You are on page 1of 24

Laying the bricks Preparation and procedure Order all your materials-bricks, sand, cement, DPC rolls, door-

and window-frames and lintels - well before you plan to start bricklaying. Have old sacking or polythene sheet to hand for covering work overnight in case of rain or frost. Choose a mortar mix to suit the type of work, the type of bricks you are using and the weather. Remember that frost is a danger until the mortar is cured and this can take several days. Do not mix more mortar than you can lay in one working session; two barrow-loads are usually enough. Mix the mortar on a large, dry, clean and level surface such as a sheet of ply or asbestos board. Before starting work, place spot-boards alternately with piles of bricks at 3 m. (10 ft) intervals near the building-line. In hot, dry weather, hose down the bricks; if they are too dry they will absorb too much water from the mortar, thereby weakening it. Spot-boards should be dampened for the same reason. Keep a bucket of clean water handy for cleaning tools as you work. Mortar dries out your skin, so try not to handle it or, if you do, wear industrial or rubber gloves.

Laying bricks on to a prepared concrete base slab is simply a matter of working accurately between uprights. The more normal method -working up from concrete footings-is a little more complicated and is shown in the adjoining step-by-step picture sequence. For the sake of clarity, this has been shown starting from surface level, though footings are always below ground level. Build up the corners or stopped ends first, taking meticulous care to ensure that they are vertical. The lines and pins are then strung between them and used as a guide to building up the courses in between. Then, if you are building higher, raise the corners or ends again and proceed as before.

Arches, doors and roofs Decorative arch Building a load-bearing arch is beyond the scope of the amateur. A decorative arch is not difficult, however. Use a length of black mild steel as a support for the brickwork. If the wall is 112.5 mm. thick, use a piece of steel 50 mm. (2 in.) wide and 9 mm. (3/8 in.) thick; for a 225 mm. thick wall, use a piece 150 mm. (6 in.) wide. Bond it in place in the sidewalls, then build up the brickwork. Use standard bricks on end with wedge-shaped mortar beds between them. The sidewalls can be carried up and over the arch, or the arch can be finished with a weatherproof bed of mortar on top. Fix doorand window-frames to brickwork with galvanised frame cramps, screwed into the frame and bedded into the mortar. Use a board and bricks to keep frames upright. When you build up to the top of the frame, mortar in the lintel. Lintels must overlap the frame 112.5 mm. (41/2 in.) each side for window- and door-frames.

Roofing A felt and granite-chip roof is suitable for lean-to brick structures. Lay a course of cut bricks (1) on the top of each end wall to form a slight slope. Bed 100 x 50 mm. wooden wall plates (2) on a 12 mm. (1/2 in.) mortar bed on top of each wall. Fix a 100 x 50 mm. plate to the existing house wall with rag bolts, its underside level with the undersides of the adjoining wall plates. Nail 100 x 50 mm. rafters (3) approximately 400 mm. (16 in.) apart between the side wall plate and the house wall plate, half-lapping them on to the house wall plate. Fix the first half way between the end wall plates and work out from it. Nail 100 x 50 mm. noggings (4) at 600 mm. (2 ft) maximum centres between the rafters. Nail the end rafters to the projecting noggings, leaving the rafters just overlapping the structure.

Nail the fascia board (5) to the projecting ends of the rafters. Nail rectangular end pieces (6) to the end of the rafter overhang to give a level fixing for the soffit (7), fix the fascia board and then the soffits. Cover the whole roof skeleton with 20 mm. flaxboard (8); fix edging battens (9). Clout-nail the first felt layer, bond on the second layer of felt with brush-on bituminous-based liquid, fix the mineral felt drips to the edges and bond the third and final felt layer. Overlap the joints in the felt; make sure joints in each layer do .not coincide. Scatter granite chips over the top layer after coating with bitumen. Seal the joint between the roof and house with a flashing of mineral felt mortared in the house wall and stuck on to the felt.

