Masonry is the building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar. Common materials include brick, stone, concrete block, glass block, and tile. Masonry is generally a highly durable form of construction. Materials used, quality of the mortar, workmanship, and unit placement can strongly affect the durability of the overall construction.

Masonry is commonly used for the construction of building walls, retaining walls and monuments. Brick is the most common type of masonry and may be either weight-bearing or attached as a veneer. Concrete block masonry is rapidly gaining in popularity.

The word "masonry" may refer to a variety of items, including brick, block, structural tile, glass block, fieldstone, cut stone, and their respective installations. Brick, block, and tile are often called masonry units, and working with them is commonly referred to as "unit masonry."

Masonry construction is popular for a variety of reasons. It is fireproof, capable of withstanding abuse, and requires relatively little maintenance. It is also an aesthetically pleasing and a relatively economical form of construction.

The two most common units in use are brick and concrete block. Brick is probably the best known type of unit masonry. It is very adaptable and can be installed in a variety of pleasing patterns, textures, and colors.

The major classifications of brick include face brick, common brick, glazed brick, fire brick, and pavers. Face bricks have a better appearance and are used when the bricks are to be in view. Common bricks are used when appearance is not as important, such as for the backup of a face brick veneer wall.

Glazed bricks have a ceramic or other glazing material on one or two sides of the faces. They are used in a variety of circumstances, such as in restrooms, cafeterias, and kitchens, where durability and cleanliness are important. They may also be used as decorative wainscoting or for an attractive building exterior. Fire bricks are used in areas where high temperatures are encountered. Brick pavers are used as a wearing surface or flooring.

Concrete masonry units - concrete block - are used primarily for walls, partitions, or backup material for other veneers, such as face brick. The basic concrete block has actual face dimensions of 7-5/8" x 15-5/8", but is referred to as an 8" x 16" unit.

Standard block thicknesses include 2", 3", 4", 6", 8", and 12" units. Concrete block is also available in a variety of textures and colors.

Masonry is generally priced by the piece and/or converted into a cost per square foot. Be sure to think about these elements when estimating masonry:

  • Weather factors
  • Scaffolding
  • Mortar and accessories
  • Brick masonry
  • Concrete unit masonry
  • Glass block