How to design a herringbone pattern brick floor is challenging. I have some great tips to help you with this project!
I don’t know what it is about me and floors this year, but I’ve worked on a lot of them. There was the mud room floor where I had a battle with marine varnish. (this story does have a happy ending, I promise).
There was the time where I refinished both of our front porch’s floors, which, by the way, our Fed Ex guy paid me a nice compliment this week.
So as if those floors weren’t enough to max out my floor psyche, I took on the floor in the garden house.
Remember these old bricks that have been stored under perfect tree for a couple years now? Well, they’re finally going into their new home, and in this project, I used every last one of them.
And whenever you pair brick and herringbone together, you know it’s going to be both gorgeous, and back breaking. Total aside – I would now like to own stock in Advil.
I would like to preface this post and say that all the back-breaking-blood-sweat-and-tears was completely worth it with this floor, but geesh. It was hard. I’m not going to lie.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I wanted to have a herringbone patterned brick floor in my garden house, and knowing this, I knew good and well that I was the one that would be taking on the project. It was never discussed, and only made sense to me.
Following my usual project prep, I watched copious amounts of YouTube videos on how to lay a herringbone patterned brick floor. And, I gathered valuable info from all of them. However, I have a slight confession to make.
I only followed one piece of advice, out of all those videos. I’m not sure if you’ve figured this out about me, but I can be kinda stubborn at times. I trust my mind’s eye and gauge a little too much. Luckily, this time, it worked in my favor. This is not always the case.
In order to lay a brick floor, you have to lay the ground. In the case of the garden house, we had to move all of the tools and equipment out, and take a pick ax to the dirt. This was a project we should have done before we built the walls, but one we did not. Hind sight is 20/20. For three days this week, Sean took a pick ax and went to town on that ground, removing over 30 wheel barrows full dirt.
Once the ground was semi-level, we rented one of those ground-pounder-thingies that almost vibrated my contacts out of my eyes, and left me with the jitters while trying to fall asleep. I have to say though, it’s a good tool. It did the job we needed it to.
Next, we added sheets of black weed barrier material, and then leveled out a layer of stone dust. This was a huge benefit because whatever ground we couldn’t get completely level, the stone dust did for us. This layer is important.
Time for the brick, and maybe a couple more how-to videos before I engage. You know, just for reference.
The one piece of advice that I followed from said videos was to start the pattern in a corner, and work out from there. This I found very valuable. In fact, all of the advice I received was good. I’m just a little pig-headed and was anxious to get it done.
To keep the flooring level and the desired height, they recommended tying off a string and using that as a gauge. I thought about this and even brought up some string to use, but then I started really looking over the bricks. They’re quite old, very few are the same size, depth and height, and I ended up having to ask myself, “how important is a truly level floor to you?”
I decided, not very.
My reasoning is this: it’s a garden house, and with all of the materials being picked out of the trash, or from the side of the road, a completely level floor would make no sense. Basically, all rules went out the window.
I started laying the herringbone pattern from one single photo, and worked out from there. The method to my madness was to get it done, have it look great, and not break my back in the process. I’m happy to say that the floor took me five (5) hours, my back is wicked sore, but nothing serious. The best part? I did this project all by myself.
But laying the brick doesn’t stop there. Sand needs to be swept in, filling in the boarders and all. Taking a wide broom and sweeping sand over the cracks to secure the bricks is a must. Plus, it finishes the floor. With the sand, no wobbly bricks underneath.
So here is my advice on laying a herringbone patterned brick floor. As always, do your research and know what you’re getting into. Also, trust your eye, because in my opinion, that is just like trusting your gut.
I am no brick floor Pro. We all know this, but what I’m sharing is how I was able to lay a brick floor, do it well with old as heck bricks, and embrace the imperfections. If you’re looking into laying a brick floor, whether its for an outdoor kitchen, garden, or a room in your home, ask yourself these three questions:
- What pattern do I want the brick to be?
- Is the brick floor going to be in a high trafficked area? If so, the floor must be level.
- Am I willing to give up the aged look of old bricks in order to have a level floor with new ones?
Hopefully, this is the last floor project I’ll take on for a long time. I’m grateful that this is indeed last one, at least for 2020, and that it was a success.