Lintels Spanning openings above door and window frames Brickwork above a door or window frame must be supported by a lintel, which may be either of reinforced concrete or of galvanised steel. Both types are made to span openings in 112.5 mm. and 225 mm. solid walls and in 337.5 mm. cavity walls. Lintels will be needed for such jobs as building a brick garage, outhouse or kitchen extension. They can

be bought from builders' merchants. Since concrete lintels of all but the smallest sizes are very heavy, do not attempt to fit one without help and then not unless you and your helper can, each on his own, lift the lintel without undue strain. To allow a proper margin of safety, work from a stoutly built platform or from scaffolding, with two thicknesses of scaffold boards so that you do not need to lift the lintel above waist height. If this is not practicable, then the job is best left to a builder. A concrete lintel is visible unless the brickwork of the wall is rendered, in which case the face and the underside of the lintel should also be rendered. A steel lintel has the advantage of not showing on the face of the brickwork, and is also much lighter than a concrete one. Two types of steel lintel are manufactured for use in cavity walls. The Standard lintel cannot be used alone but must be supported by a concrete lintel on the inner wall of the cavity. The Combined type is more complex in design and supports both the inner and the outer wall.

Buy a lintel at least 300 mm. (1 ft) longer than the gap to be spanned, for at least 150 mm. of it at either end needs to rest on the supporting surface. Lintels, whether of galvanised steel or of concrete, must rest on a complete brick, or block, at either end, so plan accordingly when building up courses of bricks or blocks. Bed the lintel on to mortar, making sure that its weight is borne solely by the brickwork; at no point should it rest on the door or window frame. If the frame is too high, bed a piece of slate into the mortar on the brickwork, to build up its height. Finally, squeeze a mastic sealer into the space between the lintel and the top of the frame; the mastic will remain flexible and will not harden or crack. Repointing Tools needed Crumbling mortar joints in old brickwork allow moisture to penetrate the wall. The remedy is repointing - clearing out the old mortar to a depth of about 15 mm. (1/2in.), and then replacing it with a new water- proof mortar joint. If you are repointing the whole wall, the job can be done in stages, tackling about 1 sq. m. (1 sq. yd) at a time and completing the whole wall when you can. Always set up a platform for high walls, so that you work at chest level-do not try working on a ladder. When repointing, you should match the composition of the new mortar to the old. If you do not know the mix for the old mortar, make the new mortar of 1 part lime to I part cement and 6 parts builders sand (1:1:6).

Types of joint If you are patching a wall, match the new joints with the existing ones. For example, Form flush joints on a wall, which already has them.

If you are completely repointing, or putting joints in new brickwork, use any of the joints shown here. Weather-struck joints give the maximum protection from damp and so are worth the extra trouble, especially on chimneys and house walls. Recessed joints look effective with rough textured bricks; flush or rubbed joints are better with smooth-surfaced ones.

Bricklaying - Getting started

If a simple brick barbecue or a small retaining wall is needed, why not give it a go.

Follow our basic bricklaying guide and a leaning tower of Pisa is easily avoided! Know your bricks Bricks are either extruded (top pic) or dry pressed (below). Dry pressed bricks have a frog, are very porous and have to be dampened (not soaked) before use for maximum mortar strength.

They are easily cut with a lump hammer and bolster. Extruded bricks have holes through them and must be laid dry. A brick saw may be needed to cut them. There are also lower-quality 'commons' (common bricks) used for internal walls and walls that will be cement-rendered and high-quality face bricks for external walls and structures. Specialist brick types include sandstock bricks, concrete blocks and shaped bricks, including bullnose and sill. A half brick is known as a bat. Brick terms (left to right)

Soldier stood on end. Stretcher - laid lengthwise in a wall. Header laid through a wall, at right angles to stretchers.

Brick bonds For a wall to have maximum strength, bricks must be lapped one over the other in successive courses. Poor bonding can lead to cracks or weakness. Precision is very important and brickwork must be checked frequently for plumb (vertical) and for level. Types of bond include:

Stretcher bond (top pic) is also called half bond and is used in all general construction. Stack bond (middle left pic) is laid vertically on top of each other and is a very weak bond only for feature panels or low fences. English bond is also called quarter bond (middle right pic) and is alternate courses of headers and stretchers, for retaining walls. Header bond (bottom pic) is laid as headers and used most often for circular walls or curved brickwork. Brick driveways Bricks need a substantial base to bear the weight of vehicles. Usually 100mm of well compacted roadbase under 50mm of bedding sand will do. For a heavy-duty

driveway, use a base of 100mm of concrete under the sand. Types of bricks (top to bottom) Below left: Interlocking clay paver Clay paver Orange extruded common brick Shaped brick for corners Double bullnose for capping Below right: Secondhand original sandstock brick Dry pressed face brick in the sandstock range Brown dry pressed face brick Cream dry pressed face brick Cream mottled clinker (very hard fired) brick

Mixing mortar
It's mortar that holds your bricks together. Here's how to get the mix right.

