Laying a foundation
If you need to put down foundations to build the seating area, dig out 300mm wide x 300mm deep and mix cement, sand and stone to the ratio of 1:2:2. Pour this over the dug out cavity and fill to 20mm below the level of the surrounding area. Let this cure for 7 to 10 days before building on.
YOU WILL NEED:
2 bags of cement
4 bags of sand
Brick and stone sealer (optional)
2 sheets of 16mm shutterply or OSB (oriented strand board)
Exterior wood glue
Pack of 4 x 30mm screws
Drill/Driver + assorted bits
Club hammer and cold chisel
Safety goggles and gloves
*Calculate how many bricks you need for your seating, taking into consideration that there are 51 bricks in a square metre.
1. Work out the shape of your seating by dry-laying the bricks on your existing foundation or thrown foundation.
2. In a wheelbarrow or suitable container, mix the mortar to a ratio of 1 spade of cement to 4 spades of sand. Only mix what you can use in half and hour if the weather is hot, or make sure to cover the mix with a tarp to prevent it from drying out. Mix the cement and sand together well before slowly adding water to make a reasonably thick paste.
3. Use a trowel to put down a 2cm-thick layer of mortar on the foundation.
4. Start at one end and place the first brick on the mortar, pressing down so that the brick is firmly bedded in the mortar. For the second, and every other brick in the row, 'butter' one end of the brick. This means that you apply a layer of mortar to one end before butting it up against the end of the preceeding brick.
GOOD TO KNOW
For this project the bricks have been laid on their side rather than the base. The reason for this was to allow for more storage on the inside of the seating and take up less space.
5. Because we are creating 'boxes' for seats, with a cavity on the inside, turning the corner was left till last and the bricks laid in a running bond - or staggered arrangement.
6. After completing the back section of the seat wall, bricks were added and cut to build a square corner and then repeat the entire process of building the front seat wall.
GOOD TO KNOW
As you work, use a spirit level to continuously check that your brick rows are level. If this was a straight row of bricks it would be a good idea to set up stakes and stretch out a builder's line to follow. Have a rubber mallet on hand for tapping down any uneven bricks.
7. After laying all the bricks for the seating, brush down the bricks with a stiff brush to clean and then use a pointing trowel to neaten up the mortar joints before the mortar has time to dry.
8. Leave the finished brickwork to dry overnight.
9. For the seat tops we cut 16mm shutterply to fit onto the curved seats. The seat tops are held in place with battens glued and screwed to the underside.
10. It is important to apply exterior sealer to all sides of the shutterply seat tops. Apply according to the manufacturer's recommended instructions for maximum protection.
11. Brick and stone sealer is applied to the now dry brickwork to enhance the colour.
The seating is now complete and we have a comfortable place to sit on cool evenings and during the colder months of the year. Plus, the seat tops lift off and allow for storage on the inside for braai accessories, etc.
For the firepit we repurposed an old water feature and filled this with medium-sized pebbles. The container for the fire is the bottom half of an old braai and grill.