Masonry is the building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar; the term masonry can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are brick, stone, marble, granite, travertine, limestone; concrete block, glass block, stucco and tile. Masonry is generally a highly durable form of construction. However, the materials used, the equality of the mortar and workmanship, and the pattern in which the units are assembled can significantly affect the durability of the overall masonry construction.
Masonry is commonly used for the walls of buildings, retaining walls and monuments. Brick and concrete block are the most common types of masonry in use in industrialized nations and may be either weight-bearing or a veneer. Concrete blocks, especially those with hollow cores, offer various possibilities in masonry construction. They generally provide great compressive strength and are best suited structures with light transverse loading when the cores remain unfilled. Filling some or all of the cores with concrete or concrete with steel reinforcement (typically rebar) offers much greater tensile and lateral strength to structures.
- The use of materials such as brick and stone can increase the thermal mass of building.
- Brick typically will not require painting and so can provide as structure with reduce life-cycle costs.
- Masonry is very heat resistant and thus provides good fire protection.
- Masonry walls are more resistant to projectiles like debris from hurricanes or tornadoes.
- Masonry structures built in compression preferably with lime mortar can have a useful life of more than 5oo years as compared to 30 to 100 for structures of steel or reinforced concrete.
- Extreme weather causes degradation of masonry wall surfaces due to frost damage.
- This type of damage is common with certain types of brick, though rare with concrete blocks.
- Masonry tends to be heavy and must be built upon a strong foundation, such as reinforced concrete to avoid settling and cracking.
Masonry boasts an impressive compressive strength (vertical loads) but is much lower in tensile strength (twisting or stretching) unless reinforced. The tensile strength of masonry walls can be strengthened by thickening the wall, or building masonry piers (vertical columns or ribs) at intervals where practical, steel reinforcements can be added.