A New Look at Masonry
I had the opportunity to get acquainted with an old friend while attending a seminar sponsored by Illinois Brick Company. We all have a general understanding and appreciation for masonry. It is one of our earliest building materials. This new look at masonry represents durability, mass, value. Strangely, brick is now used almost exclusively as a decorative finish material rather than its original structural role.
This represents a kind of redundant construction method which in turn contributes to an even more exaggerated construction cost. Why don’t we think of brick in its structural sense? It seems like a number of advantages would be available. A mason can build a wall that serves both structural and finish roles in a single operation. This saves both time and money. There is a feeling of honesty when a material is fulfilling its intended role.
Facts and History
- The Monadnock Building is a structural masonry construction with wall thickness at its base of six feet and at its top, only eighteen inches.
- A structural application of masonry helps to eliminate the complications of differential expansion between dissimilar materials.
- This type of construction offers superior noise isolation.
- Brick masonry is stronger than concrete masonry unit (CMU) construction, enabling thinner walls.
These material workhorses from the earth feel right to us. They make a connection to the earth. We appreciate the feeling we get from these materials. They give us comfort in their longevity and durability. We feel safe and protected when our homes are solid as a rock.
The overlooked properties of our building materials deserve a fresh look. Consider the application of a trusted material in expanded ways. So often we become complacent in the ways that we build homes. It would be wise to take a step back and consider how we use many of the materials that go into our projects.