Bricklayers build walls, partitions, chimneys, and other masonry structures. They often use scaffolding, and many masonry professionals specialize in laying different types of bricks.
Bricklaying is a physically demanding job that requires strength and endurance. It also provides a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
The qualifications needed to become a bricklayer include high school graduation and an apprenticeship program. Some colleges offer courses like the Trowel Occupations. Visit https://www.bricklayerperthwa.com.au/ to learn more.
Whether they are building a new home, repairing old chimneys, or laying foundations for commercial buildings, residential bricklayers work with a wide range of construction materials. They are skilled in the use of mortar, which is a combination of cement and sand that helps to hold together bricks or other block types when they are being constructed or repaired. Bricklayers are also trained to use power tools like hammers and drills, as well as hand-held tools for cutting bricks, mixing mortar or laying bricks.
When laying bricks, they need to first measure the structure to create a plan for the bricks to be laid. This may be done with a tape measure and spirit level or, for large structures, they might use guide posts. These are timber boards driven into the ground at both ends of the structure, marked with markings to help them to mark where the bricks should be placed.
Once the bricklayer has a plan for where they are going to lay their first course of bricks, they need to dig a trench that is at least a foot deep. This is to form a base, or footing, for the bricks to sit on and to help support the weight of the structure once it is complete.
Once this is in place, they can start to lay the first row of bricks. They need to apply a thin layer of mortar on the bottom and sides of the bricks before placing them in place. Then, they need to carefully press them into place with their hands and with a brick bolster. Once the bricks have been firmly pressed down, they should be checked with the spirit level and then smoothed over with a brick jointer, a tool that resembles a piece of tubing with a curved end.
After each course is completed, the bricklayer should lift up their string line so that they can begin to plan for the next. As they continue to work, they need to check the structure often for any movement or damage. Any structural problems can lead to failure of the brickwork, so it is important that the bricklayer is thorough and pays attention to detail.
The mortar that binds brick and other masonry materials together is made from a combination of sand, a binder, and water. The most common binder is cement, but builders can also use clays, gypsum, bitumen, ground pottery, volcanic ash, or lime as the binding agent in certain projects. Mortar can be pre-mixed in a concrete mixer or mixed on-site using a shovel or hoe in a wheelbarrow or mixing tub. There are many different types of mortar, each designed for a specific type of construction project.
Mixing mortar is a critical step in the bricklaying process. The strength of the bond between the brick and mortar depends on how well the mix is combined. Mixing mortar properly requires care and attention, especially in calculating the exact amount of water to use. A proper mix will result in a thick, sticky paste that is easy to work with but that still sets up hard and strong.
When using a mortar mixer to mix, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the number of bags needed for a given amount of water and how to prepare the mixture. It is recommended to use a paddle mixer rather than a hammer drill, which can cause wrist pain and fatigue.
Bricklayers also use a variety of other tools and equipment to work with the building material, including trowels, bolsters, and shovels, as well as a spirit level and plumb bobs for precise measuring. They must be careful to protect themselves and their work area from falling debris, dirt, and dust with gloves, boots, hats, earplugs, and safety glasses.
Most bricklayers will mix their own mortar for each project, and it is a good idea to have a dedicated mixing bucket that can be used to measure the correct amounts of each ingredient. It is a good idea to pre-wet the bucket before adding the dry materials to prevent them from sticking. Once the mix is ready, it is recommended to let it sit for around 10 minutes so that it can slake and begin the chemical bonding process.
Bricklaying is a skilled trade, and you need to be competent in using a variety of tools and equipment to perform your job well. Bricklayers must also have a personal track safety (PTS) card to work on or near railway lines.
A trowel is a key tool for a bricklayer, and it is used to smooth the mortar in between the layers of bricks. A hammer and shovel are also essential, as they are used for cutting and shaping bricks. Bricklayers also use a power drill, which is useful for drilling holes in brick walls and for running electrical and plumbing.
Another key tool is a bricklayer’s line. This is a metal rod that has sharp leaf shaped ends, which is placed at the corners of a wall to ensure that the brickwork is level and plumb. It can be easily assembled with corner line blocks and is one of the oldest tools that bricklayers have used. The other basic tool is a brick cutter, which is used to cut bricks into more manageable sizes for laying.
Other essential tools that a bricklayer uses include a mortar mixer, which is used to mix the concrete and mortar more quickly and efficiently. It also helps to ensure that the consistency is correct, which saves time and effort. A masonry saw is also used for cutting through hard materials, such as bricks. Bricklayers must also have a rake and broom to keep the working area clean and free from debris.
During peak construction periods, bricklayers often work overtime to meet deadlines. This can be very physically demanding and requires a lot of travel between different work sites. The job can also involve working at heights, which requires a certain amount of health and safety training. Bricklayers should also have a vehicle to carry the necessary tools and extra work gear. They should also have a protective vest, ear protection and safety glasses, as well as high visibility clothing to protect themselves from falling or flying bricks and other debris. Bricklayers should also invest in a sturdy tarpaulin to cover any exposed areas of the building if it rains.
Bricklaying is an inherently hazardous job and requires the correct safety precautions to be taken. Some of the hazards include: Falls from heights – bricklayers frequently have to work at significant heights on masonry scaffolding and a lack of proper fall protection can cause serious injury or even death.
Chemical exposure – bricklayers are often exposed to the chemicals used in construction and mixing mortar and concrete, which can be dangerous, particularly when not properly ventilated. Inhalation can lead to respiratory problems, including asthma and even lung cancer. Exposure to silica dust – brick dust is produced when cutting and crushing bricks and other construction materials. Silica is a mineral that can cause severe lung damage if inhaled and should be managed as a hazardous material.
Manual handling – bricklayers regularly have to lift and move heavy loads, which can put them at risk of back injuries. When possible the use of mechanical lifting equipment such as wheel barrows, brick trolleys or cranes should be considered to reduce this work load.
Working at heights – this is a common risk when working as a bricklayer and can be caused by ladders or scaffolding that is not properly secured. Using framed scaffolds which offer a larger work platform can help to eliminate this risk.
Hazardous work environments – bricklayers are commonly required to work outdoors in extreme weather conditions. This can increase the risk of heat stroke, dehydration and skin cancer. Using high-quality shade and keeping up to date with skin sun screening can mitigate this risk.
The use of power tools and machinery – bricklayers are often required to use powered plant such as cement mixers, saws and vibrators which can be dangerous if the proper procedures are not followed. A competent person should be responsible for ensuring that these machines are operated safely and that all relevant risk assessments have been undertaken.
In addition to the above, it is important that bricklayers take all other reasonable precautions to ensure their own health and well-being whilst at work. This includes ensuring that the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn at all times, especially eye protection such as goggles and/or safety glasses to protect against flying cement particles or mortar dust. In addition, hearing protection should be used in the form of earplugs or reusable earmuffs to prevent permanent damage to a worker’s ears.