Thursday, February 21, 2013

DIY Brick Columns

So we know that our blog is mostly about food, but every once in a while, we like to mix it up. Besides, we figure that people who are into cooking are usually homebodies like us who like to entertain, decorate and attempt some DYI projects. Recently, Mr. P spent a weekend giving our walkway a little facelift and we thought we'd share the details with our fans. We've always liked the way the brick columns looked in front of other houses, but we thought we would need to pay big bucks to have someone do it for us. After being inspired by this HGTV video, Mr. P decided to give it a shot even though he had no prior experience working with brick. Now, for less than $200, we have something unique in front of our home to be proud about. Best part is, we can always change the flowers and flower pot with the seasons.

180 brick pavers (4x6 size)
3 80lb bags of Quikrete Pro Finish Concrete Mix
2 60lb Quikrete Grey Mortar Mix
2 20x20 Concrete Stepping Stones
2 Pieces of 8 feet long 2x4 Lumber
16 Wood Nails (2 inches)
1 Wheelbarrow
1 shovel
2 Buckets
1 Brick trowel
1 Steel brick jointer
1 Level
1 Hammer
1 Tape Measurer
1 Flathead Screwdriver
1 Sponge
Liquid Nail
Tiled House Numbers
2 Planters
2 Decorative plants
2 Creeping Ficus

 Step 1: Begin by making the boxes for the concrete foundation of your brick columns. We had Lowes cut the lumber for us. We asked them to cut the 2x4 into eight pieces that were 22 inches long. Using a hammer carefully use two nails per joint. Once you have made both boxes, decide where you would like to place them.

 Step 2: Using the shovel, dig a hole big enough to place the boxes you created. You want the  top of the boxes to be  level with the ground and symmetrical to the walkway and sidewalk on both sides. Make sure that the boxes are level as this will be your foundation. Double and Triple Check this step! This is the step that took us the longest.

 Step 3: Mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow according to the instructions on the package. Fill your boxes with the concrete and smooth out using the brick trowel. Let the concrete dry over night.

 Step 4: In the morning, remove the wooden boxes. You will need to put the flathead screwdriver into the joints of the wood to loosen the nails and prey the box open. Now the fun begins, laying the brick. Mix the mortar according to the instructions. We worked with little at a time and we preferred it on the wetter side because we thought it was easier to work with.

 Step 5: Using the trowel, add mortar where you will be placing the bricks. Spread it out evenly and smoothly. You want to have about a 1/2 inch layer between each level of bricks. In the photo above, we had already placed six layers. One bucket had the prepared mortar and the other had water.

 Step: 6: Grab a brick and place it on the wet mortar.  Make sure it is flush with the side and front.

 Step 7: Grab the next brick and place mortar on the seam that will touch the brick you just laid. Place that brick and continue to work on that layer.

 Step 8: Another layer complete. Make sure to check that each layer is level and that the side of the columns are also level. This is very important! You don't want your columns to look crooked at the end.

As you see above, we are used two bricks for the left and right and one on the top and bottom.  This pattern is alternated in each layer. We decided to do it like this so our columns would be a 16x16 inch square and we did not have to make any cuts in the brick.

 Step 9: Once you finish a layer, grab some mortar with the trowel make sure that all the seam and gaps are filled with mortar. Scrap the excess and put it back in the bucket with the mortar, it can be reused.

 Step 10: Every 3 layers or so, give the column a good wipe down with water and a sponge.  Be very generous with the water. You want to clean the brick so that the mortar doesn't dry on them.

 Step 11: See how clean the column looks after a wipe down? Continue this process until you desired height. We gave our columns 15 layers of bricks. We though it was the perfect height for the look that we were going for.

 Step 12: Attach the concrete top with mortar as well. Make sure that the final product is level. Give it one last wipe down with water and the sponge. Using the brick jointer, run it along all the joints. This will give the bricks more definition and will help the water run off the brick.

Once finished, we attached our Mexican Talavera tile house numbers with liquid nail and secured them with tape, so they would not slide.

 Step 13: After 3 hours, we removed the tape and placed a terra-cotta planter on top of the columns. We replanted grass and planted a creeping ficus behind the column so that it grows on the column with time. Not bad for the first time ever working with brick!!

Joey inspecting our finished product.


  1. LOVE this project, may have to try this myself! How long did it take to do this?

    1. Hi Sophia, The entire things took 2.5 days. We did it on a long weekend. It really looks more complicated than it is.. The most important thing is to ensure everything is level. =) Let us know if you try it.

  2. Replies
    1. We are still shocked we pulled this off.. They look great!

  3. Since, I have personally tried using the services of a Cape Town based paving contractor, and I felt completely satisfied with their work, I recommend them to anyone who wants to re-design his patio or driveway.

  4. hrough training and on-the-job work you build the skills to provide a quality product to the customer. Having the skills and knowledge to tackle any job site, any project challenge with confidence is what sets you, the contractor above the rest.  As a consumer, knowing that your contractor has the training and skills they need to do the job right gives you peace of mind.Pioneer paving and masonry 

  5. Your brick column looks awesome and they look like a pro did the job! You have inspired me to take on a similar project. I am going to build some brick columns to use as posts between an aluminum fence I am installing in my back yard. Your instructions seem clear and I really appreciate you guys taking the time to share the information.

    I do have a couple of questions... My local brick company is quoting me $0.65 per brick, does that sound reasonable? Also, I haven't been able to locate any concrete caps, I have only found them made of limestone and they cost a little more than $100 each. Where did locate your concrete caps and how much did they cost?

  6. These look like they will tip eventually because you did not prep the base properly. In non-freezing climates, you should have a 4" gravel/QP base starting at about 9" below grade, then your concrete can be poured for the next 4"... you can then bury 1" of brick under the ground. In climates that freeze or very wet climates, I'd consider going even deeper. Many of these tip from the heave/thaw or water erosion.


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