What Is Masonry?

Masonry is a construction technique that uses bricks and stones. It is tough and energy-efficient, and it looks great. Periodic restoration and repair keep masonry looking its best.Masonry

Concrete masonry units (CMU) are made by combining an aggregate, typically gravel or crushed stone, with cement and water. They are also referred to as concrete blocks. Click for more information.

Brick is a key component of any masonry project. It is a versatile material that can be used for both structural and non-structural purposes. Understanding the different sizes, dimensions, and types of brick available is essential to building a property with this material.

Most bricks are made of clay, but they can also be constructed from shale, limestone, or other rock types. When used in masonry, they are typically burned in a furnace or kiln to create their color, shape, and strength. Bricks were first made in a sun-dried form over 6,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until the Romans developed a way to make them stronger that they became common.

Masonry construction requires the use of mortar between the bricks. This mortar is a vital ingredient in the strength of a building, and it is essential that masons understand how to correctly mix this material. If the mortar is not mixed properly, it can cause structural issues. Additionally, if the mixture is too dry, it will not hold together. This is why it is important for masons to have access to high quality tools such as volumetric mixers to ensure that they are using the right amount of water and other ingredients in their mortar mixes.

The process of making bricks can vary by country, but there are some standard brick dimensions that are used around the world. These standard brick sizes can be found at most brick wholesalers and are useful in determining how many bricks will be needed for any specific project. The most common brick dimensions are modular bricks, which have a nominal size of 8 x 4 x 2 inches.

When choosing a brick for a particular job, it is important to consider its color, surface texture, density, weight, absorption, and pore structure. Other important considerations include its compressive strength, frost resistance, and durability. It is also important to manage its salt content to avoid efflorescence and other durability problems.

Brick masonry can be used for both residential and commercial buildings. It is a popular choice for exterior wall finishes and can be used to construct a variety of structures, including walls, retaining walls, arches, and claddings. It can also be used for interior masonry projects, such as fireplaces and chimneys. In addition to brick, other materials that are used in masonry construction include stone, concrete, and glass. However, masonry is typically associated with brick construction due to its ease of installation and versatility. This is in contrast to concrete, which must be mixed with an aggregate such as rubble or crushed rock and cement to provide the necessary strength. Bricks are also more affordable than some other construction materials. This makes them a popular construction material for both residential and commercial properties.


Concrete is an important element of masonry, as it adds strength, durability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and sound attenuation to a wall system. Masonry masons use concrete blocks and precast concrete slabs in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors to achieve any number of architectural and structural appearances. The National Concrete Masonry Association offers technical publications, known as TEK sheets and details, to help construction teams construct a range of buildings with concrete masonry units.

Concrete masonry units are used to build walls, foundations and floors in commercial and residential properties. They are typically constructed with a mortar mix that is comprised of cement, water and sand. This mixture is poured into forms and allowed to set, creating the walls. The mortar also acts as the glue that holds together bricks, stone and concrete blocks. The sand in the mortar mix helps prevent cracking as the concrete hardens.

Constructing a property with masonry materials can take longer than building properties that use other components. Often, masons must wait for the mortar to dry before they can continue with their work, and this can increase construction time. It is essential for construction teams to institute plans that account for the time it takes to complete masonry projects.

Masonry can provide sound-proof and comfortable spaces for homeowners and businesses alike. It is also a common option for infill projects, which are designed to repurpose existing or vacant land within cities and towns. Infill projects are designed to create livable and sustainable spaces for residents, which can help revitalize communities and cut costs.

When it comes to constructing a concrete slab or a concrete-block wall, masons must build on stable ground to avoid sinking and cracking. These footings are usually concrete structures, but they can also be beds of compacted gravel or crushed stone. Regardless of what type of footings are used, they should always be wider than the masonry wall they support and be deep enough to bear the weight of the structure.

Before masonry construction begins, the team must prepare the site by removing any debris or large rocks that may interfere with the structure’s stability. Then, the mason can install the foundation for the masonry structure. These footings are similar to the base for a concrete slab, but they’re designed to allow for expansion and contraction of the masonry material above. This is because all masonry expands and contracts with temperature changes, and if it isn’t allowed to move freely, it can crack. For this reason, builders use a layer of crushed stone beneath the footing to ensure that it can do so without causing any damage to the masonry. The crushed stone also helps to drain the footings of any excess water. Afterwards, the mason can pour the concrete or other masonry materials into its form.


It’s often framed as a choice between on-site masonry and off-site concrete frame, but there are some systems that sit a little in between. Insulated concrete form walls are one such, combining the energy-efficiency and durability of masonry with the speed and simplicity of frame construction.

In the US, ICF construction is growing quickly. A typical residential home built using this system saves about $20,000 a year in utility bills compared to a wood-frame house. It’s also more durable, with a life expectancy of 50 years or more, and is a great solution for building in seismic zones.

ICFs are made of insulated concrete forms that are filled with concrete, which provides additional strength to the structure. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including corner blocks, brick ledge forms, double tapper top forms and more. They can be cut with simple carpentry tools, which makes them easier to handle and install compared to CMU blocks.

A key advantage of ICFs is that they provide a continuous thermal envelope around the house, which reduces energy use significantly and protects against condensation, mold and other problems. They’re also much faster to build than CMU walls and can be installed on concrete foundations, making them a good option for basements and other below-grade applications.

An ICF wall is constructed by stacking the form blocks together, locking them in place with a molded plastic tab that is typically manufactured from high-density polypropylene regrind resin. This system also includes a vapor retarder to ensure the walls are moisture-resistant. The blocks are then topped with a standard cladding such as stucco or lap siding and a masonry chimney chase.

Kachlic says that while there are different brands of ICFs, they all perform in roughly the same way and that the most important consideration is that potential builders talk to ICF suppliers early in the process so they can be involved with the design phase. The strong interlocking of ICF blocks also reduces the need for mortar between each block, which can cut the number of skilled masons needed on site.

ICF walls have the added benefit of having an R-value of up to 40, meaning they are highly energy efficient and can help reduce heating and cooling costs. They can also be used to make walls for elevator shafts and other special walls. Another advantage of ICFs is that they can be used to create a foundation for a crawlspace or other basement without the need for footings, which cuts construction time further. ICF homes are easy to finish and can be finished with almost any siding, brick veneer, stone or other exterior finishes. They also have a four- to six-hour fire resistance rating.