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Build your own retaining wall for structural support, or add a professional-looking touch to your lawn landscape with a brick and mortar wall. Express your own sense of style with various styles of brick and block.
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First, construct a solid footing of foundation wall using concrete mix. The footing should be twice the width of the wall with a depth at least equal to the width of the wall. The footing should rest on firm soil (preferably undisturbed) set below the frost line. Check with your local building department for the exact depth of the frost line. Allow the footing to cure at least seven full days before beginning to lay the block.
Spread a full bed of blended mortar mix approximately 1 inch (25 millimeters) thick along the footing. Position the corner block carefully in the bed of mortar. Beginning with the second block, apply mortar to the head joint (vertical edge), and press the block down into the mortar and slide into position against the previously laid block. Mortar joints should be a consistent 3⁄8 of an inch (10 millimeters) thick.
Use a level and mason’s line to maintain correct alignment and joint width throughout the project. Make any adjustments by tapping the block with the trowel handle while the mortar is still soft.
For the remaining courses, apply mortar to the flat, horizontal surface of the block in the previous laid course. Also apply mortar to the vertical edges of each block before it’s placed. The corner block of each successive course should be a step back a half block (or a half block should be used).
Once the mortar joints have become thumbprint hard, use a jointing tool to smooth and seal the joints.
For load-bearing walls, consult your local codes for reinforcement requirements.
Build your block structure to last. Watch our DIY Basics video: What Do Level and Plumb Mean?