An Introduction to Masonry and Masonry Materials

Each year, masons build and repair a wide variety of stone and brick structures, including retaining walls, steps, stoops, patios, chimneys, mailboxes, and outside home walls. While the cost of building the same structure out of brick, stone, and mortar is generally more expensive than building out of wood, brick and stone have a distinctive, classic look and, if constructed correctly, are extremely durable.

Bricks. Bricks are the most common masonry material. Bricks are available in a wide variety of colors and types. Due to changes in processes, raw materials (such as clay), and kiln temperature, brick color varies. Over time, even bricks made by the same brickyard and bearing the same name do not match exactly. This makes it difficult to match bricks used in new construction to those in old construction. The results and cost of matching bricks varies greatly with the effort spent. Some contractors go to the nearest home improvement store and buy whatever is most convenient. Service-oriented companies visit a large number of brickyards and stock a wide variety of bricks to assure the best match.

Mortar. Mortar is the glue that holds brick, block, and stone together. Different mortar types, made from different ingredient mixtures, are used for different applications. Depending on the ingredients, mortar color can also vary dramatically. A skilled repair mason should custom blend the mortar color to closely match the existing mortar.