In this article, I will take you through the sequence of steps required to build a concrete block pillar from start to finish.
Positioning your pillars
The first thing you need to do is mark out the ground where you want your pillars to be – sounds easy but there are a few things you should keep in mind.
If the pillars are close to the roadside – are they back far enough to allow you to pull up in your car so that the back of your car is off the road?
Another thing to keep in mind is the distance apart you will make them, don’t have them too far apart and don’t have them too close.
Be aware that there may be other vehicles required to enter and exit your premises which are larger than your car – delivery lorries and oil lorries to name a few.
I would advise you to keep them at a minimum of 14 feet apart.
Marking out before digging
When you have decided the width of the pillar and where you will place it – the next thing you need to do is mark it out on the ground – I would advise using a line marker spray can.
Remember to keep the front faces of two pillars in line with each other – otherwise, it will look like a mess botch job.
Mark each pillar on the ground and then make another line 6 to 12″ outside the pillar the whole way around- this is the area you will dig out to put in your foundations.
How will I dig the hole?
You can either use hand tools like a spade and shovel or use a digger to dig out the pillars – depending on how large the foundations are.
If you have never dug out pillar foundations before I would advise you to use a digger as it is quite labour-intensive.
How deep should pillar foundations be?
You should dig the hole for the foundations down to a depth of 2 to 3 feet deep or until you hit hard ground – you should keep the side of the foundations vertical and the hole should have four nice square edges to it.
The reason for wanting a square hole with vertical sides is the pillar foundation will be less likely to move in a neat square hole as opposed to having a rounded bottom hole.
Setting the depth of concrete
When everything is dug out and the base is level and the sides vertical and straight you should hammer in four iron rods into the base – one in each corner of the foundation.
The top of these rods will mark the depth of concrete you will be pouring in. I would recommend pouring 8 to 12″ of a concrete foundation for building on.
Keeping your foundations level
Set a spirit level across the top of the four rods and adjust them until they are level – this means when you pour your concrete into the foundation when you stop at the top of these bars your base will be at the required depth and it should also be level. This will make it much easier to build your blocks on.
Add services first
Next, you can add any services the pillars require – for lights or electric gate controls. I would set a piece of plastic pipe/ducting into the foundations so that you don’t have to chisel into the base at a later stage.
Beginning to lay blocks
After two to three days after the concrete has been poured you can not begin to build your blocks on the base.
You should start with the front row of blocks first – using a builders line to keep both rows of blocks in line.
Keep your pillars in line
You can then lay your back row of blocks using the builders line, which you should have set by using a tape measure from the front row to the correct distance to the back row.
You can then lay the sides using a set square against the front and back rows.
When you have the two bottom rows laid out you can then begin to build row upon row until you get to your required height.
What type of gate do you want?
You should know before building your pillars if they will be hung gates or freestanding pillars with sliding gates – this will allow you to add hangers to the block work as you go. I will be having a sliding gate so I do not need to build in hangers
Keep your pillars plumb
Use your spirit level against the sides as you lay each row of blocks to ensure your pillars are plumb, and keep checking they are square using your tape measure and set square.
Before adding your pillar tops you should carry out any wiring or fixing as once the pillar top goes on it is much less convenient to work on.
Adding the pillar top
The pillar top should be fitted square to the top of the blockwork – use a tape measure to check that all sides are sitting an equal distance from the blocks.
Complete with your finish of choice
Finally, you can finish the pillar with whatever you choose – stone facing, smooth plaster or pebbledash.
These will be finished with a white marble chip inside a slurry of white cement known as a wet dash -which will stop at the square ring of stone (granite)
I hope you found my article helpful – how do you think my pillars turned out? Comments below…Thank you!