Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Going to be building a retaining wall in the front yard on a slope. I'm going to be using King size residential bricks to make a 2 wythe wall. Because of the slope I'll need to have 3-4 steps in the concrete footing and was planning that the rise of each step would be the height of the brick plus the thickness of the mortar. Is this the correct calculation for the rise of the step?


share|improve this question
Are these steps for walking up? – Chris Cudmore Apr 17 '13 at 12:40
No, this is for a concrete footing. The term "step" in this context refers to the rise of the footing over a sloped distance. – TugboatCaptain Apr 18 '13 at 0:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Finally found an obscure article that confirmed my calculation is correct. The Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) defines the various sizes of blocks used in US construction. They are each given a nominal size but the actual size is slightly smaller and accounts for 3/8" mortar joints. So when building lets say a retaining wall out of 16x8x8" "cinder" blocks your step rise should be 8" which is the nominal height of the "cinder" block but the blocks actual height is 7 5/8" to allow for a standard 3/8 mortar joint.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.