1: Lay a Foundation
Bricks are laid on a level surface like a footing, if you are building a wall onto the ground, you need to lay a foundation.
Dig a trench and spread some stones across the bottom. Pour a wet-mix concrete over the stones making sure they are covered and the concrete is level.
2: Prepare the Area
Make sure you have a pile of bricks near to the wall and place a mortar board here too. You will also need to make sure you have all the tools you will need to hand.
3: Mixing the Cement
The general rule when mixing mortar is to use three parts builders sand to one part cement.
Mix the sand and cement together dry then make a hole in the centre and add the water a little at a time. You are aiming for a consistency of cream.
Put some of the mixed mortar onto your board ready for use.
4: Rolling the Mortar
Before you can use the mortar it should be ‘rolled’. Rolling ensures the mortar mixed and improves its consistency. Cut some of the mortar away from the pile and turn it over a couple of times. When it becomes thicker, it is ready.
5: Laying the First Course
The first row of bricks sits on a bed of mortar about 10mm thick. Pick up your rolled mortar and lay it onto the foundation in one move. Ideally you should be able to lay two to three bricks worth in one go. Pull the tip of the trowel through the centre of the mortar to create a rough edge, this makes it bond to the bricks better.
Lay the first brick at the corner of your wall. Scrape away any excess mortar and lay the second brick so that it butts up against the first. Make sure you have mortar on the end that butts to the previous brick.
Lay four or five bricks at each end of your wall, leaving a gap in the middle.
6: Building up for the Line
Build up each side of the wall in a stepped-pyramid shape. The second course starts half a brick in from the one below, so have some pre-cut bricks to hand. The third course is the same as the first.
Stepping the wall at each end allows you to get the correct height of each course.
7: Setting the Line
With the first three or four stepped courses laid, stretch some string from one side of the wall to the next across the top of the bricks in the first course. Fix the line at each end by wrapping it around a spare brick. When you fill in the bricks in the middle of the course, ensure they are lined up to the top of this line.
Move the line to the top of the next course and repeat until you have filled in all the gaps between your steps. Using a line keeps the wall level, but it is not a replacement for a level. At the end of each course check for level along the length and across each brick.
8: Striking the Joints
When the mortar starts to set you can strike the mortar between each brick and course of bricks using a jointing trowel. This rounded tool is used to ‘point’ the bricks.
9: Brushing Off Excess Mortar
When the mortar is almost set, use a wire brush to brush away any excess mortar. Don’t brush excess mortar off until it is almost set as you may pull cement out of the beds.
10: Soldiering On
Use the stepped-wall method to build up the next few courses, filling in the gaps with a line to keep the bricks level. Check also that the wall-face is level. If the wall is taller than a metre, you should consider placing brick piers within the wall at regular intervals.