20th Feb 2023 -

When you first think about building a brick wall, it probably sounds like a straightforward project. Laying bricks on top of one another with some mortar in between should be easy enough. But there are some particular rules you need to follow throughout - cutting any corners will mean poor construction, spalled brick, and even a collapsed wall. 

If your DIY skills need some work, it is best to leave this to the professionals. Also, you will only feel frustrated if something does not go to plan during the process. But if you feel confident enough to take on the challenge, here is everything you need to know before starting to build any brick wall. 

Top things to consider before building a brick wall

Before you go ahead with laying bricks by yourself, you need to be aware of the risks that come with the task. You will also need to think about building regulations and submitting a planning application with your local authority. 

1. Planning permission

Planning permission is sometimes needed depending on the scope of the project. For example, if you are building a garden wall, you will not need planning permission if the wall is next to a highway - or footpath along the highway - and is not over 1 metre in height from ground level. Also, planning permission may not be necessary if the wall is no higher than 2 metres from ground level in all other areas. Learn more about planning permission regulations and what steps you may need to take through the UK government’s Planning Portal website. 

2. Choosing the bricks

Selecting the right type of brick for the project is another major consideration. You do not want to start building a brick wall and realise halfway through that you need more bricks. Especially if you are adding to an existing brick structure, our Brick Matching Service will help you find the perfect match to the existing brick and determine how many new bricks you will need to complete the job. 

3. Types of bricks

First, you need to decide which type of brick will be used. There are many different bricks, but all of them fall into three separate categories: medium weathering (MW), which can hold up in freezing temperatures; severe weathering (SW), which is resistant to moisture - a favoured choice for garden walls; and no weathering (NW), only for interior walls brickwork. 

4. How many bricks you will need

You will next have to determine how many bricks are needed for the project. Although bricks come in different shapes and sizes, you should think about a typical modular UK brick size of 215mm long, 102.5mm wide and 65mm high. Plus, you should calculate the mortar in your measurements which should be around 10mm for a mortar joint. So each brick will take up the space of approximately 225 mm x 112.5 mm x 75 mm. The brick-and-mortar calculation is also known as a brick nominal size.

Taking this into account, you should be able to work out how many bricks are required. It is recommended you buy an extra 5-10 bricks, just in case some become damaged during the process. Also, if the ground for the wall is sloped or uneven, be sure to add an additional 1 or 2 rows of brick under the finished grade level to create a level ground.

5. Preparation

All the things you do before even starting to lay a single brick are key for the project to be a success. Accomplishing a professional finish will take some meticulous planning, so it is best to think about every stage of the project before you get started. 

How much does building a brick wall yourself cost?

When planning your project, it is best to sit down and calculate the cost of building a brick wall. The key thing to consider is how many bricks you will need for it to be completed. Whether you plan on building a masonry wall or a garden wall, the final price will depend on the project size. 

Plus, the thickness and length of the wall need to be taken into consideration. For example, with a single-skin garden wall at 1m x 4m, the average cost will be between £800 - £850.  This includes labour, the materials (bricks, cement, and sand) as well as digging the ground to prepare the wall foundation. For a 1m x 12m single-skin brick wall, the average cost is almost double, anywhere between £1,400 - £1,600. Any curves and corners can increase the overall price. 

A double-skin wall, twice as thick as its single counterpart with a second layer of bricks, provides added durability. Naturally, a double-skin garden wall will cost extra - a 1m x 4m wall will cost an average of £1,200 - £1,400 and a 1m x 12m wall will cost around £1,800 - £2,000. This also means that double-skin walls take longer to erect. 

Another cost factor to consider is the height of your wall. If your desired wall is 1,200mm (1.2 metres) or over, you will need to consult with a structural engineer to approve and help design the wall. Structural engineer costs will vary but expect to pay anything from £100 per hour upwards.

What bricklaying courses are available?

If your mind is set on completing the brick wall yourself, you may want to enrol on a ‘how to bricklay’ course in preparation for the project. City & Guilds provide a range of options to suit different schedules. For example, the ‘Learn Basic Bricklaying Skills in 5 Days’ course, offered through Able Skills, is available over 5 consecutive days or across two weekends at the Able Skills training centre in Dartford, Kent. 

The course is designed to take you through all aspects of bricklaying in a condensed format. You will learn how to build a cavity wall, pillar, pier and corner with the help of a hands-on instructor. If you enjoy this introductory course, there are options to extend your bricklaying training. 

Advantages of DIY bricklaying

Although it can seem daunting at first, there are advantages to DIY brickwork. Particularly if you are working on a smaller project such as building a brick BBQ or a landscaping feature. Here are some benefits to think about instead of hiring a professional.

Learning a new trade

If you decide to enrol on a bricklaying course, you can use these skills for future projects. A friend or relative may want a similar brick wall in their garden. You will be able to construct this for them, following the same guidance from your training. 


If you decide to not enrol on a course, DIY bricklaying can save you money on labour costs. We would always recommend hiring a professional for larger projects, such as masonry walls. But the DIY route could be the best option for projects such as small garden walls to save money. 

Transferable skills

The skills you will learn after your first bricklaying project can be applied to various other areas. For example, you will learn the importance of health and safety in construction, constructing brick cavity walls, in addition to plinth brickwork and constructing a half brick corner.

Disadvantages of DIY bricklaying

Mistakes can happen. If you decide to embark on the project yourself, you may run the risk of ruining your plans and ideas for brick walls if you lack confidence and professional skill. Here are some common mistakes with DIY bricklaying to think about.

Too much mortar 

It is important only to mix as much mortar as you need to decrease the number of wasted materials. Also, mixing too much mortar can lead to it cracking or even shrinking. Adding too much water can make the mortar mix less likely to glue bricks together. 

Not cleaning excess mortar

Once cured, removing excess mortar from bricks can prove very difficult. To avoid any frustration, be sure to remove excess mortar as you are working. But if you do find excess mortar on bricks, vinegar is an effective liquid for removing any stains. 


The white specks you may have seen on facing bricks are called efflorescence. They are caused by salt being left in water stuck in the mortar. Not only can efflorescence cause discolouration, but cracking can also occur due to corrosion. Be sure to install a moisture barrier such as flashing to avoid this issue. As the UK climate tends to have more moisture in the air, applying caulk behind the bricks will also help to prevent efflorescence. 

Forgetting to use string lines

Be sure to use string lines when laying bricks. This will help to align the bricks as you are working on each course (layer) and the final product is even. Every level of brick should be level before the mortar dries out. Also, it is important to plan for drainage before you begin. Check the moisture levels where you are building the wall to determine the conditions. Water which is trapped under walls can threaten the durability of bricks, leading to spalling brickwork. Spalled bricks can eventually flake and crumble - mortar which is badly compressed is another key indicator for spalling brickwork. 

Everything you need for building a brick wall 

Search through our extensive range and learn about the different types of brick available. Whether you are a construction professional working on a brick building or a DIY enthusiast looking to build a brick wall from scratch, Building Materials Nationwide supplies all the right materials and tools for you to do a fantastic job.

We are always happy to help budding DIY enthusiasts bring their visions to life. But if you work in construction, Building Materials Nationwide offers flexible trade accounts. When you sign up, you will be assigned your trade account manager who can organise the delivery of tools and materials, and help you find exactly what you need and for when you need it. Call our knowledgeable and friendly team to discuss your requirements or sign up for a trade account online.