How to prepare cement mortar for masonry

For the success of a good masonry job, it is very important to know how to make the mixtures that will be used to bind the various materials, be they bricks, bricks or stones.

Preparing cement mortar
Preparing cement mortar

We could even find an analogy between the success of a masonry job and the success of a dish in the kitchen: we must always remember that even before the manual skill we need the quality of the "ingredients": if the materials we will use for our work are of good quality we are already well on our way.

Advice: always use river sand for the dough and never sea sand, which contains harmful salts.

First of all, we must carefully evaluate the amount of work to be carried out, so as not to overestimate or underestimate the quantity of mortar we may need.

mortar preparation

For quantities of mortar up to 10 kg we can use buckets to mix the mixture.

For quantities from 30 to 50 kg it is advisable to work the materials on the ground with a shovel on a flat, clean surface.

Above this threshold, if we are not bricklayers used to hard work, it is better to use an electric concrete mixer that we can rent.

Let us now turn to the proportions (by volume) of cement, sand and water to obtain a good mortar, for exterior and interior masonry work:

  • 1 part cement (Portland "325" or "425")
  • 4 parts river or quarry sand
  • 1 part water

Preparing the cement mortar in the bucket

Pour the sand and cement into the bucket and mix the two components thoroughly when dry, then gradually add the water, continuing to mix with the trowel after each addition.

Mix until a homogeneous, lump-free mixture is obtained.

Preparing cement mortar on the ground

On a flat, clean surface, dry mix the sand and cement until well mixed.

Then create a large crater with fairly low edges and start adding water to the centre of the crater.

Using the shovel, begin to mix part of the crater rim with water, taking care not to allow the water to spill out of the crater, and continue to turn the mixture with the shovel until the mortar is pasty and free of lumps.

Preparing cement mortar with a cement mixer

If you are lucky enough to be able to use a cement mixer, you will save yourself a lot of effort and will appreciate how useful this tool is for preparing mortar.

Again, you mix sand and cement dry, filling the cup of the mixer.

Turn on the mixer, and once the aggregates are well mixed, start adding water with a rubber hose, and the mixer, continuing to turn, will prepare a perfectly mixed mortar for you.

Caution: Do not prepare mortar when there is a risk of frost, as the water increases in volume and breaks up the mix after application.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.