How to Lay a Brick Sidewalk

Installing a brick walkway isn't difficult, but it is strenuous work. Learn how to plan the job and follow the step-by-step instructions and you'll enjoy its good looks for years to come.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required

  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Square-edge spade
  • Shovels
  • Garden hoe
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Drill/driver
  • Garden rake
  • Hand tamper (a rental item)
  • Mason's or carpenter's level
  • Spade bit
  • Kneepads
  • Push broom
  • Garden hose, lawn sprinkler, and spray head
  • Wet saw (a rental item)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Brickset
  • Mini-sledge (3 lb.)

Materials Required

  • Bricks (modular 3-5/8 x 7-5/8; standard 4x8)
  • Washed sand
  • Mason's twine
  • Wood stakes
  • Edging & reinforcing bar
  • 5/4x3 or 2x4 spruce (for forms)
  • Screws
  • Landscape fabric
  • Screed board (i.e. 2x4)
  • Step 1 : Lay out for excavation

    Lay out the walk in two stages-initially to determine the location as required for excavation and again to locate forms or permanent edging. For a straight walk (or one made up of straight sections) use stakes and string to define the walk and allow an extra foot for any forms or edging. Define boundaries for a curved walk with rope or a garden hose.

  • Step 2 : Excavate

    Use a square-edge spade to cut and remove 2 foot square sections of sod. Place the sod in a shady spot so it can be reused to fill in around the completed walk. Then excavate to 4 inches. Use a square-edged shovel and/or a garden hoe to level the ground. Then use a hand tamper (a rental item) to thoroughly compact the soil. To save your back, remember to bend at the knees to lift and shovel.

    Unless you have particularly porous soil, dig 12-18-in.-dia. X 1-ft.-deep drainage holes every 4-5 feet along the centerline of the walk; and fill them with sand.

  • Step 3 : Lay out for form/edging

    While not absolutely necessary, a leveled form or permanent edging makes it easier to get a nice level, flat walk; and edging helps hold the bricks in place and acts as a decorative element. For forms, use 5/4x or 2x4 lumber held level by attaching them with screws to wood stakes driven into the ground. For edging, such as 4x4 pressure-treated lumber, simply level the ground under the edging as you place it. Then hold it in place by driving 2-ft. lengths of reinforcing rod through predrilled holes in the timber into the ground. Form or edge one side of the walk, then lay out some bricks to accurately determine walk width. Use this measurement to position the form or edging on the opposite side of the walk.

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