Bricklaying Question

Correct mix of mortar for my brick bbq

I've started building a brick barbecue. The concrete base turned out perfect, but I didn't get much further than that. I'm having a lot of trouble mixing good, easily workable mortar. The mix I tried is 6:2:1 (sand:lime:cement). As I'm not used to laying bricks, I need to take my time adjusting the bricks into place. This seems impossible with the mortar I made. No matter how much water I put in it, the mortar dries fast and doesn't stick to the bricks (bricks that have been layed 24hrs ago can easily be removed by hand). What am I doing wrong?

15 Answers

Best Answer

You dont need lime in the mix.
4/5 builders sand to 1 cement.
add some plasticer to mix as per instructions.
You wont have any problems with this.
Get yourself a decent spirit level and mark up a gauging rod. cant go wrong

Answered 17th Feb 2011


Member since 29 Oct 2008

forget the lime, use a 4:1 sand/cement mix and plastisizer (feb) or failing that a spot of washing up liquid let it mix, don't use too much water as the plastisizer/fairy will make the water wetter! if the bricks are dry and the weather hot it might be an idea to soak the bricks first but in this weather you should be ok. good luck

Answered 5th Mar 2011

Proline Fencing & Landscapes

Member since 8 Jun 2010



Answered 17th Feb 2011

A J Building Management Ltd

Member since 8 Jan 2009

forget the lime!. 4to1 sand+cement with a touch of feb (plasticiser). make it quite soft so you can move bricks gently into position. Once mortar starts going off use a fine water spray to stop it drying out too quickly.

Answered 18th Feb 2011

domestic roofingandbuilding

Member since 15 Aug 2008

lime mortar does not set the same as sand and cement mortar.this is why you can still pull them of the next you have a concrete base you should use a sand +cement mix with plastercier.mix should be like soft icecream.if you do wish to lay in lime mortar.if mixing by hand dry mix all components until one colour best on a board then take some of it ad water slowly .this way what you dont use can be put in a bag until you get chance to use it.if mortars drying out to quickly on the brick you can wet the bricks up before us so they dont suck out all the moistier.but let drip dry before use. hope this helped.

Answered 19th Feb 2011

y,not build

Member since 3 Oct 2009

definitely dont use lime. a 4sand and 1 cement is fine for most brickwork. some builders mix 5sand and 1 cement but the mortar has no workabilty and thats why you are struggling.also if your inexperienced use plastisicer and it will give you more time.

Answered 20th Feb 2011

d.a.newton building contractors

Member since 12 Mar 2009

No feedback

A lime mortar is not really suitable for this type of work, as it slows down the hardening process I would use a sand and cement mix of 4:1 if the sand is very soft try replacing one part of the sand with a sharp sand or fine grit, this would give the mortar more body.

The use of a plastisicer, easy available from any diy store, screwfix etc, is a must, only use the correct amount stated.

Try and get the mortar well mixed first in small batches, then add small amounts of water at a time to get the right consistency, its a mistake to use too much water, the art is in the mixing !

Answered 19th Feb 2011


Member since 26 Aug 2008

No feedback

4 to 1 sand and cement in a bucket with a guaging trowel , mix dry first, then add a bit of fairy liquid and be carefull to add water a bit at a time as you could easily make a sloppy mix ! disasterouse for diy brickies!.
mix it untill you break a sweat and it will be like angel delight!.
consider buying the brickie mate as your no brickie mate , all the best :)

Answered 18th Feb 2011

DMB Building and Roofing

Member since 27 Jan 2011

HI, I wouldn't use lime in a barbecue, as you are not a bricklayer - you are making hard work for yourself. Lime is very hard to handle if you don't have the experience. I would use a 4 parts cement to 1 part sand can get a fire cement which helps with not cracking the mortar when the barbie gets hot. Take your time with setting out the first course first, as this is the most inportant course. Even do yourself a sketch first.

All the best,

Answered 17th Feb 2011

kentish builder

Member since 14 Jul 2009

Ideal mix would be 6 parts soft (building sand) 1 part Portland cement 1 part hydrated lime and mix a mortar plasticiser with a bucket of water and use this to knock up a mix. Mortar plasticiser can be bought cheaply from Any diy store. This will stop the mortar drying out too easily and keep it workable for a longer period of time. Hope this was helpful.

Answered 25th Feb 2011

JT Stonework & Restoration Limited

Member since 16 Nov 2010

Hi, I would suggest not using lime to improve workability, instead use a plasterciser (feb mix). Use this as directed on the manufactor's information. When mixing the mortar use a 4:1 ratio (sand to cement). When carrying out your work ensure the first course is correct as this is the most important course,if you find the motar is still going off to quickly try adding a retarder to the mix which will prevent the mortar going off to quickly.

Hope this helps.

Answered 17th Feb 2011

WR construction & Damp proofing

Member since 2 Dec 2010

It sounds like you're not getting enough air into the mortar to allow you to lay the brick correctly and also aid adhesion to the brick. You should also be using soft sand only.
If you are using a proper mixer, put some water (half a pail) in first. Then add the cement and lime, allow this to mix up, if it is very stiff at this stage add more water, then add your sand. Leave it to work and allow it to mix before adding any more water. You want it to be like a cake mix consistency with plenty of air in it. Be patient. If you add too much water too early it will just turn to soup!
If it just sticks to the mixer, turn it off, scrape off, add a bit more water and mix again.

Answered 17th Feb 2011

NR Building Services

Member since 19 Nov 2009

Like other trademan has said 4/5 builders sand 1 cement
Your first course of brick is the important course because you will be working to that course a good gauge and Spirit level and your off to go

Answered 16th Oct 2017

J&J Property Maintance

Member since 3 Oct 2017

5 sand and 1 cement with a small cap full of Feb mortar mix if it is high quality building sand best way to mix is throw 3 sand in the mixer then cement then the last 2 sand so it is mixes easier then add a dash of water bit by bit allowing to mix corrrectly and not making it to wet and unusable as it will dribble on face of brickwork

Answered 23rd Jan 2018


Member since 23 Jan 2018

No feedback

Just use a simple 4-1 mix with plasticiser.

Answered 3rd Sep 2018

Andrew Dunn builder

Member since 3 Sep 2018

Need help with your project?

We have tradesmen ready to help you. Post a job, read reviews and hire today.

Post a job

Need some help?

Post a job on MyBuilder to find quality, local Bricklayers who can help you with your project.

Search all questions