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10 Essentials To Know About the Bricklaying Work

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by Arthur cooke

2023-01-30 03:53 PM

So When you think of a house or structure under construction, you probably imagine bricklayers working hard. This shows how crucial bricklaying work is in construction. It's the building's foundation, and you need a solid foundation and certified bricklayers to get the structure right. This article discusses the ten essentials a bricklayer needs based on the most demanded skills in the masonry industry. 

Things to know in Bricklaying Work  

bricklayer using putty

Bricklayers build and repair walls, arches, foundations, precut and lay bricks, commercial buildings, homes, and cottages. Some consider it a hobby; others do it professionally. These workers are also called masons, working for construction companies or independently. Bricklayers read and follow drawings, restore and paint brick structures, build walkways, patios, fireplaces, refurbish chimneys, and more. Depending on the project, bricklayers may design or restore monumental masonry, seal foundations with damp-resistant materials, and determine the best construction methods. These tasks need specialized equipment, and cutting and trimming bricks may require hand and power tools. Bricklayers must also know their materials' characteristics.  

The Skill of Working With Essential Bricklayer Tools

a set of bricklaying tools

Knowing what this task entails, you may wonder what tools are needed. Bricklaying tools set include bricklaying trowels, sledgehammers, steel tape measures, shovels, and combi drills. Each component has a purpose and may or may not fit your project. Brick tools and equipment fall into four categories: - Hand tools: Bricklaying trowel, hammers, brick jointer, rub brick, Dutch pin, and bolster brick. - Power tools: Heavy-duty drills and mortar/plaster mixers are power tools. - Measuring Devices: Spirit level, boat level, brick bat gauge, laser levels and tape measures like steel tape etc. -- Lifting Devices: The bosun's chairs.

1. Working with Various Trowel Types


Bricklaying trowels are an essential tool for laying bricks. This little handheld tool features a 5-to-12-inch metal blade. You may use the following: - Small jobs need pointing trowels. - Smoothing is performed by edging trowels. - Long, pointed brick trowels spread the mortar. - Flooring trowels that fit into corners. - Finishing trowels, smooth plaster, artillery, and concrete. Screed trowels, plastering trowels, joint trowels, notched trowels, bucket trowels, etc., are different tools used in masonry. Clean and oil these tools after use to extend their life. Wood or plastic handles can fracture quickly if wet too much. Buy a trowel set you can handle expertly. Don't buy the biggest or cheapest. A large trowel is hard to wield and can affect your work. However, as practice makes perfect, it depends on the expertise of the bricklayer and what tool he uses expertly to perform his job. 

2. Working with Line Pins

These bricklaying tools are inserted into the brick course, secured between stones, and used as a reference when laying bricks. As they continue their labour, they pull them out and raise them to a level. When constructing corners, utilize line blocks rather than line pins. Because these tools aren't sold in stores, blockmasons create them themselves.

3. Know How To Work With Gauge Rod 

A gauge rod is one of the essential things to know in bricklaying, no matter how much experience you have. Measurements must be taken precisely in this field, and this is where the gauge rod can prove to be useful. A worker can use this useful bricklaying instrument to determine course lengths and verify gauge precision. Most types are marked at one-brick intervals and made of aluminium. It is a long, straight stick and can stretch for a few meters. 

4. Knows The Importance Of A Measuring Tape

bricklayer using a measuring tape

When laying bricks, the measuring tape has a pivotal role in masonry. Find a steel tap that is at least five meters in length. Look for practical additions like a sturdy belt clip, an automatic locking mechanism, a retractable design, and an end hook that can be adjusted to fit your needs. You may also purchase a folding ruler too. The sizes and shapes of these measurement tools vary, and top-notch examples are typically fashioned from washable fibreglass. 

5. Using a Steel Square 

This sturdy steel instrument facilitates checking inner and outside corners, laying out square designs, and measuring. Various sizes are available and are made to withstand water and corrosion. 

6. Know the Use of Bolsters

Masons use this chisel with a hammer to create cuts in chases or bricks. There is a selection of models to choose from. To split stone, brick, or even metal, you can use a bolster made of brick as an example. Be sure to indicate the cutting spot on the brick before proceeding. The bolster is then positioned over the drawn line, chiselled to a depth of about half an inch, and pounded on with a hammer. Cut cleanly by removing the surplus. If you're in the market for bolsters, be sure they have a sturdy guard and a cutting edge that will withstand heavy use. See to ensuring that everything fits snugly together. The use of sharp chisels, fluted or plugged chisels, cold chisels, or electricians' chisels, among other bricklaying tools, may also be necessary. For example, a cold chisel cuts holes in masonry, while a plugging chisel removes debris easily. 

7. Know the Functioning of a Brick Hammer

bricklayer with bricklaying hammer

The brick hammer is standard equipment for each bricklayer's tool belt, and it comprises a handle and a strong head with two sides, hence the alternative named Stonemason's hammer. Splitting rock, bricks, concrete, and other hard materials into manageable pieces is no problem; its basic outline hasn't changed in generations. Please remember to use the hammer safely at all times. Aim for the top of its head rather than the side. Put on some goggles to shield your eyes. 

8. Using A Solid Sledgehammer 

A sledgehammer is an ideal tool for chopping or splitting bricks. This massive instrument, which can weigh up to 42 ounces, is perfect for demolition work because it can cut through the toughest materials. Masonry workers rely on this device for various demolition and construction tasks, including breaking masonry, hitting cold chisels, and freeing trapped objects. Wearing protective eyewear is mandatory. Unless precautions are taken, flying particles could cause eye damage. 

