Peter Cartwright with Wise Words on Bricklaying in Central Queensland

peter-thumbFirstly, hi guys.  I’d like to say hi to all those hard working brickies out there.  I have been one for over 40 years now.

I’m still one, love it to bits. Lots of us in the building trade need both physical and mental exercise or we get bored.  Not so laying bricks, every job is different in so many aspects.

Different bricks, different colour, every job has a problem and that is what I like about bricklaying, we get to be really good trouble shooters and get a comprehensive experience in many other trades – although I must add not all paid for :O(  Shifting windows to constrict large perps, moving plumbing pipes to sit on brick courses, shifting the meter box, electrical or gas to make it gauge and bond and so on.

I have been working in Central Queensland for about 40 years now.  We are getting many migrants from the south these days and I have been asked to have a quick squiz at some of the brickwork.  I would like to point out a few cardinal facts.

The cyclone region, I think is from the 30th parallel up.  It’s causing many problems in structural brickwork, so before you jump in your car and drive up here:  the veneer ties are AS3700 which is to be medium density, not light gauge and they are to be screwed on, not nailed (this is illegal). So double, to triple the price and in my gang every one gets a battery drill, another expense.  Within 3 km from the beach stainless ties are law, about $112.00 per box and don’t throw away the stainless screws as they wont sit in your drill bit (stainless does not magnetise) and substitute the screws, as galvanised reacts with stainless.

Next thing is the mortar.  We are not in possession of fire clay as in the southern areas, so putting excessive amounts of plasticiser in each batch is structural suicide.  Your budget in the south has many areas to improve upon and I have witnessed some of the attempts to manage it – cutting back the cement powder and increasing the plasticiser – this is a double whammy no-no (double trouble!) here.

We have mother-nature to contend with – our loam comes from the river and a lot of the time we are flooded.  The loam we have is awful, so my solution has been to increase the lime.  I have had to put in up to four shovels of lime to a batch of mud.  Please, if you put in plasticiser, do put it in the water which goes in the mixer first; this lets it mix through the entire batch from the beginning.  Use lime as it has hydraulic qualities.  I always use lime in all my construction.

I just had a builder mate, consult me on a house. He was so upset with the craftsmanship and the materials used, he had it demolished.  The cost you ask?  Have a go at this: $5,000 to pull it down, $3,000 for dump fees, $10,000 to re-brick it, $9,000 for bricks and mortar.  All of the hot water system had to be removed from the outside of the house; the same for external lights and fittings and some of the soffits had to be removed, repapered and termi mesh patched.  The house had a pathway – all had to be covered.  All up the builder estimated the total cost was around $40,000 all because of shoddy mortar.  Please take note!


I have travelled the world and laid bricks in lots of countries and have seen some beautiful brickwork.  Today I’d like to share a picture of brickwork in Mexico – Mexican workers inherently down load from the Maya and Inca!  These people seem to be competent in in so many skills.


– Peter Cartwright


2 Responses to “Peter Cartwright with Wise Words on Bricklaying in Central Queensland”

  1. John Swabey

    In Peter’s book “Bricklaying” (McGraw-Hill) in the diagrams of brick bonding, figures 1.33 and 1.35, the bonding looks the same yet they have different names (Flemish bond / English bond) … which is really which?
    All across Flanders what I see is what Peter describes as English bond, including what the Belgians call “state bricklaying bond”, whereas the Menin gate, built by British sappers after WWI, is done in what Peter calls Dutch bond.

  2. peter cartwright

    Hi John , and i do agree to your comments on bonding , in the proofing of the 3rd edition in the early part of 2000 , i ordered the replacement of the English Garden Wall Bond, figure 35 as you can see the second course is not up to standard and missing some perpends , somehow the printer swapped the Flemish Bond course fig 33 with the diagram i had sent him to replace the English Garden Wall bond thus taking out the original Flemish bond diagram , sad mistake , and too expensive to fix then , as the proofs were done on continual negative tape and already transferred to the printing plates which were $10’s of thousands of dollars to make , i was overseas at the time ( all too late ) my next edition very updated ,which is going to be out at the end of this year will have the corrections , and much much more , again i thank you John for your positive feedback
    Peter Cartwright


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