March 13th 2019
One of the toughest aspects of building a brick structure is determining how many bricks you will need. Ordering too few can potentially delay your project, while over ordering is a quick way to throw 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 much easier to get it right first time around.
Luckily, it's relatively easy to estimate the number of bricks for any given project accurately. Read on to find out how.
The first step is to determine 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, and even an exterior facade for 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.
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, or it could be a simple garden wall. 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 square metre if standard bricks are used.
Half-Brick Thick Wall = 60 bricks per square metre
A one-brick thick (or two layers) 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 square metre if standard sized bricks are used.
One-Brick Thick Wall = 120 bricks per square metre
Do you need to include any piers in your project? 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 4 metres, in addition to your end piers.
A single brick pier requires an additional 14 bricks per vertical metre, while a much larger, one and a half brick pier, will need 34 bricks for each vertical metre. Factoring these measurements into your final calculation is essential.
Single Brick Pier = 14 bricks per vertical metre
One and a Half Brick Pier = 34 bricks per vertical metre
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 of your masonry structure with the height. As an example, if you are building a wall that is 6 metres long and 1.5 metres high, the surface area will be 9m2 (6 metres long x 1.5 metres high = 9m2). Make sure you only include measurements for the wall, as any piers should be calculated separately and added on at the end.
Surface Area = Length of the Wall x Height of the Wall
Take your surface area measurement and multiply by the type of wall you are building (e.g. half-brick, one-brick, or other). 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 square metre = 540 bricks total).
Half-Brick thick Wall = Surface Area x 60
One-Brick thick Wall = Surface Area x 120
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 1.5 metres, this would require an additional 42 bricks.
Single Brick Piers = Vertical Metre x 14
One and a Half Brick Piers = Vertical Metre x 34
Don't forget wastage! It's common for bricks to get damaged while moving or unloading on 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.
Brick Wastage = 10% of total quantity required
Finally, it's time to put it all together! Continuing with our example of a half-brick thick wall that is 6 metres long, 1.5 metres 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 Bricks Needed: 640.2 bricks needed
One important consideration to take into account is the size of your brick. 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 65mm), you will need approximately 57 per square metre. For standard UK blocks (440 x 215 x 100mm), you will require ten blocks per square metre. All calculations assume a 10mm mortar joint. We recommend checking with us before placing your order.
Accurately calculating the number of 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 and having to store or sell bricks. Follow these calculations, and you'll have the perfect quantity the first time! If you are still unsure, our team will gladly help you out with your brick purchase, whether matching, selecting or just buying bricks.