Essentials of
Masonry

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Part 3--Construct a Brick Wall

LAYING A COMMON BOND BRICK WALL

To build a wall of a given length, adjust the width of the head joint so that a particular number of bricks will equal the given length. Before laying a brick wall, determine the number of courses you will need. Tables 3-1, 3-2 and 3-3, gives the number of courses required for a given wall height using standard bricks and different joint widths..

Table 3-1. Height of courses using 2 1/4-inch brick, 3/8-inch mortar joint

Table 3-2. Height of course using 2 1/4-inch brick, 1/2-inch mortar joint

Tables 3-3. Height of courses using 2 1/4-inch brick, 5/8-inch mortar joint

3-13. Planning the layout. To plan the layout of a wall, lay both a stretcher and a header course on the foundation without mortar. Leave enough distance between each brick for the mortar joints. This will help you determine the number of bricks in one course and the amount of cutting to be done (Figure 3-16).

Figure 3-16.  Determining the number of bricks in a stretcher course
Figure 3-16. Determining the number of bricks in a stretcher course

3-14. Laying the Leads. Laying the leads means erecting the corner first. The corner leads are used as guides in laying the remainder of the wall. The corner leads are laid six or seven courses above the first course (Figure 3-17).

Figure 3-17.  Corner lead for an 8-inch common bond brick wall
Figure 3-17. Corner lead for an 8-inch common bond brick wall

3-15. Laying the First Course (Header Course). Below are the steps in laying the header course for a corner lead.

a. First Step. Lay a l-inch bed of mortar on foundation as shown in Figure 3-18.

Figure 3-18.  Spreading mortar on the foundation
Figure 3-18. Spreading mortar on the foundation

b. Second Step. As shown in Figure 3-19, cut and lay two three-quarter closure bricks. Press the closure brick marked A down into the mortar bed until it makes a bed joint 1/2 inch thick. Next spread the mortar on the end of the closure brick marked B and position it to form a 1/2-inch- thick head joint with the closure brick marked A. Check the level of the closure bricks by using a level at the points indicated by the heavy dotted lines. The edges of the closures bricks must be even with the outside face of the foundation.

Figure 3-19.  Laying three-quarter closure bricks
Figure 3-19. Laying three-quarter closure bricks

c. Third Step. Lay the header bricks and the quarter closure bricks. Spread mortar on the side of the brick marked C. Lay it as shown in Figure 3-20, and level it. The outside end of the brick must be even with the outside face of the foundation. Lay the brick marked D, check its position, and level it. When the brick marked D is in position, cut the next two quarter closure bricks marked E and F and place them in position, making sure they are level.

Figure 3-20.  Laying the quarter closure bricks and header bricks
Figure 3-20. Laying the quarter closure bricks and header bricks

d. Fourth Step. Lay the remaining header bricks. Butter the brick marked G and push it into position (Figure 3-21). Butter and lay the bricks H I, J, and K in the same manner. Butter and lay the remaining bricks marked , N, O, and P in the bottom course. You must lay 12 header bricks in the first course of the corner lead-6 bricks on each side of the three-quarter closure marked A and B. Be sure to level each brick as it is laid.

Figure 3-21.  Laying the remaining header bricks
Figure 3-21. Laying the remaining header bricks

3-16. Laying the Second Course (Stretcher Course). You are now ready to lay a stretcher course at the corners.

3-17. Spreading Mortar. Spread a 1-inch bed of mortar on the first course and make a shallow furrow in it (Figure 3-22).

Figure 3-22.  Spreading mortar for the stretcher course
Figure 3-22. Spreading mortar for the stretcher course

3-18. Laying bricks for the stretchers course. To lay the stretcher course, push the brick marked A into the mortar until it makes a joint 1/2 inch thick. Now, butter the bricks marked B, C, D, E, F, and G and place them in the mortar, in alphabetical order (Figure 3-23).

Figure 3-23.  Laying the stretcher course
Figure 3-23. Laying the stretcher course

3-19. Leveling and Plumbing. Use the leads as a guide to lay the portion of the wall between them, and continually check their level. After the first few courses, the lead is plumbed. To avoid weakening the mortar bond do not move a brick once it has been placed in the mortar (Figure 3-24).

Figure 3-24.  Plumbing a corner
Figure 3-24. Plumbing a corner

3-20. Laying the Opposite Corner. The lead at the opposite corner of the wall is constructed using the same steps you followed above. Because the leads are used as a guide for the rest of the wall, it is essential that you lay corresponding courses in opposite leads on the same level.

3-21. Using a String Line. To lay stretcher courses between the leads, you will need to use a string line.

a. Constructing the Line. Drive the nails into the mortar joint to support the line. Attach the line to the nail in the left-hand lead, pulling it tight. After the line is firm, attach the line to the nail in the right-hand lead (Figure 3-25).

Figure 3-25.  Using the string line
Figure 3-25. Using the string line

b. Laying the First Course. Having the string line in place, lay the first stretcher course between the two corner leads. Push the bricks into position so that their top edges are 1/16 inch behind the line.

c. Laying the Remaining Courses. For the next course, move the string line up to the next mortar joint. Lay the course as before, finishing the face joints before the mortar hardens. The wall should be checked at several points, making sure it is level and plumb.

d. Using a Trig. When a string line is stretched across a long wall, use a trig to prevent it from sagging. A trig is a short piece of line that loops around the string line at its midpoint and fastens the top edge of a previously laid brick in the middle lead. A piece of broken brick rests on top of the trig to hold it in place (Figure 3-26).

 Figure 3-26.  Constructing a trig
Figure 3-26. Constructing a trig

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015