Lay Mortar for block – inside edge versus outside edge

Your course is showing how to lay the mortar for the inside edge of the block. How does it differ when you are laying it on the edge of the block furthest away from you?

Ask Charlie

Ask Charlie!

Welcome to a new section of the site where you can ask Charlie your masonry questions.  This section of the site will be for MEMBERS ONLY.  If there is something you are not sure of, ask it here!


Masonry Business

Preparing To Lay Brick, Block, or Stone

Anything that you build from a barbecue pit to a skyscraper, must have a blueprint.  For small projects like a brick mailbox or barbecue pit, you can get books at Home Depot or Lowe’s or the library that have blueprints for what your gonna build.  Nearly all areas of the country where you build or add on anything to an existing building, must have a building permit before you begin construction.  Also in a lot of areas if you build anything without a permit, you can get fined both you as a contractor and the homeowner or business owner of the property.  Once the above is done, then it is up to the owner to pick the color of brick, block or the kind of stone that will be used for the project.  If your building something for something you own, then you get to pick what to use.  Don’t forget the permits (or do you feel lucky?).

If the architect picks the wrong materials, it is his liability.  His and the city’s fault, because they approved the plans, and it falls back on them.  All the above information is true even if you’re putting a fireplace in your own house: you need to check with the city building permit office, and make sure they approve it, in case your house burns down.

The architect and his people are responsible for testing the soil, saying how deep, what kind of fill, how much compaction and with what material is to be used. The architect is not gonna lay the brick, so don’t you go and design the earthwork, foundation, or pick the color of the rooms! You lay the brick, block, or stone, according to the plans, and do not skimp.

Any questions, Contact Charlie!

Masonry Business

Equipment Necessary For Laying Brick

Buying a truck or trailer to haul your equipment from project to project is an important choice.  Don’t buy too small! Not only is it dangerous, but you will be fined heavy for being overloaded.  Everything matters, from buying the tools, to saws, and the correct mixer for the type of projects you are going to be building. Choosing the wrong equipment is not only a waste of time and money, it is also dangerous to yourself, your crew, and all motorists on the road.

Contact Charlie!

Thinking you can get by doing things half-assed will get you, in the long run, bankrupt and put you out of business. Maybe even jail time.



House cleaning…

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been doing some tidying up around here.  Our site has been cleaned up considerably.  Our YouTube channel has been re-organized.  We also added student bricklaying photos and student bricklaying video pages as well.

We’re not done yet, we’ve got some big plans in the works!

If you purchased one of our courses, you probably got the book, “The Secret of Squaring Up” book or download. We have JUST finished revising that to make it more readable and clear.  If you are a previous customer, of course the new updated is available for FREE.  We also plan to update the lesson plan books here shortly.

In case you are interested in learning how to square up buildings quickly and accurately, you may want to visit…

The Secret of Squaring Up


Squaring up book

Trust me, the time, frustration, and money you will save by learning how to do this correctly once and for all will be well spent, do check that out if you have a chance.

Bricklaying Jobs Uncategorized

Bricklayer Shortage In UK

Bricklayer Shortage In UK

Coming To US – Or Is The Shortage Already Here?

The article points out some interesting facts regarding the current building sector economy in UK.

There is something to be learned here – – –

It appears they let the supply of tradesmen and specifically BRICKLAYERS fall behind the needs of the industry

January 1, 2016 1:40 pm

Where have all the bricklayers gone?

Sarah O’Connor

BC bracklayer 3Picture taken April 30, 2013 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS SOCIETY) – RTXZ792

A bricklayer repairs a wall in Ashford in southern England April 30, 2013. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is forecast to win council seats in Ashford for the first time in local elections on Thursday, a success that is expected to be partially repeated nationwide as the anti-EU party taps public disenchantment with the three main parties.

It is a puzzle that goes to the heart of some of the problems bedevilling Britain’s recovering economy: where have all the bricklayers gone?

Cranes tower over cities such a London and Manchester as building projects resume, but construction companies are finding it increasingly hard to find bricklayers and other skilled workers. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says labour shortages in the sector are the worst for almost 20 years.

