Masonry Construction: Characteristics and Misconceptions
Masonry construction goes as far as the early days of the millennial construction industry. Being one of the oldest, it is also one of the most popular building techniques. Masonry can serve as the building technique for all types of construction projects, from; residential buildings, to commercial projects such as; schools, hospitals, offices, and industries.
With the emergence of material technology, mix designs, and engineering materials, recent masonry constructions, or buildings are far more developed and more durable than older buildings. And up to date, masonry ranks amongst the most reliable building techniques in the industry. Like most building techniques, there are misconceptions and characteristics. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Characteristics of Masonry Construction
There are numerous buildings with aesthetic properties, that are products of masonry construction. This is because masonry units can be made into various shapes and sizes of different colors and textures. Making architects more flexible with their designs. Flexing their skills by designing beautiful and more personalized buildings.
The natural appearance of masonry units gives masonry a dual-application property. In other words, this construction technique can offer the striking appearance of urban settlements, as well as appearance that would complement rural surroundings.
With the increase in environmental issues, there is a need for more energy-efficient buildings. The high thermal mass of masonry walls makes this building technique a good option for sustainability. High thermal walls eliminate temperature swings, as well as reduce heating and cooling loads.
With reduced heating and cooling loads comes reduced heating and cooling cost. Hence, saving energy, as well as money whilst maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. Additionally, masonry has acoustic insulation property, which contributes to canceling outdoor noises and maintaining a serene environment.
Durability and Safety
Masonry buildings are fire-resistant, as well as durable. Also, masonry buildings have shown their ability to withstand lateral loads (wind and earthquake) in the past. Hence the use of masonry in resilient design. With the construction industry evolving year by year, the safety and structural integrity of masonry construction has also evolved.
There is no limit to the application of masonry in the construction industry. Masonry works well for almost all building categories. However, its most popular application is in commercial buildings. The commercial application of this building technique has been found in, but are not limited to, the following buildings;
- Government offices
- Libraries and much more
Most designs today combine modern engineering with traditional engineering. And masonry is a combination of both, granting designers access to more design possibilities.
Savings on Insurance Costs
Masonry is superior to most construction materials in terms of fire resistance. Insurance companies reflect this in the premiums for masonry buildings. With fire-resistant materials, occupants can be sure of their safety and that of their properties. Installing fire protection measures like automatic sprinklers can enhance the fire safety of masonry buildings.
A building’s maintenance cost only increases if it involves materials that can rust, dent, rot, or other unwanted conditions. Masonry is not affected by any such conditions, therefore maintenance costs for masonry buildings are low. No need for repainting to fix rust or rot. The high strength of masonry makes it a good option for walls exposed to frequent contact.
Generally, the characteristics of masonry include;
- Design flexibility
- Variety of textures
- Structural strength
- Mold resistance
- Low maintenance and design cost
1). Masonry is a facade material
A popular misconception is that masonry is a facade material, incapable of carrying the load of a structure. But on the contrary, masonry is a construction material with high structural strength. Also, structurally engineered masonry offers even higher strength.
2). Masonry construction is lacking skilled personnel
Because of how old masonry construction is, most people believe skilled professionals for this type of construction no longer exist. But in truth, the masonry industry has apprenticeship schools where workers are continuously trained. Improving their skills and learning new masonry technology.
3). Masonry construction is slow
Another misconception is that the construction process is slow. But the availability of bricks, blocks, and mortar says otherwise. Masonry construction is a fast process. Many parts can be built at the same time, all you need is more workers. Also, using masonry units of standard sites eliminates off-site fabrication.