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How To Prevent Disasters in Masonry

Cracks from age, weather, and more can lead to disaster.

Despite how resilient and sturdy stone and brick can be it still needs to be properly maintained. Unlike wood which can rot easily, stone resists many common damaging effects caused by weather and time. However, if masonry and brick were truly indestructible the Coliseum would be in perfect condition and brick houses would never deteriorate after decades.

Nothing is perfect. Any water entering cracks and crevices can freeze and cause damage. Much like other forms of rock and stone water can erode the building materials over time. Mortar is the perfect place for water to enter due to the slight porous element of the materials. Cracks can form from various types of damage and can worsen over time (especially with added elements such as water or added wind, sand, etc). Weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and more can cause trauma through the rapid water damage and movement of heavy objects. Stone and brick may prevent large amounts of damage, but if something hits that structure wrong or if the structural integrity is already compromised there’s no telling how much damage may occur in a bad storm, earthquake, or other disaster.

Chimneys are susceptible to water entrance though when properly built minimal outside elements can enter. Inspections of chimneys and roofs should be conducted regularly to ensure everything is holding together and to check for cracks and imperfections which can lead to larger amounts of damage.

Many things are placed on the outside walls of homes, including siding and stucco. If something can penetrate the outer layer, it can get trapped close to the brick and cause damage discussed above. This applies to any way inside or out in which water may become trapped near stone. Gaps need to always be filled and properly maintained to guarantee the best protection for your structure. Bricks and stone are often the structural integrity of a building and without that, only rubble will remain eventually.

Many people think brick layers and masons only focus on the act of building, but the best ones also know how to spot trouble and fix it. Grout may need to be touched up, bricks may need to be removed and replaced, and cracks may need to be filled. When working with brick or stone it is best to know how to spot and prevent as much damage as possible.

Working with Charlie’s program will help you learn the skills to build strong, safe, and resilient structures. Knowing what it should look like and how to do it can help decide when to change or repair anything. Further research and experience will only help you to become the best mason around—just remember to maintain your work as best as possible and always be aware of the elements.