Lexicon

We have compiled a glossary of common masonry and tuckpointing terms to help you make informed decisions about your next masonry project. If you have any questions or want to put our decades of experience to work for you, contact us!


Entry: Collar Joint

A collar joint is an intentional gap between multiple wythes of a masonry wall. Builders of newer masonry buildings like to leave a gap of 1" - 3" between the brick wythes to prevent wind-driven rain from reaching your interior living space. However, this gap prevents the two wythes from being tied together in a structural way. The tried and true method of masonry construction from the last century is the longest-lasting. … Read more!


Entry: Concrete Block / Split-Face Block

Concrete Blocks have a smooth face and are most often found buried in walls between the exterior brick or stone and the interior drywall. Split-Face Blocks have a rough texture, which makes for a more aesthetically pleasing look on large exterior walls. Concrete block reduces construction costs, but we have found that buildings constructed with concrete blocks require more regular maintenance than buildings constructed entirely out of brick. … Read more!


Entry: Course / Coursing

A course of masonry is a horizontal row or layer of material. (Courses of masonry create height, while wythes create depth.) In general, four to four and one-half courses of Chicago common brick, or three courses of concrete block or oversized utility brick, are used to build one vertical foot of wall. … Read more!


Entry: Dangerous & Hazardous Conditions

The City of Chicago applies this term to any job site where imminent danger is present due to structural failures or other life-threatening conditions. Fines are usually levied if immediate corrective measures are not taken. … Read more!


Entry: Drip Edges

Drip edges are pieces of metal designed to direct or shed water away from your masonry building, and are installed in walls at critical locations. Proper installation of stainless steel drip edges is critical to keeping your wall cavities and interior spaces free of water infiltration. … Read more!


Entry: Efflorescence

Efflorescence results from severe water penetration into the masonry unit. During warmer weather, the brick "sweats out" the moisture, as well as some of the minerals in the brick. Over time the leaching of the brick's salts and minerals weakens its integrity. When bricks are severely effloresced, the bricks may need to be replaced. … Read more!


Entry: Flashing / Through-Wall Flashing

Flashing is a waterproof material used by masons to direct water out of a wall. It usually comes in rolls, in many different widths, and may be constructed with any number of materials. Not all flashings are created equal — don't let your contractor skimp on the flashings! … Read more!


Entry: Jamb

A jamb is the side of a window or door opening. (Door hinges are secured into a door jamb and allow the door to swing open and shut.) The jamb should not be confused with the sill which is the slab of stone or wood running under the bottom of a window or door opening. … Read more!


Entry: Lintels

Lintels are pieces of steel which span a masonry opening (e.g., a door, a window, etc.) and support the bricks above it. In contrast to the high quality steel lintels used in many older buildings, we have found that the steel lintels in masonry structures built today sometimes don't last a decade before they require replacement. … Read more!


Entry: Mortar Mixes

Mortar is the glue that bonds your masonry materials together. With the right mortar applied under the correct conditions, your bricks, stone, concrete block or terra cotta structure will last for generations with minimal maintenance. Click through to learn about Type M, Type S, Type O, Type K, Straight Lime, and Glass Block Mortars. … Read more!


Entry: Parapet Wall

A parapet wall is the top portion of a brick wall, usually extending above a roof. Parapet walls were originally used to defend buildings from military attack, but in more recent times they are used to enhance the aesthetic qualities of brick structures and to prevent the spread of fires from one part of a building to another. … Read more!


Entry: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, are items worn to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause serious injury or illness. In the world of masonry restoration, our most common forms of PPE include hard hats, protective eye wear, face masks and respirators, work gloves, and steel-toed work boots. … Read more!


Entry: Scaffolding

Tubular pipe scaffolding, or fixed pipe scaffolding, is built upon a solid surface like the ground or a level roof and is comprised of steel frames, cross braces and decking. It is modular, and can be customized to the requirements of the specific job. … Read more!


Entry: Sill

A sill is the horizontal slab of stone or wood running under the bottom of a window or door. In masonry buildings, the bottom of a window usually rests on a piece of limestone called a windowsill. … Read more!


Entry: Spalled Brick

As bricks suffer chronic freeze/thaw damage, they tend to break up into fragments, or "spall". You may observe the surface of the brick or stone delaminating and shrinking in size, and you may also find little pieces or chunks of masonry along the base of the decaying wall. … Read more!


Entry: Wall Ties

Wall ties are used to connect together different materials used in the construction of a masonry structure. Masonry wall ties are a standard way of connecting a building's brick or stone facade to its cinder block back-up wall. Stainless steel wall ties are considerably more durable and long-lasting than galvanized wall ties. … Read more!


Entry: Wythe

A wythe is a vertical section of a masonry wall that is one unit thick. Most older masonry structures are comprised of an outer wythe of brick (what we think of as the exterior façade of the building) and an interior wythe of brick (to which the drywall is attached). Some well-constructed buildings can have three, or even four, wythes. … Read more!