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Blocking up a back door

I'm going to be blocking up our back door and I have a couple of questions I'm hoping you peeps can help me with.

1, When I put the DPM in do I put it down, plop a mortar layer on it and then a brick or should I mortar, DPM and brick on top?

2, If possible can I fill the whole back door gap in in one day or should I only go so far up to allow the mortar to dry?

Thank you. Smile
Ty Gwyn

Cavity or Solid construction.

Personally I prefer to lay a thin bed first to hold DPC then carry on bricking as normal,but on site its rolled out on footings and a mortar bed laid ready for bricks.

If your cutting indents or using profiles it can be done in a day.


It's a cavity wall. I will be cutting indents (I think you mean removing every other short brick) as I want it to be a tidy looking job.
Ty Gwyn

Yes,that is what I mean.

Won't this prevent swift exit in the event of say, a chip pan fire?


just what I was thinking buzzy.
Lived in a small house 2013-2016 with only one outside door...only one room didn't feel like a death trap,and that was because the main living room had windows you could climb out of....

not a comment on the details but about procedure

can i do it in a day?
if the prep is done properly filling the hole is fairly rapid if the mix , both sets of bricks, the temperature and skill set are all correct for the job and on site.

hint best make sure the brick sizes match Embarassed

hint 2 plan for weather

hint 3 establish the correct mix and wetting regime for the bricks involved before going for it.

i have done things to buildings , i very recently bricked up a window but then i added more metal and rendered it, it looks ok both sides but it is reinforced fine concrete with a brick core
i moved a brick down 2 courses to move the air vent up , invisible . that was one brick and a lot of practice
if i want more than a couple of bricks in a hole to be an "invisible mend" i pay a very skilled and usually semi retired brickie to do it.

maybe split the job ,you do prep and basics but get a old hand pro to choose the loaf, butter the bread and make the sarnie ?

Buzzy and GZ, we are currently having the kitchen and dining room knocked into one. The dining room has patio doors so that will be our escape route but thank you for your concern. Smile

Ty and DPack, thank you for that. I'll be getting the prep work done first ( day one) and then bricking up the back door (day two).

One last question, the DPM do I put it just under the brick that will be the one just below floor level?

Thank you. Smile
Ty Gwyn

You want the inside DPC on top of the plastic membrane that should have been brought up over the brick footings when the slab was laid,this should be roughly 2inches below finished floor level,check the concrete section in doorway,

The outside DPC is usually 2 courses below,but incase not,just follow outside DPC level.

Thanks Ty. Much appreciated. Smile

there can be time delay issues if you need to source matching bricks, rarity and/or out of stock for a few months is not unknown in brickworld so sourcing them asap is sensible.

I've got my bricks DPack. All I need to pick up is the sand and cement for my mortar mix, the wall ties, my dense blocks and my cavity insulation, which I'll be getting either tonight or tomorrow.

if there is any chance of frost get some frost protector additive ( the sort for bricking mortar ) and an old carpet to cover the outside

the only problem with that is you will probably have most of the bottle left over. iirc it does not take much. it does make the mortar a bit softer so reduce amount of the gauging water added first off till you work it out
on sd's house my 10 t or so of concrete and mortar has just about used a litre of waterproofer Rolling Eyes

ps good hand cream helps avoid cement burn if you dont like working in gloves.

pps re ties etc stainless steel is better than galvanised if they are available and within budget


have you checked that the existing arch/lintel are of sound condition?

have you considered how the new bricks/blocks will lock into them?

helifix stainless steel rod bar is very useful stuff Wink Wink Wink but there are assorted ready made products for the job

Thanks for all that DPack.

I'll keep an eye on the weather to see what it's doing. A website said the minimum temp for mortar should be no lower than 5 degrees. I know what you mean about having lots left over, I bought a bottle of plasticiser to do a bit of pointing and I could only find a 5 ltr one Laughing thankfully it will come in on this job as well.

I'm going with stainless steel ties £8 something for 50 from Wickes.

The lintel is a big concrete looking slab above the back door (I'll post pictures this weekend) and I was going to work my way up and then if needs be angle grind the bricks to size at the very top.

I was looking under the kitchen floor last night and there is a gap of about 4 foot under the house. Would it be advisable to lift some of the floorboards and get some kind of insulation under them, between the joists?

Thanks. Smile
Mistress Rose

We used to use washing up liquid as plasticiser. Worked quite well.

I've heard that before MR but I'd bought the plasticiser before I knew.

