Mixing mortar for building brickwork
The basics of building brickwork
- To mix mortar, you’ll need to mix one part of cement to six parts of bricklayer's sand. You can add chemical plasticisers or masonry cement to improve the workability of the mixture.
- It's best to use fresh cement (unopened bags) when mixing mortar. Opened bags of cement have already absorbed moisture from the air and hardened, which will make it harder to mix.
- To lay about 800 bricks with 10 mm (3/8 in) thick joints, you'll need to mix about 50 kg. This amount is also enough to produce one quarter of a cubic metre of mortar.
- You can either mix mortar by hand using a shovel or a cement mixer.
I. To mix mortar by hand
- Use a dry bucket to measure out the materials (one part of cement to six parts of bricklayer's sand) for the mix.
- Shovel the cement and tap the sides of the bucket to settle the contents.
- Pour the mixture on a clean surface. Use a thick paint stirrer to fold the mixture until you achieve an even coloured paste.
- Form a crater in the centre of the mixture and add in some water.
- Next, pour one part of liquid plasticiser to the first bucket of water and stir it well.
- Shovel the liquid plasticiser into the crater.
- Fold the mix over and over as the water is absorbed.
- Form a new crater and add more water, until the mix is uniform in colour and consistency and free of lumps or dry pockets.
- The final result should be a smooth and pliable mortar paste.
II. To mix mortar with a cement mixer
- First turn on the cement mixer and let the motor run.
- Add in half the quantity of bricklayer's sand (3 parts) and a small amount of water.
- Allow it to mix in the cement mixer for a short while.
- With the motor still running, slowly mix in the cement and add some more water.
- Allow the mixture to ensure a thorough mixing. Add more water when necessary to achieve a smooth mixture.
- Shovel in more cement mixture into the mixer.
- Tip the mixer to pour out the mixture into the wheelbarrow, all this whilst the motor is still running.
- Shovel in more cement mixture between loads while adding water.
- Run the rotating drum to drain and clean the blades.