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!
Lintels are pieces of steel which span a masonry opening (e.g., a door, a window, etc.) and support the bricks above it. Lintels are often mistaken for the tops of windows and door frames since they usually are painted the same color as the wood or metal frames they touch.
Back in the old days, steel lintels were of a higher quality than those used in today's construction. Those lintels often lasted 80 – 100 years before they became so rusted, deflected, and structurally deficient that they required replacement. With today's slacker construction codes, improper installation and (often) focus on quick profits, the steel lintels in masonry structures built today sometimes don't last a decade before they require replacement. That's a real shame.
Telltale signs of a defective lintel include step cracks emanating from the top corners of windows or doors, wavy bricks over the windows or doors, or bricks which appear to be out of plumb (i.e., appear no longer flush or in a alignment with the rest of the wall). If left unchecked, lintels will deteriorate to the point of structural failure leading to catastrophic collapse of the wall. In the first photo, a 150 pound piece of limestone fell out of a second-story bay window head; in the second photo, bricks and mortar in excess of 100 pounds fell out of a third-story window head.