9. Using a Good Masonry Saw 

All sorts of hard materials, from stone and concrete to bricks, are no match for this cutting device. Tungsten carbide, a material resistant to heat, is used for both the long blade and the big teeth. The teeth on some variants are rounded. Different types and sizes of saws are used for cutting masonry; some versions' most extended blade length is 27.5 inches. Brick mason's saws aren't as safe as other tools, and using this one can easily result in serious harm. So, ensure the workplace is secure and you're using the right gear. This gadget is not meant to be used on ladders or step stools. The best way to maintain complete command is to keep it at or below shoulder level. Always protect yourself when working with a masonry saw using a face shield, hard hat, goggles, and boots. 

What's the Right Sand-to-Cement Ratio for masonry? 

Mix 6 parts sand with 1 part cement. It would be best if you blended four parts sand to 1 part cement for heavy-duty jobs, but now I mix 3:1. Use determines the ratio you chose. Load-bearing structures like foundations need a higher sand-to-cement percentage. 

Making Mortar: The Proper Recipe 

Mortar combines many ingredients: water, sand, cement, and hydrated lime. The secret is to utilize the proper cement-to-sand ratio for your needs. Cement mortar mixing is essential to bricklaying work. Because improper moisture levels can prevent bricks from setting, you must strike a balance between the two. 

Different Types of Mortar and Their Optimal Mix Proportions 

For most projects, 6 parts sand to 1 part cement works well. One should likely use four parts sand to 1 part cement for very tough jobs, but in recent years I've been getting by with just 3:1. Any given application may necessitate a different proportioning method. For example, load-bearing constructions like foundations require a larger sand-to-cement ratio. The following table is a snapshot of a breakdown of the most frequently used mortars, typical mixing ratios, and recommended uses. Sticking the same mortar mix ratio from start to finish would be best. Otherwise, you risk having varying mortar colours and strength levels across the building.

 Tips For Making Type M Mortar In A Cement Mixer

  • Turn on the mixer and pour a pail of water between three and five litres. 
  • Put in the correct quantity of lime or mortar addition (see the table above). About a quarter of a bottle of Febmix Admix is the norm for me (standard in the UK). 
  • Incorporate the addition into the water and let it spin for around 30 seconds. - After mixing for a few minutes, add the first four shovels of sand. 
  • Make sure the consistency is uniform. If the texture isn't right, add some more water. 
  • A shovelful of cement should be added, and the mixture should be allowed to sit and meld for a further two minutes. 
  • For more mortar, repeat steps 1-6. 

Manually Blending Cement  

The mortar must be mixed, so locate a flat surface or container. A wheelbarrow, a big plastic container, or a wide plank of wood would work (e.g., a sheet of plywood). - On the platform, combine four parts of sand with 1 part of cement using a shovel. - Dig a hole in the centre, fill it with water, and add lime or mortar addition in the proper proportions. - Put in a lot of effort and mix everything by shovelling from the bottom to the top and back down again. - If extra water is needed to get a uniform consistency, add it. - To make more mortar, repeat steps 1–5. 

Procedures for Making Mortar 

  • Always add water to the concoction to ensure proper mixing when using a hand mixer. 
  • Be careful not to use too much water at first. It would help if you let the ingredients mingle for a while. It could take a few rotations for the water to distribute evenly and look too thick or crumbly to work with. Add a little water at a time if it still doesn't look right. 
  • Make a dent in the mortar to test its consistency; the mixture should retain its original shape. You may verify this by scooping up a bit of the mix with a shovel; it should slide off easily. 
  • Renting a cement mixer for large-scale operations (including multiple people) could be worthwhile. You may probably rent one from a hardware or home improvement store. 
  • Purchasing pre-mixed mortar from a retailer like Quikrete, MAPEI, Sika, SAKRETE, TEC, or CEMEX may save time and hassle. Keep an eye out for the right proportions. Ensure you get the right ratio for your work from the several.
  • Using lime or plasticizer softens the mortar, making it more manageable. Still, it may weaken it and delay the drying process. 
  • You can use a wide variety of dyes to alter the appearance of your mortar. 
  • Add a waterproofing chemical like Seal-Krete, Kryton's Krystol Mortar Admixture or MAPEI's Aquadefense to constructions that must endure the elements. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What does a bricklayer do?

Bricklayers are those who work with bricks, stone, and concrete blocks. They construct, renovate, and repair residences, businesses, foundations, walls, chimneys, and decorative masonry. 

2. Do you think a bricklayer needs to be good at maths?

To effectively do their job, bricklayers need to be able to read and understand blueprints, safety warnings, and written instructions. Furthermore, a bricklayer's ability to understand, solve, and interpret measurements requires strong algebraic and geometrical reasoning skills. recommends the best bricklayers on the market with the best ratings from satisfied customers. 

3. Is bricklaying a hard job? 

Not something a homeowner who lacks handyman abilities should attempt. Building a mortar-required brick wall is a challenging task, and it is not recommended that anyone without experience as a bricklayer attempt to make a brick wall higher than 4 feet (1.2 meters). 

4. While it rains, what do bricklayers do?

It's not a good idea to start laying bricks in the rain. Bricklaying should be avoided when it rains to reduce the likelihood of efflorescence. If it starts to rain while you're working, cover the newly laid bricks with plastic to prevent them from getting wet. Protecting the bricks before you leave the site is also a good idea.