Build a Brick Wall
Bricklaying is considered one of the more approachable construction skills, and many self-builders are understandably keen to give it a go. But this isn’t a task to be taken on lightly, especially if you’re building structural walls.
Before you begin your project, you’ll need to figure out the number of bricks required.
To get an accurate picture of the number required for the task in hand, however, you need to account for a 10mm mortar bed
Use the string line
Once your foundations have been laid, place bricks at both ends of your wall where the pillars will be. Now make a straight guide line between the two bricks with your string.
Mix the cement
For the mortar you will need 1 part Cement to 5 part Building Sand, mix the mixture together then add water, starting with around half a litre, keep adding small portions of water until your mortar is a smooth, creamy texture that’s wet but not too loose.
Lay the mortar bed
Lay a 1-2cm bed of mortar along your string line. Now starting at either end, lay your first brick and lightly tap to bed it in, add mortar to the side of your brick then add the next brick, repeating this step until you reach the other end, all the while using your string as a guide.
Build up the brick pillars
At the point where you want your pillars to start, place a brick side-on to the end of the wall. As you build up the wall, each consecutive course of pillar bricks must be laid in the opposite direction
Lay half bricks
When building pillars, at certain courses you’ll need to lay half-bricks. To make a cut, place the brick on its side, locate the bolster at the split point and strike the head firmly with a club hammer. It should split cleanly first time
Stretcher bond brickwork
Always build at least a course higher on the pillars. Move the string line up as you build, bedding it into the mortar on the pillars. For a stretcher bond, the end of each brick should be over the centre of the one beneath
10mm mortar joints
Vertical mortar joints should be 10mm thick. With standard bricks, there should be 75mm from the top of one to the top of that beneath. If your bricks soak up moisture fast, you may want to ‘joint up’ (step 10) as you go
Add a coping stone
When you reach the top of the pillars, you may want to add a coping stone to finish. Alternatively, you could create a pleasant effect at less cost by bedding bricks into the mortar on their sides
Add a soldier course
Adding a ‘soldier course’ is an attractive option to top the main part of a garden wall. Turn your bricks vertically lengthways and lay along the full length. Use a second, higher string line to keep a uniform finish
Finish the mortar
To finish the beds, use the rounded edge of a brick jointer to scrape mortar into the joints. Start with the horizonal lines and follow with the vertical – it’s easier to remove any excess mortar this way
Brush down the brick
Give the finished wall a gentle brush over and clean up any mortar that has fallen onto the floor before it dries. You can use water to wash cement away from the floor, but be sure to keep it away from your newly-built wall!