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Brick Walk or Patio: Dry-Laid vs Mortar-Set

Methods of Laying Brick Walks or Patios

A brick walk or patio will only be as strong as the foundation it is laid on. There are two basic methods of laying the brick: dry-laid or mortar-set.


- More affordable
- Flexible (Less permanent)
- May shift over time
- Will not be perfectly flat
- Easy to repair

Everything You Need to Know:

A dry-setting is a popular alternative to mortaring a brick pathway. However, it is not quite as simple as digging up some soil and laying the bricks in your desired pattern. Before laying the brick, approximately 6-12 inches of soil needs to be excavated. The depth will vary depending on the size of the brick and the condition of the soil. The shape and size of the pathway or patio should be marked out with a plastic or metal guide rail. Once the soil is removed and compacted, a layer of gravel is laid and graded. Then, a layer of sand or stone dust is laid over the gravel once it has been compacted thoroughly. The bricks are laid tightly side-by-side in the desired pattern over the sand. A thin layer of sand is spread over the completed surface and then swept into the cracks between each brick. A hose is used to wet the pathway and settle the sand into place. If for some reason you need to change the patio or reach the ground beneath, you can easily remove a portion of the patio.


- Permanent, bricks will not shift
- Typically laid over a concrete base
- More expensive
- Can be perfectly level
- More difficult to repair

Everything You Need to Know:

A mortar-setting (or wet installation) is the more traditional way of installing a brick path or patio. Bricks are permanently set in the mortar and they will not shift over time. This installation is more labor-intensive and will certainly come with a higher price tag. Prior to laying the brick, a concrete foundation is poured over a graded and compacted surface. After the concrete dries completely, bricks are mortared and laid directly on the new surface section by section. The bricks are typically arranged in a fixed pattern with a small space separating each one. After the path or patio is complete, the joints between each brick are filled and finished. A wet brush can be used to remove any excess mortar on the new patio surface. Once the path or patio has dried completely, your pro may use an acid wash to completely remove any another imperfections on the surface.

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About the Author

ProMatcher Staff, ProMatcher
Orlando, FL 32803

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