crack.

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

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 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 lumber
  • Mason's line
  • Stakes


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    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 ½-inch higher than the slab. Pour and finish the slab. Once 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 (or a second set of hands), you can begin to set up larger areas at a time.

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    Screed and Comb Mortar

    Cut a 2x4-foot piece of wood 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.

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    Lay Pavers

    Whatever pattern you choose, lay your pavers starting 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 better embed them into the mortar.

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    Mark and Lay First Course

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

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    Lay Second Course

    Once your first row is complete, you can move the guideline down and lay the second course. The technique is the same: Separate the pavers with spacers, move the spacers with each new course, and embed the bricks into the paving with a rubber mallet.

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    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 walkway. Let the mortar cure, then mortar the joints.

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    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, then fill the bag with mortar and slowly squeeze it into the gaps.

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    Shape Joints

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

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    Clean Off Excess

    As you strike the joints, you may end up leaving some excess mortar on the face of the brick. To get rid of it, use a wet soft-bristle brush or a piece of burlap to clean off the excess. Cover the walk with plastic for at least 24 hours while the mortar sets, then subject the walkway to light usage for the first month until mortar is fully cured.

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