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Brick-laying

Brick is easy to work with once you get the hang of it, and fairly fast. You can use adobe, CEB, cinderblock or any other type of block.

Brick laying is a simple skill to master. With a little knowledge before hand, a beginner can put up a home in a lot less time than you would expect.

Materials & Tools
Materials

Bricks

Mortar (mortar, sand, cement)

Tools

string

levels

string levels

trowels

rubber mallet

a small block of wood

mixer or container for mortar

 

Step 1: Preparation
  1. You want a concrete foundation, reinforced with metal. It needs to be a couple of inches wider than than the bricks on both sides. Make sure that it is level all the way around, and preferably of dimensions that will fit the size of your bricks.
  2. Into the foundation, you will want to put upright metal reinforcement (that are plum and level) at each corner, join of walls, and either side of doors.
  3. Set up a stack of bricks near to where you will be working. Include in this stack several half bricks, and even some three quarter ones.

 

Step 2: Mortar mix

You can buy a ready made mortar mix or make it yourself with sifted sand, cement and lime. Mix it fairly dry and in a quantity that you can use before it dries out too much. This may take a little practise to know how fast you can go and how much mix you go through in that time.When in doubt, mix less than you think you need, as it dries faster than regular cement.

 

Step 3: Laying bricks
  1. Tie a piece of string in between the vertical metal reinforcements for one stretch of wall. You want it to be the height of one brick plus and extra 1/4″. Put a string level on it and adjust either end of the string to make sure that it is level at the required height.
  2. Starting at one end of the stretch of wall, put a thin layer of mortar down on your foundation, about two bricks’ length and a little more than 1/4″ thick.
  3. Lay one brick onto the mortar, and tap it with the rubber mallet until it is level both vertically and horizontally. It should come up to the level of the string, but do not let it touch the string.
  4. Place a little mortar against its side, and then butt another brick against that mortar.
  5. Make sure the second brick comes up to the string and that it’s level horizontally (doesn’t lean inwards or outwards).
  6. Continue like this until the level of bricks is done.
  7. With a trowel or small chunk of wood, go back over the mortar sticking out between and under the bricks and smooth it out.
  8. Move your string up the height of a brick plus 1/4″ and level it.
  9. On the second layer of bricks, place a half brick on top of the first brick you laid. This will stagger the second layer over the joins of the first. You never want bricks to line up with the layer below, as this will be weak.
  10. Continue as with the first layer, ending with a half brick.
  11. Always check that the bricks and layers are level and not leaning in any direction.
  12. Leave holes for windows several inches wider than your window frames on either side.

 

Step 4: Posts
  1. Once you have completed all the sections of wall, you will need to pour posts at the upright metal reinforcement (in the corners, joins of walls, and at either side of doors).
  2. It is a good idea to attach door frames to the posts before you pour them, so that they will be tied into the walls.
  3. Make forms around these posts. The bricks themselves will act as forms for some of the posts, but any open parts will need to be covered and braced with wooden, metal or fabric forms.
  4. Pour concrete into the posts. Tamp it as you go to make sure there are no air bubbles. Bring the concrete level to the top of the bricks.
  5. Once the concrete is hard you can remove the forms.

 

Step 5: Windows
  1. Center your window frame in the hole you left for it, but with the top level with the top of the bricks.
  2. Put screws into the outside of the frame periodically. This will grip it to the concrete.
  3. Make sure the frame is plum and level.
  4. Set up forms between the bricks and the frame, on the sides and underneath it.
  5. Pour concrete into the forms.

 

Step 6: Bond beam

A bond beam is an important part of any brick wall. It helps cinch the bricks in place. Be sure to include in the bond beam any tie-downs you require for your roof.

  1. Set up forms on top of your bricks. For the most part, the forms will require only sides. However, you will need to attach a bottom to them over any space like a window.
  2. Make sure the top of the forms are level at the height you wish the bond beam to be (about 6″ is fine).
  3. Place metal reinforcement, like rebar, into the forms. Lift the metal off the bricks, so that they sit in the middle of bond beam space. Overlap and tie the rebars wherever they join.
  4. Pour concrete into the form. Level and smooth it with a trowel.

 

Brick laying is fun and strangely therapeutic. It is also not that tiring. You need to be precise with level and plum, and make sure bricks do not line up with the bricks below them, but once you get the hang of that, it’s easy.

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