DPack, this is what is above the back door but I'm going to ask our builder if I can safely remove it without support as really I'd like to have nothing there because I'm anal like that. Laughing

Ty Gwyn

I was never any good at physics in school,but the only weight that porch lintel is holding up is the triangle above it,all other weight is spread to eitherside,think of the arch system or the Parthenon.

Personally I`d leave the inside lintel in till last.

the current lintel thing is cracked and pokes out so will catch rain etc. removing it would be best.

there might be an internal structural lintel as well ,if so build up to it.

ask your builder for on site advice as to whether you need a strong boy just to be sure nowt will move while you work. until you expose both sides and can see the construction method it is not possible to be more specific
Ty Gwyn

There is bound to be an internal structural lintel,its cavity work.

Thank you both. I'll ask the advice of the builder but building up to it and leave it until last sounds like a sound piece of advice. Smile

There is bound to be an internal structural lintel,its cavity work.

there should be ..., fixed it Laughing

make sure there actually is one, i have come across all manner of "unorthodox" things in buildings Rolling Eyes *

re the cracked thing you definitely want that out

* a recent gem was doorway cut through gable end wall for an extension, 2 thin rfc lintels with one end in to 9" brickwork the other end on the turboblock internal wall of the extension which used the original 9" garden wall as an outer skin.
ie 30 tons sitting on biscuits.

* a more historical one involved a fair bit of papier mache, plaster and holes as a structural feature Laughing
Ty Gwyn

In building alterations,especially the DIY type,all kind of things are found,

But looking at the photo of the back door,that has not been altered since it was built,50`s/60`s at a guess?

All the lintels in this house are wood,the internal one in the living room is near on 7ft in span,but its curved.

The house is from the 30's and I guess it hasn't been changed since then.

pop a bit of plaster off and have a look Wink

chances are a 30's house might have a timber lintel internally, it may be in good condition ( work up to it ) or considering that crack it might be a bit damp ( deal with what you find )

it might be the one we can see goes all the way through ( a bit unusual )

it might be a small rfc lintel for the inside skin

it might be the door frame supports the internal skin Rolling Eyes
Ty Gwyn

Maybe it`s my eyes but the photo looks like cement mortar,has it been re-pointed ?as the norm for that period was lime mortar,in South Wales anyway,incorporating waste from steel works,hence black mortar.

And I agree ,possibly be a wooden lintel on inside skin for that period.
But I doubt very muck the lintel seen goes right through bridging the cavity.

I presume when you mentioned you had already got the bricks,that they are corresponding sizes,as the bricks then were thicker and wider.

size does matter, at least when it comes to bricks and ice creams

Thanks guys. Smile

TY, as far as I know it's not been re-pointed but I don't know that for sure. Apparently there is coal dust mixed in with the mortar, according to the guy that I bought the bricks off. The bricks are the correct size as I checked them when I took out all the half bricks running up the side of the door.

I had a chat to the builder this morning and he's going to lend me a couple of strongboys and the props to put them on. He then told me the best way to remove that concrete bit over the door oh and that also I need to get wall starters for the inside of the back door. He's a pretty great guy.

Ty Gwyn

Wall Starters?does he mean profiles instead of cutting out the cavity reveal,the reveals need cutting out or otherwise your creating a damp problem.

Strongboys?does he mean acrow props?

Its the old black mortar you have then.

The wall starters are for the internal wall and they have small tabs on apparently.

The strongboys are something that fit on top of the acro props and slid in between your bricks (once you've scrapped out all the mortar) to help support the wall above.

Yes it looks like it. It's very gritty and rough with what looks like all sorts in it.
Ty Gwyn

Sounds like profiles,i still reckon the reveal should be taken out and indents cut like outside to avoid drawing in damp.

Them strongboys sound like something similar to pudlocks used on scaffolding,but not for the same purpose,

If your brickwork looked or was unstable above lintel,i`d have knocked a brick out above lintel on inside and out and ran a flat bar or length of timber through with an acrow under each end,

These strongboys I`m trying to imagine as not seen one before,but sound like they would be very close to the brick work you will be building.

stongboys are ace, they avoid the mess of needling

quicker, safer and easier to put back together

slot out some mortar, poke em in, jack em up, easy.
Ty Gwyn

That sounds like they are close to the brickwork?

quite close but they dont seem to get in the way if you chose placement properly.
Ty Gwyn

Interesting,handy for certain jobs,in this case to use them the step out lintel will have to be snapped off to get close enough,where`as taking a centre brick out above both inside and outside lintels and supporting above on runner held by an acrow inside and out well back from wall before any dismantling takes place.

