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What is Stretcher Bond?

By Alexis W.
Updated May 17, 2024
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In the bricklaying field, the term stretcher bond is a reference to the format and standard to which certain types of brick walls are built in order to be stable. Stretcher bond is the term given to the repeating pattern the bricks are laid in. This pattern includes vertical supports tied in to the foundation of the structure the wall is being built on.

This type of brick format is used mostly in interior settings because it is only applicable in thin-walled settings. As a matter of fact, the stretcher bond wall is only usable in the thinnest of brick wall settings. This is because it is only as thick as one half of a brick.

The reason the stretcher bond wall is required to have vertical supports tied directly into the supports or foundation for the structure the wall is being built upon is because the thickness of the wall does not allow for the wall to stand on its own. Without the ties to the foundation and the roof system, the layout of the stretcher bond system would fail, especially if the wall has any sort of significant height to it. This could end up in the bottom layers of the wall buckling under the brick weight and causing the wall to collapse.

Stretcher bond wall systems are often considered the easiest to build because of their simplistic pattern approach. There is no requirement of bricklaying a full-brick thickness to the wall. The bricks are laid with mortar joints between them, and stacked in alternation on every layer.

The bricks are laid starting from the ground or foundation and working upward until the desired height is reached. The wall structure is tied to both the foundation and itself, with vertical support ties running throughout the height of the wall. Horizontal ties are placed between the layers of the wall running from each wall to the wall opposing it.

This specific type of brick pattern and wall system is very common and often used for creating a cavity wall, or a wall system that creates a cavity within itself. These walls are very popular within commercial interior settings, mostly for décor or space-dividing purposes. They usually are three or four sided and give the impression of a solid structure, though in most cases they are hollow from the third layer up. The first three layers are usually filled with concrete to provide structural integrity.

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Discussion Comments

By jmc88 — On Aug 23, 2011

@cardsfan27 - The term stretcher is the basic term for a normal, rectangular brick. I learned that when we were redoing our patio. There are names for the other types of bricks, but I don't remember what they are off the top of my head.

As for an example, I have an outdoor brick grill that I think would probably qualify as having stretcher bonds. It is basically a square column, but there are no vertical supports that I know of, so maybe it doesn't exactly qualify.

I was thinking too that if you were trying to build a retaining wall you might be able to use stretcher bonds. As long as the weight being held up by the brinks wasn't extreme, I don't see why a row of bricks with some interior support couldn't use stretcher bonds.

By cardsfan27 — On Aug 23, 2011

I'm wondering where the term stretcher bond even came from. The bond part is clear enough, but I don't get the stretcher part. Are there any other brick bonds that would serve the same purpose?

I'm also trying to think of some cases where you would see stretcher bonds. I would like to look at an example in person, but can't thin of where I would see it done. I think I've seen brick pillars in some larger buildings. I always assumed these were just bricks covering up a supporting beam. I was thinking maybe a chimney or fireplace, too. Would that qualify as a stretcher bond?

By JimmyT — On Aug 22, 2011

@Izzy78 - I was wondering the same thing. The only thing I can think of is the bricks that are on the outside of a house I don't think are usually supported on the inside with anything. I think they are usually glued or mortored to cinder blocks on the outside of the house. The cinder blocks are what give the real support. The bricks are just there for looks.

I know I have seen bricks before that have three holes through them. Are these the same bricks that are used for stretcher bonds? I never really thought about the use of the holes. I assumed they just helped to keep weight down and gave a place for mortar to flow. When they put the support material in, what is it? I was guessing something like a piece of rebar coming up from the foundation. How do they make sure it lines up with all of the bricks?

By Izzy78 — On Aug 21, 2011

I looked at some pictures of stretcher bonds, and it looks like the basic brick layout design. I'm sure that everyone has seen brick laid out like this on the facade of a house, but the article says that stretcher bonds are usually used inside.

Is there some sort of difference between the layout for bricks that are on the outside of a house and what might be put on the inside?

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