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Top 10 Need to Know Brick Masonry Terms and more

masonry bricks and tools

There are many specialized terms related to all aspects of brick masonry building. For the DIY, just getting started to build a brick mailbox, all the terms can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to follow explanations if you don’t understand what they mean.

Here you will find definitions of the top 10, must know, brick masonry terms that will get you on your way to understanding what masons are talking about. You will also find detail pictures to understand better the masonry terms. Also, locate the article on how to build a brick mailbox that thoroughly explains all the steps to construct one using all these masonry terms. You will be able to follow the article entirely once you understand all these terms.

Brick Masonry Terms: The Basic Top 10

JOINT

The junction of two or more masonry pieces leaving a space between the bricks or concrete masonry units that are filled with mortar or grout. If the joint is parallel to the bed of masonry pieces in a course, it is termed as bed joint. If the joint is perpendicular, then the bed joints are termed vertical joints, side joints, head joints, or just joints. You can find below the different mortar joint types.

Masonry bed joint, head joint and bed 

BED

The bed is the horizontal layer of mortar where brick or stone units are laid.

FROG

A perforation or hole on the longer face of a brick made with the object of forming an indentation for the mortar. This hollow depression also reduces the weight and makes it easier to handle. The depth of the frog is usually between 10 to 20 mm. Frogged bricks should lay with the frog upward and fill up with mortar. The reason is to obtain higher strength, stability, and sound insulation.

Brick header, stretcher and frog

 

HEADER SIDE

The shorter side or end face of a piece of brick that is exposed.

STRETCHER SIDE

The longer narrow side or face of a piece of brick that is exposed.
 

COURSE

A continuous horizontal layer of similar bricks or stones that are bonded with mortar in a masonry structure and is one unit high. Find below the different types of courses.

Masonry course

 

STRETCHER COURSE

A course of bricks or stones that lie with its longest side parallel to the face of the work. The course of brickwork in which all the bricks are laid as stretchers is known as stretcher course. In the example below it is a course of bricks four stretchers long.

Masonry stretcher course

 

HEADER COURSE

The course of brickwork in which all the bricks are laid as headers is referred to as header course. Three-quarter bats are used for the corners. A header course requires twice as many bricks as a stretcher course making it more time consuming and expensive to build.

Masonry header course

 

SOLDIER COURSE

Bricks that are set with the narrow side exposed are called soldiers. Bricks laid vertically with its long narrow sides presented (Soldiers) in a row is called a soldier course. Usually used to add visual interest to a masonry structure.

Masonry soldier course

 

 

Brick Masonry Terms: The Advanced Terms

In here you will find the rest of the masonry terms that you could run into if you start a masonry project.

 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ANCHORS

Masonry anchors are a metal or strap usually made of brass, stainless steel or galvanized steel. Anchors are used to tying a wall (brick, block or stone) to another structure.

ARRIS

The sharp corner edges of a brick.

Brick arris

ASHLAR MASONRY

Masonry that is composed of variable size rectangular units that have sawed, dressed, or squared bed surfaces, properly bonded and laid in mortar. These masonry units are precisely cut on all faces that are next to other masonry units and normally have very thin joints.

Ashlar masonry

BACK

The interior surface of a brick wall which is not exposed is named the back. The material forming the back is called the backing.

BAT

The portion of brick that is cut across the width.

Three Quarter Bat Brick

Three Quarter Bat

When the length of the bat is equal to three-quarters of the length of the original brick.
Bevelled Bat Brick

Bevelled Bat

When a bat has its width bevelled.
Half Bat Brick

Half Bat

When the length of a bat is equal to half of the length of the original brick.

 

BEVEL

The incline of one surface that meets another of the same body with the angle being anything but a 90-degree angle.

BOND

The method of arranging bricks in a pattern so that the individual units are tied together. Bonding is crucial to eliminate consecutive vertical joints both in the body as well as on the face of the wall, as this will create a weak brick structure. It is also referred as the adhesion between mortar and brick or stone units and when attaching several types of masonry walls by overlapping masonry units.

stretching bond

Stretching Bond

Course of bricks that are all laid as stretchers. It is also called a running bond. If used as a structural bond it needs the proper reinforcement.
Masonry heading bond

Heading Bond

Course of bricks that are all laid as headers on the faces. A three-quarter bat is used in every other course as quoins and to properly overlap.
Masonry flemish bond

Flemish Bond

An alternate course of bricks that are composed of one header to one stretcher. It can also have several stretches in a row.  Many times, the stretcher and headers will be of different color to create patterns. 
Masonry english bond

English Bond

Alternate courses of stretchers and headers. Considered the strongest bond in brickwork. The second and the previous to last is a queen closer for all the heading courses. Alternate color shades are used for aesthetics. 
Masonry stack bond

Stack Bond

Pattern when all courses are perfectly aligned. This type of bond is used for decorative purposes as it is a weak masonry structure with no strength.

