How to Build a Brick Wall: A Simple Guide

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Friday, May 24, 2024

How to Build a Brick Wall: A Simple Guide

Brick walls can be a daunting challenge for the budding do-it-yourselfer. But with a bit of research and some careful planning, anyone looking to learn how to build a brick wall and to spruce things up with a handsome garden wall can save big by going it alone. Of course, any load-bearing wall requires a professional builder; however, if you’re looking to make a cosmetic statement, read on!

Required Materials:

● Trowel
● Level
● Shovel
● Wheelbarrow
● Hammer, nails, and bolster
● Timber and string
● Wooden stakes
● Concrete
● Bricks and mortar
● Bristle brush

Step 1 – Calculate how Many Bricks You Need

Running out of bricks is annoying but ordering too many is expensive. Start by getting the dimensions of the bricks you want. The standard UK brick is 215mm long, 102.5mm wide, and 65mm high. The mortar that separates your bricks will be 10mm wide, and you should factor it into all your calculations. When using the standard UK bricks, you will want 60 bricks per square meter for a half-brick thick wall – double for a one-brick thick wall.

Next, measure the surface area of your wall. Then, multiply the length by the height. For example, a 4-meter long, 1.4-meter high wall would be 5.6 square meters. Multiplied by 60 bricks per square meter, that would be 336 bricks. Always add 10% to account for wastage! That brings us to 370 bricks.

Step 2 – Lay the Foundation

The depth of your trench depends on your wall dimensions. You should have 1.2 a meter per meter of wall height for proper support. Once you’ve dug the trench, drive wooden stakes into the soil. The top of each wooden stake should be precisely one brick height (+10mm for mortar!) below ground level. The first course of bricks will be under the surface. Finally, fill the trench with concrete until it is flush with the top of the stakes. Let it dry for a few days.

Step 3 – Prepare Guideposts

Cut two pieces of timber to the height of your finished wall. Mark them with lines 75mm apart (brick height + 10mm for mortar). These lines represent the courses of your wall. When building the wall, place the timbers on either end and connect the course markings with string. Make sure the string is taut – you want your courses even!

Step 4 – Mix the Mortar

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The mortar should slip from your trowel easily yet retain its shape. Only mix what you need for the time you will be working, and try not to let the mortar sit for more than 90 minutes, or it will harden.

Step 5 – Soak Your Bricks

Soaking the bricks helps them bond with the mortar properly. Let them drip dry until they are damp but no longer shed water. If they are too wet, they will dilute the mortar.

Step 6 – Lay the First Course

Put 10mm of mortar on the foundation and firmly press the first brick into it, ensuring it is level. Next, apply mortar to the end of the second brick and place it next to the first, keeping them separated by 10mm of mortar. Finally, remove the excess mortar with your trowel. Repeat the process until the first course is finished.

Step 7 – Split a Brick and Repeat the Process

The courses should be staggered, so cut a brick in half using your hammer and bolster. Place one half on the end where you start, reserving the second half for the other end. Make sure to observe your guidepost strings as you lay the second course. Check the level frequently, and trowel off any excess mortar as necessary. Repeat until you lay every course.

Step 8 – Finishing Touches

Add whatever embellishments you prefer. A soldier course is simple and adds a bit of flair. Flip bricks up on their side and orient them with the ends facing out. You can do this for an entire course or just at the ends of the wall. After laying the bricks, patch all the gaps in the mortar, and remove any excess. Make sure to pick any dropped mortar off the ground. Finally, cover with a tarp for the first night. Congratulations, you've built your first brick wall rated by trade.

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