It is possible to learn basic bricklaying techniques at home. As long as you take your time and understand the process, you can build retaining walls, fire pits, and other structures.
Laying Bricks on a Level Surface
You should have a level surface to build on. This is done using a concrete footing. Once the site is ready, you can lay your first course (or row) of bricks without mortar. They should be spaced approximately 10mm apart. This will tell you how many bricks you need for each course.
Drive a stake into the ground at each end and run a string between them. This will show you the brick face. Take your time during this step because it will determine how straight your wall will be when finished.
Mixing the Mortar
Pay close attention to quantities when mixing mortar. Combine on top of a hard, flat surface or in a cement mixer. All dry materials should be mixed first until they create a uniform colour.
Next, add small amounts of water at a time while mixing. Adding too much water at once can cause mortar to become runny and unworkable. Mortar should have a soft putty-like texture that can stand on its own but is still spreadable. Make enough mortar for 40 minutes of work at a time.
Starting Your First Course
Remove the first course that you laid when you began and spread a 10mm thick band of mortar in its place, approximately five bricks long. Set the first brick, taking care to position the corner up against the string guide. Tap it down with the towel handle.
Butter each brick that you place after the first one. Buttering means spreading 10mm of mortar along the side end. Carefully place each brick in a line, keeping them against the string guide. Tap them down to keep them level with the previous brick. Once your course is half laid, you can switch to the opposite side and repeat, working from the outside in.
The final brick may require trimming with a brick bolster. Butter both ends then place gently to finish the course. Clean off any excess mortar with a trowel so that it remains flush with each brick.
Building Up with Bricks
To begin building up, move your string guide higher so that it can be used with the next course. Work by building up each end first, finishing in the middle. Check with a level frequently in case anything shifts or isn’t set correctly. Mortar will be too wet to finish joints at this stage.
Finishing Your Brickwork
Once the mortar is firm, use your finishing tool and apply slight pressure while moving it up and down through the mortar joints. Make sure you apply equal pressure to give your wall a clean, finished look. Clean all excess mortar from the brick face as you work using a soft brush.
If you are ready to begin your first brickwork project, visit ABC Brick Sales. We carry high-quality brick and mortar at great prices. Stop by and chat with one of our knowledgeable staff members to discuss your brickwork needs.