About Masonry Industry
Masonry is one of the world’s oldest professions and the centerpiece of architecture in every civilization. This industry has come a long way over the past 6,000 years, yet it remains unchanged in many ways, offering strength, beauty, charm to architectural buildings.
What Is Masonry?
Masonry refers to construction in which individual materials are laid and bound with mortar. Traditionally, masonry has involved bricks or blocks of clay or concrete, but it can also involve limestone, travertine, granite, marble, glass blocks, cast stone, and adobe.
Masonry is typically used for foundations, walls, and entire buildings. Today, concrete blocks and bricks are the most common types of masonry, although other materials can also be used. Masons build and repair a huge variety of structures for homeowners and businesses ranging from chimneys and mailboxes to patios, retaining walls, steps, and home walls. Construction with quality masonry doesn’t just give a property a classic and distinctive appearance; it’s also very durable and stands the test of time.
Benefits of Masonry
Masonry has been used for thousands of years due to its strength and beauty. Adding masonry to a commercial building or home offers the following benefits.
— Fire protection. Concrete and stone masonry is non-combustible to help resist fire and keep fire from spreading.
— Structural integrity and durability. Masonry construction is long-lasting and adds a sense of substance to a building. When properly constructed and reinforced, masonry even resists damage from earthquakes.
— Versatile. Masonry systems are load-bearing and versatile. Masonry can be used to build circles or arches with ease or change the direction of a wall.
— Multiple functions. In construction, a load-bearing masonry system eliminates the need for framing because the masonry is also the enclosing wall. It can even act as an interior finished wall.
— Reduced maintenance costs. Masonry buildings do not rust, dent, rot, warp, shatter, or buckle over time. There is also no need to repaint or clean the surface.
— Lasting impression. No other material leaves the same impression of quality and strength as masonry, which remains unrivaled in quality and design after thousands of years.
— Eco-friendly solution. There is no building system more environmentally-friendly than masonry. Most types of masonry use natural materials like sand, shale, and clay to create long-lasting and beautiful structures.
Types of Masonry
Masonry can involve a wide range of materials from clay and brick to glass. The following are the most typical materials and forms of masonry.
Brick is the oldest manufactured product in the world and began as clay. Over 6,000 years ago, clay was mixed with grass and straw into bricks and baked in the sun to create a durable building material. Around 4,000 BC, brick production was improved with uniform shapes and firing in a kiln to add durability.
Today, bricks are sold in a standard size of 2.5″ x 3-3/4″ x 8″. All bricks are made from clay and shale and fired at 2,000 degrees F to bond the particles.
While modern concrete may be fairly new, many forms of concrete have been used for thousands of years, including in the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. The use of concrete led to the development of cavity walls, which have a hollow space in the center to reduce water penetration. Special concrete blocks were developed in 1850 with air cells. These concrete blocks are still in use today.
This refers to building a veneer of masonry on an independent wall. This form of brick or stone masonry is purely decorative as the existing wall is already structurally sound.
Dry Set Masonry
While masonry usually involves bonding blocks or bricks with some type of mortar, masonry can also involve creating a wall or structure with tightly interlocking bricks.
History of Masonry
Masonry is one of the world’s oldest forms of construction with ancient examples still standing today. Thousands of historical structures around the world, such as the Great Wall of China and the pyramids of Egypt, were built using masonry. The oldest form of masonry began over 6,000 years ago when sun-dried clay bricks were used. Over time, methods and materials have changed, although masonry at its core has remained the same.
Pyramids of Egypt
One of the world’s best examples of masonry is also one of its oldest. These pyramids, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, have lasted for more than 4,000 years. Today’s building materials do not have nearly this life expectancy. It’s still not known exactly how they were built. Some believe the stone blocks, each weighing several tons, were hauled to the building sites while others believe they were built on-site using an ancient form of concrete
Great Wall of China
Most of the Great Wall remaining today was built between the 14th and 17th centuries and made from large clay bricks laid in a mortar of sticky rice over a stone foundation. The Chinese were unique in their use of sticky rice mortar, made from a rice soup mixed with slaked lime to create a binding agent stronger than regular lime mortar. The Great Wall stretches over 3,100 miles and is actually made from many materials sourced locally. In mountainous areas, the wall was built with mountain stones. In deserts, reed branches and red willows were layered with sand. In total, the wall may have up to 3.8 billion individual bricks.
Inca and Pre-Inca Masonry
The Incan Empire stretched from Ecuador to Chile with over 12 million people at its peak. Today, they are best known for the talent that went into creating their ancient cities like Machu Picchu and Puma Punku. The stonemasons that built these massive cities displayed such talent and precision that a single sheet of paper cannot fit between the stone walls. Many of the sites in this region date back over 10,000 years, long before the Incan Empire was created. These sites feature incredible examples of masonry such as perfectly round holes in stone and granite monoliths separated with spacer rocks that prevent collapse during an earthquake.
The Romans are credited with the invention of concrete and the perfection of its use. Ancient Rome’s Pantheon has stood for 2,000 years and remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Romans created a unique concrete using volcanic ash mixed with lime that didn’t require high temperatures in a kiln.