M.E. Structural Engineer
Why Masonry? To answer this question, we must ask you, in the spirit of well-known architect Louis Kahn, “What do you want your building to be?” If you want a new or renovated structure that will bring lasting beauty, safety, and durable, then using a masonry system for your next project is essential.
Masonry, the oldest Art
Masonry is one of the oldest arts used by man and has been around for thousands of years and is still the most widely used in the world. The rich heritage of historic masonry buildings in the world bears evidence to the suitability of masonry.
Masonry is the most used term in the world of construction. Masonry the art and craft of building or fabricating with stone, clay, brick or concrete block, etc. is one of the oldest of the skilled trades. Masonry is used to indicate the art of building a structure in either stones or bricks, rubble, concrete block, etc.
Also Read: Know the Properties of Granite Stone
Masonry construction have helped to build some of the world’s most notable structures, including the Egyptian Pyramids, the Roman Colosseum, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. The art of masonry began spontaneously in the creation of walls from stone or pieces of caked mud. The first mortar was just mud applied in between pieces of stone to add stability. Over time, brick and later limestone were introduced in masonry construction. The art of masonry somewhat lost its luster in the late 19th Century after metal frames replaced stone bearing walls in the very tall building in major cities, particular in USA and European countries where labour has become very expensive and other option have surface. However, the development of the concrete block used in such structures can be traced back to brick construction. Concrete block is frequently used today in construction because it is much cheaper than cut stone and requires less labour than laying brick.
Masonry consists of building structures by laying individual masonry units like the brick, concrete block, stone, etc. Generally, the masonry units are laid with cement mortar, which binds them together to create a structure. Due to the individual masonry units, masonry construction turns to be quite a labour intensive. Because of the cement, brick, clay or stone nature of the masonry materials, masonry construction tends to be durable and often requires little maintenance.
Types of Masonry
- Stone-rubble masonry
- (Natural Stone)
- Brick masonry (Burnt clay brick)
- Concrete block masonry (Solid block, Light weight concrete block (AAC)) Gabion masonry
Introduction to Masonry
The structure we are going to build has some purpose. The structure is made by various elements like foundation, wall, beam, column, slab etc. Masonry is a method of laying down various building unit like a brick, stone, concrete block etc. with mortar in order to create an element of the structure.
Mortar is important in masonry because it is a workable paste used in binding masonry units together that fills the gaps between them. They are made from the mixture of sand, a binder such as cement or lime, and water. Mortar can also be used to fix masonry when the original mortar washed away.
Masonry is required for construction of foundations, walls, columns, partitions, steps, arches and other similar structural components of the building. Therefore, we can say that masonry is the soul of the structure. Masonry is a building system that has stood the test of time and remains incomparable in design, quality and flexibility. Engineers and Architects throughout the centuries have applied masonry to their simplest and most challenging design work.
Masonry has an Important Role in:
- Supporting load
- Subdividing the space
- Providing thermal and acoustic insulation
- Providing fire and weather protection
- Privacy to the occupants
Strength of Masonry
The compressive strength of masonry depends on workmanship and the completeness with which units are bedded. Tensile strength is a function of the adhesion of mortar to a unit and of the area of bonding (degree of completeness with which joints are ﬁlled). Hence, in specifying masonry work, it is important to put a full bed of mortar, with each course well hammered down, and all joints completely ﬁlled with mortar. Masonry is strong in compression, but less effective at resisting lateral loading or tension forces. Further strength can be achieved by increasing the thickness of the masonry, by the addition of piers or buttresses, or by the incorporation of reinforcement
Why Masonry is Used?
Masonry is used because of its following properties
Masonry is solid, strong and will not get affected by hail, stones thrown by a destroyer, or from accidental car bumping in the parking lot.
02. Fire Resistance:
Masonry will not burn under fire; therefore, it protects yourself, your valuable things and your investment in your building and its contents. And hence it can result in lower insurance rates. Masonry firewalls and fire separation walls are commonly specified fire resistance barriers, because these elements are noncombustible, inherently fire resistance, durable, and are economical to construct. They can be designed to maintain structural integrity for over some hours of fire exposure. Masonry is also used to save the structural integrity of steel from fire exposure. Masonry is inherently fire resistant. Interior masonry fire partitions help to stop the spread of fire. These aspects reduce the environmental impact of fires. Passive fire protection reduces the costs of buildings. Masonry units are mould resistant and can be used in most of the environments where people work and live.
