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Traditional Old School vs High-Tech New School Brick Walls

June 09, 2018
Read time: 2 mins


Which is better, a brick wall that stands for more than 800 years, or one that lasts 50 years?


A brick and stone mason with almost fifty years experience walks through Europe to talk about old school vs. new school brick walls.

Disclaimer: Mike is an Old School guy. Another disclaimer: There is a little bit of wind noise in this video, but the info is useful.


Mike points out the construction of an 800-year-old wall in Denmark (making this trip tax deductible?).

  • The wall is two bricks thick and is laid using a familiar pattern: two brings laid end to end, one brick placed perpendicular, tying the two layers together.
  • The bottom foot or so is granite (not brick) because granite is far better at withstanding the freeze-thaw cycles (learn more by listening to this podcast: Architectural Projections).
  • The top of the wall has a roof: terracotta roofing tiles keep water from above out of the wall. Keeping water out of walls reduces the chances of efflorescence and subflorescence
  • The wall is also covered with parging as it moves into the house.
  • Some sections have granite caps, which aim to keep water out, but cracks ALWAYS develop at the joints in the granite. Mike likes the terracotta roof better.

Mike goes on to show the differences between Old School and New School brick (7:36) before explaining how to lay out an Old School wall (8:44). Basically, no joint is railroaded continuously except the mortar between successive courses of brick. Each layer of brick has perpendicular brick to tie parallel layers together. You can use many bond patterns, such as Danish bond, Flemish bond, English bond...

New school walls have wall ties, weep holes, rebar and brick ties. These, Mike says, are signs of walls that are temporary. He points to rebar that came from a footing poured in the 70's which corroded.

Next is a quick tour through the  Roskilde Cathedral, the Viking Museum, and a tiny house in the village with a thatch roof over brick and plaster walls.


—Mike Haduck has been a Mason in Pennsylvania, USA since 1969. He also has a YouTube channel worth checking out. Some say he is a legend in his own mind.

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