Types of Masonry Walls in Building Construction
Masonry walls have been a cornerstone of building construction for centuries, providing durability, strength, and thermal benefits to structures. They are constructed using various materials like bricks, stones, concrete blocks, and tiles, bound together by mortar.
These walls come in different types, each serving a specific purpose and offering unique advantages. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common types of masonry walls used in building construction.
1. Load Bearing Masonry Walls
Load bearing masonry walls are the backbone of many traditional buildings. They directly transfer loads from the roof to the foundation, ensuring the structural integrity of the entire building. Constructed with materials like bricks, stones, or concrete blocks, load-bearing walls can be both exterior and interior walls.
The thickness of load-bearing walls depends on the amount of load they need to bear. For single-story structures, a wall thickness of 230mm may suffice, but for multi-story buildings, the thickness will increase to accommodate the additional loads. These walls can be either reinforced or unreinforced, depending on the construction requirements.
2. Reinforced Masonry Walls
Reinforced masonry walls, whether load-bearing or non-load-bearing, are designed to withstand heavy compressive loads and tension forces. Unreinforced masonry walls are more susceptible to cracks and failure, especially during earthquakes or under heavy loads.
To enhance their strength, reinforcement bars are strategically placed both horizontally and vertically within the walls. The size, quantity, and spacing of the reinforcement depend on the specific loads and structural conditions the wall will encounter.
3. Hollow Masonry Walls
Hollow or cavity masonry walls serve multiple purposes, including moisture prevention and temperature control. These walls feature a hollow space between the outer and inner faces, acting as a barrier against moisture infiltration. Additionally, the hollow space restricts the transfer of heat, helping to control indoor temperatures.
If moisture manages to penetrate the outer face, it flows down to the hollow space and is drained through weep holes to the exterior. To further reduce moisture ingress, these hollow spaces may be coated with water-repellent or damp-proofing coatings.
4. Composite Masonry Walls
Composite masonry walls combine two or more masonry units, such as stones or bricks, with hollow bricks, to create a visually appealing yet cost-effective construction. In this type of wall, two wythes (continuous vertical sections of masonry) are constructed and bonded together. One wythe may consist of brick or stone masonry, while the other incorporates hollow bricks.
To ensure structural integrity, these wythes are interconnected using horizontal joint reinforcement or steel ties. Composite masonry walls offer an excellent blend of aesthetics, strength, and economy.
5. Post-tensioned Masonry Walls
Post-tensioned masonry walls are specifically designed to reinforce masonry against forces that induce tension, such as earthquakes or strong winds. Construction begins with post-tensioning rods anchored into the foundation. These rods run vertically between the wythes or within the core of concrete masonry units.
Once the masonry construction is completed and cured, the rods are tensioned and anchored at the top of the wall using steel plates. This post-tensioning technique adds significant strength to the masonry, enhancing its ability to withstand external forces.
Masonry walls are a vital component of building construction, offering durability, strength, and thermal benefits. The choice of masonry wall type depends on the specific requirements of the building, including load-bearing capacity, moisture control, and seismic considerations.
By understanding the various types of masonry walls available, construction professionals can make informed decisions to create safe, durable, and aesthetically pleasing structures.