How to Build a Concrete Block Wall

Building a concrete block wall requires careful planning and a little heavy lifting.

Concrete block walls have many uses ranging from residential to commercial.

You can use large concrete blocks to build retaining walls, security barriers or massive bins for certain products and materials.

Regardless of the block wall’s purpose, the basic steps for building it remain the same.

Before we begin, it’s important to check local building codes for area construction requirements.

Next, always wear eye protection and waterproof gloves when working with cement-based products.

On-the-job injuries could result in permanent eye damage but wearing protective eyewear can prevent an estimated 90 percent of eye injuries, according to OSHA.

Similarly, severe skin injuries, such as caustic burns, and illnesses, such as contact or allergic dermatitis, can result from exposure to wet cement. So wearing waterproof gloves is a must.

Once all safety precautions are met, here are the steps.

Step 1

Ensure you have a solid footing. Footings should be at least twice the width of the concrete block and extend below the frost line.
For load-bearing walls, set tie rods at least 6 inches into the concrete footing before it is set. Rebar should be placed in every other masonry core to provide structural support.
For masonry cores over 4 inches wide, Quikrete Core Fill Grout–Coarse should be poured around the rebar; for masonry cores under 4 inches wide, Quikrete Core Fill Grout-Fine should be used.

Quikrete build block wall

Step 2

Lay out the block, leaving a 3/8-inch gap between the blocks to allow for the vertical mortar joints

Step 3

Snap a chalk line on each side of the block wall as a reference line.

Step 4

Quikrete build block wall

Mix mortar. When preparing to place a trowel full of mortar, gently “snap” the trowel downward to remove any excess mortar. The proper consistency is achieved when the wet mortar will “hang” on a trowel held at a 90-degree angle.

Step 5

Dampen the footing surface with water and place a 1-inch bed of mortar on the footing. Furrow the mortar bed using the tip of the trowel to create a “v” to help distribute the mortar evenly. The mortar should be workable but firm enough to support the weight of the block.


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