The strength of cement

Look no hands! Nine bricks being supported by their edges by a 10mm thick piece of cement render.

I was planning on capping the wall that abuts into my house (this was to reduce the amount of water that is being channeled into the main house from the wall’s poor structure). So I started to rake out the pointing where there was a loose brick. One of course lead to another and before I knew it I had taken down four courses of bricks and it didn’t stop there.

The neighbours side had a lovely big ivy growing out of it (unknown to me) and this had blown the render on their side and so I had to remove this (a quick yank on the ivy sufficed!) The missing render can be seen on the left hand edge of the picture. The rest of their render was basically intact and so I left it.

I returned to my side and continued to identify the loose bricks. As it turned out this was a further twelve – all the roots from the various plants that were growing out of the wall had destroyed the mortar between the bricks. As I removed the bricks one by one I was amazed as the top two rows of bricks didn’t move at all. As you can see from the picture this meant that the two courses ended up being suspended in mid air just by the cement render on their sides. Needless to say I then had to quickly replace the bricks (this time using a lime mortar) to ensure that it all stayed there.

The great thing of course with the old mortar was that it had left the bricks intact and it was easy to dust them off and re-use them. So I have rebuilt the wall and am now awaiting the caps to ensure that the wall stays a lot drier than it has been for the past couple of decades. More on this with the next post!