How to calculate the number of bricks you need

How to calculate the number of bricks you need

November 21st 2022

One of the toughest aspects of building a brick structure is working out how many bricks you will need. Ordering too few can potentially delay your project; ordering too many is a direct route to throwing money down the drain.

Bricks are expensive, and the cost of your masonry structure can quickly add up - especially if you need to organise the disposal of excess bricks.

It's more cost-effective to get it right first time - and Brickhunter's Brick Estimation service is here to help you do just that!

But if you want to go to the time and effort of working this out for yourself, we've got a few pointers for you too...

How many bricks do I need?

For a single-layer brick wall, multiply the length of the wall by the height to get the area. Multiply that area by 60 to get the number of bricks you need, then add 10% for wastage.

That's the short answer and it assumes 'standard' brick and mortar sizes. It can also vary based on the type of structure.

To take a more in-depth approach, you'll need to do the following...

1 Decide what to build

The first step is to decide what your bricks will be used for. While it may sound simple, bricks have many different purposes, from constructing a simple garden wall to building a fireplace surround to adding an exterior facade to your home. The bricks you choose and the type of structure you will be building can dramatically impact the quantity you need.

To help you, below is a list of common wall types:

Half-brick thick walls

A half-brick thick wall (or single layer) has a width equal to the width of one brick. The stretcher side (long side of the brick) is exposed as bricks are laid horizontally. If you're using a standard UK brick, this means your wall is 65mm wide. This type of wall can be used as an exterior facade and placed over the top of a solid interior wall system for additional stability. Half-brick walls should not be used for load-bearing or structural purposes.

Safety can also be a big concern for freestanding half-brick walls as they have limited structural support, meaning the higher your wall is, the more unstable it becomes. Heavy winds can wreak havoc and turn your masonry into a pile of rubble!

Strict height restrictions must be followed, and brick piers will need to be placed strategically at different points along the wall. It is generally recommended that a half-brick thick wall doesn't exceed 500mm in height, although it's always best to consult a professional for advice. A half-brick thick wall will use 60 bricks per m² (if standard bricks are used).

One-brick thick walls

A one-brick thick (or two-layer) wall is as wide as the long edge of a brick, making your wall 215mm wide (standard UK brick size). It consists of two different layers, which alternate between a stretcher course and a header course. A stretcher course is laid with the long edge of the brick exposed and is at least two bricks thick. While the header course is laid with the short side of the brick exposed to increase the structural integrity of the wall significantly.

One-brick thick walls can be freestanding and are recommended for anything over 600mm in height. A one-brick thick wall will use 120 bricks per m² (if standard sized bricks are used).

Brick piers

Do you need to include any piers in your project? Also known as pillars, piers are vertical structures that provide additional strength to masonry walls. Commonly used as support structures, piers can also carry beams for pergolas, hold garden gates, and even add a decorative element to your wall.

Piers are constructed to be freestanding, and your wall may need to include several piers depending on the size. As an example, a half-brick freestanding wall will need two end piers (one on each side). An intermediate pier (used in the middle of a wall for support) may also be added for half-brick thick walls that exceed 4m, in addition to your end piers.

A single brick pier requires an additional 14 bricks per vertical metre, and a one-and-a-half-brick pier, will need 34 bricks for each vertical metre. Factoring these measurements into your final calculation is essential.

2 Determine the surface area

Once you have selected type of wall and the required number of piers, the next step is to determine the surface area. To find this, you will need to measure the length and height of your planned structure.

The surface area is calculated by multiplying the length and height of your masonry structure. As an example, if you are building a wall that is 6m long and 1.5m high, the surface area will be 9m² (6m x 1.5m = 9m²). Make sure you only include measurements for the wall, as any piers should be calculated separately and added on at the end.

3 Work out your numbers

Take your surface area measurement and multiply by the type of wall you are building (half-brick, one-brick etc). This will provide the number of bricks you need for your wall. Using our example above, a half-brick thick wall with a surface area of 9m² will require 540 bricks (9m² x 60 bricks per m² = 540 bricks total).

Add in any additional extras such as piers and wastage. As an example, if your masonry structure includes two freestanding single end brick piers at a height of 1.5m this would require an additional 42 bricks.

Don't forget wastage! It's common for bricks to get damaged while moving or unloading at construction sites, and brick cuts may not work out as expected. It's important to factor in approximately 10% wastage to account for situations that may arise. While you may not use all the extra bricks, it's essential to have them on hand if needed.

Finally, it's time to put it all together! Continuing with our example of a half-brick thick wall that is 6m long and 1.5m high, with two pillars and wastage included, we can calculate the number of bricks as follows:

Quantity for Brick Wall: 9m² (surface area) x 60 (half-brick thick wall) = 540 bricks + two single-brick piers: 1.5m (vertical height) x 14 = 42 bricks + wastage of 10%: 58.2 bricks = total 640.2 bricks needed

4 Important considerations

It is important to think about the size of your bricks. A standard UK metric brick measures 215 x 102.5 x 65mm, with mortar joints of 10mm vertically and horizontally.

However, if your project includes imperial bricks (potentially 225 x 110 x 73mm), you will need approximately 57 per m². For standard UK blocks (440 x 215 x 100mm), you will require 10 blocks per m². All calculations assume a 10mm mortar joint. We recommend checking with us before placing your order.

Accurate estimations are key

Working out how many bricks you need is crucial to the success of your masonry project. If you get it wrong you can be paying for multiple brick transports, risking stock issues, or spending way too much having to store or sell bricks.

At Brickhunter, we understand that (however big or small) planning for building projects can be challenging - in so many ways. That's why our fast, reliable Brick Estimation service has been designed to save you time and money.

Simply let us know what you need, and our experts will do the rest!