Choosing the right material for your masonry project. The masonry profession has been around for thousands of years, and masons have been used to make everything from small fire pits to the Pyramids of Giza to Ballpark Village. Professional masonry companies can help your project achieve aesthetic appeal, function, and durability. However, even with a great design and expert contractors, every masonry project needs the appropriate building materials in order to reach its full potential.
Ultimately, the right material for your masonry project depends on the specific situation. A professional masonry company like Smith Masonry in St. Louis will be able to offer you insight and merge your tastes with the project’s needs to select the absolute best materials for your project. Call Smith Masonry today at (314) 894-9500 to discuss your masonry and hardscaping needs today.
Materials Used in Masonry
Over time, different cultures and time periods have added to the masonry profession, leaving masons and bricklayers today with a wide range of materials to use. Some of the most common are:
Brick is a popular masonry material that is made by firing clay in a kiln. It is known for its durability and fire-resistant properties. Brick comes in a variety of colors and sizes and can be arranged in many different patterns, making it a good choice for adding aesthetic appeal. The benefits of using brick include its low maintenance and long lifespan. However, it can be expensive and time-consuming to install, and there are more energy efficient materials. Common types of brick used in masonry are listed below.
- Common bricks are the most versatile and commonly used bricks in general construction projects such as walls, pillars, and foundations.
- Facing bricks are used for decorative purposes and to enhance the appearance of the building. They are commonly used in the construction of facades.
- Engineering bricks are designed to be high strength with water and acid resistance capabilities, making them ideal for outdoor structures such as bridges, tunnels, and retaining walls.
- Hollow bricks have holes or hollow spaces that total at least 25-60% of their bed area. They’re used in the construction of walls where insulation is needed, and make it easier for electrical wires to pass through. They are commonly used for partition walls, as well as in residential buildings, schools, and hospitals.
- Sand lime bricks allow for good acoustic insulation and are proficient at absorbing heat and humidity. They’re often used in the construction of load-bearing walls, high-rise buildings, and industrial buildings.
- Concrete bricks are used in the construction of retaining walls, garden walls, and other structures that require strength and durability.
- Fly ash bricks are used in sustainable building projects where the use of eco-friendly materials is a priority, as they are made from recycled materials such as cement waste and sand/stone dust. They are commonly used in the construction of low-rise buildings, schools, and hospitals.
Stone is a natural masonry material that has been used for centuries. It is known for its strength, durability, and natural beauty. Stone can be used in its natural state or cut into various shapes and sizes. The benefits of using stone include its resistance to weathering and erosion and its ability to absorb and release heat slowly, making it energy-efficient. However, it can be expensive and difficult to install, requiring great precision and craftsmanship. Below are the types of stone often used in masonry:
- Granite is a hard and durable stone that is commonly used in the construction of buildings, bridges, monuments, paving, steps, doorways and arches. Granite is available in a variety of colors and can take a nice polish.
- Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is often used in the construction of buildings and monuments due to its durability and versatility. It’s known for being easy to work with, and is commonly used in floors, steps, and walls.
- Sandstone is a popular type of stone due to its unique textures and colors, and because it’s also easy to work with. It is commonly used in the construction of steps, walls, flooring, and buildings and settings in which fire resistance is paramount.
- Marble is a beautiful and elegant type of stone that is often used in electrical switch boards, flooring, door and window frames, columns, and in projects that are more ornamental in nature.
- Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that is black in color commonly used in the construction of roofs and when water resistance is necessary.
- Basalt is a dense, dark-colored volcanic rock that is difficult to work. It’s often used in foundation work, as well on pavement and steps.
- Travertine is a type of limestone made from minerals that dissolve in groundwater and move above ground. Because of that, it’s characterized by its porous texture and unique color variations. It’s often used in the construction of buildings, flooring, and cladding.
Blocks are used as precast building materials that can be stacked or laid on top of each other to create walls, partitions, foundations, and other structures. In general, blocks used in masonry projects are larger than bricks and are designed to be more efficient and cost-effective in construction. Blocks are often used in commercial or industrial projects where larger structures are required, or in projects where speed and efficiency are important.
- Concrete blocks are precast building materials that are commonly used in construction projects. They are available in different sizes and shapes and can be used for a variety of applications such as walls, foundations, and retaining structures.
- Hollow concrete blocks are similar to hollow bricks. They are used in the construction of walls, as they are lighter than solid blocks and can be easily handled and laid.
- Aerated autoclaved concrete (AAC) blocks are lightweight blocks made from mixing cement, lime, and aluminum powder with an expansion agent. They are used in the construction of walls and roofs due to their insulating properties.
- Clay blocks are made from clay and are commonly used in the construction of load-bearing walls, as they are strong and durable.
- Calcium silicate blocks are lightweight and durable blocks made from sand, lime, and cement. They are used in the construction of load-bearing walls, partitions, and ceilings.
- Glass blocks are largely for decorative purposes, and are often used in the construction of walls and partitions to create a unique, stylish, and contemporary look.
- Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are a type of block made from expanded polystyrene foam, and are used in the construction of walls and foundations. They provide insulation and are energy-efficient.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Materials For Your Masonry Project
Choosing the right material for your masonry project can be a daunting task, but it’s essential to ensure that the finished product is aesthetically pleasing and functions as it’s intended to. Here’s an 7-step guide for selecting the appropriate material:
- Step 1 — Determine the purpose of the project
Consider the intended use of the project, whether it’s for a load-bearing wall, a decorative feature, or a foundation. Will the surface be subject to heavy foot traffic or the elements, or is it more ornamental in nature? Are there various functions within the project, such as load-bearing walls, steps, and decorative elements?
- Step 2 — Consider the climate and weather conditions
Consider the weather conditions in your area, such as rainfall, snowfall, and temperature fluctuations. In St. Louis and the surrounding area, you’ll need materials that can handle the high temperature and humidity while also accounting for colder temperatures in the winter.
- Step 3 — Determine your budget
Determine your budget and choose materials that fit within your budget. Different materials have different purchasing costs and difficult-to-work-with materials will induce higher labor costs, but these materials also have different costs for maintenance and repairs. Consider the quality and durability of the materials in the long run, and choose materials that will save you money down the road.
- Step 4 — Consider durability
Choose materials that are durable and long-lasting, especially for load-bearing structures such as walls and foundations. Materials like concrete, stone, and brick are known for their strength and durability.
- Step 5 — Consider aesthetics
Choose materials that will enhance the overall appearance of the project. Consider the color, texture, and style of the materials. For example, stone can add a natural and rustic look to a project, while brick can give a more classic and traditional appearance.
- Step 6 — Consider sustainability
Choose materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable, such as recycled materials or those with a low carbon footprint. This is not only good for the environment, but it can also save you money in the long run.
- Step 7 — Consult with a professional
Consult with a professional mason or contractor to help you select the right materials for your specific project needs. They can provide expert advice on how much the materials will eventually cost you, which materials will function best for your purposes, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Choosing the Right Materials For Your Project | Smith Masonry
Smith Masonry is a full service masonry and hardscaping company serving the greater St. Louis area. Our work portfolio includes a wide variety of industrial, commercial, and institutional masonry projects. Whatever you have planned, we’ve done it before and can help you in everything from choosing the right materials to completing construction. Call us today at (314) 894-9500 for help choosing the right materials for your masonry project.