wall build by mason

What are the types of masonry walls?

Masonry is the word used for construction with mortar as a binding material with individual units of bricks, stones, marbles, granites, concrete blocks, tiles etc. Mortar is a mixture of binding material with sand. Binding materials can be cement, lime, soil or any other.

The durability and strength of masonry wall construction depend on the type and quality of material used and workmanship.

The work of Constructing Buildings is one kind of art. Thus, there is a linear relationship between construction and building materials. Today’s modern Housing Associations, architectures, and engineers are concerned about ‘masonry walls’. Masonry together with wood, is considered as one of the most important building materials in the History of humankind. It has been used as the construction material for several thousand years, and still, it is used. In the last decades, other materials like steel and concrete have been used frequently and thus replacing masonry as a structural material. This situation is present and particularly remarkable in all over the countries, where almost all new buildings are constructed using reinforced concrete. Masonry has been mostly used as a non-structural material, as an infill of reinforced concrete and steel frames. Therefore, a question must arise in our mind – what is it? How does it work or what to do with is this?

The strongest part of any building or any structure for that matter would be the masonry walls. As they provide strength and durability to any structure, and at the same time, they help in controlling the temperature indoors and out. In general, it keeps the indoors in and the outdoors out.

When you hear the word masonry, the first thing that should pop into your head is a construction that uses mortar as its binding material. It also uses single or rather individual stones, bricks, granites, marbles, tiles, concrete blocks, and more. Mortar uses sand in its mixture unlike Spackle and other substances. The materials for binding mixture is made lime, cement, soil, and there are a few other items it can be made out of as well.

Of course, how strong and durable the masonry wall construction is will depend on the type of materials used, the workmanship, and the quality of the masonry wall construction. It also depends on the kind of individual units that are used for the masonry walls and what the function is going to be for.

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What are Masonry Walls?

Masonry walls are the most durable part of any building or structure. Masonry is the word utilized for development with mortar as a coupling material with singular units of blocks, stones, marbles, rocks, solid squares, tiles, and so forth. Mortar is a blend of restricting material with sand. Restricting materials can be concrete, lime, soil or any other constructing materials.

Professionals do Masonry projects, and the unit works for various purposes. Some works for building constructions, some makes barriers for boundaries to separate property line, and some make house wall for structural used.


wall build by mason

Types of Masonry Walls in Building Construction

Based on the type of individual units used for masonry walls and their functions, the types of masonry walls are:

Load Bearing Masonry Walls

Load-bearing masonry walls are constructed with bricks, stones or concrete blocks. These walls directly transfer loads from the roof to the foundation. These walls can be exterior as well as interior walls. The construction system with load-bearing walls is economical than the system with framed structures.

The thickness of load-bearing walls is based on the quantity of load from the roof it has to bear. For example, a load-bearing wall with just a ground floor can have its outer walls of 230mm, while with one or more floors above it, based on occupancy type, its thickness may be increased.

A load-bearing wall is a wall that bears a load reposing upon it, which depends on weight constructing and the work of foundation structure. Usually, this type of wall used for large buildings. e.g. housing or tall buildings construction work. It is mainly made with brick, concrete block, or stone. The load-bearing wall helps to transfer weight from root to the foundation. This type of wall depends on types of buildings and their number of stories that are assessed to a suitable thickness to bear the weight above them. Without this wall, there is a chance for instability in walls’ foundation works. Another, this type of wall can also be exterior and interior. Load-bearing walls are flexible because it is easy to spend a little amount of money than other types of walls, as it is the traditional framed structure of constructing buildings. The load-bearing walls can be reinforced or unreinforced masonry walls.

Non-load bearing walls that are only intended to support themselves and the weight of the cladding or sheathings attached. This kind of walls provides no structural support and maybe interior or exterior walls.

Reinforced Masonry Walls

Reinforced masonry walls can be load-bearing walls or non-load bearing walls. The use of reinforcement in walls helps it to withstand tension forces and heavy compressive loads. The un-reinforced masonry walls are prone to cracks and failure under heavy compressive loads and during earthquakes. They have little ability to withstand lateral forces during heavy rain and wind. Cracks also develop in un-reinforced masonry walls due to earth pressure or differential settlement of foundations.

To overcome such problems, reinforced masonry walls are used. Reinforcement in walls are at required intervals both horizontally and vertically is used. The size of reinforcement, their quantity and spacing are determined based on the loads on the walls and structural conditions.

