Masonry – The Art and Craft of Building

Colorado Springs Masonry is the art and craft of building with brick, stone, and concrete blocks. Poured concrete, whether reinforced or unreinforced, is also considered masonry.

Masonry is noncombustible and offers superior fire resistance. It is also insect-proof, which reduces extermination costs. Keeping your masonry in good repair will help extend its longevity.

  1. Mortar

Mortar is a workable paste that bonds brick, stone, or concrete blocks into a masonry structure. It is made by mixing inert siliceous sand with a binder such as Portland cement, hydrated lime, and water to create a consistency that can be laid by hand or trowel. The mix can vary in proportions to achieve varying results – masons need to know what type of mortar they need for the job.

A properly mixed and laid mortar will bond the masonry units into a monolithic mass, fill and seal all cracks and crevices, provide a bedding surface, distribute the weight of the masonry units evenly, and allow for self-healing of hairline cracks. The mortar must be capable of transferring compressive, tensile, and shear stresses between adjacent masonry units and be sufficiently durable to resist weathering.

Different masonry mortars have other characteristics, including strength, flexibility, and resistance to free-thaw deterioration. They are designed around a particular water-to-cement ratio, and it is important to ensure that the mason mixes their mortar correctly to obtain the desired properties for their application. Using admixtures may help improve some mortars’ performance, but they cannot correct poor design or malpractice.

When masons work in the field, they often stop mixing fresh mortar as needed rather than re-using the previous batch of a mixture that has lost its flowability. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to the quality of the finished product as the new mortar will likely have a lower water-to-cement ratio, which can reduce its strength. If it is re-mixed correctly, this can lead to a stronger, more fragile mortar that can easily crack and fail.

  1. Brick

Brick is a popular building material for walls, foundations, and other structural elements. It’s more durable, fireproof, and economical to construct than other building materials. Professionally designed masonry structures can maintain their integrity for several hours during fire exposure. It is also environmentally responsible, reusable, and free of contaminants.

Bricks are crafted from clay and organic minerals that can be sourced locally. This makes it one of the most affordable construction materials for a home. It is durable and provides a natural appearance that can complement a wide range of architectural styles. Its low maintenance cost helps homeowners save money and effort in the long term.

It can be installed in various ways, depending on the needs of the structure. For example, a veneer brick wall is typically used for surface cladding only, while airbricks contain large holes to circulate air and decrease weight for cavity walls and underfoot paving. Bricks with rounded corners are known as bullnose bricks, while hollow bricks weigh about one-third less than standard bricks for non-load-bearing partition walls.

When installing brick masonry, using the proper mortar mix is important. Incorrect mortar ratios can decrease the strength of the masonry, leaving it susceptible to water damage. It is also important to dampen the area where new bricks are placed before beginning work. This will prevent the masonry from drying too quickly, which could cause cracks. Inspecting the masonry regularly for signs of cracking, warping, or discoloration is also crucial. These issues should be addressed immediately before they lead to more costly and inconvenient repairs later on. Many people hire a professional masonry contractor to handle these tasks.

  1. Stone

Masonry can be made with various materials, including stone, brick, and concrete. It is one of the oldest building forms and can be found worldwide. This type of building can include anything from cultural and historic landmarks to simple dwellings for the homeowner. This is also a very durable construction and can last for centuries.

Large stones build a foundation for the rest of the structure in stone masonry. The rocks are typically shaped into different sizes and can be arranged to create different patterns and designs. They can even be painted or carved to add extra visual appeal. Stone is one of the most durable building materials and can withstand weathering and extreme temperatures. It will not rot or swell like wood and can be left unattended for years without any problems.

When it comes to building with stone, a mason must be very careful to ensure that all of the stones fit together properly and that the proper amount of mortar is used. Using too little or too much can damage the finished product. Using the right tools when working with stone is important to prevent injuries or accidents.

Unlike brick or concrete, stone must not be reinforced with steel. This is mainly because it is a naturally strong and durable material. It will hold up to wind, rain, and hail with ease. This type of construction is also very energy efficient. It keeps heat in during the winter and out during the summer, reducing heating and cooling costs.

  1. Concrete

Concrete is an extremely versatile construction material that can be molded into blocks and other shapes to make walls. Concrete is often called masonry, although it is a mixture of concrete and other materials such as stone or brick. Many of the world’s most famous buildings, such as the Pantheon and the Baths of Caracalla, feature a mix of stone and concrete cladding.

Masonry is a low-maintenance building material that does not require painting, staining, or other surface treatments. It is also environmentally friendly, as masonry does not rust or burn like metal or wood structures. Concrete block masonry transfers heat slower than frame structures. This allows the masonry to absorb cool air during the day, reducing heating and cooling costs. It also helps maintain a comfortable interior atmosphere throughout the year and qualifies for LEED points in the Energy and Atmosphere category.

A masonry structure is built with mortar between wythes of brick, stone, or concrete. During construction, mortar is mixed with water to create a fluid, thick substance that adheres the individual masonry units together and fills gaps between them. Mortar is a vital part of a masonry wall because it contributes to the strength, durability, fire resistance, sound attenuation, and energy efficiency of a masonry structure.

Many mortars, including gypsum-based plasters and traditional Portland cement-based mortars, are used in masonry construction. Increasingly, builders are opting for masonry mortars formulated with fly ash, slag, or other recycled materials, as well as limestone and gypsum. These masonry mortars have lower early strength and workability than Portland cement and are highly water-retentive to facilitate easy mixing and application. These mortars may contain plasticizers and air-entraining agents to improve the working properties and permeability of the mortar and allow it to bond to bricks or other building units.

  1. Structural Clay Tile

Structural clay tile is a hollow, burned-clay building unit shaped like a brick but with parallel, open spaces (cells). It was once the preferred material for floor arches, fireproofing, partition walls, and furring. It grew in popularity during the late 1800s and early 1900s because it was quicker to construct, lighter in weight, and required simpler flat falsework than earlier brick vaulting construction. It disappeared by the 1950s, replaced by lightweight and inexpensive building materials such as concrete blocks and poured-in-place concrete.

The main types of structural clay tile are:

  • Load-bearing tile for masonry walls that carry superimposed loads.
  • Partition tile in non-load-bearing masonry wall construction.
  • Wall and floor tile with either a natural or glazed finish.

A third type of structural clay product is terra-cotta face tile for walls and partitions with a decorative finish.

Like all masonry products, clay tiles, blocks, and brick are extremely durable. Historic masonry structures built with clay products have demonstrated a service life exceeding 100 years. Clay building materials do not shrink when drying or swell when wet and are impervious to the damage caused by frost. They also have excellent heat- and sound-insulating properties that help to save energy costs.

Clay masonry is a healthy and sustainable material for buildings because it is made with locally available raw materials that are renewable and easily recycled. It is also free of pollutants and allergens, making it an ideal building material for people with environmental concerns.