Laying the Blocks

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Before laying the blocks it is as well to carry out a dummy run on the first two courses, so you will know how best to arrange them to keep the number of cut blocks to a minimum. Set them out along the layer of mortar in line with the scribed mark, spacing them a finger-thickness apart.

If the partition is to have a door in it, now is the time to position the frame. Nail battens across the corners of the frame and across the bottom to hold it square and prop it up with a batten nailed to the top.

Now begin laying the blocks properly. It is best to build up about four courses of blocks at each end of the partition first and then stretch a stringline between them as a guide for the blocks in the middle.

Trowel a layer of mortar onto the original thin layer and “butter” the end of the first block with more mortar. Set the block in place against the scribed line and against the wall to form a neat mortar joint. Tap the block level and upright with the handle of the trowel. Repeat the procedure for the next block in the course and lay two or three more before working back towards the wall with the second, third and fourth courses. Collect the mortar that is squeezed out from between the blocks for reuse.

Make sure the blocks butt up to the guide batten and check them every now and again with a mason’s level to ensure that you are keeping the courses upright and level. Tie each alternate course to the wall with galvanized metal wall ties. Similarly secure the door frame to the blockwork; build up the center of the partition.

If you need to cut any blocks, do this with a bricklayer’s chisel and hammer. Measure up the block and scribe a cutting line on all four sides with the end of the chisel. Then tap gently along this line with the chisel. Finally, lay the block face up, set the chisel in the center of the cutting line and strike it a sharp blow which will separate the two halves of the block.


1. Dry-laying to check for fit; allow a finger-thickness between blocks for mortar. Vertical battens give support until the mortar hardens.

2. Spreading the mortar bed on the floor; scribe the line of one face of the wall in the mortar with the point of the trowel.

3. “Buttering” one end with mortar before laying the block; place this end against the previous block.

4. Laying the block on the mortar bed, flush with the scribed line.

5. Tamping the block level with the adjacent block using the trowel handle; check each block as it is laid with a spirit-level.

6. Securing a metal frame-clamp to the side wall; tie alternate courses in this way.

7. Checking the face of the blockwork for alignment; use a long spirit-level or straight-edge and check in a number of directions.

8. Nail temporary “strainer” battens across a door-frame to keep it square and support it in an upright position with a plank nailed to the top.

9. A door-height opening needs a lintel above it to support the blockwork; a course of bricks on top will align with the blockwork.

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