A reinforced masonry wall is made with any brick, concrete or another type of masonry materials that strengthened the use of other buildings materials to increase resistance to deterioration due to weight-bearing or other forms of stress. This type of wall could be a non-load-bearing or load-bearing. One of the common examples of masonry involves exterior walls that are created using concrete blocks or clay bricks. Along with these materials, steel rods are works into the structure, often using some vertical framework that allows bearing the weight of connecting walls and floors within the building. The use of this type of walls helps it to resist pressure forces and heavy compression loads. During earthquake or failure of under heavy compression loads, the unreinforced walls could be crack horizontally. The purpose of this type of walls protects the walls from cracks and makes the strength to fight against unexpected earthquakes or other kinds of natural disasters. To defeat these problems, reinforced walls are used; and their quantity and spacing are based on walls and structure conditions. Reinforcement can be used both in horizontal and vertical order at a required layoff.

Hollow Masonry Walls

Hollow or Cavity masonry walls are used to prevent moisture reaching the interior of the building by providing hollow space between outside and inside face of the wall. These walls also help in temperature control inside the building from the outside wall as the hollow space restricts heat to pass through the wall.

When the wall is exposed to moisture for a sustained period and penetrates through the outer face, the water reaches the cavity of the hollow space and flows down. Then they are drained through the weep holes to the exterior of the building. These hollow spaces may be coated with water repellent coating or damp-proofing to reduce the ingress of moisture further.

Hollow masonry walls are made with cement blocks. This type of masonry walls is used to stop dampness from getting inside of the building. It creates a hollow area between the outside and inside of masonry walls. Cavity wall will also assist with climate control. Modern masonry walls are constructed from hollow masonry units or combined hollow and solid masonry units.

Solid walls are systematically certified by metal ties, masonry investments or by collective reinforcement.

Composite Masonry Walls

These walls are constructed with two or more units such as stones or bricks and hollow bricks. This type of masonry wall construction is done for a better appearance with the economy.

In composite masonry walls, two wythes of masonry units are constructed bonding with each other. In contrast, one wythe can be brick or stone masonry while the other can be hollow bricks. A wythe is a continuous vertical section of masonry one unit in thickness.

These wythes are interconnected either by horizontal joint reinforcement or by using steel ties.

Composite Masonry walls are made with the combination of two or more building materials; stones and bricks or hollow bricks and bricks. The purpose of this type of walls construction is –reduce the overall cost of construction and make the structure durable by providing materials of better quality and good workmanship in the faces. Composite masonry walls work to improve the appearance of a structure by covering up the inferior works by use of superior quality of material in the desired positions. This type of walls is better because it is cost-effective and optically appealing.

Post-tensioned Masonry Walls

Post-tensioned masonry walls are constructed to strengthen the masonry walls against the forces that may induce tension in the wall, such as earthquake forces or wind forces.

These walls are constructed from the foundation level, and post-tensioning rods are anchored into the foundation. These rods are run vertically between the wythes or in the core of concrete masonry units.

After the masonry wall construction is completed and cured, these rods are tensioned and anchored on the steel place at the top of the wall.

Post-tensioning provides an additional axial load to masonry structures and thus increases resistance to lateral force. This type of walls has over their conventionally reinforced equivalents, such as increased in-plane strength and the absence of residual post-earthquake wall displacements. Post-tensioning now is used extensively in bridges, elevated slabs (parking structures and residential or commercial buildings), residential foundations, walls, and columns. Designers commonly take advantage of this method to produce buildings and structures with clear open spaces allowing more architectural freedom.

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The Different Types of Masonry Mortar

Mortar is spread in between the masonry, grouts, and fills up the cavities of the masonry units. If you’d like to know more of the details, read our article “Mortar vs. Grout.” The material that can be seen between the bricks is the mortar. It is what makes masonry units stay together. Mortar plays an important role in masonry construction, and it is just as important to use the correct mortar or grout.

Determining the correct mixture for the mortar or grout in order to make it the perfect strength is not so easily done, what we can do is explain it in a clear and concise matter and hope that you can understand.

First, let us keep in mind that the mortar or grout needs to have just the right strength as not to be overbearing (load-bearing in this case), the mixture to hold the masonry sections together should not be significantly stronger than what the masonry units are, as this can make the load-bearing have an excessive amount of stress.

When mortar’s mixture isn’t to perfection, it can end up weighing more than the masonry units themselves and cause damage to the structure in the form of cracking and/or sparkling. Mortar has been given a classification by the ASTM C 270 (Standard Specification for Mortar for Unit Masonry). Mortar has four different types, and you can find them listed below.

