Preparing footing for heavy masonry walls

Preparing footing for a masonry wall may seem daunting, but these guidelines will help you do the job yourself safely and efficiently.

Preparing footing for heavy masonry walls

1. A firm base

A reinforced concrete footing ensures a firm base for heavy masonry walls.

  • Make the footing 10 centimetres (four inches) wider on each side than the width of the wall and at least 25 centimetres (10 inches) thick.
  • Set forms in place along the footing marked with a chalk line.
  • Make tie-wire loops by inserting light wire through holes or between boards and tying around vertical braces.
  • Twist the loops tight with nails while inserting five x 10-centimetre (two x four-inch) wood spacers cut to the width of the wall to maintain correct dimensions.
  • Use a mason's level and line level to ensure forms are plumb.
  • Adjust by tapping forms with a hammer.
  • For extra support, nail extra braces across the tops of the forms or prop sides with five x 10-centimetre (two x four-inch) lumber.

2. Placing stones and pouring mortar

  1. Place stones in the form with their flat faces against the sides that will feature exposed stone. Follow the "one over two, two over one" rule that holds for mortared masonry so that gravity will help bind the stones together.
  2. At this stage, install rebars (steel reinforcing bars), nailing strips or solid insulation. Tamp down the concrete as you pour, striking the forms with a hammer to ­dispel air bubbles and make the mortar flow.
  3. Surround each stone with two to five centimetres (one to two inches) of concrete. Instead of capping courses with concrete, finish them with stones that protrude vertically, so they mesh with those in the next layer.The forms are stacked leapfrog fashion as the wall is raised.
  4. While masonry cures in one form, place another form on top and fill it. After 48 hours remove the first form and place it atop the second form. The contents of the first form will continue to cure.
  5. Clip tie-wires flush; they will remain embedded in the wall. Corners are built with special forms that can be bolted together at right angles.
  6. For reinforcement, lay a two metre (nine foot) length of nine metre (30 foot) reinforcing bar, bent in the middle at a right angle, into corners every 25 centimetres (10 inches).
  7. For attractive cornerstones, search out stones that have two faces meeting as close to a right angle as possible.
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