Bricklaying for beginners
When there is bricklaying to be done, the best option is to hire a bricklayer. Sometimes however, the job is too small for this, and it can be done by yourself. To do this, you need to understand the basics of bricklaying.
Bricklaying requires many different skills, so it is best to practise by building relatively low retaining walls, and dividing walls until you have mastered the skills of laying bricks.
• Bricklaying trowel
• Spirit level
• Mortar board
• Builders line
Spreading a bed of mortar (“throwing a line”) requires practice before you can do it at speed – so at first, concentrate on laying bricks accurately. Using mortar of exactly the right consistency helps to keep the visible faces of the bricks clean. In hot, dry weather, dampen the footings and bricks before you begin, but let any surface water evaporate before you lay bricks.
Hold the trowel with your thumb in line with the handle and pointing towards the tip of the blade.
Scoop a measure of mortar out of the pile and shape it roughly to match the dimensions of the trowel blade. Pick up the mortar by sliding the blade under the pile, settling the mortar onto the trowel with a slight jerk of the wrist.
Spread the mortar along the top course by aligning the edge of the trowel with the centre line of the bricks. As you tip the blade to deposit the mortar, draw the trowel back towards you to stretch the bed over at least two to three bricks.
Furrow the mortar by pressing the point of the trowel along the centre of the bed.
Pick up a brick with your other hand, but don’t extend your thumb too far onto the stretcher face or it will disturb the bricklayers line as you place the brick in position.
Press the brick into the bed, picking up excess mortar squeezed from the joint by sliding the edge of the trowel along the face of the wall.
Spread mortar onto the header of the next, making a neat 10mm bed for the header joint. Press the brick against its neighbour, scooping off excess mortar with the trowel.
Having laid three bricks, use a spirit level to check that they are horizontal. Make any adjustments by tapping them down with the trowel handle.
Hold the spirit level along the outer edge of the bricks to check that they are in line. To move a brick sideways without knocking it off its mortar bed, tap the upper edge with the trowel at about 450 degrees.
last week’s column – Measuring & Marking