- Q. I'm planning to form a
simple 4-foot stem wall foundation for a single-story garage
using plywood, snap ties, and walers. It needs to have a brick
ledge for the top 10 to 12 inches, which will show above grade.
What's a simple, effective way to do this? Should I transition
from a 10-inch wall, or can I use an 8-inch wall and reduce the
thickness at the top? Would rigid foam board make a good
A.Jay Meunier responds:
Sometimes Styrofoam is used for forming pockets in complicated
areas because it's so easy to shape. But it's fairly costly and
has to be handled very carefully when you remove it from the
formwork if you plan to use it a second time. A simple,
inexpensive way to form your brick shelf is with 2x4s and
1/2-inch plywood (see illustration, below). Make a short "wall"
with a top and bottom plate and uprights every 18 to 24 inches
and skin it with the plywood. It's easiest to build the shelf
form separately, then nail it into place as the forms are
Unless you have design or loading requirements necessitating a
6-inch stem in your wall, an 8-inch wall will work fine to
carry a 4-inch brick shelf. The 4-inch stem makes it a little
more cumbersome to place concrete in the wall, especially if it
contains a mat of rebar, so plan on the pour taking a little
longer than usual. When placing the concrete, consolidate the
concrete underneath your brick shelf by using a concrete
vibrator or rapping your formwork with a mallet. This will give
the shelf area a clean, square edge and setting surface.
ran his own concrete contracting business
for many years, and is now an estimator with Pizzagalli
Construction in Burlington, Vt.