 

BULL NOSE

A bull nose brick is a type of brick that has one or some of its corners rounded off. The are typically used to build soft and attractive curved edges to steps, ledges, or in capping walls. There are many types of bull nose bricks.

Single bull nose brick

Single Bull Nose

One corner of the brick is rounded off.
Double bull nose brick

Double Bull Nose

Two corners of the brick are rounded off.
Cow nose brick

Cow Nose

Alos called double bull nose; it has both corners of the brick rounded off at one of the ends.
Single bull nose header brick

Single Bull Nose Header

Top header side corner of the brick is rounded off.
Single bull nose stretcher brick

Single Bull Nose Stretcher

Top stretcher side corner of the brick is rounded off.
Bull nose double stretcher brick

Bull Nose Double Stretcher

Both top stretcher side corners of the brick are rounded off.

 

BUTTERING

The act of placing mortar on one face of a masonry unit with a trowel before is laid. You will want to put as much mortar as possible on the end of the brick. 

BRICK MASONRY

The construction of brick masonry units bonded together with mortar to form walls.

BRICK TYPES

There are four main types of masonry bricks. Here are their definitions.

Solid brick

Solid Brick

A solid masonry unit with no cavities, holes or indentations. A solid brick has a maximum void area of 25 percent.
Frogged brick

Frogged Brick

A masonry unit with a cavity on one of its bed faces with no more than 20 percent of its volume hollow.
Cored brick

Cored Brick

A masonry unit that has holes or cores in its cross-sectional area with no more than 20 percent of its volume hollow. These cores reduce the weight of the brick and allow for faster firing of the brick.
Hollow brick

Hollow Brick

A masonry unit that has more than 25 percent of its volume hollow. They can have up to 60 percent of its volume empty. 

 

BRICKWORK

Walls and other structures made from bricks.

CLOSER

The portion of the brick cut lengthwise in such a manner that its one long face remains uncut. Usually used to end a brick course or building beautiful corners.

Solid brick

Solid Brick

Your typical brick with no cavities or void spaces.
Queen closer half brick

Queen Closer (Half)

The piece of brick taken by cutting a brick lengthwise into two parts.
Queen closer quarter brick

Queen Closer (Quarter)

When the queen closer is cut in half, then it is called a queen closer quarter.
Mitred closer brick

Mitred Closer

These are bricks where one end is cut at an angle from 45 to 60 degrees.
King closer brick

King Closer

Brick that is obtained by cutting from the center of one header to the center of the stretcher on the other side. They are used to finish corners.
Bevelled closer brick

Bevelled Closer

Similar to king closer but wit the difference that the whole length of the brick is beveled.

 

CONCRETE MASONRY UNIT

Aka "CMU", "Cinder Block”, “Concrete Block”, "Concrete Brick"; or simply “Block”. A concrete masonry unit that is made from portland cement, water, and any suitable aggregates. It may include other materials.

EXPANSION JOINT

The vertical or horizontal joints that are used to separate masonry into segments to control cracking.

FACE

The surface of a wall that is exposed or the surface of brick or stone that is exposed in finished work.

GROUT

A very fluid form of mortar used to fill gaps. It is used in construction to seal empty areas, and fill joints like the areas between tiles. It is a mix of water, cement, sand, and usually, a color tint is added to match the masonry unit.

HEARTING

The interior portion of a masonry structure wall between the facing and the backing.

JOINT TYPES

There are eight types of mortar joints.

Concave mortar joint

Concave

The most popular type of joint. It is formed in mortar by the use of a concave jointer tool. It has a high level of water resistance due to its recessed profile and the compacted mortar. It also highlights the quality and face of the bricks.
Vee mortar joint

Vee

This type of joint, also called "V", is formed by the use of a V-shaped jointer or a trowel. The joint hides small irregularities and is water-resistant because the mortar is compacted and its shape directs water away from the seal.
Flush mortar joint

Flush

This joint is used when the wall is intended to be plastered or when you plan to paint the wall. Since the mortar is not compressed, it is less water-resistant than some of the other joint types.
Raked mortar joint

Raked

For this joint type, the mortar is raked out to a uniform depth using a wheeled jointer or brick rake. It is usually left uncompressed, but if compacted, it will have better water-resistance. It will still collect water and be less efficient than the other joints.
Extruded mortar joint

Extruded

This joint is formed naturally by the excess mortar when bricks are squeezed and does not need any special tooling. It is not recommended for exterior walls and the extruded material will weaken and erode over time.
Beaded mortar joint

