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How to build a dry stone wall with slate bricks

En tørrmur av skifer i lys grå skifermurstein fra Oppdal
Slate bricks are a great solution for bringing dull surfaces and façades to life. Choose from a wide range of slate bricks with which to be creative. Encircle a flowerbed or build a supporting wall for a garden slope or a fireplace.

Here is a step by step description, and if you scroll to the bottom there is a video about dry stone walling from Minera School of Slate.

A garden with steps of slate and a low dry wall of slate bricks.

Number of slate bricks:

The number of slate bricks you will need will depend on the type of wall and whether it’s for a fireplace with a lot of corners, or a long wall. Order a few more bricks so you have a little more to choose from, and as a minimum 10 per cent more than the size of the finished wall.

Choosing the size

Small

For use where there is limited space and low weight is important. Due to the bricks’ narrow depth, the variation in both length and height will be more limited. You will always need to use cement on the backside in this example.

Medium

A very useful size that looks great aesthetically and is very stable. Beautiful for decoration both indoors and outdoors, for façades, fireplaces, walls and other brickwork. These are usually cemented on the backside.

Large

A sturdy slate brick to be used where there are no limitations in terms of space or weight. Used for decorative masonry and outdoor retaining walls. With a greater depth, the length and height will be more varied and will have a more solid and rough appearance. This size can also be used for smaller retaining walls and backfilled with loose, drainable material.

Many bigbags with drywall of slate. The bricks stands in the slate quarry with a view towards mountains.

Preparation

  1. Prepare the ground and set up a brick line to keep things straight.
  2. Empty the sack or box and lay the bricks out so you get an idea of their shapes and sizes.
  3. Put the potential cornerstones to one side.
  4. Roughly sort by depth and use the deepest bricks at the bottom.

Building the wall

  1. The bricks should be ‘connected’, which means that all vertical lines must be broken You should also make sure not to have the same height for the bricks all along the length. Break up the horizontal line after three to five bricks.
  2. The facing surface should be slightly sloping. Lay the bricks with the broadest side down (at the bottom).
  3. Bricks that are too wide or have a very sloping edge should always be split one or more times to even them up.
  4. Bricks for a dry stone wall should in principle be used in the lengths in which they are supplied. If you need to split a brick lengthwise, it may actually split vertically, in the natural layers of the slate. If you need to split a brick, we recommend using an angle grinder either by cutting it all the way through, or by scoring part way through and then breaking the stone at the crack. When splitting a brick, a general rule of thumb is to take off at least double the brick’s thickness.
  5. When building with cemented bricks, it is important to brush off the reverse side of the brick, so that the mortar binds well. It is also a good idea not to build too much length at once.

Coping

It is important to put coping stones on the top of the wall to prevent water penetrating, which can also lead to salt and limescale build-up, as well as frost damage.

  1. Choose a size (width and overhang) in harmony with the wall.
  2. Cut the coping stones to fit. When splitting a brick, a general rule of thumb is to take off at least half the brick’s thickness.
  3. It is important to cover fully with glue. It is best to cover both the top of the wall and the underside of the coping stone.
  4. Make sure there is good water run-off. For a double-sided wall, you can make a run-off by cutting a channel in the technical overlap to allow water to run off the wall. With a single-layer wall, you can mount the coping with a small overlap to allow run-off.

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