Brick Fences

As I travel around the Melbourne Suburbs I see lots of brick fences……….. A problem with a large proportion is that they have obvious cracks.

If you don’t believe me just walk around your neighborhood and look at a few brick fences yourself!

So why are there problems with brick fences?

  • The actual cost of the wall in both materials and labour is high resulting in people trying to minimise on wall and pier thickness.
  • Although many people think of brickwork as an inert material it is still subject to expansion and contraction which needs to be accommodated with proper detailing.
  • Unless the thickness of the wall is increased for taller walls the weight of the top portion of the wall acts against the overall wall stability.
  • Brick work is actually a fairly brittle structural material which relies on its weight for a lot of its strength. The jointing material of mortar is much weaker than the bricks.
  • Due to the considerable weight of brickwork it needs substantial (expensive) foundations which will not be subject to any settlement.
  • If it’s built on clay there is more chance of movement……The soil below the narrow foundation can gain, or lose, moisture more readily than under a house slab.
  • Although it ‘feels’ as solid as a concrete wall it may only have a tenth of the structural strength of a well designed reinforced concrete wall.

Here are a few recommendations;

  • Don’t try to save money on the foundation. After all that’s what all those expensive bricks are standing on. A 500mm wide x 300mm deep concrete with trench mesh should be the minimum.
  • Brick piers a minimum of 320mm x 320mm with vertical steel reinforcement.
  • Minimum wall thickness should be 210mm (double brick)
  • Have articulation/expansion joints at 5m intervals.
  • Use horizontal steel reinforcement every 6 courses.
  • It you are retaining soil get the wall properly designed.

All sounds too expensive?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Perhaps brick piers with infill timber or steel panels may be the way to go!

Remember – “There is no such thing as a cheap brick wall”.

For sizes of brick walls see Brick Dimensions