The Properties of Brick Masonry


Brick masonry has been a building material for centuries. Generally speaking, bricks are a good construction material that offers solid structural strength and looks attractive when brick are properly laid. A number of properties make bricks a great building material and make masonry so durable.

Compressive Strength

  • The compressive strength of masonry is measured by the materials being used to build with. An individual brick's compressive strength is a physical property that measures how compressed the material is, which determines how much strength a brick offers a structure. A brick's compressive strength is based on its solidness or hollowness, its base material and the method is used to fire the raw materials into their final consistency. When bricks with a high compressive strength are used to build a structure, that structure will be very strong because of the quality of the materials.

Water Absorption

  • Brick isn't waterproof; it will absorb a certain amount of water over time. Just how much water a brick or a brick structure absorbs varies depending on the properties of the brick. Hollow bricks may absorb slightly more water, but they dry more quickly because of their exposure to air. Solid bricks absorb less water over time, but that water may have more trouble evaporating from the brick's pores—which can be an issue when laying mortar or grout because they are made with water, which has to evaporate before the mortar or grout can set and the masonry can dry.


  • Not all brick masonry has reinforcement, but masonry that does is stronger than masonry that doesn't. Steel is the primary metal used to reinforce masonry. Steel wire can be run through the brick so it holds together more strongly, or steel poles can be driven through bricks to provide a solid core that can withstand a lot more weight and punishment. The builder determines the particular method of reinforcement, and many times, it isn't necessary. However, the reinforcement can give a brick masonry structure many years of life.

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