Compressed earth blocks (CEB) You can find these
at building supply stores. Most are stabilized with
about 5%-10% Portland cement to make them
Circular saw with masonry blade (optional)
for cutting bricks
the top of the metal is flush with the level you want
the sand to be (Figure A). You then bridge another
piece of metal across the 2 pieces of square tubing,
so that it sits on top of them, and drag it backward
and forward over the area until it’s smooth.
Set up your boards and tools where you’ll begin
working. It’s often best to start along the room’s
straightest edge, so that your first row of bricks follows a good line. Also, it’s easier to begin near where
the bricks are coming from, so that the person
handing you bricks can use the finished part of the
floor to walk on, instead of having to set up more
boards to walk on.
2. Pick a pattern.
Running bond may be the easiest pattern to get your
feet wet, but none of them are hard (Figure B). Herringbone can be difficult to visualize, but once you
get going, it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems.
118 Make: Volume
3. Cut or break the bricks.
Whichever pattern you choose, you’ll need some
half bricks. Try and work out roughly how many
you’ll need for your starting edge, and cut those
ahead of time. You can do the ones needed at the
other end of your rows, once the rest of the floor
is laid. Cut the bricks using a circular saw with a
masonry blade. A dust mask is a good idea, as this
kicks up a bunch of very fine dust.
If you’re not too particular about the edges of
your cut bricks, it’s far easier to break them instead
of cutting. We did this by turning a piece of angle
iron upside down, so that its corner is pointing
upward. We then hit the metal with the brick at the
point where we wanted it to break. It’s a little ragged,
but you can clean it up with a chisel or hammer.
4. Lay the main section of the floor.
Place each brick, one by one, where you want it to go.
With the long level, check that each brick is level with
previously placed bricks or with existing floors that
you wish to match. With the short level, make sure
the brick itself is level in all directions. You also want
to check that it’s lined up well with the wall. If the first
brick is angled just a little, so that one side is closer to
the wall than the other side, this will be highly visible
by the time you lay an entire row of bricks.
Use the rubber mallet to tap the brick tight against
its neighbors (Figure C). Then tap down on it if necessary to get the level correct. Add or remove sand if
necessary. Bear in mind that the bricks themselves
are not always smooth — they may rise slightly at
the edges. If you wish, you can sand these edges
down by rubbing them with another brick or a trowel.
When you reach the opposite end of the wall and
don’t have a brick to fit in the space, leave it. You’ll
place all the edge bricks at the end.
Even before the floor is finished, you can walk on
it, but don’t tread near the unfinished edges.
5. Lay the edge bricks.
You may have to measure each space and cut or
break bricks to fit. Alternatively, you can fill the edge
gaps with a very fine concrete when you do the
perimeter. Be sure to check that the edge bricks
(and pieces) are level with the main floor.
6. Fill the perimeter with concrete.
Once you’ve laid the main bricks and edge bricks,
you can fill in the perimeter — in between the bricks