Building a brick wall can truly appeal to the DIYer. There’s a delightful element of calm that comes with wall building – with the precision and the repetition of it heras fencing feet.
While building load-bearing or major interior walls would be best handed over a professional, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try doing a garden wall, or even a brick wall for a shed. A wall at the foot of your garden might be a good place to start.
While short walls require no more than time, cement mix, sand and lime, bricks, a flat board and a brickie’s trowel, water, spray paint or a ball of twine, a spirit level, a tape measure and some stakes, if you want to attempt erecting a taller wall you might want to also hire a scaffold tower, so you can reach the higher sections of the wall with ease and safely. By removing the requirement to stretch and overreach, you’re likely to build a much straighter and truer wall. Check your council’s building regulations before building a wall over 2 metres tall.
Before you start setting up your scaffold tower, you need to lay the most important foundation. Ensure that the area you’re building on has quite solid earth and easy drainage. Mark the piece of land you want tobuild in, using spray paint or string and stakes.
With everything marked out, you need, quite simply, to start digging. If you’re building a two-metre wall, your foundations should be 45 centimetres deep and sixty centimetres across. When you’ve dug down deep (literally and figuratively!) put a stake at each end of your trench and mark them at the depth you want the foundations to be.
Mix your cement. Foundation cement should be 1 part of cement to 5 parts of ballast; when it’s ready, tip it into the hole, even it out, then let it set for a day before building on it.
When the foundations are dry, and presuming you want tolay a 2-metre, you’ll need to erect your scaffold tower. Scaffold towers come in very easy to assemble sets, usually with colour-coded pieces. As they’re on lockable rollers, scaffold towers can be simply pushed from one end of your wall to the other with all of your equipment still in place, making the bricklaying far easier.
Scaffold tower and foundations set, ensure that you have 130 bricks per sq.m of double wall you’re building – all walls over 75cm high should be double-thickness, so they’re sturdy.
Finally, it’s time to mix your mortar using the cement, sand and lime and water. For sheltered walls, use 1 part cement, 1 part lime and 6 parts sand; if it’s going to be licked by the elements, your wall should be stronger, so mix 1 part cement with ½ part lime and 4 parts sand. Prepare your mortar on a flat piece of wood, so you don’t mess up your deck. First, pour on half of the sand, then pile in the rest of the ingredients before adding the remaining part of sand and mixing it up with a spade. Make a well in the middle pour in a little water and start mixing with the trowel. Keep pouring in water until it is wet enough to slip off the trowel, but still holds its shape when you make a hole in it. Mortar only remains good for a couple of hours, so don’t make too much!