Brickmaker Forterra plans £450m IPO
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GLA teams up to build 10,800 Barking homes

Because they are scarce, good bricklayers can now command about £150 to £170 a day. Rising labour costs mean London’s biggest construction contractors are increasing their prices and turning down half of all bidding opportunities in the capital.

Businesses of all types are beginning to fret about skills shortages now unemployment has sunk to pre-crisis levels and labour is less plentiful. Many blame poor vocational training in Britain, which is one reason the government has announced a compulsory levy to fund 3m apprenticeships by 2020.

Yet construction companies already pay a levy to fund training, administered by the Construction Industry Training Board. So why is their sector the one where skilled workers seem in shortest supply?

Part of the explanation lies in the volatility of construction work, which lurches from boom to bust with the economic cycle.

House building plunged 65 per cent between 2007 and 2009 as the economy fell into recession; almost 300,000 jobs disappeared. Rising wages in the construction sector have not been enough to lure all those workers back.

“The market has come back to a certain extent, but if you have moved into a different sector, or to a different country, where activity has picked up quicker and is more stable, it is questionable whether you would come back,” said Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association. “You know that at some point in the future there will be another recession, which is still in people’s minds. Are you willing to be burnt again in a few years?”

The other problem is that too few young people are becoming bricklayers in the first place. The shortage of recruits is odd, says the Brick Development Association, given that roughly 2,000 young people left college last year with a technical certificate in bricklaying. The BDA says many of them failed to find jobs in construction after they left college and drifted into something else.

This highlights the mismatch between the training colleges provide and the skills employers need, according to unions and contractors. It is a problem that extends beyond construction: businesses, schools, colleges and politicians all agree the links are too flimsy between the worlds of education and work.

Employers’ group warns on rising labour costs
Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear….Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/REX Shutterstock (2212332a) Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear. Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear.

Higher minimum wage and apprenticeships could hamper growth, says CBI

Michael Walsh, managing director of Swift Brickwork Contractors, which employs about 500 people, says too many college bricklaying courses waste young people’s time.

“You may be in a workshop building pieces of walls and having theory lessons, but you learn your trade on the job, not in a classroom,” he said. “It’s a shame because it’s the kids that come short-changed out of this, they’ve wasted two or three more years of life and their earning capacity’s no greater than if they’d come to us at 15.”

The College of North West London is home to some of these classrooms and workshops. Sand crunches underfoot as students learn how to build structures with special cement that can be scraped off so the bricks can be re-used. Andy Cole, the principal, says the college does offer multi-trade courses to 16-18 year olds that take place entirely in-house, but he says these are for people who are not yet ready for the workplace.

He says the best training requires collaboration with employers, such as level 3 apprenticeships where young people learn predominantly on the job but study at college for one day a week. Mr Cole’s college works with some construction companies to deliver apprenticeships such as these.
“You can’t expect to take out of the industry without putting something back in”

– Michael Walsh, Swift Brickwork Contractors managing director
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Yet if apprenticeships are the answer, there are surprisingly few of them taking place, especially given that construction companies pay a levy to fund training.

A recent report from Ofsted showed the number of construction apprenticeships has remained relatively flat over the past decade at about 20-25,000 a year, while apprenticeships in “business, administration and law” have grown from about 40,000 to almost 140,000 a year.

“Apprenticeships in our industry are in crisis,” said Barckley Sumner from UCATT, the construction union. “The basic problem is that employers don’t want to train anyone. Most major employers don’t employ anyone, so if you don’t employ anyone, you’re not going to train anyone.”

UCATT says large construction companies often rely on overseas workers to meet demand and tend to classify people as self-employed to avoid the costs and responsibilities of being an employer.

Yet there are indications that employers are starting to respond to the lack of skilled workers by investing more in the next generation. The Construction Industry Training Board says construction apprenticeships are on the rise. Swift Brickwork Contractors hires 15 to 20 apprentices each year. “To me it’s about an investment in our future,” said Mr Walsh. “You can’t expect to take out of the industry without putting something back in.”

Bricklaying Techniques Masonry School

Masonry Tip: Chimneys

So many great homes feature chimneys. Winter is coming both fall and winter tend to bring wind, rain, snow, and more across the country. Houses with chimneys will soon be using the beautiful and functional fireplaces to keep homes warm and maybe even roast some marshmallows over the flames during a storm.

