Bricklaying Basics: The 101 Of Masonry

Bricklaying is a skilled craft that takes years of study and practice to perfect, and even then, a small error in judgment can often cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Bricklaying basics are simple and easy to understand. However, care should be taken that every step is properly followed, unless you want your work to collapse in a matter of days or weeks. The longest-standing structures in the world are brick and stone carefully cut and painstakingly laid by master-craftsmen of their time. Bricklaying may not be as glamorous as architecture for example, but no architect worth his salt would deny that the only way he can achieve glory is through the labor of bricklayers and masons.

Bricklaying Basics: Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Simple bricklaying usually involves putting up walls and other basic structures such as driveways and footpaths, and this can be learned very quickly. There are a few things you will need to know and do in order to build a strong wall. For a start, you will have to do a project estimation, which involves scale drawings, perimeter markings, materials selection and cost estimates. Once these have been approved by the buyer (unless that's you), you can go ahead and source the materials and tools you will need. Proper planning prevents poor performance. Remember this as you embark on your first bricklaying journey. A trip to a local hardware store as well as a brickyard should be all you need before getting started.

The Bricklaying Process: Following The Basics

Once you have your materials and tools, it's time to start the actual bricklaying. Irrespective of the type of project, always start at both ends, measuring the distance between them. This way, factoring the thickness of each joint, you'll know the correct number of bricks you need per course. Mix and keep the mortar ready in strategic points along the length of the project so you don't have to go back and forth. Do the same with several stacks of bricks. Let's say you're building a wall. Once you've laid the end bricks into a bed of mortar on the footing, put a line from one end to the other after making sure that both bricks are level with the ground. This will be your guiding line for all the other bricks in that course. After this, lay about 7 or 8 bricks along the same course, making sure they're all level with the line. Start the second course on top of this one, but half a brick back, so that the center of the brick on the second course is in line with the joint of the course below. Again, do about 8 bricks on the same course. Continue this way at each end so that you have several courses up to the top of the wall, with several lines stretching from end to end for each course. When this is done, you're ready to brick and mortar the rest of the wall. Once the mortar has started setting, use a joint striker to smoothen the pointed mortar. Now take your brush and clear excess mortar, getting the joints perfectly smooth.

Bricklaying Basics: Safety Precautions

There are several precautions you need to take and tips you can follow when undertaking any masonry project. Bend at the knees when carrying heavy loads if you don't want to injure your back – this distributes the weight evenly. Always use protective glasses when working with mortar or cutting brick. A single speck can cause extreme irritation. Wear the right clothing so your body is protected from the mortar; lime, being a key ingredient in cement, will cause burns from prolonged contact. Always use the right tool for the right job – don't take chances. Mix the right amount of mortar; this is mostly a trial and error approach until you gain enough experience. And finally, whenever you're unsure of anything new, stick to the basics because they'll never let you down.