Category Archives: Walls

Building Screen-block Walls

A screen-block wall should not span more than 3m without intermediate pillar supports. You cannot cut screen blocks nor the pilasters, so check the exact dimensions when planning. Blocks normally measure 300 x 300 x 90mm thick, and pilasters 195 X 195 x 200mm high including joints.


For a low wall, foundations should consist of 100mm of hardcore topped by 100mm of concrete and be 300mm wide. Use a mix of 1 part cement to 5 parts ballast. Check with manufacturers for high walls. If using screen blocks on a sloping site it is necessary to lay a ‘plinth’ of bricks.

Stretch string lines through the site then dig the trench and lay the foundations. Although not strictly necessary on low walls of up to three courses, it is nevertheless well worthwhile reinforcing the pilaster blocks by setting an iron rod or angle-iron into the foundations. The pilaster blocks are lowered on to the reinforcement as the wall is built, so obviously the positioning of the angle-iron is vital. It must also be truly vertical and protrude from the ground to within a few centimetres of the top of the pilaster column. The mortar mix should be 1 part cement to 5 parts builder’s sand and must be pliable. If you want the mortar joints to blend in colour with the blocks use white cement and light-coloured sand. For a contrasting colour use ordinary grey cement. To fill the pilaster blocks use a fluid mix of 1 part cement to 3 parts sand.

Laying blocks

First lay a row of blocks and pilasters along the foundations to check positioning. The first pilaster can then be laid on mortar and checked both horizontally and vertically for level. It must also align with the string guide-line. Repeat the procedure with the other end pilaster and intermediate pilasters. If there will be more than three pilaster blocks in each column, pour in reinforcing mix after each is laid.

Spread mortar on the base and inside the pilaster groove, then position the first screen block in the groove. Check it for level and, if necessary, tap it down with the shaft of the club hammer. Screen blocks are quite fragile so, when tapping down to level, lay a piece of timber on the block to spread force of the light taps. Build up the wall checking as you go for both horizontal and vertical alignment. In addition to the horizontal layer of mortar on which a block is laid, trowel some on to one side before it is positioned, to serve as a vertical joint. Make this a little more sloppy to aid sticking.

When the required height is reached, add caps and coping, and point the joints.

And putting the moulding into it. The best (and most expensive), rigid glass-reinforced plastic types are almost self-supporting and there is no need to be too careful over their installation. However, the thinner moulded-plastic ponds can crack if they are not installed in a hole carefully packed round with sharp sand. To install this type, stand the moulding on a base of damp sand and pack round the sides with damp sand as it is filled with water. Take particular care to pack the sand under the shelves to ensure that these are well supported.

Brickwork Skills Made Simple

When you look around you will see that there are many different types and colours of bricks available. A visit to a large stockist or a browse through a catalogue will enable you to choose something suitable. For garden walls you will probably want to choose a ‘facing’ brick which has an attractive decorative faceContinue Reading

Brickwork Repair and Maintenance

Although you will probably want to leave major wall repairs to a professional, there are some jobs you can do yourself. Brickwork repairs Even if your outside brickwork is sound, it will benefit from an occasional scrub down with a stiff broom and clean water. Mould or algae can be removed by scrubbing the surfaceContinue Reading

Pointing Repairs

The mortar between bricks may break away and become uneven. The visible edge is called pointing and keeps a wall both weather-resistant and attractive. If pointing is necessary, use a narrow cold chisel to chop out the old pointing to a depth of about 10 mm (2/5 in). Be careful not to damage the bricksContinue Reading

Brightening up Old Bricks

Though a garden wall is best left to gather lichen and become mellow with age, the wall of a house may in time come to look disreputable. A periodic scrub-down with clear water will help to keep bricks bright; and if moss collects it can be killed with a proprietary fungicide, or with ordinary householdContinue Reading

Building A Brick Wall

To bond bricks together, spread the mortar over the foundation with a bricklayer’s trowel, and lay a brick on top, the frog (hollowed-out part) uppermost. Many amateurs and, indeed, some tradesmen prefer to lay with the frog downwards because, they say, the mortar will squeeze into the hollow part and obviate the risk of tilting.Continue Reading

Materials for a Brick Wall

Once you have reached a decision, the work you propose doing may entail building some kind of wall. It may be merely a low wall to encompass soil in a raised part of the garden (for which you can use secondhand bricks) or it may be a boundary wall, shed or garage requiring new bricks.Continue Reading

Fixing and Removing Picture Rails

Picture rails can help to bring down a high ceiling, and increase the apparent floor area of a room. For this reason, do think twice about their removal if you live in an old house that has them. In spite of their not being fashionable, at the time of writing at any rate, they doContinue Reading

Installing Timber Stud Partitions

If you own an older property, it is quite possible some rooms may be too large for present day needs — and very expensive to heat. One answer is to install a simple timber stud partition, which consists of a sturdy timber framework covered on each side with wallboards. Tapered edge plasterboard is normally usedContinue Reading

Natural Timber Wall Linings

A natural timber wall lining is attractive and warm looking and can be used to cover up a poor wall surface. It is therefore ideal for old houses where walls are so badly cracked and plaster surfaces so full of defects that no amount of repair work can effectively disguise them. Walls subject to risingContinue Reading

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