With the proper design, materials, and workmanship, masonry is a durable and low-maintenance building material. It adds real and lasting wealth to the owner's property. Masonry buildings, fences, signs, and monuments have an attractive generation-spanning appeal. The use of stone, brick, and block in our homes, workplace, and public buildings is older than recorded history and is a part of the culture of all humanity. 

Derek L. Dippon, P.E.


Movement of the Masonry

 

Masonry structures move under thermal stress, expansion, and load stress. Each material  expands and contracts with increases and decreases in temperature, respectively. This coefficient of thermal expansion describes a thermal movement that is generally linear with normal earth surface temperatures, but varies greatly with material. One stone may have twice the thermal expansion of another stone of the the same size but different material. Similarly, brick and concrete block, or concrete masonry units (CMU) have their own coefficients of thermal expansion. In the same fashion, each masonry material has its own reaction to moisture and load-induced stress. It is the responsibility of the designer to ensure the complementary use of dissimilar materials, and design the masonry to move without cracking.

Example of poor construction