Build a Brick Wall

Bricklaying is considered one of the more approachable construction skills, and a lot of self-builders are keen to give it a try. But this isn’t a task to be taken on lightly, especially if you’re building structural walls.

What ‘s needed to do the job:-

  1. Bricks
  2. Stiff brush
  3. Brick trowel
  4. Tape measure
  5. Club hammer
  6. Brick jointer
  7. Spirit level
  8. Brick/­string line
  9. Old board
  10. Shovel
  11. Bolster

Before you can make a start, you’ll need to figure out the number of bricks required.

To get an accurate idea of the number required for the task in hand, however, you need to account for a 10mm mortar bed.

Step A - Use the string line

Once your foundations are in place, but the bricks at both ends of your wall where the pillars will be. Now ensure you make a straight guideline between the two bricks with your string.

Step B - Mix the cement

For the mortar, you will need 1 part Cement to 5 part Building Sand, give everything a good mix together then add water, starting with around half a litre, keep adding small portions of water until your mortar is a smooth, creamy texture that’s wet but not too loose.

Step C - Lay the mortar bed

Lay a 1-2cm bed of mortar along the string line. Now starting at either end, lay your first brick and lightly tap to bed it in well, add mortar to the side of your brick then add the next brick, repeating this step until you reach the other end, all the while using your string as a guide.

Step D - Build up the brick pillars

At the point where you want your pillars to start, ensure you place a brick side-on to the end of the wall. As you build up the wall, each consecutive course of pillar bricks must be laid in the opposite direction.

Step E - Lay half bricks

When constructing the pillars, at certain courses you’ll need to lay half-bricks. To cut, place the brick on its side, locate the bolster at the split point and strike the head firmly with a club hammer. It should split cleanly the first time

Step F - Stretcher bond brickwork

Always build at least a course higher on the pillars. Move the string line up as you build, bedding it into the mortar on the pillars. For a stretcher bond, the end of each brick should be over the centre of the one beneath.

Step G - 10mm mortar joints

Vertical mortar joints should be 10mm thick. With standard bricks, there should be 75mm from the top of one to the top of that beneath. If your bricks soak up moisture fast, you may want to ‘joint up’ (step 10) as you go

Step H - Add a coping stone

When you reach the top of the pillars, you may want to add a coping stone to finish. Alter­natively, you could create a pleasant effect at less cost by bedding bricks into the mortar on their sides

Step I - Add a soldier course

Adding a soldier course is an attractive option to top the main part of a garden wall. Turn your bricks vertically lengthways and lay along the full length. Use a second, higher string line to ensure you keep a nice uniform finish

Step J - Complete the mortar

To finish the beds, use the rounded edge of a brick jointer to scrape mortar into the joints. Start with the horizontal lines and follow with the vertical – it’s easier to remove any excess mortar this way

Step K - Brush down the brick

Give the finished wall a gentle brush over and clean up any mortar that has fallen to the ground before it dries. You can use water to wash cement away from the floor, but be sure to keep it away from your newly-built wall!


Remember for all your timber supplies look no further than the team at Wood Lane Timber Merchants Ltd. Call us on 0115 964 0888 or email

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