Select—and inspect: A checklist for masonry materials

November 01, 2000 |

Design and construction professionals need to heed many rules for masonry construction. Here is a partial list of selection criteria for architects and structural engineers who choose masonry and cladding materials:

  •  Dimensional stability.

  •  Low water absorption rate.

  •  High breaking strength.

  •  Thermal movement and shock resistance.

  •  Dimension and surface quality.

  •  Frost resistance.

  •  Compatibility with substrates, thermal barriers, grouts and adhesives.

As the masonry assemblies and structures are being built, designers, owners and construction project managers should inspect materials, workmanship and other jobsite procedures so that building structural qualities are not compromised. A list of proposed inspection subjects for designers and construction professionals and building owners may include:

  •  Checking mortar mixes.

  •  Inspecting masonry for dimensions, color and conformance with specifications.

  •  Verifying materials and position of reinforcing.

  •  Checking location and installation of anchors.

  •  Evaluating vertical coursing.

Other useful items to double-check include jobsite storage and the ambient temperature on the day that masonry is placed. By paying attention to such details, building teams can help optimize the cracking and ultimate compressive strength of masonry materials.

Assumed ultimate compressive strength of masonry materials

Concrete masonry units 1,500 - 6,000 psi


2,000 - 20,000 psi


2,500 - 21,000 psi


9,000 - 18,000 psi


15,500 - 30,000 psi

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