How to Build a Breeze-Block Wall
Breeze-blocks are another term for concrete or cinder blocks. These blocks are often used to build walls in retail or industrial buildings and as basement or foundation walls in residential housing. Breeze-blocks are widely used because they are strong, durable, economical and easy to install. When you're building a breeze-block wall, you must first build a durable, stable foundation upon which the wall can be built.
Dig a trench for the footings where you are building the wall. Dig the trench at least twice as wide as the breeze-blocks, and twice the height of the blocks, or below the frost line, whichever is deeper. Your local zoning board can tell you how deep the frost line is in your area.
Build a form for the footing by driving wooden stakes into the ground a few inches inside each wall of the trench and nailing 2-inch by 4-inch boards to them. Place a level across the boards, and tap down the higher boards with a rubber mallet to level them out, if necessary.
Dig a small drainage trench next to the main trench. Add an inch of slope to the trench for every 20 feet of run (length).
Pour 2 inches of crushed gravel into the bottom of the trench and tamp it down, then lay drain tile over the gravel. Fill the trench with gravel, covering the drain tile. Drain tile is plastic pipe that has holes cut into it for drainage.
Pour concrete into the form, filling it until it's above the top of the form. Depending on the size of the wall, you may need to hire a contractor who will pour the concrete from a truck.
Slide a 2-inch by 4-inch board over the top of the form to smooth the surface of the concrete and expose spots where more concrete is needed. Add concrete if necessary, and drag the board over the form again. Allow the concrete to set for at least four days.
Remove the wooden form from around the footing, and backfill the gap between the footing and the trench wall with dirt.
Drive three wooden stakes around each corner of the footings. Place one stake directly behind the corner and one stake along the footing 2 feet down from the corner. Nail 2-inch by 4-inch boards to the stakes along the top edge.
Tie a string to the center of one of the 2-inch by 4-inch boards, then take it down to the opposing 2-inch by 4-inch board on the next corner and tie it to the center. Do this on every corner. The point where the strings intersect indicates the footing's exact corner.
Lay the corner blocks onto the footing so the outer edges line up with the point where the strings intersect.
Place blocks onto the footing in between the corner blocks, keeping a 3/8-inch gap between each block to take the width of the mortar into account.
Mark the outer edge of the blocks onto the footing, then remove the blocks.
Mix a batch of mortar, following the manufacturer's instructions.
Place the mortar onto the footing in one of the corners with a trowel. Apply the mortar in a layer 1 inch deep, 8 inches wide and about three block-lengths down the footing from the corner.
Place the first corner block into the mortar, lining it up so the outer corners are aligned with the intersecting strings. Place a level across the top of the block, and position the block until it is level.
Apply mortar to the side of the first breeze-block and place it into the mortar next to the corner block, keeping a 3/8-inch gap between the blocks. Place the level across both blocks, and even them out if needed. Set blocks onto the footing where you have applied the mortar, then repeat this step on the other side of the corner.
Set the blocks in the other corners using the same method.
Lay the blocks on the footing between the corner blocks. Apply mortar to the footing as you go, keep a 3/8-inch gap between the blocks and check them for level as you lay them. If you need to cut any blocks to fit, mark the cut line on the block and cut it with a hammer and masonry chisel.
Lay the blocks until the wall reaches the desired height, starting in the corners and working in towards the center. Allow the mortar to set for the time specified by the manufacturer.
- Call 811 to get the utility lines running through the property marked before beginning the project.
- 1 1/2-ton excavator
- Wooden stakes
- 2-inch by 4-inch boards
- Rubber mallet
- Crushed gravel
- Drain tile
- Concrete mixer or concrete contractor