People often have a misconception that brick laying is an easy task. There are some inexperienced bricklayers who claim to create beautiful and uniform wall only to find that their efforts have given rise to a faulty shifting wall which will quickly become a pile of rubble. Bricklaying is an art and a serious profession that requires study and foresight.
A brick consists of three parts: the face or the front, the top or the bottom and the ends. Depending upon how you plan to use the bricks, each of these three parts can be laid in two positions. The pattern in which the bricks are laid is called Bond. There are different types of bonds such as running bond, header bond and Flemish bond.
Lets us look at the running bond also known as half bond. This is the most commonly used brick patterns because it is easy to lay. In this type of pattern the stretcher bricks are set in rows which are offset by half a brick and each row of bricks is known as course. When undertaking a project to lay bricks it is important at ascertain the number of bricks that you will need to complete the project and minimize waste. To calculate the number of bricks that you will need you will have to calculate the area of the project that you are building. That area you then multiply by seven, because there are 7 bricks in one square foot of area. This will give you the total number of bricks that you will need to complete your project.
Once you ascertain the number of bricks you will need it is time to look at other materials that you will need to complete the project. One of the key ingredients in the bricklaying process is the mortar. It is a mixture of masonry cement, fine mason sand and water. You will also need other tools such as bricklaying trowe, pointing trowel, mason's modular spacing rule, brick hammer, mason's braided nylon line, all-purpose masonry brush, combination wire brush and scraper, wheelbarrow and mortar pans or mortarboards among other items.
It is important to get the mortar and the water mixture perfect because if the mortar is very dry it will not spread, while on the other hand if it contains more water and is too wet, it will run and will not grip its shape properly on the trowel. When you are ready to spread the mortar, hold the trowel by its handle in such a way that your thumb is on the top. Work it through the mortar and develop a feel by trying to pick up the mortar with the side and the heel of the trowel.
Pick the brick in one hand and a trowel full of mortar in the other hand. Apply the mortar by snapping it off the trowel. Do this two or three time and each time moving ahead and overlapping each snap of mortar. Spread the mortar to make it uniform in thickness. Once you have prepared the bed for laying the bricks you must put the mortar on the head of the brick to make a head joint. The mortar must be neatly applied and must be smooth and compact enough to hold on to the mortar joint. Take the first brick and apply enough mortar to lay it down. Lay the brick and gently tap with the heel of the trowel. Remove the excess mud with the blade of the trowel and put it back into the mortar pan. Place the spirit lever on top of the brick and make it level, lengthwise, by gently tapping on it. Check the eight using the modular rule and tap it down if it is too high. Repeat the same process for the last brick. Range the two end brick with a nylon line. Once the range is established and the first and the last bricks laid, the rest of the bricks are just sitting as dry layout. Lay the first unlaid brick, keep it in your hand and get enough mud on the trowel. Make a mortar joint, the head joint, and keep the top surface of the brick even with the nylon line. Continue with this till you lay the last brick in the course called the closure. Continue to lay the second course for following the same procedure, only this time shifting half a brick ahead or behind to create the running bond.