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NO PANE, BIG GAIN; Last week I told you what you needed to brick up a window like a pro. Here's how to do it...

Byline: YOUR HOME With Bake Off finalist and builder Richard Burr

TAKE OUT THE OLD WINDOW Windows are made of glass, so put your goggles on. If they are wooden, strip off all the mouldings surrounding the windows and carefully release the glass. Then saw, hammer and chisel the wooden frame and sill to remove it. If you have double glazing, you may need professional help, as it's more complicated to remove.

Use your hammer drill and masonry bit to neatly cut the mortar away from the half-bricks that were cut around the window opening. You are losing these, so gently take them out, as you'll be replacing them with whole bricks. Remember - if you're losing the lintel, wait until you've got some bricklaying underway before you get it out.

Clean up the new opening and chip off any excess cement around it.

LAY YOUR BRICKS Knock up your dry mortar first, in a ratio of three parts sand to one part cement. Once the dry parts are mixed, shovel them into a pile and make a well in the middle with your shovel.

Mix in the required ratio of plasticiser (it will tell you how much to use on the bottle) into a bucket of water and pour 'some' water in the well. Because the sand you're using may be either saturated with water, or bone dry, there is no way I can tell you how much water you need to put in, so start with a little and work your way up.

As my old boss (and baking mentor) used to say - "You can always add Rich, but you can NEVER take away!" Mix your water in thoroughly until the mortar easily slips off the shovel, but retains its shape when laid on the ground.

Before you start to lay the bricks, knock masonry nails into the brick joints either side of your opening for the first course, and stretch some string between them. The line of the string will be the guide for laying your bricks. Move the nails and string up as you do each course.

Using your brick trowel, scoop up some mortar and lay it on the bottom surface of your opening. Using the tip of your trowel, move the mortar around so that an even layer of mortar covers the area where you are going to lay a brick. Do not smooth this mortar down - it needs to have a rough surface so that the brick can be laid.

Use your trowel to scrape some mortar on to the side of the brick and lay the first brick in place. This should be a brick on the outside of your wall. Lay the outside course (layer) of bricks first then lay the bricks on the inside. This will ensure your outside edge is neat. However, when you get to the final course of bricks, you'll need to lay the inside bricks first. When the first brick is in place, gently tap the brick with the butt of the trowel to ease it into position. You have now laid a brick! Keep doing that until you have filled up the hole to one course (layer) of bricks, two bricks deep.

To lay the final course of bricks, you'll need to lay a layer of mortar as before, and scrape some mortar onto the side of a brick, but this time you'll also have to scrape a layer of mortar on the top of your brick.

Do this and push the brick in place. You will still see a gap in the mortar between the top brick and the rest of the wall. To fill this in, you will need to get a small amount of mortar on your brick trowel and smooth this down into a 1cm layer with your pointing trowel. Lay the brick trowel against the wall with its bottom edge resting on your final layer of bricks, and chop mortar into the open joint with your pointing trowel.

Should you need to cut any of your bricks, lay the brick on a flat surface (the floor outside usually) with the 'face' of the brick (the bit you see) facing up. Put the blade of your bolster where you want the cut to go and give it a couple of short, sharp whacks with your club hammer. This may take a bit of practice.

FINISHING THE JOB Once your bricks are laid, it's time to make everything look neat. Using the sharp edge of your trowel, scrape off any mortar that is sticking out of the wall. Using your pointing trowel and brick laying trowel, fill any gaps in the mortar that were missed during the brick laying.

Rub off the edges with either a jointing tool, or some 15mm copper pipe by dragging it along the joints to give a smooth curved surface in the mortar.

Next, brush the brick surface with a soft brush, just to soften any sharp or ugly edges in the mortar, then clean up and you're done.

Happy building!
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 13, 2018
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