What is a Masonry Wall?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A masonry wall is a wall made from materials which have traditionally been cemented together with the use of mortar. Masonry walls can be used as structural walls in buildings, and they can also be utilized to create barriers between property lines or different areas on a property. People have been working with masonry in construction for thousands of years, as ample examples of surviving masonry walls from all over the world illustrate. Properly maintained, masonry can also last a very long time; masonry walls from the medieval era, for example, are still in use in parts of Europe, and the Great Wall of China is a particularly notable example of a masonry wall.

Mortar is smoothed to provide a surface to a masonry wall.
Mortar is smoothed to provide a surface to a masonry wall.

Brick, stone, tile, ceramic blocks, adobe, and glass blocks can all be used in the construction of a masonry wall. In dry set masonry, no mortar at all is used, with the pieces of the wall being carefully fitted together to create a stable wall with excellent drainage. Dry setting is often used for the creation of livestock walls. Solid masonry, made with mortar, can also be reinforced with a backbone of steel or a similarly strong material.

The Great Wall of China is a notable example of a masonry wall.
The Great Wall of China is a notable example of a masonry wall.

Masonry walls can have a wide variety of shapes, looks, and feels. Some are low and broad, while others are thin and tall, and they can include varying sizes of material for more visual interest, or uniformly shaped and sized material for a more regular look. When designing masonry walls, people need to think about how the wall will be used, the level of reinforcement which may be necessary, and the desired aesthetic look of the wall and surrounding environment.

Brick is often used to make masonry walls.
Brick is often used to make masonry walls.

There are a number of advantages to building with masonry. In areas with ample rock deposits or deposits of materials which can be used to make substances like glass and brick, masonry can be a cheap construction method. It also creates increased thermal mass, contributing to efficiency, and it can bear a great deal of weight when it is well designed. A masonry wall also confers fire protection, as it will take some time for a fire to break through such a wall.

Concrete can be reinforced with metal bars to withstand tension.
Concrete can be reinforced with metal bars to withstand tension.

One of the main disadvantages to working with masonry is that it is very heavy, and it can add to production costs for a building in addition to being dangerous in an earthquake if it is not properly supported. It's important to use a masonry contractor with experience and familiarity with regional building codes to ensure that a masonry wall is built to the appropriate standards.

Masonry walls are often used both in the foundation and in the load-bearing areas of a building.
Masonry walls are often used both in the foundation and in the load-bearing areas of a building.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003443

Masonry wall is composed of materials that have traditionally been cemented together using a mortar, masonry walls are most utilised as a form of structural walls in building. Along, with that they are also used for creating barriers between property lines.

webwillie1

Another help to get a good Mortar Joint Bond is by using Spacers.

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