Installing bricks for a new retaining wall or to repair a chimney or outdoor fence may not seem very difficult, but this job is usually more involved than many homeowners realize. Not installing bricks correctly can mean a wall that crumbles or one that starts to crack far sooner than it should. Note a few tips that can keep this from happening in your home and remember that, if bricklaying seems too complicated, it can be worth having a professional manage this job so you know it's done right and the work will last.

Make the mortar in small batches and make it consistent

You never want to mix up large batches of mortar at once, even though it may seem more convenient. This is because mortar starts to set or harden soon after being mixed, so mixing up a large batch can mean mortar that is too hard to use on new bricks. You also need to ensure you mix it uniformly; mortar that is more runny in one area than in another will be absorbed differently by the bricks, so that sections swell and expand or contract at different rates, leading to premature cracking.

Note the right amount of mortar to add

Typically you slap some mortar onto a new brick and then scrape it so it's level and even; when you set down the new brick, you tap it into place. There should be about 10 mm of mortar between each brick. If you add too much mortar, it might "squish" out the front and get messy or cause the bricks to sit in an uneven row. If you don't add enough, the bricks won't stay adhered to the wall and it can be weak and unsafe. You might need to practice adding the correct amount of mortar with your trowel first. Be sure to check the line of each row of bricks with a carpenter's level to ensure it's consistent.

Add support

Many bricks are created with holes in the middle; this is often done so you can add rebar or another metal support between bricks. While mortar is very strong and should hold bricks in place for a chimney or fence, if the bricks will be holding back any pressure, such as from water or soil, you want to add this rebar in between the bricks. This will give them added strength and ensure your retaining wall or other such structure doesn't collapse.