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Person scraping mortar on top of row of bricks.

Overview

Whether you want to build a small wall at the end of your patio or a six-foot wall, there are a few basics to learn before laying your first brick. By following this guide you'll save yourself money and end up with a wall that looks great.

Steps

1Measure the height of your wall

In this case, we're building a brick wall that's perpendicular to an existing wall, so we have to make sure that it fits properly. After you've laid a solid foundation for your bricks, work out how many courses of bricks you want. Mark out the height of each course on a piece of wood, so that you can use it as a guide to make sure it's straight and so you can use this as your gauge rod. Put a straight piece of wood next to the wall with a spacer behind it, so you can feed the string line behind it and clamp it to the wall. Use a spirit level to make sure it's straight.
Person marking up a timber plinth that's sitting next to a row of bricks.

2Setting up a level line

This is an important step that will make sure your bricks are laid level. Feed the string line behind the piece of wood that is clamped to the wall, at the level you want your first course of bricks to be. Pull the string to the other wall and clamp it off, making sure that it's tight and is level. 

Person setting out string lines around timber plinth and brick wall.

3Laying the first course of bricks

Lay a small bed of mortar for your first brick to lie on and use the spirit level to make sure it's level. Place a small amount of mortar on the top of the first brick and place another brick on top of it, at a downwards angle. Carefully pull the string line under this brick, this will give you the straight line you need to lay your first course of bricks. Lay a bed of mortar on the solid foundation for your wall. Apply mortar to the side of the bricks but feather it away from the sides. Lay the bricks next to each other in a straight line and use your spirit level to make sure it's flat.

Person marking up two timber plinths that are sitting next to a row of bricks.

4Cutting a brick to size

To cut a brick to size, use the back end of your claw hammer. Mark where you want to cut the brick and with your safety glasses on, hold the brick in your hand and gently tap it with the hammer until a crack appears. When it does, hit it a little harder until the brick breaks. 

Person hitting brick with sharp edge of hammer.

5Laying the next courses of bricks

Move your string line up to where the top of the next course of bricks will be. Lay a bed of mortar on top of your first course of bricks, so that it's in a triangle shape. Use your trowel to feather through it, to create an air pocket for you to lay your bricks on. Lay your first brick, so that it's staggered and have one brick sitting on top of two bricks. Use your spirit level to make sure it's flat. Place mortar on the side of the bricks and lay them next to each other. Repeat this until your wall has reached the height you want.     
Person scraping mortar on top of row of bricks.

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.