How to Make a Pilaster


A pilaster is used in construction to carry the vertical or axial load of a building. Particularly with masonry construction, a properly constructed pilaster is essential for controlling potential cracking from the weight of the building. With the help of an architect/structural engineer you can construct the pilaster appropriate for the height of your building. You'll need to understand the basic steps and common construction methods, then you will be able to apply it to whatever is provided as the design.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Fill dirt
  • Tamp
  • Concrete forms
  • Rebar pedastal cage
  • Masonry rebar
  • Rebar bands
  • Masonry inserts (if needed)
  • Dig a hole for the concrete footing for your pilaster six inches deeper than you need it. Add fill dirt or gravel (as specified in the building plans) to bring the bottom of your hole up to where the bottom of your footing needs to be and compact the dirt with a hand tamper.

  • Assemble your concrete forms in the hole. Your form should be wider than the pilaster you will be building in order to form a good support base for it. The engineer or architect will specify the exact size of the forms you need to construct to build the base of your pilaster.

  • Install the rebar cage for the pilaster base. This will typically consist of at least one bottom mat of steel that will almost fill your concrete forms and a center "pedestal" that will be a series of rebar bands tied together to form a vertical cage.

  • Pour the concrete to the base of the "pedestal" for the pilaster. Wait for the concrete to cure and then place concrete forms around the pedestal, install the masonry rebar that will come up from the concrete and begin the masonry pilaster. You should have a form completely covering the rebar "pedestal" cage with rebar extended beyond the form but without bands.

  • Lay your masonry block as specified by the engineer for the pilaster. This may take the form of a turning short block layout or some other specific form of layout unique to pilasters. Install additional masonry rebar and bands at the intervals specified by the engineer in the building specifications. For every four feet you rise in height, stop and fill the pilaster with grout.

  • Install masonry inserts (threaded metal forms that will receive the threaded ends of horizontal masonry rebar) only as specified by the engineer at the set intervals. If the engineer does not specify inserts then your pilasters are not going to be tied into the wall which is perfectly fine as long as the engineer has specifically omitted the inserts.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Tieman
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