Stories From the Field

Post: Scaffolding Saves the Day

Monday October 25, 2021

Michael demonstrating scaffolding frame

AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing often works on projects requiring the use of scaffolding. Whenever possible, our preferred type of scaffolding is ladder-type scaffolding due to its strength, ease of assembly, and ability to solve many access challenges.

Ladder-type scaffolding allows our masons to construct safe and stable access with near infinite scalability. In the first photo above, Michael is standing next to one of our 3’-wide ladder-type scaffolding frames suitable for narrower spaces. The horizontal rungs allow for easy climbing and ensure the frame does not twist or flex, and is the perfect access solution for restoring the two-story residential building in the background.

Each scaffolding frame is approximately 6 feet tall. With the use of cross braces, locking pins and wall clamps, scaffolding frames can be stacked to create access many, many stories above grade.

(Refer to the building across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City I photographed this fall ... now that’s scaleable!)

Ladder-type scaffolding on many story building

Whether ladder-type scaffolding, walk-through scaffolding, tube-and-coupler scaffolding, or swingstage scaffolding, our licensed and very seasoned masons know how to safely access the area on your building requiring attention.

If you are in need of an assessment of your masonry building, please give us a call or drop us a line.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.

Post: Reputation for Honesty & Integrity

Friday July 16, 2021

Greg, Jack, and Jesus standing in front of brick home

Thanks to our enduring reputation for honesty and quality, AAA-1 Masonry is provided the opportunity to work on hundreds of masonry projects every year. Even our smallest sized work crews are led by master masons with decades of experience in the masonry arts. Here, crew chief Greg flanked by Jack and Jesus pause for a photo after putting the finishing touches on a magnificent century-old brick beauty in Wilmette recently purchased by a local TV news anchorman and his wife for their growing family. Considered their Forever Home, the new owners requested over a dozen different hand-mixed mortar samples in an effort to find the one color they both agreed was perfect for their brick exterior. The family could not be happier!

Inspiring and dazzling the most discerning Chicago-area home owners since 1954, let us assist you with your next masonry restoration project.

Post: Window Lintel Replacement Work in East Lakeview

Friday May 28, 2021

Diagram showing location of lintels above windows

This month, AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing was hired to locate and correct the source of water incursion at an elegant pre-war courtyard building in East Lakeview just steps from the lake.

After examination of the exterior and interior wall conditions, it was determined that defective window lintels were the primary contributors to the water damage observed inside the living spaces (refer to first photo). We could tell by the bowing of the steel lintels and the step cracks emanating from the corners of the window heads that these lintels were severely deteriorated and in need of replacement but we never could have guessed just how structurally deficient they were.

Lintels are often referred to as "angle iron” because the shape of the steel used to support the bricks and stones over door and window openings forms a right angle. In residential work, steel lintels typically have a thickness of 3/8” or 1/2”. Steel of this thickness is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of pounds of load without difficulty. The wider the window or door opening, the thicker the piece of steel should be to handle the load and maintain a nice straight shape. In the second photo you can see the cross section of a 3/8” piece of angle iron freshly cut and ready for priming and painting. This is what steel lintels should look like.

Cross section of angle-iron

The third photo shows the condition of one of the window lintels removed from the building. Wow, that is a really awful steel window lintel! (Actually, what crew chief Andy is holding in his hand is more like 99% rust and 1% steel.) It is hard to believe that this hunk of junk once looked like the lintel in photo #2. When steel lintels are structurally deficient, more and more of the brick and stone load gets supported by the window frames and, not surprisingly, owners often complain that their windows no longer open easily because the frames are being crushed and deflected and no longer retain a true square shape.

Andy holding a severely rusted steel lintel

Replacement of window lintels requires strength, patience and technical skill. AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing has the technical knowledge and extensive field experience to replace your window and door lintels correctly. (That means priming and twice-painting the steel before installation, and installing a proper flashing detail including stainless steel drip edges and end dams.). For lintel replacement work that lasts and lasts, please contact us for a free consultation.

Thank you,


Post: An On-going Commitment to Safety

Saturday April 24, 2021

AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing is recognized as Chicagoland’s premiere masonry restoration company not only for its commitment to quality workmanship but also for its commitment to on-going safety training.

Before the brick saws and mortar grinders get powered up, our project managers and foremen have thoughtfully considered the best means of protecting your job site, the masons who operate within it and the general public.

This past week our masons teamed up with master instructor Brian Haddle of Stone Mountain Access Systems to renew our Competent Person safety certifications for supported and suspended scaffolding systems. The classes were thoughtful, thorough and interactive. Classroom learning was supplemented and reinforced with hands-on assignments such as the construction of a multi-tiered fully decked system scaffold.

As company owner, I was very proud to watch the close collaboration among the masons, tuckpointers, laborers and project managers as they digested hundreds of pages of course material and constructed numerous scaffolding structures on their way to passing their exams.

Regardless of the size or complexity of your next masonry project, you can be assured that your team of masons is SAIA-certified in the correct and safe use of the access equipment needed to perform your job.

We look forward to assisting you - safely - with your next masonry restoration project.

Thank you,

Post: AAA-1 Masonry Goes International

Thursday April 1, 2021

AAA-1 client Ann Halverson wearing her AAA-1 Masonry t-shirt while standing next to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba sign in Havana.

Long-time client, Ann Halverson, first discovered AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing through the yellow pages way back in the 1990's. Impressed with the quality work she received on her then-residence in Zion and rental properties in Chicago, more than two decades later Ann still rings the office every time there is a masonry issue afoot. With a Ph.D in Chemistry and decades of apartment building ownership under her belt, Ann is no dummy! All the more reason we are proud to be considered her go-to vendor for masonry issues.

Being such loyal and vocal fan of AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing, Ann received an honorary company t-shirt years ago and still wears it proudly, even when she goes abroad! Ann forwarded us this photo while taking a cultural trip to Cuba. What an honor for us. Thank you, Ann!