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How to Learn the Basics of Bricklaying

The bricklayer’s craft ranges from building and repairing walls to installing firebrick linings inside industrial chimneys. To learn the basics of bricklaying, start with building a low garden wall.


  • Step 1: Define an area Measure and stake out the size you want your wall to be. Then attach string around the perimeter of the stakes.
  • Step 2: Dig out the area Dig out the area of your wall, 6 inches deep, and set the dirt aside.
  • Step 3: Build a frame Measure and cut two-by-fours to construct a frame. The frame will have the dimensions of your wall. Nail the boards together and set the frame in place. Then pour concrete into the frame for your foundation.
  • Step 4: Find the center of the wall Measure and mark the center of your wall with the measuring tape and chalk line when the concrete is dry. Then mix mortar in your wheelbarrow. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing the mortar.
  • TIP: Wear gloves and a mask for safety sake when working with mortar.
  • Step 5: Lay some brick Trowel some mortar onto your mortarboard. Then trowel mortar onto the bottom of your first brick and lay it inside the frame. Press it down firmly so that mortar is squeezed out from beneath it.
  • Step 6: Make a row Trowel mortar onto the bottoms and ends of more bricks, laying them in a row. Use the level to make sure they're even.
  • Step 7: Build up Start the next row up with half a brick so that the rows are staggered. Use the brick chisel to cut bricks, and use your level to keep the bricks plumb.
  • TIP: Use a story pole as a vertical guide for laying bricks. Use a pencil to mark the height and mortar joints of each brick on the story pole.
  • Step 8: Build up to 3 feet Build up to 3 feet tall before you have to add steel reinforcements. Beyond 3 feet, consult your local building codes office for advice.
  • FACT: Before she became famous, Whoopi Goldberg worked as a bricklayer to make ends meet.

You Will Need

  • A tape measure
  • Stakes
  • String
  • A shovel
  • Two-by-fours
  • A saw
  • A hammer and nails
  • A chalk line
  • Mortar
  • A wheelbarrow
  • A trowel
  • A mortarboard
  • Bricks
  • A level
  • A brick chisel
  • Gloves (optional)
  • A safety mask (optional)
  • A story pole (optional)
  • A pencil (optional)

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