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Walls are a significant building component that encloses or divides a building and forms the periphery of a room. A wall supports the weight of the roof/slab and the floor and provides shelter from external commotions. It constitutes most of the building mass as well. The designer decides the type of walling system for a building based on the building’s cost and the entire life-cycle cost of the project.

Masonry walls

The masonry wall system is the most common walling system used in the construction industry as it is durable and can be oriented as per the required pattern. It also increases the overall fire resistance of the structure.

Masonry Wall
Masonry Wall

In addition to walls of the building, masonry walls are constructed as barriers or boundaries of the plot.

Masonry Walling Materials

Various attributes, such as the initial cost of the materials, availability, durability, performance, aesthetics, etc. influence the selection of raw materials for constructing a masonry wall. The basic materials required for constructing a masonry wall are as follows:

1. Natural stone

Natural stones are quarried or smaller pieces of rock, which itself is a large concreted mass of earth or mineral matter. Based on the dimension and appearance, natural stones are used in different masonry work. For instance, partly trimmed pieces of stones are extensively used for domestic coursed or semi-coursed masonry, while precisely cut blocks of stones are used to make ashlars stonework.

Granite, basalt, limestone, marble, and slate are the types of frequently used building stones.

Crushed Basalt
Crushed Basalt
  1. Granite is an intrusive igneous rock having strong and non-porous characteristics. It is used in the construction of river walls, dams, bridge piers, and its polished form is used for cladding in columns and walls.
  2. Basalt is an extrusive igneous rock that is hard and strong but has fractures and is porous. It is used in rubble masonry works for the construction of river walls, bridge piers, and dams.
  3. Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is used as an aggregate for concrete.
  4. Marble is a metamorphosed limestone and is harder than the normal limestone. It is available in various colors and is used in interior facing walling work.
  5. Slate has a fine-grained structure and is a form of metamorphosed clay. It is used in both interior and exterior facing walls.
Limestone
Limestone

2. Bricks

Brick is a rectangular block used to make walls, pavements, etc. in masonry construction. It can be made using clay-bearing soil, lime, and sand. There are two types of bricks: Fired bricks and Non-fired bricks.

2.1 Fired bricks

Fired blocks are made by pre-heating, roasting, insulating, and cooling a raw brick in a kiln. The fired bricks have many varieties such as fired common bricks, fired porous bricks, fired hollow bricks and hollow blocks or hollow bricks.

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2.1.1 Fired Common Bricks

The fired common bricks are made by roasting clay, coal gangue, shale, or fly ash and are usually rectangular in shape. Based on the raw materials used, fired common bricks can be classified as fired clay bricks, fired coal gangue bricks, fired shale bricks, and fired fly ash bricks. These bricks are used in constructing the exterior as well as interior walls of buildings.

2.1.2 Fired Porous Bricks

As the name suggests, the fired porous bricks are porous bricks having bedding surfaces. The brick has high strength and thus is used in load-bearing portions of the building.

Fired Porous Bricks
Fired Porous Bricks

2.1.3 Fired Hollow Bricks

The fired hollow bricks have large pores on end faces which reduces its dead weight. The strength of these blocks is comparatively lower than the fired porous blocks and thus is used in the non-bearing wall portions.

Fired Hollow Bricks
Fired Hollow Bricks

2.2 Non-fired Bricks

The non-fired bricks, unlike the fired bricks, aren’t made by roasting. Autoclaved lime-sand bricks, slag bricks, fly ash bricks, and carbonated lime bricks are the types of non-fired bricks.

The autoclaved lime-sand bricks are made by mixing quicklime/slaked lime powder, sand, and water in specific proportions followed by storing, pressure moulding, autoclaving, and curing. The autoclaved fly ash solid bricks are made using gypsum, fly ash, lime, and aggregates. It then undergoes blank producing, pressure forming, autoclaving/conserving.

3. Blocks

Blocks are artificial material bigger than wall bricks in size and are used in masonry. A block can be divided into three types based on its dimension: large-sized, medium-sized, and small-sized blocks.

Based on the type of material used, wall blocks have many varieties, namely aerated concrete blocks, foam concrete blocks, concrete hollow blocks, etc.

4. Wall plates

Wall plates are lightweight flat boards. The main types of wall plates include cement wall plates, gypsum wall boards, plant fiber boards, and composite wall boards.

The cement wall plates are known to have good durability and mechanical properties and are used in the construction of bearing walls, outer walls, and composite walls.

The gypsum wall boards take a big proportion of lightweight wall materials. It is further classified as paper gypsum boards, gypsum fiber boards, and gypsum hollow boards.

Gypsum Boards
Gypsum Boards

The plant fiber boards are made by treating agricultural wastes such as straw, wheat straw, and maize stalk. These boards are used for the inner non-load-bearing partitions and inner boards of composite walls.

The composite wallboards are a combination of many materials of the above-mentioned boards. In the lightweight sandwich boards, the polystyrene board has steel mesh and is plastered on both sides with cement mortar. The concrete sandwich board is composed of many thick layers of reinforced concrete on the outside and rock, wood, glass fiber, etc. as the middle layer.

Cross-section of Concrete Sandwich board
Cross-section of Concrete Sandwich board

5. Mortar

Mortar is a building material that is formed by mixing fine aggregates, cementing materials, mixtures/additives, and water in appropriate proportion. The fact that there is no coarse aggregate in mortar differentiates it from concrete. Thus, it is also referred to as fine aggregate concrete. It can be classified based on purposes such as masonry mortar, surface mortar or special mortar and the cementing materials used, for instance, cement mortar, lime mortar, gypsum mortar, etc.

Mortar
Mortar
What are the basic materials required for constructing a masonry wall?

To construct a masonry wall, natural stones, blocks, bricks, wall plates, and mortar are required.

What are the types of frequently used building stones?

Granite, basalt, limestone, marble, and slate are frequently used building stones.

How is mortar different than concrete?

Unlike concrete, mortar does not have coarse aggregates.

READ MORE: Checklist for Masonry Wall Construction

READ MORE: Procedure of Brickwork in Masonry Construction

Manya Kotian

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