No matter how beautiful a fireplace or chimney is, they are often lacking one thing: a crown. The crown of a chimney is much like the roof of a house. It protects the inside of the chimney from damage from rain, snow, and debris. While it’s rare for rain or snow to fall at a perfect angle to fall into the fireplace, it is likely that wind will buffet it onto the wall of the chimney and no one needs that. Such events can cause horrible damage to the structure.

The crown of a chimney can be metal, concrete, or other materials. The problem is not many bricklayers or masons know how to construct one properly, but more people in this profession should take into account the importance of a chimney crown. It should be sloped to guide the water away from the chimney and ideally, a metal flashing pan should be placed below the crown to catch anything the crown did not catch.

If you have a home with a chimney without a crown, act fast! You or the mason you have hired should inspect the top portion of the chimney for any damaged or rotted bricks and rebuild when needed. Do not allow for the crown to touch the clay flue liners and use the proper urethane caulk for the gap between the crown and the liner. Keep the crown extending at least 3 inches beyond the chimney.

Once the crown is in place, it is useful to attach galvanized wire lath to the blocks and reapply stucco. Do not simply add stucco on top of the existing stucco because any cracks already present will just seep into the new surface and you’ll be back at square one, stick with the wire method mentioned earlier.

It is starting to get cold in certain parts of the country, so inspect your chimney now. Ideal temperatures for chimney work is between 40 and 70 degrees, striving for cloud coverage and low wind. This will keep supplies at optimal performance and keep workers comfortable. Read this article for some more detail.

You can learn how to do tasks like this and more by signing up for our online courses for Masonry and Bricklaying certification, for both the apprentice and master levels. Check out our website to learn mor about how you can start your new satisfying career today!

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Brick by Brick! How Bricks Are Making the World Better

Recently, students and geeks alike are teaming up to sell bricks for great causes! For what seems like insane amounts of money for bricks, the donations per brick are helping to create wonderful things.

Thanks to Matthew Inman (from The Oatmeal), people can donate $125 to get a few lines of text (name, message, anything) on a brick which will then be used to help build a museum to honor Nikola Tesla Tesla is probably best known for the Tesla Coil found in many science classrooms but he was also responsible for AC power and transmission. The Tesla Museum will seek to help people learn about his contributions to the world and gain the recognition of his peers such as Edison. Over $2 Million has been raised thus far from crowdfunding and other forms of donation. Outside of this $2 Million, $200,000 has been raised by selling bricks. There are also options to donate more for walls, added text or images on bricks, and more. For those not willing to donate as much, shirts are available online for $15 and $24 donations. The location surrounds Tesla’s original lab and the roof will be replaced using the first batches of brick donations.

$125 seems like a lot of money for a simple brick, but for high quality museums, repairs to the lab, and everything else the Oatmeal crew and others must do to create this museum, it would be worth it to have your name or message standing in a building for decades (if not centuries). Not only will this facility educate people on a fantastic scientist, but it will provide some masons and bricklayers with work for a great cause. If interested, surely our training program could prepare you to start your own crowdsourced project or you could contact The Oatmeal or the Bricks For Nick program at

Another great idea involving bricks for great causes involves young students at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School. These young people are seeking to help displaced families in Afghanistan by selling bricks donated by Lafayette Masonry for $10. These bricks do not travel to Afghanistan, but they serve as a symbol for what the $10 is giving to the Khaled Hosseini Foundation’s Student Outreach for Shelters program. The money is going straight to the families who need to build their own shelter, allowing better materials and more of them. Buyers are encouraged to decorate the bricks and use them at home for decoration or any other use. All of this was inspired by the book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. A problem was presented to these students and they felt they had the ability to do what they can to assist families in need overseas.

Much like the Tesla project, it may be entirely possible to offer assistance, materials, bricks, or more to these young students trying to change the world a brick at a time. The article gives contact information for someone in charge of the program and anyone can donate, not just students in the area.

Masonry and bricklaying are wonderful jobs and these structures may last for generations, but it’s important to realize just how much of a difference a few bricks can make—especially once professionally installed.

