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How are Bricks Laid?

A collage of bricks layering.

Before laying bricks you need to moisten them. Ideally, you should do this for at least half an hour and also the day before you are scheduled to finish. But why should you? Simple! By moistening them, you reduce their suction capacity.

Therefore, the mortar you add when setting will not lose liquid when it comes into contact with it. Consequently, the adhesion between mortar and brick will improve.

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How Important Is Checking the Surface?

When brick is laid for the foundation, it must first be checked that the surface of the foundation is clean and level. Any imperfections must be filled with mortar.

Then, the design is reconsidered, reviewing its dimensions and marking all the references that delimit the area where the wall will be erected, as well as the position of the doors. For this, it is necessary to have a plumb line, level and string.

When the wall is built from a roof slab, the axes where the walls are going to be built must also be marked with the help of a ruler.

The first row of bricks placed on the surface is called templated. On the first floor, the template is made on the plinth; on the higher floor, it is done on the slab. The template is very important because it ensures that the wall is built exactly on the axes that are specified in the plans.

How Do You Prepare The Setting Mortar?

A cement and sand mixture.

Both cement and sand must be completely dry before use. Then, you will have to mix a bag of cement using a wheelbarrow and half of coarse sand. To this mixture, you will have to add water to form the mortar.

The bricks you are laying can only be laid on a clean, level surface. After checking how much mortar to use, you should check the dimensions of the wall you are going to build and mark all the references that delimit the area. You should also point out where the doors will go (if it will have them).

Using a Trowel

With the trowel, a portion of the mixture is taken from the tray and a uniform layer is placed on the foundation or lower course of bricks, distributing it longitudinally. Then, the excess mixture is cleaned with a trowel.

It is not convenient to extend the mortar to a length greater than 80 cm. Otherwise, it will harden quickly, preventing good adhesion to the top course.

The amount of mortar that is placed must be such that when the brick is pressed, a joint of 1.0 to 1.5 cm thick remains. Greater thicknesses can weaken the wall.

What Should Be Considered First?

A construction worker laying bricks.

The master bricks are the ones that go to the ends of the wall, as they are guides and so they must be plumb and level. Remember that to lay bricks they must be aligned. To align them, you must use a string, which has to be stretched and attached to the outer faces of the bricks at the ends of the wall.

Master bricks  must be perfectly located and seated, that is, plumb, level and with the corresponding joint height. Subsequently, a cord is stretched between the master bricks to settle each course.

The bricks will be placed making their external edge coincide with the string, thus guaranteeing that all the bricks are level, aligned and plumb.  The bricks that you place between the masters must coincide on the external edge with the string to guarantee their leveling, alignment and plumb.

How Do You Place Vertical Mortar?

After finishing the settling, place the vertical mortar that must enter the vertical space that you left between bricks. Remember that each course of brick can end flush or indented.

In the first case, you will have to add anchor bolts or wicks (every 3 rows). These must be made of 6 mm diameter rods that penetrate at least 40 cm into the masonry and 12.5 cm into the interior of the column, in addition to ending in a 10 cm hook inside. 

A portion of the mixture is taken and introduced into the vertical joint with the help of the trowel and a small wooden pallet that serves to contain the mixture and prevent it from falling to the floor. In this way, the row is finished and ready to receive the next one.

How Do You Place Horizontal Mortar?

A man worker laying bricks.

With your mortar mix ready and your bricks lined up, you can now start putting up the wall. Use your trowel to take a portion of the mix from the tray and then place a uniform layer on the screed and distribute it longitudinally.

Avoid making extensions of mortar greater than 80 cm, otherwise it could dry before you place the upper course, affecting adherence. When you finish adding the mortar, remove the excess with the same tool.

The thickness of the mix between bricks should be 1 to 1.5 cm maximum. If you place a greater thickness, the structure will be weaker.

How Are Wicks Placed?

In the event that the brick is not placed in a “mesh” manner, anchoring “chicotes” or “wicks” must be added, made up of 6 mm diameter rods, which penetrate at least 40 cm into the interior masonry and 12.5 cm inside the column, ending in a 10 cm long hook. These bits must be added every 3 rows.

How is the Brick Laid?

Put the brick where it belongs and press it down slightly so that it sits on top of the mix. Then leave an adequate space between the others so that the vertical joint can be formed. To make the brick level with the guide string, give it a gentle blow with the handle of the trowel.

You finished? Now you just have to re-lay the master bricks of the next course, lift the guide string and repeat the procedure of the first course.

How Do You Guarantee Uniformity?

A worker leveling bricks for laying.

The brick is placed in the corresponding position, moved slightly, and pressed downwards until it is properly seated, taking care to leave adequate space to form the vertical joint.

To refine the alignment and leveling of the brick with the guide string, gently tap it with the handle of the trowel.

Once the row is finished, the master bricks are placed again, the guide cord is raised to the next row and all the previous steps are repeated again. To guarantee the uniformity of these thicknesses throughout the wall, the template is used.

This tool also allows us to finish the height of the wall with a full course of brick. It is important to use the hand level to verify that the bricks are perpendicular to the reference axis.

The thickness of the mortar in the vertical joints must be on average 1.5 cm and in the horizontal joints 1.0 to 1.5 cm (see figure 95). Keep in mind that the vertical joints must be in the middle of the brick of the lower row. This will guarantee good bonding of the bricks.

The Considerations

A worker's hand laying bricks on ground.

  • Brick laying up to 1.3 m is done standing on the ground. To continue the construction above that height, a wooden platform on trestles is required, so that the materials can be placed on it and allow standing to complete the wall up to the height of the ceiling.
  • It is important to have a “pick” to cut the bricks on the construction site. This tool will allow you to obtain pieces of different sizes that can accommodate each need.
  • The masonry walls should not be chipped to install water or electricity pipes. One solution is to place the pipes in a simple false concrete column in the wall, in which interlocked connections with 6 mm diameter wicks and a length of 1 m will be left.
  • Tambourine bricks should not be used for load- bearing wall construction.

Conclusion

Do not forget that the maximum height that you can work per day is 1.3 meters to prevent the upper rows from compressing the lower ones. In addition, the vertical joints of the last row of the day should only be filled halfway to facilitate stapling the following day.