Furthermore, the type K mortar is not included any longer in the ASTM C 270 standard. Mortar is meant to be spread in between masonry bricks, holding them together and since mortar is a type of plastic it has the ability to accommodate any movement within the wall without doing any damage to the structure.

Mortar (Type M)

Mortar (Type M) has a minimum of 2500 psi and is used only in areas that are expected to endure a significant amount of load-bearing, wind forces, earthquakes, and etc. This particular type of mortar is usually used with stone. Mortar made with anything that has less strength may fail the structure and its job positioning prematurely.

Any time there are extreme lateral loads and/or gravity in the picture (such as the prior construction of the structure had below-grade applications, and used lateral loads or gravity to retain the walls. Which might still present). This, in conjunction with the use of stone and/or some other masonry units, has a high compression strength.

Mortar (Type S)

This is a mortar that has a minimum of 1800 psi. It is a medium-strength, and referred to as (Type S). It is a mortar that can be used for exterior structures such as a patio, as it is used for exterior walls that are considered below grade because it is stronger than (type N). This makes it a good choice when working with moderately resisting soil pressures that are below grade.

Where mortar (Type S) is usually used: It will usually be used in application considered to be below grade that has normal to moderate load-bearing. Also, in areas where masonry comes in contact with the ground, such as a shallow retaining wall.

Mortar (Type N) for general purposes

Mortar (Type N) is considered to be the most common type of mortar. This type of mortar is used when there are no other special circumstances that require a specialty for the load-bearing of a structure.

Type N is a semi-soft masonry or stone, and it is going to flex better than a mortar that has high strength—the softer and flexible the mortar the fewer worries of cracking in the masonry units.

Mortar (Type N) can be used for applications of general purposes in masonry wall construction that is above the area where normal load-bearing occurs.

Mortar (Type O)

Mortar (Type O) is a mortar that has a low strength (a minimum of 350 psi). This type can be used for interior applications that are non-load bearing. In areas that are structurally sound, but need repairing for some reason, it will be repaired with (Type O) mortar.

This type of mortar has been used with masonry units having a low compressive strength, such as brownstone and sandstone. With this type of masonry units, it allows for more flexibility and thus, helps in preventing the unit from getting cracks.

Mortar (Type O) is used for the interior applications that are not expected to carry much load-bearing that has very little if any at all exterior use. The use of this type of masonry units is re-pointing the integrity of a structure and wall that is still intact.

Mortar (Type K)

The (Type K) Mortar cannot be found listed under the ASTM C 270 anymore, although it will still be used in projects that have a pre-historic preservation need. This type of mortar will not cause any damage to a fragile structure, nor to any fragile stones as it has the lowest compressive strength of any mortar.

Mortar (Type K) is used for preserving pre-historic structures, which requires the use of a low strength mortar to avoid any damage. Keep in mind, of course, that Type K does not provide for load-bearing.

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Specifying the Type of Mortar

Mortar has two different ways in which to issue documents for construction. You have a choice to choose or specify a mortar that hardens, or you have the choice to choose or specify the ingredients of the mortar.

Mortar must be correctly specified for the structural requirements it is intended for if it is to adhere correctly when not sure of the mortar types and mixture be on the safe side and consult with an actual structural engineer.

A mortar that is less common than the others and used for critical applications is one that is supposed to be created in a laboratory. This type is also tested in the laboratory. It is the performance specification mortar.

After the twenty-eight-day cure period, the least compression strength that can be allowed can be identified by the specifier by the percentage of water the mortar retains and the percentage of air the mortar retains, along with the aggregate ratio the mix has. It cannot be used in the field until it has been tested.

Proportion specifications are identified by the specifier as it is determined what the ingredients exact proportions are in the mix, which is done with either weight or by volume. This way will allow the mortar to be mixed when out on a job. It takes less time to create the mixture.

There are various types of masonry walls used in building construction. Masonry walls are the most durable part of any building or structure. They provide strength, durability to the structure and also helps to control the indoor and outdoor temperature. It separates a building from the outside world.

Masonry has been used in building construction for thousands of years in construction. It can be used to form a durable cladding system and to achieve various aesthetic effects. The masonry units can be oriented in different positions to create different patterns on the exterior wall. In addition to forming the exterior cladding, masonry walls can serve as a portion of the structural framing for the building. Masonry walls also typically increase the fire resistance of the wall system or structural elements.

Masonry walls can be single or multi-wythe. A wythe of masonry refers to a thickness of wall equal to the thickness of the individual units.

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