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Masonry – Brick & Stone

Masonry – Brick & Stone

Materials

Bricks. Bricks are the most common masonry material and are available in a wide variety of colors and types. Due to changes in processes, raw materials (such as clay), and kiln temperature, brick color varies. Over time, even bricks made by the same brickyard may not match exactly.

Stone. Compared to brick, stone is just as durable; however, it is generally more expensive to purchase and install. The advantages of stone are in many ways aesthetic. Stone gives a structure an older and more naturalized appearance. Moreover, you can typically source stone from a regional quarry, providing an even deeper connection to the local environment.

Mortar. Mortar is the glue that holds brick, block, and stone together. Different mortar types are used for different applications. Mortar color can also vary dramatically. A skilled repair mason should custom-blend the new mortar’s color to closely match the existing mortar.

Masonry Repair

Crack repairs. A crack repaired by a skilled mason will usually be invisible to the untrained eye. However, all cracks are caused by something. If you have a crack repaired without fixing the underlying cause, the crack will usually return.

Expansion joints. Foundation settling can lead to cracks at a wall’s weak points, which are often under the corners of windows. To prevent such cracks, vertical expansion joints are cut through the brick at strategic locations and then caulked. Expansion joints divide the walls into parts that can settle independently.

Fireplaces and chimneys. Depending on the quality of the original construction, some chimneys and fireplaces require maintenance after ten to twenty years. Common issues include leaning chimneys, deteriorating brick or mortar, and failing flashing. All these problems can result in leaks. Additionally, to prevent rain and small animals from entering the chimney, all chimneys should be topped with a chimney cap. Firebox safety problems, such as loose bricks, cracked mortar, or poor draw, can also be diagnosed and repaired by masons. The interior look of the fireplace can be changed as well.

Arches and angle irons. Masonry arches and spans may start to sag and crack if they were originally installed with steel angle irons, columns, or supports of inadequate strength. The problem can sometimes be repaired by hydraulically raising the sagging portion and then bolting the angle iron to the header, but in some cases, the brick or stonework may need to be disassembled and rebuilt.

Masonry Techniques

Ideally, brick- and stonework is completed in pleasant, temperate weather. Extreme cold or heat, for example, can cause reduced mortar strength if the mason prepares the materials incorrectly. Experienced masons will have the tools and knowledge to complete the job properly.