Almost all brick structures have a charming old-world feel about them. This charm is probably the reason why so many people fancy brick structures, and why many want to build with bricks or learn how building with bricks is done. In fact, bricklaying is increasingly gaining popularity among the do-it-yourself crowd.
Being one of the oldest crafts in the world, bricklaying requires a good amount of skill and know-how in order to do it correctly. Many do-it-yourselfers start out with a vision of what their end structure will look like, only to be left with a faulty wall that is badly joined, making it susceptible to the elements, which will eventually cause it to tumble.
If you’ve never built anything before, you are better off starting with something much simpler than a project which requires bricklaying. However, if you have been building for a while and have succeeded in building many successful structures, then bricklaying may be the next step in your do-it-yourself repertoire. Just keep the following tips in mind:
Space Out Your Bricks
Bricks have to be laid with even spaces in between. This promotes the strength of the structure. A basic brick wall, for example, should have about 10mm of space between each brick. This 10mm is filled with mortar, which holds bricks (and the entire structure) together. To make sure you get the spacing correct, try laying all your bricks out without mortar just so you can see if 10mm between each brick will leave you with even spaces. If it doesn’t, say your last bricks will have 2 inches of space between them, then increase the space between each brick, but do so by evenly dividing the extra space.
Tap Them Straight
When you start laying bricks, you want to make sure they are laid evenly and straight. Again this is important for the structure’s strength. A structure that has slanting (evenly slightly slanted) bricks may not last or hold for long. It is advised that you have a spirit level on hand at all times, and check to see if your bricks are even frequently throughout the bricklaying process. Checking after every two bricks lain is a good practice. If your bricks are not even, simply tap them down (needs to be done while mortar is still soft) so that they even out. Just remember to scrape away excess mortar.
Know Your Bricks
Before you even start on your project, it is important to know the bricks you are working with. Bricks can be made from several different materials and these can act differently in different climates. Study your climate and do some research on what type of brick will do best considering where you live. Also, know the sides of your bricks. Most bricks have a face, an indented side (sometimes called a frog side), the top, and the end. Some manuals on bricklaying may simply use this type of jargon without explaining each one, so be sure you are familiar with the terms.
Calculate Your Mortar Correctly
When mortar is mixed, you only have about two hours before you have to use it up. If you don’t, it will harden and will no longer be of any use. It is therefore important that you calculate your mortar correctly. This saves you time and money.
So, to calculate for mortar, determine how many bricks you need. A simple brick wall will need about 65 bricks per square meter. Get your total number of bricks and divide this by 135, this equals the number of bags of cement you need. Multiply the number of bags by three, this equals the cubic feet of sand you need. Divide the sand by 27 (which is the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard.) You need to know the cubic yards for sand because this is how sand is sold. Finally, you will need four to six gallons of water per batch of mortar.
65bricks/135 = 0.4814815 (number of bags of cement needed to build 1 square meter of brick)
0.4814815 x 3 = 1.4444444 (cubic feet of sand)
1.4444444/27 = 0.0534979 (cubic yards of sand)
Keep these tips in mind when bricklaying, and you should be able to construct a simple brick structure, like a wall at the end of your garden. If you would like to create more complex structures, such as corners, arches, etc., then you’re best off calling an experienced Mansfield bricklayer.