03. Termite Resistance:
Elements made of masonry means there is no wood to eat.
04. Structural Integrity:
Masonry can be used with all roofing systems, and it has a very good load bearing capacity for supporting roofs and additional floors. And also, it resists the forces of heavy snows and wind shears. Because of masonry’s reliability and performance, it’ s been used for centuries in government, institutional, industrial and commercial buildings.
06. Better Insulated (R Values):
The mass masonry walls insulate against outside temperatures better than metal walls to help maintain constant temperatures inside while reducing your heating and cooling costs. Because of their mass, masonry buildings often require much lower insulation levels. Masonry cavity walls provide a wide array of options including insulation to obtain high R-value.
07. Design Flexibility:
Masonry units are manufactured and ready for delivery in a short period, unlike custom manufactured precast walls, concrete blocks. And, it can be easily adjusted at any time to suit job-site conditions, even after construction has started, and without production delays. We can make unusual shape of building member i.e. arch by masonry unit.
08. Environmentally Safe:
Pre-finished masonry units such as colored Full-face Split and Ultra Burnished units, manufactured with integral water repellent, provide additional benefits of safety through environmental health
09. Reduced Sound Transmission:
Undesirable noise is a major distraction, both in the home as well as the workplace. Because of its mass and rigidity, masonry is especially effective in the reduction of unwanted noise and sound.
10. Savings on Initial and Life-Cycle Costs:
With the use of concrete masonry, you can build and finish with one unit and one laying operation. The variety of finishes, textures and colors excludes the need for additional wall coverings. Masonry’s higher durability also means less repairs, and also the color and excellence of masonry won’t fade, rust or discolor due to weather eliminating continual painting and maintenance.
12. Low Insurance Rates:
Masonry construction provides better safety from break-ins, fires and severe weather conditions. It helps to keep insurance rates lower than with other types of construction.
13. Better Resale Value:
Masonry building looks better than steel or metal, maintain their beauty longer and give you better resale value.
As per local availability of masonry unit and need of client one can use stone-rubble masonry (Natural Stone), Brick masonry (Burnt clay brick), Concrete block masonry (Solid block, Light weight concrete block (AAC)), Gabion masonry.
No construction material is as strong, durable and weather resistant as stone. Stone does not warp, swell and bend. And to scratch stone, you have to try pretty hard. Stone stand up against the blows of a sledge hammer better then concrete or brick does. And wind, rain, storm, snow, do not bother stone in the slightest. Because of its strength, durability, and ability to withstand weather stone lasts for a long time. Stone is versatile in its artistic application and can work well with other construction materials. Stone masonry provides a more authentic or natural appearance.
Most natural stone used for masonry have a life of 300 to 800 years unlike, brick or wood.
Concrete Block Masonry
Masonry unit like concrete blocks especially those with hollow cores, offer various possibilities in masonry construction. They generally provide great compressive strength and are suited to structures with light transverse loading when the cores remain unfilled. Filling some or all of the cores with concrete or concrete with steel reinforcement offers greater tensile and lateral strength to structures.
Masonry unit like bricks can be used for both the building’s exterior skin as wall and load-carrying elements as in a single-Wythe bearing wall system. A major advantage of using bricks is that, with their many hues and colours, they can be used to create many attractive patterns and designs for architectural treatments of the wall and floor surfaces, an advantage not offered by other construction materials such as concrete and steel. A wide variety Facing bricks are intended for use in both structural and nonstructural masonry where appearance is a requirement. They are produced for the express purpose of forming the exposed face of a wall. The brick masonry is cheaper as compared to stone masonry.
Masonry is an ageless material and never goes out of fashion with an infinite number of possibilities for pattern and form. It has been the choice for castles and cathedrals, pyramids and great walls, schools and museums, hospitals and high-rises, bridges, roads, fences, and everything in between. Very few materials are as functional as masonry and fewer still are as durable.