Construction Services

What Is Masonry?

Colorado Springs Masonry is a construction method that uses bricks, concrete blocks, stones, and structural clay tile held together with mortar. The mortar used in masonry is not a cement mix; it contains lime, sand, and gypsum in the proper proportions.

The specific materials used in masonry contribute to its strength, energy efficiency, fire resistance, and aesthetics. Contact us today to learn how masonry will factor into your next project!

Masonry is the art of building with stones, bricks, concrete blocks, or similar materials. Construction of buildings, retaining walls, and monuments are all examples of masonry work. While brick is the most common material used in masonry, other materials such as stone, clay, or even poured concrete are also commonly utilized. In addition to its beauty, masonry provides many practical benefits, such as insulation, sound reduction, and fire resistance.

While masonry has been used for thousands of years, the craft continues to evolve. Some of the earliest works were simple: stacked stones with mud or cement to bind them together. Over time, the use of mortar became more sophisticated, and masons began to develop more precise tools and techniques for shaping and cutting stone.

As masonry expanded, it was often used to build religious monuments and other structures. The ancient Egyptians were master masons, creating wonders like the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. The Romans were also adept masons, constructing the Colosseum, an amphitheater that could seat up to 50,000 spectators.

With the rise of scientific structural analysis in the 16th century and the development of high-tensile strength materials like steel and reinforced concrete in the 19th century, the popularity of masonry as a means of spanning space declined. However, the introduction of Portland cement in the 20th century returned masonry to its pre-Roman role of forming vertical wall enclosures and partitions.

Today, masonry is still an integral part of our society. It is used in office buildings, schools, homes, patios, and fireplaces. Masonry is an art and a science, but it is also a philosophy that promotes freedom and a limited role for government.

Masonry can be built with a variety of materials. Brick, concrete blocks, stone, and wood are all popular choices. Each material has unique advantages, but each provides strength, durability, and an attractive aesthetic to any building.

Brick masonry is less expensive than other options and can be used in various finishes to create an appealing look. Its thick walls provide excellent thermal insulation, which reduces energy costs in the home. Its classic aesthetic is also a favorite among many homeowners, and it is available in various colors to create distinctive styles and designs.

Concrete block masonry is an affordable option that offers the strength of concrete and the flexibility of precast panels, making it a cost-effective alternative to poured walls. It is also durable and resistant to fires, adverse weather conditions, and time.

Mortar is a mix of Portland cement and sand used to bed masonry units, such as brick, concrete block, or stone. Traditional mortar includes lime, which helps it work well with soft bricks, but modern mortars are available without lime and in several formulations to suit different types of masonry units.

Stone is a natural material that adds beauty and timeless elegance to any building. Its longevity and strength have been proven over the centuries, and it is an excellent insulator, keeping homes cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It is also extremely durable and can withstand wind, rain, and earthquakes. When using stone in a masonry project, check the quality of the stones for defects such as cracks, dents, and discoloration. Also, the wooden door and window frames must be free from cracks, shakes, sapwood, and dead knots before they are fixed into the masonry.

Masonry construction offers great flexibility for architects, designers, and engineers. Brick walls, for example, may be load-bearing or non-load-bearing and glazed or unglazed. Concrete blocks, most of which have hollow cores, offer various possibilities in masonry construction, providing great compressive strength (for vertical loads) and much greater tensile and lateral strength to structures when filled with concrete or steel reinforcement (typically called rebar).

To verify the strengths of masonry assemblies, designers can use either a method that tests prisms (either constructed at the job site or taken from existing masonry) to evaluate the compressive strength of individual units or the Unit Strength Method, which uses tables to determine assembly compressive strength based on the strength of the masonry unit and type of mortar. The Unit Strength Method has been the preferred design method for decades because it is a relatively quick and simple way to qualify a masonry assembly’s strength.

The flexural tensile strength of masonry varies depending on the direction of span, bond pattern, and percentage of grouting; the nominal value for unreinforced masonry is set at 250 psi (1720 kPa). In contrast, the code conservatively assumes that stack bond masonry has no flexural tensile strength in the face shell. The masonry shear capacity for grouted or ungrouted walls differs by only half if a rigorous cracked section analysis is performed.

Strength design requires that the deflections of masonry elements designed using this method be based on the cracking behavior of uncracked sections; however, if weld or mechanical splices are incorporated into the component being prepared, they must comply with Section 2108.3 of the International Building Code (IBC). Welded splices must have their ductility developed to at least 1/12 of the nominal yield strength of the reinforcement being spliced.

Masonry is a construction method that uses brick, stone, and concrete blocks to create buildings and structures. This type of construction is durable and offers many aesthetic benefits. It also has a low maintenance cost and is environmentally friendly.

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy dealing with notions such as the beautiful, the ugly, and the sublime. The term is also used in the fine arts, particularly painting and sculpture, and to a theory of beauty and taste. Aesthetics is sometimes considered a subfield of philosophy or even theology.

Traditionally, philosophical reflection on the concept of the aesthetic has focused on notions such as “graceful,” “elegant,” “exquisite,” and “sublime.” These are often considered pure aesthetic qualities. However, these thoughts have given way to more expansive considerations of a more general sort.

These more expansive and controversial thoughts are characterized by the idea that an object can be regarded as aesthetically pleasing or pleasing in some sense without having any of these pure aesthetic qualities. They may instead be deemed based on intellectual opinions, desires, will, culture, values, subconscious behavior, conscious decision, training, instinct, or sociological institutions.

These more general considerations have led to a wide range of different theories of the aesthetic. One example is New Critical Thinking, popularized by writers such as William K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley in their 1946 essay “The Intentional Fallacy.” New Critical thinkers argued that the author’s intended meaning of a literary work was irrelevant to its evaluation. Instead, they argued that the text was an autonomous entity capable of generating meanings. This theory of the aesthetic is a key part of many modern art movements.

Masonry structures are durable, but that doesn’t mean they are unaffected by environmental wear and tear. Masonry buildings can suffer from water damage and degradation of the mortar that holds them together, so it’s important to schedule regular inspections and maintenance work.

The first step in assessing masonry structures is visually inspecting the brickwork. Look for signs of weathering, such as deteriorated or missing mortar joints and damp walls. Inspect for cracks in a building’s masonry, too, since these are a sign of moisture infiltration that could lead to structural problems.

While a building’s mortar may deteriorate over time, tuckpointing can restore it. During this process, a masonry expert replaces the old mortar with new material, restoring the appearance and strength of the structure’s mortar joints. When tuckpointing on historic buildings, use mortar that matches the original material. For example, if a building was built with soft brick and soft mortar, using hard mortar will cause spalling and breakage.

Other preventative maintenance measures include regularly cleaning a masonry structure with a mild detergent to remove dirt and grime. If a structure has a brick exterior, it is a good idea to install gutters and downspouts to direct the flow of rainwater away from the foundation. Finally, removing overgrown vegetation and ensuring plant growth is at least 20 feet away from the masonry will help reduce the risk of moisture infiltration.

Consider installing control joints in a brick or stone wall to reduce the movement in a building’s masonry walls. These joints can be created by saw-cutting through the head joint of a vertical masonry unit and are spaced at a maximum distance of one mortar joint width from the base of the building.