I've seen a few Q & A'a on here concerning using structural bricks but there really hasn't been a clear consensus. I am planning on putting them on their side and not using any sand or mortar for the joints. My question is what potential issues will I see in doing so? I have a huge surplus of reclaimed bricks so if some bricks break I can just pull them and pop another in. This is the general idea.

Edit: When I say structural, I mean the bricks with holed cores.


7 Answers 7


For brick driveways the most important part is a solid compacted base--crushed quarry rock or shale, not crushed river rock. Sand is normally used, not mortar.

For a “green” drive, place the holes vertical and fill with dirt and then grass seed. I have done this and if kept moist with drought resistant grass it works well (but I live in the grass dead capitol of the world). Keeping it trimmed is a chore as a lawn mower is too tall and a weed eater inconsistent. I purchased a Toro fly mow from a friend and that really works well (lawn mower with no wheels floats on a cushion of air). I think they are for golf greens but not sure.

If you don’t want grass turn sideways and use poly sand to fill the cracks. Poly sand really helps prevent grass with pavers. As long as you have a solid base the bricks will hold up. If the base is not solid you will have ruts in short order.

  • Would you do all that base work for just a patio?+
    – JACK
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:14
  • Actually I do not as thick , I live in Oregon and with all the rain we get if there is not an inch or 2 of rock plate compacted mud ends working up and the high traveled area develop ruts, with a driveway a much thicker base 8” with a roller compactor is best but a plate compactor will work. If I was in a dryer climate I might not do as much on the base but after 40 years probably will do it the same for the next few years.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:30
  • 5
    @JACK Yes, if you want it to remain in good shape for more than a year.
    – TylerH
    Mar 4, 2020 at 22:46
  • 9
    I did all that base work for just a patio. After 15 years, It's still flat, with the same slight drainage pitch I gave it when I put it in. A shoddy job typically lasts 4 to 5 winters here before you start having serious problems. Mar 4, 2020 at 23:29

I am going to say they can... but no.

There are tons of varieties of bricks that are used for pavers. There is no reason to go with your garden variety house brick.

To be clear the OP is talking about something very similar to below - clay cored brick.

enter image description here

Take a good look at this brick - as this is a pretty smooth example. Do you want to walk on that. Note that the corners are usually pretty sharp.

The fact is the brickmakers form these with a rough top and bottom on purpose. That way the mortar binds better and the bricks "lock" into place better.

Notice the core holes too. These are for weeping properties and just to make walls lighter. The edges of these are often sharp too not to mention areas for water to pool and freeze.

And then finally look at the back. The back has grooves in place - you see the 4 notches. All bricks are a bit different but this is normal. So this means there will be more of a gap between the bricks when they are laid out. Giving more chance for freeze heaving and for vegetation to grow.

The reason why is simply - the weeping holes in them provides a weak spot for both water exposure and easier breakage. No matter how you lay these out and flatten them and pour polymeric sand and level it out perfect... Water will still build in the holes. If it freezes it will expand and will crack. Weight from blunt objects will also make it crack easier than its sister, paving brick.

enter image description here

The other thing - who wants to walk on jagged edges? Even with the sand flattened out you will have edges everywhere. Definitely not walking on it with bare feet quickly.

I don't see a reason you would ever use them given the amount of work it takes and you could use another product (that is probably cheaper) that would outperform it and look the same.

As for "these bricks are free"... Yea fine if he wanted to make a little spot to place flowers or something but something this big has a lot of prep before the bricks go down. Why would you spend all that time and effort and then use a crappy finished product. It is like redoing a kitchen and with nice shaker cabinets, nice tile floor, new lighting... then using some left over laminate countertop you had in the basement from another job.

