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Getting Started on Brickwork

Mixing mortar and laying the initial bricks properly will ensure that trimming the cabinet goes smoothly.

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buttering the bricks gets easier with practice
  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Mix the Mortar

Mix mortar following the manufacturer's directions. In our case, we made the mortar mix with sand, mortar and water, using the manufacturer's instructions for the proportions (Image 1). The mortar should have the consistency of cake frosting (Image 2). A concrete mixing hoe is the ideal tool for this job.

Step 2: Cover the Surface

Once the mortar is mixed, begin. To protect the surface where you are working, lay out some old plywood to cover the area.

lay out some old plywood to protect the area

Step 3: Drop Some Mortar

Lay a small amount of mortar on a flat surface, and check it for proper consistency using a masonry trowel. You should be able to form ridges in the mortar that remain stationary. If the mortar is so soft that the ridges disappear or fall, there's too much water in the mix, and you'll need to thicken it.

check mortar for proper consistency

Step 4: Start at High End

If you have a slope, begin work on the high end, installing three short bricks first using a small amount of mortar. You can control the height of each brick by the amount of mortar used underneath. With the mortar in place, install the first brick. Note: The brick installed at the corner should not have any holes in it since it will be seen from two sides. Tip: As you place the bricks, a good technique for keeping track of how each brick is installed is to keep your thumb on the face of the brick that will be exposed.

keep thumb on face of  brick that will be exposed

Step 5: Add Bricks

Put in the next two bricks adjoining the first one. The technique of applying mortar to the sides of bricks is called buttering the bricks. It gets easier with practice.

buttering the bricks gets easier with practice

Step 6: Check Level

Once the first three bricks are installed, check to ensure that they are level and plumb. Check the level both vertically (Image 1) and horizontally (Image 2), and be sure to check both vertical axes. Because the bricks are cut to different lengths to account for the slope, pay close attention to making sure that the top of the bricks are installed so that they are level and flush.

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