But at the end of the day its only 21 bricks one would be supporting.

if nowt moves it is easier to put back together Wink
Ty Gwyn

Exactly,hence supporting before touching lintel.

Sounds like profiles,i still reckon the reveal should be taken out and indents cut like outside to avoid drawing in damp.


These are the things he's told me to use.

I was going to use breeze blocks on the inside wall so I don't think it will be too easy to do the indents as the blocks are twice the high of the bricks.

I'm not putting a lintel in because it will be supported by the bricks underneath and therefore doesn't require a lintel. Am I correct with that thinking?
Ty Gwyn

Yes,they are profiles I`m on about.

What was the damp course like on the reveal when you removed the half bricks on the outside?it would have been felt that was used in that period and does deteriorate ,hence my mention of taking off the reveals to make a continuous cavity.

I understand the no need for a lintel as its already in place on inside,but have a check its not a wooden one in case its deteriorating,maybe worth you changing at this stage.

Ahhhh right, just different builder speak. Smile

I've not come across the DPC yet Ty as I've still another level of bricks to remove. There are some different ones at the foot of the back door that are not bricks at all and are rounded. I'll get a picture up for you.

Oh right I see, sorry for my confusion. I'll give that a check then.

Thanks for all yours and DPacks help. Smile
Ty Gwyn

The trouble when you`ve been a brickie you tend to talk as if the other person under stands you,lol.

I should have said Vertical dampcourse,up against the outside skin of bricks,the ones you have removed the halves from,the vertical damp course should be on the inside of these near you door frame.

Yes that picture will be interesting.

Have you noticed the makers name on these bricks?
Is it Manchester area you are or above Liverpool?
There were so many brickworks around in them days.


Ahhhh I see, yes there was something black behind the bricks. It was really quite hard as well. I'll try and get a picture of that for you also.

We're in Stockport. I'll have a look on the bricks I've taken out and report back. Smile
Mistress Rose

There used to be lots of brickworks as you say Ty Gwyn. Our first house was built of local bricks which is now about 10 miles west of us, there was a brickworks about 2 miles down the road from us and another a couple of miles off to the east. sgt.colon

Here you go Ty, the pictures as promised. I forgot to check the bricks for a name last night but I'll do it tonight.

The damp proof around the door is like a hard set bitumen sheet, as far as I can tell from looking at it.

Ty Gwyn

Bull nose bricks,also used on window sills,also were available with a double nose for use as copping on a 9 inch wall,and of the quality of engineering bricks for hard wearing.

When I started doing my apprenticeship as a brickie in 1970 it was only felt damp course we used then,but when I moved to a bigger firm on building sites in late 73 to finish my apprenticeship it was all plastic then.

That was my recommendation about taking out the reveals of the doorway,the old felt goes brittle and once disturbed there`s a chance its not doing its job.

History of bricks is interesting,the old colliery in Merthyr my butty and myself were trying to re-open had a retaining wall of Stourbridge bricks,which I thought strange regarding the huge number of brickworks in South Wales considering a lot of the old collieries had its own brickworks for use of its fireclay waste,doing a bit of searching found out that the Stourbridge brick company in the West Midlands had purchased a block of land if I remember correctly near Pontypool for its fireclay source for this type of brick,in-fact they were more blocks than bricks.

Thanks for that Ty. I will be removing any reveals that there is around the doorway.

It's a shame bricks aren't made locally any more and it gave them character to the place they were local to.

the old bitumin dpc is a bit fragile best replaced if disturbed.
ty is right about exposing the reveals.

while you have the cavity exposed tis worth checking for any obvious bridges and dealing with them if needs be. a moment raking a blob of muck out saves wondering what the damp spot is about later.

plastic dpc is slippery stuff, i find a few dabs of solvent based gripfill on the footings keep it in place while you get the first bricks onto it

Thanks for that DPack. It's always good to get advice from experienced peeps, especially when you've never done it yourself before. Laughing dpack

yer welcome

while you are getting prepped:

arrange a spot board for your mortar to be at waist height, it saves knees and back when buttering etc.

