In researching this article I’ve come to the conclusion that bricklaying is a lot like baking. The basics are easy enough and if you follow the instructions your project will be passable. However there are a lot of tips, tricks and preparations that can turn your project from passable to masterwork.
Things to Remember:
Plan, plan, plan
If anything bricklaying requires even more planning than baking. You need to select the correct sort of bricks for your project and the correct mortar type. Making sure that you have enough bricks and enough or the right mortar ingredients in the right ratios. Heat and humidity have a massive effect on you process to so you need to take the weather into account too.
Measuring is important
Not just for planning and staking out your project. Accurate and consistent measuring of you mortar ingredients is essential. Using the same “measuring cups” leveled off the same way every time means that you end up with mortar that behaves and dries consistently.
If different batches of mortar behave differently you are like to get cracks and faults during drying and this will diminish the lifespan of your project.
A batch of mortar is generally only viable for 60-90 minutes. Only measure out as much as you can use in that time.
Fresh and good quality ingredients
As with baking fresh, good quality ingredients will give you the best result. In bricklaying this means keeping your cement and other mortar ingredients sealed from moisture, using the right admixture for your project. Also make sure that you’re using good quality sand that is free from clay.
Temperature and Humidity make a difference.
The ambient humidity affects how much water you need to add to your mortar mixture. Both heat and humidity change how and how fast your mortar dries and cures. Mortar that dries too fast or hot bricks that suck the moisture out of your mortar can have a disastrous effect on you project. Sloppy mortar is equally bad but in a different way. Like a cake batter the right consistency at the right temperature will prevent a flop.
Tidy as you go
Because mortar is viable for so short a time and starts curing after about an hour, you need to smooth your mortar lines and wipe down splashes as you go. As well as washing off your tools. Dried mortar is even harder to deal with than dried egg.
Judge for yourself with these links.
Mixing mortar for different jobs
Mortar Mixing Tips
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