Brick Masonry Basement Wall Construction

In the realm of construction, basement walls form the fundamental building blocks that support the entire superstructure. While brick masonry walls aren’t the go-to choice for basement construction, they can indeed serve this purpose with precision and durability. This blog post will examine the construction of brick masonry basement walls, exploring every aspect from preparation work to finishing touches.

Preparation Work

Wetting the Bricks

Before diving into construction, it’s essential to prepare the bricks adequately. Wet the bricks at least a day before use by running a hose over the brick pile. In hot weather, consider moistening them several hours in advance to prevent rapid drying.

Cleaning Reinforcement

Reinforcement plays a critical role in the strength of the structure. Ensure that any reinforcement is thoroughly cleaned, removing loose rust, ice, or other coatings that could compromise its effectiveness.

Excavation Work

Precision in Excavation

A strong foundation begins with precise excavation. Review the approved stake survey and maintain the correct perimeter excavation line to achieve an accurately aligned foundation. Remove any loose, degradable, or unstable material and replace it with granular fill. Additionally, place a layer of aggregate on the floor to protect brick units from dirt and mud.

Foundation Access

Ensure easy access for material delivery to streamline the construction process.

Basement Wall Foundation Construction

Reinforcement Placement

After completing excavation work, it’s time to position the foundation reinforcement carefully. Pour concrete promptly to prevent excess moisture due to adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. Ensure foundation alignment to match the brick center with the foundation centerline, and roughen the foundation surface for better bonding with the first course of the brick basement wall.

Brick Installation

Quality Bricklaying

Laying bricks requires precision. Lay the bricks plumb and true to lines, with completely filled mortar joints. Butter the ends of bricks with sufficient mortar to fill head joints and carefully position closures. Avoid pounding corners and jambs to fit stretcher units after they are set in position. If adjustments are needed, remove the mortar and replace it with fresh mortar.

Placing Reinforcement and Pouring Mortar

Reinforcement Positioning

Position metal reinforcement accurately and secure it against displacement. Hold vertical reinforcement firmly in place using frames or suitable devices. Horizontal reinforcement may be placed as brickwork progresses.

Mortar Selection

The type of mortar used is crucial for the longevity of brick masonry. The Brick Industry Association recommends Type M mortar for brick masonry in contact with the earth. For reinforced and unreinforced masonry requiring higher flexural strengths, Type S mortar is recommended. Employ suitable grouting techniques and allow sufficient curing time for the wall to gain the necessary strength.


Timing is Key

Do not rush into backfilling. Ensure that concrete block walls have properly cured and have adequate bracing in place. Backfilling should commence only after the installation of drainage and waterproofing systems is finalized.

Layered Backfilling

Backfilling should occur in multiple lifts, using material free from large stones, frozen earth, organic materials, or construction debris. Carefully perform backfilling to avoid damage to the drainage system, waterproof coating, or exterior insulation.

Coating of Basement Wall

Waterproofing and Damp Proofing

To prevent groundwater penetration and rising damp, brick basement walls should be coated with waterproof or damp proof coatings. The choice between damp proofing and waterproofing depends on the presence of hydrostatic pressure. Use damp proofing when hydrostatic pressure is not a concern and waterproofing when it is. Consider using perforated pipes or drain tiles to facilitate drainage and ensure thorough inspection of drainage and waterproofing systems before backfilling.

Wall Flashing

Effective Water Management

Implement through-wall flashing at the base of the wall above grade to prevent water from entering the top of the foundation walls. Ensure that the flashing laps over the top of the waterproof or damp proof coating for optimal water management.

Recommendations for Work Protection

Covering and Wind Protection

To safeguard the work in progress, cover the top of the wall with a robust waterproof membrane at the end of each day. When work is not ongoing, partially completed walls should also be covered. Use windbreaks when wind speeds exceed 15 mph to prevent any potential damage.

Load Application and Construction Tolerances

Careful Load Application

After building masonry walls, prevent the application of uniform floor or roof loading for at least 12 hours. Avoid the application of concentrated loads for at least 3 days after wall construction.

Construction Tolerances

Maintaining precise construction tolerances is crucial. Maximum variations from plumb for vertical lines and surfaces should meet specific criteria, as should external corners, expansion joints, and plan location. Ensuring adherence to these tolerances is essential for a structurally sound brick masonry basement wall.

In conclusion, constructing a brick masonry basement wall is a meticulous process that requires attention to detail and adherence to industry standards. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a durable and reliable basement wall that forms the solid foundation for the rest of your construction project.

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