  • 6
    From the question: "I have a huge surplus of reclaimed bricks". Ain't anything cheaper than that.
    – Martha
    Mar 4, 2020 at 20:45
  • 3
    @Martha - opportunity cost. Those bricks probably have a lot of value. These pavers are probably 50 cents a piece.
    – DMoore
    Mar 4, 2020 at 20:47
  • 2
    @DMoore, depending on the driveway or other use, pavers can add up quickly. The photo you show probably has +$500 worth of pavers in it, not including the sidewalk. If I can save that much on a project by reusing something, I sure will. Mar 4, 2020 at 21:56
  • 3
    I estimate that driveway used upwards of 1500 pavers. That's $750, not counting the sidewalk.
    – Martha
    Mar 4, 2020 at 22:09
  • 2
    I agree on costs quickly adding up: I just finished a patio of the 16in, 40lb Taverna pavestones. For 9 rows by 11 columns, the total cost was over $1000 for all the pavestones, the gravel paver base, leveling sand, polymeric joining sand, tamper, and edging/spikes. The "brick" pavers are much cheaper, though typically they start at $1.50, not $0.50.
    – TylerH
    Mar 4, 2020 at 22:56

I assisted with a project like this. Pavers usually have a chamfered edge which is a little easier on bare feet than the sharper corners and edges of bricks but they worked fine. The sand is a really good idea though. In addition to stabilizing the bricks, it will reduce the weed growth between them which means you'll have more time to enjoy the patio.


You specifically asked about using these bricks in a patio. Don't know where you live but in many areas of the US you're dealing with frost heave. In other areas there may be high water tables, drainage issues or soil instability. But every area has something to deal with.

Using bricks as you describe I would lay a level sand base (1 to 2 inches) compacting it with a roller if necessary - depends on soil. If the patio has straight edges you might want to frame it in with pressure treated 2x or metal landscape edging to keep the bricks from traveling. I often will cover this base with water-permeable weed barrier. After you lay the bricks I like to use crushed fines to fill the cracks. If you place the bricks with the hole side up you might want to use a polymeric sand instead. Water will harden it to keep weed growth down but it will permit drainage. Another option I like to use is moss which is soft, attractive and offers a nice counter-point to hard-edged brick. I've even used moss in Colorado.

Good luck on your project.

  • 1
    If using sand you would always use a border or frame. If there is no restraining force the sand will flow (even poly) bricks will move and create ruts even with a good base. I always do have a frame on patios and pour a 4-6” footing for car loads. Although railroad ties have also worked.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 4, 2020 at 23:04

Bricks work fine. About 20 yr ago I laid floor in my shed/greenhouse ; 8' X 12'.There are aquariums in it which I drain directly onto the brick floor , and plant over watering run-off on to the floor The brick are fine and as level as when laid. There is one aquarium stand holding about 1000 pounds that has not moved. I raked the native sand smooth and put in a cinder-block perimeter.I swept sand over the brick to fill any gaps There is no freeze-thaw. I am sure it does not meet any building codes but works fine.


I've done exactly this - had an old retaining wall knocked flat by an earthquake in 2010, and used the red bricks to lay a patio. It worked nicely, but was not particularly resistant to moss and "green stuff" growing.

These bricks date from around 1926.

If you do this, expect to power-wash it twice a year, and that the green can be incredibly slippery in the damp.

To mitigate, I'd suggest cleaning and dunking each brick in silicon sealant completely, and letting it dry/cure before you lay them.

enter image description here
initial laying

enter image description here
after about 3 years, and its due for another power wash.

  • 2
    Looks great but not bricks they are talking about.
    – DMoore
    Mar 5, 2020 at 7:50

Great. Go with the wall brick and keep it cheap. Buy an extra hundred for repairs and make your patio area larger for the largest Sq. Ft. With the smallest amount of change. Using the holes and direct water out or border it with a riped face pistol cut, crows foot the corners, and waterproof it with whatever you like. That leaves you the most option and potential. Removal or upgrade is easy. I bet you were asking structurally if this will work though. Contractor once said "bound to break" true enough. Keep yourself and you project out of a bind and on a hard compact flat ground where you won't be able to break. Any pattern will work but keep it tight as it gets for maximum strength for any traffic. Tight and flat, I'll challenge you to try and break em with traffic. Thinset some wire mesh for your base it should be free with the brick. It will be there with little to no movement at all. Fill your holes with cheap salt and it will stay warm, dry, and during eventual rains it will create enough electricity to run your patio lighting for free. Anyways you have many different options and every brick I've laid is still erect and they don't rattle as the wind blows. How would you like a pro to come knock it out with you. I'll lay them on the Fibonacci pattern and have something no one else has. Godbless Godspeed and hope that you enjoy a billion picnics on your new ground.

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