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Masonry Tips

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Do you have a question about masonry? Check out these Masonry Tips articles written by industry professionals.

masonry movement joints

Masonry Movement Joints

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

All masonry walls will move, primarily due to changes in temperature and moisture content.  Additional movement might occur from structural concrete frame moisture loss or creep, and elastic deformation. Restraining these movements may cause stress cracks to develop in the wall.

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Single Wythe 8 inch Concrete Masonry Walls

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Concrete masonry units are strong in compression and can be produced with strengths in excess of 3000 p.s.i. This is one of the reasons that concrete masonry units are desirable for load bearing, single wythe, concrete masonry wall design. Concrete masonry units are strong in compression and can be produced with strengths in excess of 3000 p.s.i. 

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steel joist to masonry

Steel Joist-to-Masonry Connections

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

The structural composition of a building often consists of masonry walls and steel joists. In this type of system, masonry walls perform as both bearing and nonbearing components. When detailing steel joist-to-masonry connections, designers should take into account several factors, such as the type of the connection, potential movement between the two systems, and lateral bracing of the masonry walls. 

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concrete collar joint

Understanding Collar Joints

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Separation cracks sometimes develop between the interface of the masonry units and the collar joint. This can be due to the different absorption rates of each masonry wythe and the fact that mortar-filled collar joints aren’t compacted.

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Accommodating Vertical Expansion

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Unsupported brick veneer and concrete masonry walls can be designed and constructed in excess of 50 ft. in height. This type of design is not uncommon in mid-rise and high rise bearing wall systems. A system of this type does not require shelf angles at every floor or every other floor. Shelf angles are not required to support the brick above for building 5 stories to 10 stories high.

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Connecting Precast Concrete Planks to Concrete Masonry Walls

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Combining loadbearing and non-loadbearing masonry wythes with floors and roofs consisting of precast concrete planks can make for efficient, economical construction and solid, fire-safe buildings. But the connections between the two systems must be detailed carefully for the building to be structurally sound.

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Detailing Shelf Angles

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Unsupported brick veneer and concrete masonry walls can be designed and constructed in excess of 50 ft. in height. This type of design is not uncommon in mid-rise and high rise bearing wall systems. A system of this type does not require shelf angles at every floor or every other floor. Shelf angles are not required to support the brick above for building 5 stories to 10 stories high.

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Understanding and Specifying Mortar with Brick

(This Read & Learn article is registered for AIA credit or PDH accreditation)

Brickwork must be strong enough in compression to support the outer brick wythe. Also, the brickwork must be strong enough to resist and transfer loads, and sometimes must be strong enough to support structural loads.

There are certain combinations of brick units and mortar mixes that are more likely than others to promote good bond and performance.

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Crinkle Crankle Walls

Brick garden walls are beautiful and can be designed with many different masonry bonds and patterns to create a one-of-a-kind wall.  A through-wall brick can be reinforced like a concrete block and can offer a more economical option for garden and screen masonry walls.  The following show brick garden and screen walls.

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Why You Should Not Paint Brick

Once you paint a brick wall, you change the wall and turn it into a maintenance wall that will need to be repainted repeatedly over the years to come. Brick are produced in many different sizes and textures. Some of those textures can make it difficult to get the failing paint removed when it is time to paint again.

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How Tuckpointing Helps.

The reason for re-pointing is that mortar lasts roughly between 25-50 years while brick lasts approximately 100+ years. Over a buildings life, foundations settle, caulking becomes dry and brittle, mortar joints crack or deteriorate and water finds it’s way into the masonry and beyond.

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Masonry Repair Solutions

Have you seen a building with the brick falling off?  How about many cracks on the veneer at the exterior?  One item in the masonry tool bag that seems to be getting more popular as our buildings age, are helical wall tie anchors.

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Concrete Masonry Units

We sometimes forget about the flexibility of concrete masonry is and how efficient it is for construction.  In many cases concrete masonry units are the back-up or the support system for a structure and they are unseen, hidden from view.

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Brick…Paint or Don’t Paint?

Brick is usually selected for its’ color or finish.  The color is typically throughout the clay unit.  Brick is painted to usually increase light reflection and for decorative purposes. If you choose to paint brick, it will most likely have to be repainted every three to five years, per the manufacturers of paint.

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Watch this video about Staining Brick

Brick is a finished product. Once you paint your brick, it becomes compromised and it’s no longer maintenance-free. Brick is one of the best building materials we have and paint does not make it stronger, does not help it to last longer, and does not assist in protecting it from the elements.

Watch video >

Or read this article for more information:  Why You Should Not Paint Brick

Masonry Cracking Up

This type of crack happens due to the lack of expansion joints in the length of the brick wall. The bricks have expanded horizontally above the head of the window, as brick are predicted to do and this type of crack occurs.

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Masonry and Efflorescence

As buildings in Chicago experience the harsh elements of winter and below zero temperatures with multiple freezing and thawing cycles, we sometimes see what looks like snow on face brick or concrete block. This is called efflorescence.

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What good is a Parapetto?

The parapet is where the masonry wall transitions from being an insulated masonry wall to an uninsulated masonry wall.  Additionally, the wall is subject to moisture penetration on both sides now, typically, unless this is a veneer and with no heat from the structure it protects.

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Brick Bonds

A pattern bond refers to the pattern formed by the masonry units and mortar joints on the face of a wall. The pattern may result from the structural bond, or may be purely decorative and unrelated to the structural bond.

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Weep Holes

Weeps – How the water gets out.

The masonry code describes water issues as “Water will penetrate the veneer and the wall system should be designed, detailed and constructed to prevent water penetration into the building” (see TMS 402.12.1.2) Flashing and weeps are used to allow water to exit the masonry wall.

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Masonry Wall Drainage

If the construction of the masonry wall is nearly perfect, problems can still arise if the air barrier is flawed because, in the winter, warm, moist air will work its way through the structural wall to the cavity where the dew point will be reached resulting in condensation either on the galvanized ties  or the inside face of the brick.

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Do you have a question about masonry? Contact Us, we can help!