One of the most important steps when it comes to building a brick wall is the foundations; the foundations are everything and have to be sound and solid before you lay even one brick. You have to ensure that they will be able to take the weight of the wall otherwise it will crumble and fall no matter how well it has been built.
For a light simple garden brick wall the foundations need to be around 30cm deep providing the foundations are firm if not and you have to build on weak ground then going down around 45cm is better.
You also have to remember that mortar has to be worked with within a time span because after this it will start to stiffen up and will be useless, you should never be tempted to add a little more water to make it workable as this will undermine the wall.
Only mix enough mortar so that you are able to use it within a 1and a half hour time frame. You should avoid a really soft brick and medium density facing bricks are ideal, a simple garden wall can be built single thickness but if you need something stronger then build double thickness.
Laying the First Brick
When it comes to laying bricks there is a right way and wrong way, if you take a look at the brick it will have an indentation on one side, it is important to lay the brick with the indentation facing up. The reason for this is you fill the indentation with concrete which means there are no gaps in the wall and the bricks will be solid.
Stack enough bricks and mix enough mortar so you are able to work for an hour, get your mortar board and you are ready to begin building.
Laying a dry course, which means no mortar, will give you some confidence that you are getting off on the right footing and once you have gained confidence you can then begin laying mortar. Always begin in a corner making sure you force the brick into the mortar and then do the same at the other end of the wall.
Once you have these bricks in place you will then take a piece of string and lay out a line between the two, this gives you a straight line to work with to ensure your wall remains as level as possible.
The next brick you lay should be a metre along the line and then you can fill in in-between, at this stage it is very important that you use a spirit level to ensure you have this first row of bricks straight and level.
The 4 Rules of Building Brick Walls
As you continue building the wall there are four basic rules which you should follow without question as you work your way up the wall. After you have laid down a number of bricks you should make some check and these are
• Straight – it is essential that you check to make sure that wall is remaining straight as you work up, this you can do by using a horizontal straight edge along the face of the wall
• Plumb line – use a plumb line to ensure that the wall is level vertically
• Spirit level – use your spirit level to ensure that the wall is level horizontally
• Gauge – a gauge can be used to check the corner bricks to make sure they are the same height
Important points to remember are that bricks are produced in masses and so are not perfect so while you want the wall to be level and straight you are not going to get absolute perfection.