And the saga continues! Let’s get the rest of this wall built before the weekend, shall we? When I left off yesterday (which you can read here) we had laid out the wall with 2 different courses and chose the shorter 4 course wall to construct.
Putting all those bricks aside we mixed some mortar and we were ready to go! Oh, and don’t bother asking the seemingly friendly guy at Lowes if there are options in mortar.. he’ll just be flip, give you that “silly girl” look and tell you there’s only one. Thanks guy. Told you I wasn’t an experienced mason!
We just mixed it until it was sorta-thick, but not too thick…we could tell when it was too thin because it just slipped right off the bricks and had no staying power, but again, we’re not pros. This was totally a trial-by-error thing and I encourage you to as questions to the said guy at Lowes or HD even if he’s going to be flip. #girlpower
While laying the first few bricks we tried to take our time, get a good mortar base on the bottom and one side and level it out as we went.
It was a little nerve wracking. At first we were trying to hurry thinking the mortar was like crazy glue or something and was going to dry quickly, but we learned you really don’t need to rush it all that much. If you mortar starts to get dried out and too think just add some water and mix some more. And brick by brick you’ll get to the end of the wall. And here’s where we needed to make a cut.
Admittedly this was the step that led to a big fiasco for Jake and I, plus 4 or 5 trips to Lowes, multiple returned items and blades, quite a few swear-words from each of us and a general wonderment as to why in the hell where we doing this ourselves??? It’s hard to explain all the incidences that led up to us renting a wet saw (for only 2 cuts), but that’s what we ended up doing.
This thing is a beast. And NOISEY. Mental note to add earplugs to our DIY cabinet. Jake did the cuts because I wasn’t quite ready to tackle it. Maybe next time.
And you just lay more bricks buttering the bottom and the side, tapping them into place and leveling them as you go. Mostly Jake buttered, while I laid the bricks for these courses. I referenced a You Tube video we watched 4-10 times during the day and I would refer to that to see what we mean. I really don’t want to give you the false impression that we are so confident in our abilities to show you how it should be done. Maybe next time. #therewontbeanexttime But all in all it wasn’t so bad that you couldn’t do this yourself.. I’m just not an expert and don’t want to teach you. Enough disclaimers? Time for more pictures.
When it came time for our top course or “cap”, we turned the bricks lengthwise just like we saw in our inspiration picture, but definitely found it trickier to butter these and lay them properly. In the end, I buttered and Jake laid each brick – opposite roles which gave me time to take pictures.
We were about 3 hours in at this point, so ready to have our hands free of mortar but we pushed through and finished the top cap in an hour. On the very last end piece we had to trim a full brick length-wise which I keep attesting made the $98 wet saw rental totally worth it. Sure.
The second to last step is pointing your brick wall. When the mortar is mostly set, you want to use the tool below to rub the mortar joints and get a little indent. It looks pretty!
After that you wash the entire wall down with water and sponge to wash the mortar off the bricks. This is the same concept as washing all the grout off your tile after grouting. And obviously you want to do this before it dries or it’s very difficult to remove.
I mentioned before that we could’ve done a better job at this step, but we really don’t mind. Our wall is a little cloudy, but I think that adds to it’s rustic charm and makes it looks like it’s been there for a while.
Once we were done and allowed the mortar to harden up for a few days , we brought in some top soil to back fill behind it and now have this beautiful raised planter bed that you see today!
Ok, time for the recap of all the tools used to build this wall, what it cost us and wrap this post up.
Bricks, Wet Saw, Concrete, Wood Stakes, Level, Mixing Container (our wheelbarrow), Mortar, Masonry Trowels, Pointing too, Sponge, Puggle (she won’t actually help you.. we tried!)
- Bricks – 200 bricks for $1/each + $45 delivery was $245.
- Wet Saw Rental – $98
- Concrete, Mortar, + Tools – ~$75
So in the end this wall cost us about $400 (I think we got some money back when we returned the wet saw to HD) and took 2 of us about 1.5 days to build. It’s 16′ long and 4 courses high. We have a lot of bricks left too, so not all of these even went toward this project. We wanted to order extra so we could edge our front yard flower beds with them for a more polished look out there.
We love how this wall turned out and although it was hard work and a learning experience for sure, we’re really happy we did it ourselves and admire it with a lot of gratitude knowing the work and planning that went into it!
Ever try to build a brick wall or retaining wall? I’ve never done any tiling…but see some in my future, maybe. I hope I do a better job of cleaning the tile than I did the brick, but love this wall all the same!