Reclaimed Brick Patio

What would provoke you to frantically call (not text or email) a friend or family member in the middle of the workday? An emergency, I imagine.

But, this particular midday conversations with John, back in March, went something like, "I found old bricks, for free, on Craigslist. They're really old. We need to go get them!" 

Ok.....  I didn't know we were in the market for "free, old bricks". 

I also didn't know that these "free, old bricks" would consume over 15, post-work hours that I'd much rather have spent, I don't know, eating dinner, drinking wine or just not moving bricks, but again, ok...

Sanity aside, we decide to get the bricks.

I call the homeowner, and she basically says, come and get them before the weekend, or she's going to have them hauled to the dump. Nooo! 

But wait. Was this threat real or equivalent of my Dad and John bantering about who's going to consume the last, of a dozen hot dogs, they've already taken down? Challenging each other with indigestion. One hot dog, simply, could not be thrown away. Someone has to eat it!

We had to eat the last hot dog, and we had to get the bricks. 

We borrow my Dad's truck, because our truck could only haul so much weight, and we caravan to Brielle, about 40 minutes south of Content.

The bricks are in a huge, crazy pile in the backyard. Of course, about as far away from where we can park our trucks.

This means John + I are loading about 30-40 bricks per wheelbarrow trip. Oh, and it's dark out now and we're using flashlights...

We load the trucks for about an hour, and head back home.

We unload the trucks for about an hour. It's 11pm. We eat dinner, and pass out.

The next day, John heads down to make a dent in the brick pile, by himself. But, about 3 minutes to arriving the "brick house" his phone dies. I've forgotten to put the phone charger back from last night's caravan, he has no idea where he's going and can't call me. Brick Mission 2: Fail.

The next night, we use our multiple, college degrees worth of intelligence, and recruit a friend to help. Thank God!

Ryan + John head down first, to get a jump start while there's still daylight, and I arrive about an hour later. They continue loading my Dad's truck (I supervise...) and we head back to Content to unload. It's 10pm. We have a beer, high-five Ryan, and pass out.

"Free, old bricks" from Craigslist only cost us gas + beer money. Success!

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Fast forward to mid April. John + I, sporting our rose colored glasses again, decide to lay a brick patio. How fun? Something new. Masonry! 

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying, I've never, in all my years, been so completely exhausted at the end of a weekend, as I was after laying this patio.

Doesn't John look thrilled... I followed up taking this picture by cheering, "Half way there, honey!"

John and our friend Mike laid out the patio with length and depth strings a few days before. John then dug about 8" down.

We first put down a layer of large gravel as a base. Using a rented tamper we compacted each layer as we went.

We rented this from HomeDepot.

Then, we put down a thick layer of fine, diamond dust. It's not as pretty as it sounds.

Using some piping as a guide, we skimmed the top of the diamond dust, perfectly level. This would serve as the base of the brick.

These two layers took all Saturday. This pic was taken at sundown. Then my parents rescued us, and took us to dinner. Hallelujah! 

On Sunday morning, we were up bright and early to realize a mischievous cat had used our patio as a highway throughout the night. Luckily, no presents were left behind.

We continued tamping the diamond dust layer, and started to lay the bricks.

Feral Cat Highway. 

Then John reminded me I hadn't decided on a pattern. After some quick design in motion, we decided on this.

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I now have a visual of John pushing a baby stroller.... 

The thing with "free, old bricks" is that they are all different lengths and widths, and it took way longer than we anticipated to sort the bricks.

Once we got the hang of laying the brick pattern, it went quickly. 

Next challenge were ending the rows which required a half brick.

We started to cut the end pieces one by one, until our friend Roberto drove by and stopped to say hello. Realizing our method to cut the bricks one by one would have taken us several hours, he offered to use his giant, scary saw and completely cut the edge-bricks in about 3 minutes. 

Roberto for the win!

Next, we laid down a giant rubber mat (which I did not snap a photo of). We used this mat to protect the free, old brick during the final tamping. None broke. Nice!

Then, the final step was brushing bags of play sand in between the seams to seal it all together.

All in all, this patio was a beast! From gathering the bricks, to the tremendous amount of labor to lay it, we put a lot of hours into this project. But we are really proud of the results and our first attempt at working with brick.

Now, John, should we repave the whole courtyard?