Ken’s brick wall project – Part 2

Nov 24, 2022 | Uncategorized

The east wall is
1/2 finished

I posted back in September about the brick wall project I began working on at my home during Labor Day week:

Ken’s brick wall project – Part 1

This post is an update on the progress I made before stopping the project for the season.  I decided to stop laying bricks in mid-October as the weather turned colder.  Initially I intended to lay bricks until the snow arrived with the idea that, as long as the overnight lows didn’t go below freezing, the wet mortar wouldn’t freeze.  But I did some additional research on cold weather masonry and realized that there are more factors than that to consider.  One being the temperature of the bricks as I lay them into the mortar.  The bricks sitting outside waiting to be laid will be at the current air temperature – laying a brick that is 50 or 60 degrees will react more favorably with the mortar when it’s set, as opposed to a 35 or 40 degree brick.  Cold weather “commercial” brick construction is done by building tent-like structures over the work area and heating the inside – the bricks to be laid the next day are moved into the structure overnight so the bricks are warm enough to lay in the mortar the following day.

Considering I still had to do a detergent wash on the bricks I had laid, I decided to take advantage of a warm weekend in mid-October to get that done, and then stop laying bricks for the season.  And then, as if on cue, we had days with high temps in the 30’s the following week.  Even though warmer weather did return later in October, and I could have been laying more bricks, I’m happy with the decision to stop when I did.

The east wall involves 18 courses of brick around both sides of the wall.  I got 9 courses laid by the time I decided to stop for the season, so I got 1/2 of the east wall done.  Each course involves 71 bricks, so I laid 639 out of 1,278 bricks required to finish the east wall.  I worked on it for 16 days over the course of 6 weeks, with my friend Joe helping me about 1 out of every 3 days I laid bricks.  The east wall is 21′ long, and the west wall, which I haven’t even started on yet, is 35′ long.  So, to avoid having to spend 2 or 3 more summers working on this in order to complete the entire project, we’re going to have to get faster at laying bricks.  I’ve been doing more research and I’m learning techniques we can try to get faster at bricklaying.  Between laying more bricks per day, and getting back the project come next spring (rather than waiting until Labor Day to start), I feel we might actually be able to finish both walls by fall of 2023.

The photos show my progress, going back in time.  The first 8 photos are from the day that I did the detergent wash.  It was a delight to see the brick “clean”, after the detergent wash removed the mortar haze from the laid brick (you can see the mortar haze on the brick in the subsequent photos), and I love how the brick looks in the dappled sunlight.

I’m looking forward to getting back to this project next year – and to getting faster at bricklaying.  And I will continue to blog about the project next year as I progress with this long overdue project.  One thing I do know:  it’s going to look fantastic when I’m done.