How to Build a Brick Masonry Wall

Many homeowners like to take on DIY projects. Not only does it save money, it creates a sense of accomplishment when you get to admire the finished product. While we don’t recommend tackling major tuckpointing jobs on your own, there’s no harm in building yourself a nice brick masonry wall for your garden or yard. In this article, we’ll go over how to build a brick masonry wall.

  1. Prepare For the Wall

    As with any job, the first thing you need to do is a little prep work. Make sure you take care of this prior to starting otherwise you’ll likely have to stop and restart from the beginning.

    Select and Purchase Your Materials

    First, pick out your materials. There are a lot of different types of brick that offer different aesthetic value and can handle varying types of weathering. Buy as many as you need so that you have everything before getting started. Get wooden stakes, some string or rope, concrete, and mortar. You’ll also want to have any and all tools readily available for when you start.

    Dig a Trench

    Next, dig a trench that will secure your wall. This is also known as the concrete foundation. Make it about 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide to create a basic wall. If your wall is taller, consider creating a larger trench for a more sturdy foundation.

    Insert Level Wooden Stakes

    Drive posts into your trench to help make sure that the bricks and foundation are even. Use a leveler to insert these every 2-4 feet and double-check your work.

    Pour Concrete

    Once your stakes are in, mix your concrete and pour it to the top of the stakes. Let it set for 2-3 days.

    Create Guideposts

    In order to ensure your brick wall is level, you’ll need to create guideposts on either side. Use two wooden posts that are at least the height of your desired wall. Mark each post with where each corresponding brick row will be and continue the pattern until you reach the top. They need to be identical on either side for the wall to be even.

    Build the First Row

    The first row is the most important row in your brick wall. It will provide structure, stability, and a general guideline for the rest of the wall.

    Be Prepared to Catch Mortar

    Lay a few tarps down on either side of your wall so you can catch mortar and reuse it if it falls. This will help keep things clean and efficient.

    Layout the First Row

    Lay out your first row of bricks as a test run to make sure you space them evenly and they fit in the trench. While this may seem unnecessary, it will help you avoid any mistakes once you start using mortar.

    Utilize Your Guidepost

    Put your string along the first marker in either side of your guideposts. This creates an even line so that you don’t have to guess if your bricks are even throughout the process.

    Soak Bricks, Then Dry

    Soak your bricks in water and let them dry a little before using mortar. They should still be damp, but not dripping. This helps increase the strength of the bond between the bricks and the mortar.

    Lay Mortar

    Now it’s time to lay your mortar along the foundation. Use about ½ inch and if you need to, add a little extra. Only lay mortar for 2-3 bricks at a time.

    Press Bricks

    Once the mortar is laid, press your bricks down into the mortar. Once pressed, check the level to make sure that the brick is even. Scrape off any excess mortar along the sides.

    Butter Ends

    For the next brick, you’ll need to butter the ends of the brick with mortar so that they stick to each other. Push it up against the first brick.

    Scrape Excess Mortar and Repeat

    After you’ve laid a few bricks, scrape away any excess mortar and repeat!

  2. Adding Additional Rows

    To add additional rows, you’ll simply need to move your guidepost up to the next marker. For the best stability, start the 2nd row with ½ of a brick, 3rd row with a full brick, 4th with ½, and so on and so forth. Repeat the steps above until you’ve reach your desired height.

  3. Finishing Your Brick Wall

    To finish the wall, go through and fill in any missing patches of mortar using a trowel. Make sure it’s even and let it set for about 45 minutes, then indent the mortar using brick jointers. Add any additional design elements and step back and admire your work.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of tackling this DIY project alone, give the professionals at Chicago Tuckpointing Inc. a call today. Our masons have over 20 years of experience and the patience it takes to get a brick wall looking its best. Call us today at (708) 942-1951 to schedule a consultation, or, to receive a fast quote, fill out the contact form on our website at