When I look at pretty much every building, bricks are laid "flat" or horizontally - this is where the longest part is typically adjacent to the ground. I am aware, this is not a 100% rule, such as arches etc but for foundation, it seems to be the norm.

This is what I mean by "flat" or horizontal

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I'm trying to predict if I can lay bricks vertically (so the longest part is at right angle to the ground) and if it will be stable. By right, angle, I mean

enter image description here

My project uses dense blocks, and they are:

Height: 215 mm
Length: 440 mm
Width: 100 mm
Weight: 18.20 kg

The goal would be to stack only 1 brick on top of another, meaning, only 2 bricks tall. Given each brick will actually be 440mm high (as I'm stacking them 'vertically'), it means a total height of 880mm. On top of this, I'm laying 320mm concrete slabs on top to create a worktop

In total, this will create a 2m squared shape (with the max of 880mm all the round around)

I'm unsure if such a thing is likely to be stable, given it will cemented onto a flat concrete slab

Is there any way to tell other than trying it and seeing if it falls down? The fact that I always see bricks being laid flat makes me think I'm doing the wrong thing but, I'm building a 'table', not a house.

  • The biggest issue I see is that your vertical joints are, well, vertical. Normally bricks are laid on their long edges and the vertical joints are offset on every row as this increases the strength of the wall and can help reduce the spread of cracks in the mortar. When you set them vertically, you minimize the amount of offset there can be from brick to brick. They are still strong, which is why you see them set vertically as a decorative trim, but you never see more than one row vertical. Also, I believe the brick count will be the same whether they're vertical or flat, so you're not saving.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 25, 2021 at 10:46
  • 4
    You can gain some insight by dry-stacking the bricks (outside or somewhere that no harm will come when they fall) and observing how they behave when forces are applied in each configuration. Masonry in general and mortar in particular have little tensile strength, so a fundamentally stable arrangement without it is best, since it will not hold much force if it's pulled on.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 25, 2021 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


In general, no. The reason is that you have quite small contact surface of each brick with the brick above or below, and also the vertical shape makes the wall less robust against shear stress (roughly speaking: force applied horizontally is multiplied by the height of the brick to compute the momentum, and the momentum is divided by the length of the brick to compute resulting forces in critical points).

However, for a small patch of bricks like you plan to do, this might be less of an issue. Still, you should interleave them, which means cutting them in halves for one of the two layers, that's not gonna be fun to do precisely.

I would personally still go for standard laying and make 4 layers by 215mm. Note that including the masonry mortar (I hope that's the right word for the glue you put between the bricks), that's basically the same size as stacking them vertically, and the wall will be stronger.

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