The mix A general-purpose mortar is six parts bricklayers sand, one part cement and one part lime (6:1:1). A plasticiser can be added to make the mortar more workable and a waterproofing agent is added to mortar for brick fences to prevent damp. Sand is normally sold by the cubic metre or tonne. One cubic metre of sand weighs roughly 1.5 tonnes. Keeping the mortar at the right consistency is part of the art of laying bricks. The mortar holds the bricks in place and levels the courses. It should be soft and pliable and not too dry, a bit like toothpaste. Mortar is good for one and a half hours (add a little water to keep it soft and workable) before it loses elasticity and should be thrown out. You'll need: Bricklayer's sand (70 per cent bush sand and 30 per cent sharp sand), cement and lime, or pre-mixed mortar Plasticiser, waterproofing agent and oxides (optional) Wheelbarrow, plywood or concrete mixer Shovel Mortar board Trowel Jointer or raker Here's how: 1. When mixing by hand, thoroughly mix the ingredients dry before adding water. The mortar should finish an even colour. In a concrete mixer, put the water in first, then the sand, the cement and finally the lime, topping up with water if needed.

2. Transfer the mixed mortar to a mortar board. Mortar boards are about one square metre and made of waterproof plywood or a light steel plate. Keep the mortar on the board soft and pliable by working it continually with the trowel. 3. Trowel the mortar off the board with a smooth wrist, elbow and shoulder movement.

4. Using the tip and edge of the trowel drop and move the mortar left, then right on the board to get an even consistency.

5. Using the back of the trowel, move the mortar back across the board to finish the mixing. Mortar joint types

Different mortar joints are shaped while the mortar is wet: Flush joint - cut flush with a trowel. Round ironed joint - using a round iron jointer; used in restoration work on Federation houses. Raked joint - using an adjustable raker up to 10mm deep; used in house

construction. Other common types include struck joints and weather struck joints, made by running the edge of a trowel along the joint.

Build a brick wall

There are a few tricks to building a good-looking brick wall, so follow our step-bystep guide.

Here's how: 1. Start laying at the lowest point. Always construct a corner first. Rack (step) out about three brick lengths and take the corner up six courses. Use a string line and line pins from the corner to keep the brickwork straight and level. Check the alignment with a straight piece of timber. 2. Keep the bed and cross joints an even 10mm. Lay one course, from corner to corner, before moving up to the next course. Always keep the corners higher than the rest of the brickwork. Fix string lines and corner blocks to keep each course straight and repeatedly check the level and plumb, tapping bricks into alignment with your trowel. 3. Finish the mortar joints while the mortar is wet. For round iron jointing, finish after every second course; finish rake joints every four or six courses. 4. If you need to step up brickwork, always use two level string lines. Lay one stringline at the top across the stepped gap, from the end of the built-up wall to a course above the step; lay the other line on the lowest course so that the brickwork runs into the step evenly. Cut the lowest course if necessary to make the top course level.

Wall junctions Tie side walls at least 110mm into the main wall as the wall is being built. If you are unable to build the junction walls at the same time as the main wall, leave tieins (indents) and build the junction walls later. (illo a p 29) (illo b p29) Damp-proofing (illo a p30) A damp course stops water rising up the wall or crossing a cavity from the outside to the inside wall above windows and doors. In domestic construction, a damp-proof course (DPC) is laid three courses above ground level or at floor bearer height. Flashing is laid under all windows and on top of all windows and doors. Extend it a minimum of 100mm past the frame into the wall. For on-slab construction, leave a rebate around the edge of the slab. Place the flashing directly on the slab and turn it up the rebate and through the wall. To completely seal off the slab it must overhang the plastic membrane. Drainage You may need to provide drainage: agricultural pipe and rubble drains to remove ground water, or surface drains, such as spoon drains, to divert run-off away from the structure. Weep holes are left in walls to allow water to drain out.

Circles and curves To set out a circle, fix a stake in the centre and tie a piece of string the radius of the circle to it. Attach a metal stake to the other end and draw the circle. Determine the width of the foundation trench, adjust the string and draw circles for either side of the trench.

