How to build a brick wall

Whether you want to build a small wall at the end of your patio or a six foot structure around your house, you'll need to learn a bit about bricklaying. You might think that it's as simple as bunging together some bricks and slapping cement on them, but in actual fact building a safe wall takes skill.

Take the time to learn how to construct a wall correctly and you'll be rewarded with a long-lasting structure that won't fall over in a stiff breeze.

Don't forget that if you're planning to build a retaining or load-bearing wall then you'll need to call in a structural engineer before you start. If you want to erect a wall over two metres high (over one metre high if next to a traffic highway) you'll need to apply to your local council for planning permission.

What you'll need:

  • Cement, sand and lime for your mortar – see our video on how to mix mortar to work out how much
  • Bricks
  • Bucket
  • Bricklayer's trowel

Step 1: Getting ready

The quality of your finished wall will depend on the quality of your footings. See our video guide to laying foundations to get this bit right.

  • Once your foundation is established then you'll need to buy your bricks – a quick rule of thumb is that you'll need 65 bricks for every square metre of wall.
  • If your wall is over 725 millimetres (just over two feet) high then you will need to build it at double thickness for stability – so you'll need double the bricks!

Step 2: Mix your mortar

Once you've got your bricks you'll need to mix the mortar to hold them together. Don't forget that once you've got a mix together you need to use it within two hours.

Step 3: Bricklaying

Start at the ends of your wall and work in as follows:

  1. Place a brick at each end and stretch a string between them to give you a line to work to.
  2. Scoop up a load of mortar onto your trowel and spread along the footing.
  3. Place your brick on top, with the indented side, or "frog", facing up.
  4. Get the next brick, spread a load of mortar on the end and stick it next to the first one.
  5. Remove any excess mortar from the sides of the bricks and check them with a spirit level to make sure they're straight and true. If they're not then give them a light tap with the end of the trowel to sort them out.

Step 4: The bond

The bond refers to the pattern of the bricks. All bricks are off-set to avoid one long mortar joint, which would be a weak point. When you are building a wall two bricks thick, you need to place bricks laterally to keep it strong. There are two ways you can do this to keep the whole wall strong: the Flemish bond and the English bond.

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