arrange means to mix and clean mixing area between mixes

learn about bricklaying mortars and play about with small amounts before going for an hours worth of mix,
a bit of practice with the sand and bricks you are using might be a very good investment in time and mats, ( so long as practice bits dont set just wash the bricks for reuse )
hint you need a mix that moves when you want it to and stays put when you want it to (squished out from between the courses 2 and 3 down is really frustrating Wink )

good mixing is necessary for good buttering and good lay.

re tools :

a pump up plant sprayer is well handy for damping and cleaning

as it is a patch a strait edge is probably more use than a bubble or string, use it to work the courses and faces to match the existing on all 4 sides of the hole

if you have one a vacuum cleaner that will do blow is ace for cleaning crevices etc, clean matters when mating new to old.

i know eye protection isnt traditional among brickies but a blob of mortar in the eye is pretty nasty, i use comfy but light duty ppe specs. goggles are a pita for bricking ( use em for cutting , cleaning, ragging out stuff with a breaker etc as usual )

hand cream.

Thanks for all that kind sir.

Our builder is a bit behind so I'm unable to do what I wanted to this weekend. So I will be out there practising my mixes and so forth.

I have the lightweight glasses and some goggles and dust mask for when I'm cutting my stones and blocks.

I don't have a vacuum that blows but I don't have a couple of cans of compressed air.

I pick the last of my supplies up tonight, now including a water bottle and so once people have stopped stopping me I'll be good to go. Smile
Mistress Rose

Ty Gwyn, are your bricks creamy coloured if they are made of fire clay? All ours in this area are red, or occasionally black where they are burnt. The old workhouse in the village (sadly demolished and replaced by a metal factory type building) had black glazed tiles alternating end on with red full face ones and looked pretty good. It was a factory by the time I knew it, so no connection with the past useage. sgt.colon

I've looked on the bricks and there is no name on there. They aren't even indented on the top and bottom of the brick where a name would normally be. Ty Gwyn

The only brickworks that I can think of at the moment that made yellow/cream bricks was the old Penwyllt brickworks at the top of the Swansea Valley,and they were Silica bricks ,there was also a Gunpowder factory nearby.

All other brick works I am aware of made either red engineering bricks or reddish black common bricks,but there were so many in the area.

I have a pile of old yellow bricks here, when I had several loads of rubble when they renovated the old school in Lampeter,but I`m sure they are Midlands bricks,i will check the name later,they are a soft sandy brick and deep frogged,then again I have plain old yellow bricks with no frog and no name but a harder brick,when they are plain with no name its difficult to find their source,there are sites on the internet dedicated to bricks and brickworks ,I tried to search the old bricks I found when I pulled out a grate in this house,i went back in the wall to the 6th grate that had been here,these old bricks were plain,no frogs or names,a thinner brick than norm and brown and purple coloured with a silica content and very hard,but my eyes went square in the end from the massive amounts of different brick companies to search through.

odd you should say that, the late 1940's fireplace here had an antique brick backfill

two sets of 16th/17c thin wide and frogless bout a hundred plus lots of half ones
a victorian railway brick and quite a few random 18th c ones

afaik there was a york brick industry quite early but i suspect the most of the 16/17th c stuff around york is flemish. ballast cargo to us , wool to them.

once there was a decent coal supply (18th c ) down the coast from newcastle and later from there and s yorks by train in the 19th c local brickmaking replaced imports ( we are not short of clay ) but we were short of fuel.
Ty Gwyn

If them old bricks you had had matched these I wouldn't have minded having some,i intended using some of the bricks I had here to build the quoins of a new fireplace inset,firstly I intended to use stone,but after gathering up and sorting out I didn't have enough decent stones for the quoins,so decided to brick the quoins and stone infill,well with all the different old bricks I have here i couldn't find enough to match,an even using alternate different coloured bricks ,the thicknesses didn't correspond,so it looks like I need to purchase new bricks . Ty Gwyn

The foreign bricks brought in as ballast I had not thought of,good point. Mistress Rose

In the 17th century, bricks were real luxury goods. Henry VIII built a palace of them they were regarded as so special, and there are any number of 'Red House's' around indicating they were rather special as built of brick. Ty Gwyn

Cwmdu bricks from Swansea were a cream colour. Slim

If no one minds a quick tangent while we wait for the door to be bricked up....

Can anyone suggest resources for me to check out when I one day want to build a brick walled garden as a way to play around with learning bricklaying?

In other words, what do I need to learn before I make some mistakes in person when attempting to lay brick walls in cold rocky New England?
Ty Gwyn

As they say,Google is your friend,

Check out different brick bonds to find the pattern you wish for your garden,

Check the various bricks available in your area to find your choice.