Set out curved walls in the same way, but draw only the required part of the circles. Curved walls are most easily laid in header bond. For curves of small diameter, bricks can be cut to a tapered shape. Common bricks and tapered joints can be used for curved walls with a diameter greater than 2m.

Building and pouring

With the trenches dug, the next step is to mess around with concrete.

You'll need: Timber for formwork Timber stakes, nails and hammer Steel reinforcement (mesh or bars, stirrups and bar chairs) Tie-wire and pliers Cement, sand and coarse aggregate Concrete mixer (optional) Wheelbarrow, shovel and gumboots Straight edge Steel and wooden floats Steel reinforcement Concrete should be reinforced with two layers of steel bars or trench mesh, placed as near the top and bottom of the concrete as possible and at least 60mm from the edges. Hold the bars in place with stirrups suspended by wire from timber beams and overlap joins by 450mm.

The concrete mix (4:2.5:1)

When mixed, the concrete should hold its shape without slumping (too wet) or crumbling (too dry). The usual mix is four parts coarse aggregate, such as gravel, two and a half parts sand and one part cement (4:2.5:1), with enough water to get it to a plastic state. You can have ready-mixed concrete delivered in multiples of 0.2 cubic metres. When ordering, advise the type needed (whether it's for footings or slab, etc). Quantities Per cubic metre of concrete you'll need 0.8 cubic metres coarse aggregate, 0.5 cubic metres sand, six and a half bags (40kg) cement. Hand mixing To mix small quantities of concrete, you'll need a shovel, a metal wheelbarrow or a flat, easily cleaned surface. 1. Thoroughly mix the cement, sand and coarse aggregate together while they are still dry. 2. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix. Add water and combine until the mix has achieved an even colour and texture. Using a concrete mixer To mix concrete in a concrete mixer, make sure the mixer is level and on a stable surface. 1. Begin with two buckets of water in the machine. 2. Add four buckets of aggregate. 3. Add two and a half buckets of sand. 4. Add one bucket of cement. 5. Add water and mix until an even colour and texture (at least three minutes).

Pouring the footings Prepare any formwork the day before and have all the equipment you'll need to carry, spread and level the concrete ready before you start. Get going early to have concrete set before dark. Here's how: 1. Start pouring concrete at the lowest point on the site and spread it with a shovel. Regularly check the level as you go. Make sure the concrete is packed under the steel reinforcement so it doesn't drop. If the stirrups are suspended from a beam, cut the tie-wire with the shovel as you work. Step the footings if necessary. 2. Finish the concrete about 100mm below ground level and smooth with a float. A steel float gives a smoother finish than a wooden float. 3. Leave to cure for at least two days or the concrete may crack.

Setting out Foundations

The key to any successful construction is starting with a strong base - the solid foundation.

Here's what you need to know about seting out foundations, including levels, trenches and formwork. You'll need: Measuring tape Timber stakes Timber for profiles Nails and hammer String Spirit level and line level 12mm clear tube water level or dumpy level (optional) Plumb bob Builder's square Spade Here's how: 1. Erect timber profiles 1m beyond the outline of the job. Tie string lines to the nails in the profiles to act as guides to the width of the foundation trench and walls. 2. Ensure the corners are 90 degrees with a builder's square or use the 3-4-5 method. From the corner measure down one side 3m and down the other side 4m (or any multiple of these). The hypotenuse (or diagonal) should equal 5m if you've made a right angle. To be accurate, measurements should always be taken on the level, even on a slope. Use a spirit level to ensure the tape measure is level.

Establishing levels 3. Accurate levels are essential. Put a timber stake in the ground at each corner of the job. Put a mark on one stake and carry it around to the other stakes, using your choice of level to adjust the string lines to the same level. Hire a qualified surveyor for large projects and any work near boundaries. Foundation trenches and formwork 4. Concrete footings are usually twice the width of the wall and as deep as they are wide. To find the level for the top of the footings (about 100mm below ground level), measure down an equal distance from the level mark on each stake. If the ground is not level, step the footings. 5. Dig within the string lines, keeping the sides of the trench vertical and straight. 6. If the footing rises above ground level, you'll need to erect temporary formwork to hold the concrete in shape until it hardens. The formwork foundation trench should be 100mm wider than the footings.