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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.