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Build a brick wall

Whether you want to build a small wall at the end of your patio or a 1.8 metre wall around your house you'll need to learn the ancient art of bricklaying. Building a wall is a tricky job, and it'll take you all day, but here we show you how it's done.

 

Step 1: Getting Ready

The quality of your finished wall will depend on the quality of your footings. See how to lay foundations to get this bit right. Then you'll need to buy your bricks - a quick rule of thumb is that you'll need 65 of them for every square metre of wall, but remember, if your wall is over 725mm high, you should be building it double thickness - so you'll need double the bricks!

Step 2: Mix Mortar

Once you've got your bricks, you'll need to mix the mortar to hold your bricks together. See "How to mix mortar" to see how it's done. Don't forget that once you've got a mix together you need to use it within two hours.

Step 3: Bricklaying

Start at the ends of your wall and work in. Place a brick at each end and stretch a string between them to give you a line to work to. Then scoop up a load of mortar onto your trowel and spread along the footing. Place your brick on top, with the indented side, or 'frog', facing up. Then , get the next brick, spread a load of mortar on the end and stick it next to the first one.

Remove any excess mortar from the sides of the bricks and check them with a spirit level to make sure they're straight and true. If they're not - just give them a tap with the end of your trowel to sort them out.

Step 4: The Bond

The bond refers to the pattern of the bricks. All bricks are off-set to avoid one long mortar joint, which could be a weak point. When you are building a wall two bricks thick, you need to place bricks laterally to keep it strong. There are two ways you can do this to keep the whole wall strong, the Flemish bond, which looks like this, and the English bond, that looks like this.

How to mix mortar

Mortar binds bricks and blocks together to give strength and stability to a wall.

Freshly mixed mortar must be soft and plastic so that it spreads easily and makes good contact without becoming too strong. Too strong a mortar may crack and is wasteful and expensive.

You will need:

Cement

Lime*

*Use only building lime. Do not use quick-lime, lime wash or agricultural lime. Lime is sold in 25 kg bags.

Sand*

*Mortar sand. Some pit sands are suitable. River, dune and beach sands are often too uniform in size (single-sized) to give good results without being blended with another suitable sand.

Here's how:

The proportion of each material in the mix should suit the type of work being done. Strength requirements and mix proportions, recommended by C&CI, are given below.

 

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