Brick Masonry | Inspection Checklist for Brickwork | Site Supervision Tips!

Brick Mason Placing Brick Layers over mortar

Brick Masonry

A structural system in which the bricks are placed in a systematic manner and the joints are filled by the mortar to form a solid structure is termed as Brick masonry. It is generally used in walls and buildings. These Brick Masonry structures are used as both load bearing and non-load bearing walls.

Brick Mason Placing Brick Layers over mortar
Brick Mason Placing Brick Layers over mortar

The brick masonry a key component in the construction of Houses, Buildings and compound walls. It is very important to construct Brick Masonry in a quality manner to ensure the loads bearing capacity, durability and stability. The quality of Brick Masonry can be ensured by proper workmanship and good inspection. In order to attain a good workmanship in Brick Masonry, the Site Engineer or Supervisor must observe the following aspects during the construction of Brick Masonry.

  1. Soaking of the Bricks
  2. Maintain the wet surface area of the brickwork
  3. Proper Horizontal first bed course
  4. Proper Mortar mix proportions
  5. Proper Lap and Vertical Joints
  6. Sprit level and Plumb-bob checking’s
  7. Raking Joints of the Brick Masonry
  8. Curing of the Brick masonry

Soaking of the Bricks:

Soaking of bricks was a very important activity and contributes to strength of the Brick Masonry. When Bricks are soaked into the clean water, it gets saturated, and the air particles, dust & dirt are removed. When we use these soaked Bricks it will not absorb the water from Mortar and enough strength from Mortar is obtained. Generally, the soaking period of the bricks is 12 hours.

Soaking of bricks for laboratory tests
Soaking of bricks for laboratory tests

However, in modern-day constructions and big building constructions, the soaking huge amount of Bricks was not possible. In this case, water was sprayed over the Bricks and it shall be done for the period of 5 to 8 hours.

Moreover, if the brick is neither soaked or water sprayed before placing of the Bricks in Brick Masonry, it leads to absorption of the water from Mortar and the Mortar will not have enough water to complete hydration.  This prevents the Mortar  to obtain its full strength.

Maintain the wet surface area of the brickwork:

Secondly, any surface before starting brickwork must be properly wetted in order to get a good bond between the old surfaces to the new course of brickwork. This must be done at least 10 mins before starting of the brickwork. The water shall be sprayed on the surfaces for this purpose..

Proper Horizontal first bed course:

Further, when the first course of the Brickwork is going to be started, it shall be in perfect horizontal level. This would be done by filling enough Mortar to the bed course to even the undulations. Always the first course of the Brickwork must be carefully watched by the Supervisor or Site Engineer to ensure the perfect horizontal axis. This ensures the proper horizontal level of all successive brickwork courses.

Proper Mortar mix proportions:

The Mortar used for the Brick work shall always possess good workability and Strength. In order to get the good workability and strength, the Mortar shall be properly mixed with a good ratio of Sand, Cement/Lime/Fly Ash, and enough water.

Plain Cement Concrete
Plain Cement Concrete for Brick Masonry

Generally, Cement Mortar 1:5 ratio would be used for Brick Masonry. The water-cement/Lime/Fly ash ratio shall be 0.50. If enough water is not used for the mix preparations, the Mortar becomes crumble after the Brickwork.

Proper Lap and Vertical Joints:

Proper lap and vertical joints are ensured to get the bond between each layer of the brickwork. A joint that is parallel to the bed course is termed as Lap joint. Generally, a lap joint shall be below the half of the width of the brick. A joint perpendicular to the bed course is termed as vertical joints. Therefore, these vertical joints are continuously provided in the alternative layer of the Brickwork. It is not provided continuously in a single line to all layers.

Checking Vertical levels in Brick Masonry
Checking Vertical levels in Brick Masonry

Sprit level and Plumb-bob checking’s:

Without use of Sprit level and Plumb-bob, the level of Brickwork will not be uniform. Hence, for each and every layer of Brickwork, the horizontal level of the placing bricks shall be checked by using sprit level. The same way the vertical level of the placing bricks shall be checked by using Plumb-bob. These checks ensure the verticality of the wall and perpendicular level.

Brick Masonry Wall
Brick Masonry Wall

Raking Joints of the Brick Masonry:

Where plastering is required, the Mortar is removed up to 1 to 1.5 cm from the Brickwork which is termed as raking joints. These raking joints help to bind the plasters to the brickwork. 

Curing of the Brick Masonry:

Finally, for any kind of construction, curing plays a vital role in a good life span. Proper and enough curing helps to achieve the desired strength of mortar used, thus the brick work as whole. Generally, in Brick Masonry, curing is done by spraying the water at regular intervals.

Curing of Bricks
Curing of Bricks

Depending on atmospheric humidity, minimum 3 times in day water shall be sprayed on the Brickwork. Therefore, before plastering the Brickwork shall be cured for a minimum of 10 days. After plastering it may take a minimum of 7 days to attain enough strength.