Building Stepped Walls
An ornamental wall can look most effective when advantage is taken of a sloped site to stagger or ‘step’ this at varying levels. Double hollow walls can be filled with earth-but allow drainage holes in the base. Such walls can be very attractive when planted.
The extent to which a wall is stepped is partially a matter of its looks, or aesthetics, and making an economic use of materials. A greater number of ‘steps’ on a steep slope will economise on the use of bricks.
It may be necessary to make use of a number of half bricks to ensure the continuity of bond on a stepped wall, but this will be apparent during setting out of the brickwork.
The footings must be correctly stepped, or you will have difficulty in building the wall accurately. To decide on the number of steps, first establish the angle of the site and transfer this to a sheet of graph paper.
To establish the fall, set up a post at the front of the site, at least as high as the highest point of the slope. Fix a peg at ground level at the rear of the slope, across to the front post. Tie a string between these two points and align this horizontally with a spirit level.
Measure the height of the line at the front and the length of the site. This will give you the fall ratio. If, for example, the length of the area is 10m and the height of the string on the front pole is 3m, you have a 3m in 10m fall.
You will be able easily to transfer this ratio and dimensions to graph paper, using a tenth scale, marking the angle of fall accordingly. This enables you to decide, as much as anything, on the ‘look’ of the proposed wall.
Once you have decided on the number of steps, measure these out and put in pegs to correspond with the front of each step.
The post at the front of the site is then marked with the height of each step, by taking a string line from each marker back to this post. Check that the line is truly horizontal in each case. You now have the measurements of the height of each stepped section.
Footings can now be excavated. These are dug in further short steps, between the markers for the main wall steps. Each step in the footings corresponds with the length and the height of the bricks used for the walls.
Each step, therefore, goes up in increments of the height of a brick. Using a brick 305mm long and 75mm high, the first step would be 75mm high, the second 150mm above that, the third 225mm, and so on. Stepped footings enable considerable economy to be made in materials.
To lay the footings, you will need short pieces of timber, to contain the concrete at each step level, or alternatively build the front of each step up with a brick. The latter provides an accurate module for height. When pouring the concrete, check carefully for accuracy of each stepped section. Make sure, also, that at no point does the front of stepped footings rise above ground. The front should be at about the depth of half a brick.
A steel tape is used to measure out the position of the stepped wall sections. Until brickwork is above ground level you will not be able to work to a string line, so use a straight edge initially.
10. November 2011 by admin
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