Advantages of Masonry
1. Masonry is Versatile and Aesthetically Pleasing:
Masonry is a timeless material and never goes out of fashion with an infinite number of possibilities for pattern and form. It has been the material of choice for castles and cathedrals, pyramids and great walls, schools and museums, hospitals and high-rises, bridges, roads, fences, and everything in between. Although it is often imitated (stamped concrete, stamped Exterior Insulating and Finish System (EIFS), stamped stucco and masonite), very few materials are as versatile as masonry and fewer still are as durable.
2. Masonry Manages Moisture:
It is not cost effective to construct buildings as water tight as submarines. We expect moisture ingress and need to provide a method for moisture to get out (such as a drained cavity masonry rainscreen veneer) and use materials like masonry which do not lose structural strength if they get wet, in fact they can gain strength by hydration. Masonry stores moisture and does not mold, nor is it organic. It is not ideal to construct from materials that are organic, as untreated, they can be a food source for other organisms such as termites.
3. Compartmentalization of Fire and Sound:
Although there are fire resistant gypsums, these materials are obliterated by the force of a fire hose. If the fire has not yet been doused it can spread to other areas, or the firehose can water damage adjacent units. A concrete block wall achieves it's fire rating and can still withstand the pressure of a fire hose without compromise. Clay bricks being a fired, ceramic material, have an even greater fire resistance and are used to train firefighters as they can be repeatedly set alight and doused during training exercises. Masonry is also a great insulator for noise with a Sound Transmission Class Rating of 50 or greater making it ideal for walls that increase useable space.
4. Masonry Partition and Infill Walls are Heavy:
This is actually a strength as it requires the structure to be more robust to support these walls. It creates conditions that make the transition to a more durable concrete or concrete/steel structure more cost effective. A concrete or concrete/steel structure can support concrete slab floors and roof decks. This allows for a greater variety in roof membranes. The concrete floors reduce noise between floors, better compartmentalize fire, and do not burn. The masonry infill walls allow for a variety of cladding (including stucco) that can manage the structural loads of the cladding as well as any environmental loads.
5. Masonry is LEED friendly and Green:
Masonry units typically use recycled materials such as fly ash and blast furnace slag in their production, masonry itself is a recycleable material and its modularity reduces contruction waste. Masonry is durable and long-lasting, which allows buildings constructed of masonry to be retrofitted for reuse. As a result of these properties, the use of masonry can yield up to seven Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits including:
EA1 - Optimize Energy,
MR1 – Building Reuse,
MR2 – Construction Waste Management,
MR3 – Resource Reuse (salvage),
MR4 – Recycled Content,
MR5 - Local/Regional
MR8 - Durable Building.
In addition to these LEED credits, innovative research is reducing the impact of masonry on the environment and keeping it one of the greenest building materials used in construction.