What are the Different Types of Masonry Materials?

Erin J. Hill

Masonry is a form of construction that uses bricks and other masonry materials, such as stone or concrete, to erect structures like walls, foundations, fireplaces, and stoves. There are various materials that can be used in this field, with some chosen for luxury and beauty, while others are used for durability and strength. The masonry materials used for any given job will depend on a variety of factors.

Cinder blocks are common masonry materials.
Cinder blocks are common masonry materials.

The most common masonry materials are bricks and cinder blocks used to build houses and other structures. Red brick was traditionally the most common, but today there are hundreds of various brick shades and designs to choose from. There are smooth and rough varieties, as well as bricks which are designed to look like more expensive materials like stone or granite.

Mortar is commonly used to adhere cinder blocks and bricks in construction.
Mortar is commonly used to adhere cinder blocks and bricks in construction.

Bricks are laid one on top of another in various formations which depend upon the structure and the style desired. Mortar is used between each piece. It will eventually set and harden, giving the structure a durable design that is more resistant to damage caused by weather and fire than other materials.

Other masonry materials may include stones in varying shapes and sizes. These can include real stones or artificial varieties, with actual stones generally being more pricey. Artificial stones may not have the exact same rustic appearance as true stones, but they come pretty close if quality items are chosen. Either variety of stones are generally used for outdoor decorative items like patios, walkways and paths; and indoors for things like accent walls and fireplaces.

Slate and other natural products may also be used for masonry materials. These are generally the most expensive. They may be used for a variety of things including furniture, countertops, wall decor, fireplaces, and flooring. When used for masonry work, they are usually used on walls.

Choosing the right masonry materials for each individual project requires a little imagination and knowledge. A professional mason may be of assistance, but knowing which type of materials to go with is generally a matter of taste rather than necessity. Nearly all products can be used outdoors if special care is taken for waterproofing when needed.

It is important to hire professionals for installation of masonry materials, since if improperly done structures may be weak and prone to damage. An amateur attempting to do this type of work can also result in an unattractive structure that may not be easily fixed. The best course of action is to research, find, and hire a professional in the industry.

The outer shell of a fireplace is typically built of brick or masonry.
The outer shell of a fireplace is typically built of brick or masonry.

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