Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Bricks are one of the oldest kinds of construction materials. They are used in constructing floors, walls, and fireplaces and are used in walkways and in building houses. Are cement bricks also good for construction?
Cement bricks are good for construction. They are durable, sustainable, and low-maintenance. In fact, they are resistant to pests, molds, fire, and moisture. What’s more, cement bricks keep your house cool during the summer and warm during the cold weather.
Read on to find out the benefits of cement bricks, how to mix mortar, and how to lay cement bricks.
About Cement Bricks
Cement bricks are an excellent choice for construction across various environments and applications. You can use cement bricks for constructing garden structures and homes. What’s more, these bricks are the best choice when it comes to building low-cost housing.
They are available in a variety of sizes, textures, and shapes. Standard cement bricks come in two types: solid and hollow. Hollow cement bricks are easier to manage as they are light in weight. While solid cement bricks might appear to be more sturdy, hollow bricks can be filled with the cement during construction for extra strength.
Benefits of Cement Bricks
Bricks that are made from cement are usually cheaper than bricks that are manufactured from clay. As a matter of fact, cement bricks are much stronger than ordinary bricks. Here are some of the advantages of cement bricks:
- Protection from heat and fire: During the day, cement bricks absorb heat from the sun. And they release this heat at night. Cement bricks keep your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. They are also resistant to fire, which makes them a safe bet for houses. They can sustain a heavy developed fire better than blocks or any other building materials.
- Dry: Bricks absorb humidity better than other building materials. This combination minimizes the risk of mildew and dust mites, which can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
- Durable: A house built of cement bricks is long-lasting. An exterior or interior wall built of cement bricks does not deteriorate fast compared to other constructing materials. Cement bricks stand intact for years to come, withstanding extreme weather without the need for any replacement.
- Low maintenance: Cement bricks do not need regular maintenance like that needed for block construction. On the other hand, block constructions can begin to fall apart if they are not maintained correctly. Also, cement bricks do not need treatments to maintain their look. As a matter of fact, they do not need paint or other treatments to maintain the durability and good looks.
- Sustainable: Cement bricks are safe to live in. They are reusable, long-lasting, and impervious to fire and pests. Most importantly, cement bricks do not contain any contaminants. They are weatherproof and can tolerate harsh environmental conditions.
How to Lay Cement Bricks
This task should take between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how absorbent the cement bricks are and the climatic conditions.
Materials and tools required:
- Pins and lines
- Tape measure
- Jointing bar
- Spirit level
- Brick trowel
Generally, mortar is a mixture of cement, sand, water, and hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide).
Adding hydrated lime to your mortar mix is not essential. However, lime makes a good binder because it can retain more water than cement. It ensures that the cement and sand do not separate. The lime-containing mortar is less susceptible to shrinking and cracking and is also pliable and durable.
It is worth knowing that you should use the correct ratio of sand to cement for your task. An important part of the task is to know how to mix cement mortar properly. It is also important to know that the cement bricks will not set properly if you make the mortar very dry or very wet.
- Soft sand
- Lime (optional)
Here are the steps on how to mix type M mortar in a cement mixer:
- Add 3 to 5 liters of water into the cement mixer and switch it on.
- Add in a suitable amount of mortar additive or lime for your task.
- Spin the additive and water for 30 seconds.
- Add four shovels of sand, and allow it to mix for some time.
- You can add more water to make the consistency smooth.
- Add one shovel of cement, and allow it to mix for some time.
- Repeat the above steps until you get the amount of mortar you want.
Next, we go over step-by-step on how to lay cement bricks.
Spread the Mortar
Initially, you may experience difficulty in spreading the mortar. But with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do this task easily.
- Just pick up as much mortar on your trowel as you can. With practice, you will be able to pick up more mortar at a time.
- Spread mortar along the area you want to lay your cement bricks.
- Remove any additional mortar from the sides of your spread and extend the spread further down using the additional mortar.
Make a Trench in the Mortar
- You should angle your trowel at 45-degrees downwards. Press the trowel into the mortar as you go down the spread to create a bed in the mortar.
- Remove any additional mortar on the sides.
Lay Down the First Course of Cement Bricks
- Pick up your cement brick with a strong grip.
- And lay the first cement brick onto one end of the spread.
- Push it down uniformly until you get the joint width you want.
- Make a vertical joint by adding mortar to the brick’s end.
- Position the second cement brick so that you have an even mortar joint.
Check that the First Course is Level and Straight
- Pop your level on top after laying four cement bricks. Ensure that the bubble is perfectly central.
- Tap the uneven cement bricks until you have a level first course.
- Additionally, you should make sure that the cement bricks are lined up with each other. You can use pins to make a line that is flush with one of the cement bricks at either end.
- Reposition cement bricks that are not flush with the line.
Lay Down the Second, Third, and Final Courses of Cement Bricks
- Use the methods mentioned above to lay down the next courses of cement bricks.
- Remember to stagger the cement bricks. Line up the vertical joints with the middle of the cement bricks above it.
- Level your cement brick on top.
- Make sure that the brickwork is leveled and plumbed.
Repeat all the steps mentioned above until you have your completed structure.
Add the Finishing Touches
Add the finishing touches once everything is plumb and level. You can use a brush, jointing bar, and trowel for adding the finishing touches.
- Take a little bit of mortar on the trowel.
- Apply mortar to horizontal and vertical joints that need it with the help of the jointer.
- Tail and top your joints using the jointer.
- Smooth out the joints and clean off stains on the cement with the help of a brush.
Cement bricks play a very important role in the world of construction. They are sustainable, durable, and require little to no maintenance. They are low maintenance because they do not need painting and will not wear or chip down. Cement bricks protect your house from damage during harsh environmental conditions. Furthermore, they are termite proof and fireproof as well.
The best thing about cement bricks is that they are perfect for cold weather because they retain heat and remain warm for a long period.
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