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Clay Brick Walk Questions

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by BRL, Dec 16, 2001.

  1. BRL

    BRL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,211

    Looked at a job the other day. Stone and then stone dust was installed where needed by the septic contractor while on site and digging where the walk goes. Now the homeowners want their clay bricks installed (friend of a friend & its winter, so I'm game if they want to pay for my labor).
    1. It doesn't seem to me that tamping was done. If I rake off a few inches of the dust and tamp the heck out of it, then rake in to final grade & tamp that, do you think it'll be OK? They already have a walk of this brick installed on the other side of the house and it seems to be holding up OK.
    2. Do I put a sand layer under the brick & sweep sand in like doing concrete pavers? Its a curved walk with a soldier course of bricks perpendicular to the direction of the walk. And the bricks in the middle run lengthwise in the direction of the walk. So there will be plenty of gaps from the cuts to fill, so I'm guessing to use sand just like with interlocking pavers.
    3. Do I tamp the brick after it is installed? It certainly doesn't seem as strong as concrete pavers, so I'm wondering if it can handle it, with out lots of chips, breaks, etc..

    Thank you.
  2. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073


    here are my ideas on the job:

    First of all, really need to investigate what this other guy did as 'prep work'

    If there is stone down and then sand, how much of each?

    you said rake off a few inches of sand in your question, so I have to ask how much sand is there? 2,3,4,6 inches?

    not sure what you mean by 'rake' to final grade. Do you plan to level your bedding course by raking? It can be done, but not going to be as professional looking as using screed pipes.

    guess what I am trying to say, is I would approach this job as if it was a brand new install. Excavate, add 3/4-fine mixed stone, compact, then use a inch of bedding sand/dust, using screeed bars.

    I think some guys use different techniques for clay bricks, but I think your text book paver base/bedding course will work fine.

    The only trick part is the final compaction after the brick is laid. I still would sweep sand in the same way as with pavers, but you need to be careful when compacting.

    I posted about something like this last year, may be able to find that post and the replies.

    anyways, when compacting, I used 1/4 sheets of plywood and ran the plate over top of that on top of the bricks. I started with the machine on a low rpm, compacted a little, and then checked underneath to make sure no bricks were breaking. If none break, you can increase the rpm more, but just be careful.

    The plywood works good from my own experiences. You may not get as solid of a pack in as with running it right on top, but it beats the hek out of hand setting each brick.

    Maybe this is one of those 'cheapo' jobs where the people are clueless and insist you work with the base prep that is already there. If this is the case, then pack the heck out of it with the machine, screed out you bedding sand, and lay your bricks......Just don't be giving out any guarantee's with this way! Hey, its work, its winter, and its money! take it anyway you can.....lol

  3. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,664

    I worked for the largest American owned brick co. for ten years before going full time in the lawn business . I also do brick paver walks and driveways now, so here are some things for you to consider.
    The base must be thoroughly compacted so it is very solid. I use limestone fines to get base within 1" of grade. Then I put in a compacted layer of sand to get to final grade. Never let the brick rest on limestone of any type, or the lime will come up through the brick and leach out white on the brick surface. It can be washed off with acid, but repeated washings can "burn" the brick surface. Cut bricks to fill in odd size gaps, or brick will move around over time and get loose, even with sand between them. After brick is down, sweep in fine loose sand and spread a good 1/2 - 1" of sand over the brick. Then run a good heavy plate compactor over the whole thing to pound the heck out of it. Clean off the leftover sand and you have a walk or drive that will last forever.
    If you have brick that you think will break, then they are not of good quality or are the wrong kind of brick. Never use any brick for paving except for "solid pavers". Hope this answers some of your questions.:)
  4. BRL

    BRL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,211

    Thanks guys!

    The "prep" work was simply the other SEPTIC contractor dumping a few inches of "river stone" (about 50% angled 50% round from what I can tell digging into it a little, not sure how well that compacts), then a 4"-6" layer of "stone dust" (did we ever determine a universal name for all of the materials we use in the various regions of our Net community here? LOL I think Guido was going to work on that.). The stone dust is "fines" from crushing 3\4 road base stone (not limestone because I've used that, so I'm not sure what this stone actually is around here - crusher run or QP are other names for it, but I think in a lot of regions limestone is used for QP?) and the "stone dust" is the material that all of the paver sellers around here sell for using as the base layer that goes on top of the 3\4 stone layer. Then we commonly put a 1" layer of sand on top of that to put the pavers in (and we've gone through that debate here as well). We know that we should tamp the base in layers.

    Now in this case, the stone & stone dust was not tamped, just thrown in, and it is not set to the final grade or prepped in any way. So my thoughts were that I could rake out a good portion of the stone dust layer and give the lower base a real good tamping, then re-install the dust to the right grade while tamping it. Then I would screed the final sand layer.
    As far as the "cheapo clueless" type of install goes, I didn't really want to re-excavate because the majority of the walk is over the newly installed (or replaced) septic system. Complete with a 2' diameter manhole cover in the middle of the walk. So I was going to offer to work with what was there hopefully, to avoid messing with all of that. And at the same time I wasn't giving any guarantees based on the fact that I didn't install the base etc., and explain in writing that it may sink in places because the base was not installed properly. Then I can charge them to come back & fix it down the road LOL. The base is somewhat there & the bricks are also, they just want them installed to look like the existing walk on the other side of the yard.

    Thanks for the brick info. The brick is already there so I'm just going to work with it & see what happens. I'll probably use the plywood idea from Steve. Its interesting to hear about the white leaching from using limestone. That's one of those things one would originally learn the hard way ;) Isn't this site great?
  5. site

    site LawnSite Member
    Posts: 168

    Follow all the rules from laying concrete pavers and you will be fine. You can run the compactor directly over your finished bricks. Usually you will crack about one out of every 200. Just pull those out and replace them, its much easier than fooling around with plywood. Make sure to sweep off any pebbles that wander onto the walk before compacting because they will crack your bricks.
  6. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 543

    For the record, what is "compacted sand"?

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