A bricklayer’s job is to use various types of blocks and tiles to build and maintain structures, walls, chimneys, walkways, and foundations. He works on projects that are either residential, commercial, or industrial in nature. He usually works in a group of construction workers, but he can also work alone.
Although a bricklayer used to only work with traditional bricks and concrete cinder blocks, as technology advanced, construction materials became more diverse. Structural tiles, marble chunks, and terracotta blocks are also used today’s bricklayers. He could also work with glass or gypsum blocks. Mortar, which has been used as a binder for centuries, is still the most common material used to adhere these materials.
A bricklayer usually starts a project measuring and marking the area where the construction will take place under the supervision of a general contractor or masonry contractor. He then calculates the amount of materials required, which usually only consists of the chosen building material and mortar. The construction process begins once the materials and tools are in place.
Bricklaying is a highly precise skill that takes years to master. To be stable, the bond between the blocks or bricks that is secured the mortar must be consistent from top to bottom and side to side. It is also expected to have a pleasing appearance.
To ensure that the layers of bricks adhere properly, the mortar must have the proper viscosity. It also needs to have the right amount of moisture to avoid becoming too thick to work with during the construction process. When the structure is exposed to weight or environmental elements, it will collapse if the consistency is not correct.
A bricklayer’s other skill is to ensure that the bricks or blocks are all the same size. Salvaged bricks, which are often used for their historical significance or weathered appearance, are frequently misshapen, whereas factory-produced materials are fairly uniform on all sides. In these cases, the bricklayer is usually required to shape and carve the bricks to match the others using a trowel, chisel, brick cutter, or a combination of these tools.
The bricklayer completes each layer of his work smoothing the mortar in between the layers of brick with the pointed tip of his trowel as the project progresses. To smooth and create a glassy finish on the connecting mortar layers, a piece of copper tubing is also commonly used. Before the project is considered finished, any stray pieces of mortar or brick chips are removed from the surface.
A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for entry into an apprenticeship program, which is widely regarded as the best path to becoming a professional in this field. Trade unions and local contractors frequently offer these three-year programs. They usually include 144 hours of classroom instruction as well as on-the-job training.