Information on Brick Masonry Construction

Brick masonry of various types has been used in building construction for thousands of years, and it remains one of the versatile and durable of all building materials. These article links provide information on different types of bricks, mortar products, and installation techniques used by masons, construction pros, and DIY homeowners. 

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5 Types of Materials Used for Bricks

Brick wall
Somchai um-im/Getty Images 

Several different materials are used in masonry bricks—some classic materials that date back centuries, and others that are newer innovations. Learn the characteristics, advantages, and installation basics for the following types: 

  1. Burnt clay bricks
  2. Sand lime bricks (calcium silicate bricks)
  3. Concrete bricks
  4. Fly ash clay bricks
  5. Firebrick
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How to Install a Brick Veneer on an Exterior Wall

Masonry veneer
James Stewart/Wikimedia Commons 

Although they look like solid stone walls, most brick siding installations are actually veneers of clay brick attached to walls that are traditionally framed and sheathed. The joints are made with cementitious mortar packed into the seams. Installing a brick veneer onto your building’s exterior requires special skills, and the job is usually performed by an experienced brick mason crew. 

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How to Tuckpoint

Tuckpointing is the term used to describe the process of removing  dried mortar from deteriorated mortar joints and packing them with new mortar. This job is best performed by pros, but the work is more time-consuming than difficult, and it can also be done by a handyman or even by a determined DIY homeowner. Several products are available  that will allow you to put the mortar into the joints.

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Choosing the Right Mortar Mix

Low Section Of Man Working
Thomas Woollard / EyeEm/Getty Images 

The mortars used to assemble and finish masonry walls are based on  Portland cement. Mortar comes in several different forms, including types N, O, S, and M. Type N mortar is is usually recommended on the exterior and above-grade walls that are exposed to severe weather and high heat. Learn when types O, S, and M are appropriate. 

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How to Build a Concrete Block Wall

Concrete blocks
USACE Afghanistan Engineer District-South/Flickr

Concrete blocks are the most common material used for foundation walls, and can also be used for exterior wall construction, as well as landscape walls. Learn how concrete block is installed. 

A special type of concrete block, concrete block insulating units (CBIUs), can provide insulation values up to R-22. These blocks are finished on the inside face reducing the need for drywall and/or paint used for the interior finish, making them less expensive and more environmentally friendly. 

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Cold-Weather Masonry and Mortar Tips

Winter Scene
Ali Majdfar/Getty Images 

Masonry work requires special attention when working temperatures are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Learn the different handling, brick-laying, and curing techniques required in cold-weather situations. Also learn about the various products that can make the work easier, including accelerators and admixtures.

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Tips on How to Prevent Cracks in Brickwork

Close-Up Of Damaged Brick Wall
 Gabriel Dica / EyeEm/Getty Images

Some contractors have failed to execute some simple steps and have paid the price with costly callbacks after the work is completed. Learn methods for avoiding this common problem, such as installing proper expansion joints. 

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Mixing Mortar Tips and Amounts

Bricklayer preparing cement in bucket, pouring water from bottle
Westend61/Getty Images 

Brick installation depends on mixing mortar properly using the proper ratios of cement and sand. Use good grade sand in your mix, and make sure it is free of clays and other contaminants, which can create a paste that ruins the mortar as it dries. Learn how to choose ingredients and how to mix them properly for best results.