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Tulsa Tech Masonry Course Builds 9/11 Tribute

Tulsa Tech (Oklahoma) offers a course in masonry as an entry level course, often taken by new college students. Every year a few weeks before the anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 the students build a small memorial. This year the students built an 8 ft by 10 ft wall featuring the numbers 9 and 11 (11 symbolizing the two towers) with American Flag accents. The memorials every year are open to students and faculty and the memorials are constructed and left in the masonry classroom. Every year, visitors become emotional as they remember that tragic day in American History.

A few things make this incredibly interesting. For one, many of these students were very young when the towers fell (and soon, young students will not have been born when this event happened). The instructors are making sure these students never forget what happened and that they respect how difficult it is to construct any building, even a small memorial without proper training. Not only is Tulsa Tech teaching history and respect for those who have fallen, they’re teaching respect for a trade that serves many purposes. Masonry is art; these memorials tend to make visitors cry more than any television memorial or professionally build reminder.

These young students are in an entry-level masonry course. They don’t spend the entire course writing notes, watching videos, and making small models with legos or something. They are thrown straight in there and the results of these memorials year to year are amazing. The students must designate roles and learn the craft quickly enough to produce a product in a matter of weeks, from start to finish.

Last year, the students creased an American flag from colored bricks. In 2012, it featured colored tile, mosaic style centerpiece, and multiple types of stone. 2010 featured two different tributes since there was a day and evening course. One was a tribute to the fire department of New York with a basic brick flag pattern background while the other focused on the actual towers. Both featured black and gold towers. The main thing these memorials have in common is the presence of the 9-11 date and a sense of patriotism.

Masonry is a trade as old as time itself, but the uses for it keep growing. Memorials, businesses, homes, and more can be created from stone, brick, tile, and mortar. These kids prove that passion can move mountains. Their hard work, dedication, and respect of our history makes these a wonderful sight, regardless of their skill level. Some are particularly awe inspiring while others are less physically impressive or detailed but filled with emotion, respect, and remembrance. Never forget.

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Australians Don’t Want to Lay Brick?

                An article posted August 28, 2014 states that Australians aren’t interested in bricklaying and masonry even though the salaries can be as high as $100,000. Unemployment in Australia is at 14%, the highest it’s been in 13 years and the number of apprentices in the field is lower than the past 10 years. Not only is the unemployment rate high, but the need for bricklaying is increasing due to no interest in the jobs.

The theory behind young people avoiding entering the bricklaying and masonry career field is the physical labor of the job. This is odd because the same people not wishing to work in a physically demanding job are going to gyms all the time. They want to pay to get fit (though probably not with a desire to actually be strong) but get paid by sitting around in an office chair even though many of these kids would either love masonry of be really good at it. Carpentry is viewed as profitable and attractive job options because of the boom in the housing industry, but these people don’t realize how important and useful bricklaying is for housing.

Parents are another problem. They are encouraging their children to go into fields which high competitive rates make it nearly impossible to get work in a career which requires a university degree. While higher education isn’t always needed for masonry and bricklaying, having a college degree doesn’t mean masonry is “beneath” someone. Mathematics, physics, and more can be very useful, especially when starting a new bricklaying business. It also allows for working in fresh air, freedom in work hours (especially when owning the business) and even the chance to travel across the world. Starting as a bricklayer can lead to owning a company and getting out of the sun and dirt, but keeping the knowledge and passion for this trade. College dropouts can make up to $100,000 per year when they enter the business roles of masonry.

There is no shame in bricklaying and masonry. On the contrary, it’s a much needed trade which should be admired. If you see a bricklayer, thank them for building such amazing structures and working so hard. It’s a hard job that should not die out. Become a mason or bricklayer through our program and maybe you can help teach Australia a thing or two about having a passion for trade and how profitable such a career choice can be. Not everyone is fit for office jobs or university, but nearly anyone can be a bricklayer—passion is key. Everything else will come in time.

Don’t let America end up like Australia. Pass down this passion to others. People say Americans are lazy, but apparently Australians take lazy to an entirely new level. Read the entire article here.