Then there`s no better mean`s of learning than practice,make a 3 to 1 mix of sand and lime for practice use,this mortar can be knocked up again/mixed up again for another practice and easy to clean bricks off.

Get to know the trowel and the wrist action,practice to lay beds,when your ready to lay your first brick its time for you to use the spirit level,get your first brick right and the rest follows in order.

Before starting to brick the wall make sureyour foundation is level,or compensate by bedding up,set out your first course and then build up the quoins,then your ready to use quoins blocks on your line for filling in the panel.

Wait till your frost has gone.

tidy advice ty Wink

all a i can add is if it is a garden project it is worth establishing the acidity/mineralisation of the soil and ground water before selecting a mortar recipe.

whatever the local contractors use is probably ok .

if there is a fair bit of thermal variation ie the eastern usa i might be inclined to use a 4 sand 1 cement 1 lime ( steep it for a while , see google etc ) .
it is less prone to frost erosion, stronger and more flexible than a cem/sand mix

so long as your ground ph is not that of peat bog it might be a good choice

if you have an acid soil or high levels of some inorganics there are cements and additives that help mitigate the issues.

a specialist mortar mix is best for constantly wet if you consider any water features
Mistress Rose

I would agree with Ty for practise; as he says, the mortar can be scraped off easily and reused. Once you get it right, go with a more stable mix, although there is a lot to be said for lime mortar as it allows movement. The normal way of making sure you have a level wall is to put a line in it; you can get spiked ends to put into the mortar course, and use a straight edge or plumb bob to make sure you are right vertically. I am not a bricklayer, but husband did a course a few years ago, and has done some odd bricking jobs where needed at home. sgt.colon

So I made a start this weekend. I got the inside done on Saturday and then I started on the outside on Sunday. I'm fairly pleased with it so far.

Inside, inside.

Inside, outside.

Outside, outside.


they match fairly well and it looks ok.

Thanks DPack. Smile

I've read and reread everyone's advise on here and then gone really steady away when doing it. I have to say it was a bit fresh sat out there yesterday and the wind blew down the side of the house.

The brick matching guy did a great job off just a photo.
Ty Gwyn

Can you take a photo of the upper part of the outside up to where you removed the cracked lintel porch,looking at the brickwork you have done and the brickwork above lintel on page 2,something is different in the brickwork,the bond has changed,or these new bricks are shorter.

If you drop a plumb line down from a few course above one should be able to see what the difference is,if you look at the brickwork above the courses are uninterrupted right across the opening.

Nice work Sgt Colon , now I've got this long section of garden wall needing a rebuild I assume you'll be able to start in January Smile sgt.colon

Thanks DD, I'll see if I can squeeze you in next year. Very Happy

Ty, once I make it up there and get the lintel removed I'll do some photos for you. I know what you mean about the brickwork, I thought it would be a straight run across but it's not and I'm having to put half bricks in. It's left me confused.
Ty Gwyn

You haven't removed the lintel yet,follow the brickwork above the lintel either side of the doorway,then follow them bricks downwards,you will see what`s happened then.

What width was the door?must be a narrow one.

Thanks Ty I'll give that a go and see what I get.

The door was just a normal size door, I thought. To fill the gap in on the inside took just under two lengths of the concrete blocks which were 440 mm in long.
Ty Gwyn

That`s what I`m confused about,normally it takes 2 blocks like yours and 4 bricks to fill a gap of 36ins.

What is the width of the outside opening?

Measure length of bricks in the wall either side and the new ones you`ve got,there is something strange going on there.

I'll get that sorted and report back. Smile

On an aside, the bricks at the bottom of the door that I took out were from Accrington which is about 40 miles away from where we are.

Ty, I've not dropped a plumb line yet but you can see from the picture below how I think it's just the brick laying that's a bit rubbish. All along the gable end there is no symmetry.

This is my door blocking so far. Hoping to get the strongboys in this weekend and get finished before Christmas day.

Ty Gwyn

Notice the yellow 3/4 in the brickwork in top photo,that is what you need doing to get the bond to look more corresponding.

I`d knock the top 3 courses off,they are spoiling the rest of your work,and use 3/4 ers to keep a bond.

yep , recover the bond Wink sgt.colon

Thanks guys.

Do you mean the top three layers of what I've done? Surprised I'm not sure I can be bothered with that. I don't love the house that much Laughing
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