Beaded

Formed by the use of a beaded jointer it produces a vintage, formal look. These beaded joints create interesting shadows, but they are not recommended for exterior use because of their exposed ledges and the erosion over time leaves the joint weakened and untidy.
Struck mortar joint

Struck

Mortar is recessed increasingly from the top to the bottom of the joint, with the bottom end not going more than 3/8-inch into the wall. It is a very poor insulator against water, as it will allow water to collect on its bottom edge and therefore not recommended for exterior building walls.
Weathered mortar joint

Weathered

Mortar is recessed increasingly, using a pointing trowel, from the bottom to the top of the joint, with the top end not going more than 3/8-inch into the wall. This type of joint is highly decorative and can be used on exterior walls but is not as water resistance as the concave and V-joints.

 

MAILBOX FLAG

This is a mandatory carrier signal flag used to indicate, when up, that there is outgoing mail that the carrier needs to pick up in the mailbox. The preferred color by the USPS of the mailbox flag is orange. Find the detail USPS mailbox flag regulations under section "3.7 Carrier Signal Flag".

MASON

One who builds or works with stone or brick.

MASONRY

The masonry definition The construction of building materials bonded together with mortar. That which is constructed by a mason; anything constructed of the materials used by masons, such as stone, brick, tiles, etc.

MASONRY VENEER

A single construction material, usually brick, used on the exterior walls of buildings for its appearance of solid masonry without the weight and cost and providing a non-load bearing wall. The masonry veneer is fastened to the building's structure, but is self-supporting, and places no additional load on the building. Masonry veneer is primarily used for its appearance and sometimes it is referred as “curtain walls.

MITER

A joint formed by fitting together two masonry pieces beveled to an angle, which usually is 45-degrees, to form a corner.

Miter Joint

 

MORTAR

The material used in masonry construction to fill the gaps between the bricks and blocks used in construction. It provides for full bearing, and seals and bonds between masonry units. Mortar is a mixture of sand and a binder like cement or lime. Water is then applied to form a paste which then sets hard.

PARGING

The process of applying a fine coat of mortar to finish the surface of a masonry wall. Also, the cement mortar coat itself.

PLINTH COURSE

It is a projecting course of stones at the base of a wall.

Plinth Course

 

QUOIN

The masonry units used to accentuate a masonry structure corner by adding bricks or stone units that would be different from the wall masonry wall in size, color, or texture. Or simply put, the masonry units used to accentuate the corners of walls in a masonry structure.

Quoin corner

 

RACKING

When consecutive courses are stepped back from the face of the wall. You would usually step back the ends of courses successively from bottom to top in an unfinished wall to facilitate the resumption of work or bonding with an intersecting wall.

REBAR

The horizontal or vertical reinforcing bars that are used to reinforce any masonry structure.

STRING COURSE

A horizontal continuous projecting course of brick or stone that provides an aesthetic appearance to a structure. It is also called a band course.

String Course

 

TIE

A masonry tie is a wire or sheet metal device used to connect two or more masonry single section brick walls. They are also used to connect masonry veneers to a structural backing system.

TOOTHING

The temporary wall ends where alternate stretchers project out. Projecting masonry units are called tooths.

Masonry toothing

 

 

WAYS TO LAY A BRICK

There are six ways that you can lay a brick and it is given different names.

Brick laid on stretcher face

Stretcher

This is how you typically lay a brick, with the stretcher side being the most visible side.
Brick laid on head face

Header

Head side is the most visible face of the brick.
Rowlock Stretcher Brick

Rowlock Stretcher

When the thin stretcher sides are on bottom and top and head faces on the sides.
Rowlock brick

Rowlock

The head is visible, and the long narrow sides are on bottom and top.
Soldier brick

Soldier

The stretcher side is visible and the heads are at the bottom and top. It is usually used for decoration.
Sailor brick

Sailor

The heads are on top and bottom, and the stretcher faces are on the side. Mostly used for decoration.

TROWEL

A small handheld tool with a flat, pointed blade, used to apply and spread mortar or plaster

WEEP HOLE

The openings that are placed in mortar joints of facing material at the level of flashing to allow moisture to escape.

WET SAW

A power masonry saw that uses water to cool a diamond blade that keeps the blade clean and cold to make quick work of cutting masonry units. A wet saw also keeps dust at a minimum and cuts faster than using a dry masonry saw.

 


 

Now that you understand all these brick masonry terms you should be able to follow the detailed article on how to build a brick mailbox like a professional or you can try to follow the easier, picture-driven article, how to build a brick mailbox in pictures.

If you have further questions or suggestions on any other masonry terms that we should include, please leave a comment on our site or contact us .

Thank you.

 

 

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