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How to Build a Brick Corner

Updated February 21, 2017

When constructing a retaining wall at home, many homeowners and do-it-yourselfers will build only a straight, flat wall for fear of dealing with curves and corners. However, laying a wall with corners is not all that different from constructing a straight wall. Once the concrete foundation is poured, you need simply to mark the location of your wall and mix up the mortar before laying out the bricks and carefully building up the wall.

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  1. Line up a mason's square at the corner where you want to lay the bricks. This is a two-sided tool that will create a right angle at the corner.

  2. Snap a chalk line along both of the legs of the mason's square to mark off the corner. This will give you a guideline for building up the corner.

  3. Hose down the bricks to moisten the surfaces and prevent them from absorbing water from the mortar mixture. Do this before you start mixing the mortar to ensure that the bricks dry slightly before you use them.

  4. Mix your mortar and water in a bucket or wheelbarrow until the material is smooth, features no lumps or powder and has a consistency similar to smooth, creamy peanut butter.

  5. Lay out the bricks in a dry run in the corner to ensure that you know where all the bricks will go. This will ensure that you know what the pattern will look like, and that you have the proper number of bricks for the corner area.

  6. Remove the dry laid bricks. Spread a layer of mortar over the corner area with a pointed mason's trowel. Spread the mortar 1 inch thick over the whole area.

  7. Line up the first brick carefully in the corner with the two chalk lines and press it into place. You should see excess mortar squeeze out of both sides of the brick.

  8. Run a level across the top of the brick to ensure that it is sitting fully flat. If necessary, tap the brick into place with the handle of the trowel or a rubber mallet.

  9. Continue to lay bricks in your corner until that area is complete. You can then lay your entire first layer of the brick wall starting from the corner point. Check the level of each brick to ensure that the wall is sitting completely flat.

  10. Mark the first two bricks of your second layer of the wall into quarters. Use a chisel and hammer to cut off one-quarter of each brick.

  11. Lay the two larger pieces of cut brick for the outside edges of the second layer of the corner area. This ensures that the mortar joints of the bricks will be staggered for stronger hold.

  12. Continue to build upward and outward from the corner, alternating starting with full bricks and starting with three-quarter bricks as you work your way up. Continue until the wall is complete.

  13. Tip

    You can build a brick wall up to 3 feet tall with only bricks and mortar; taller walls need steel rebar reinforcement to stand properly.


    Cutting bricks produces shrapnel and dust. Always wear protective goggles when cutting bricks to prevent injury.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mason's square
  • Chalk and chalk line
  • Hose
  • Mortar
  • Bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Stirrer or paddle mixer
  • Mason's trowel
  • Level
  • Chisel and hammer

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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