Masonry Wall Reinforcement Requirements
People have been building with brick masonry for hundreds of years, and for good reason. Brick masonry is cost-effective, energy-efficient and durable.
However, brick masonry is not perfect and sometimes requires reinforcement. Reinforced brick masonry offers a number of benefits for your build, including:
- Increased durability
- Increased longevity
- Aesthetic value
At Fastbuild, we offer a range of masonry wall reinforcement products, such as brick reinforcement ladders, as well as a wide range of trade supplies at great prices.
How Does Masonry Reinforcement Work?
Reinforced brick masonry, also called RBM, refers to the process of supporting brick walls and structures with steel reinforcements.
Each variety of RBM is essentially designed to connect the individual bricks together through a material such as steel to create a much stronger mass.
Nowadays, a majority of large new brick buildings are built with some kind of reinforcement included.
Requirements for Masonry Reinforcement
There are two basic requirements for masonry wall reinforcements:
- To avoid movement
- To prevent cracking
Protection Against Movement
Movement in masonry walls can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Seismic activity
- Expansion and Contraction
- Volume changes as a result of moisture
Some of these movements are easily reversed, such as those caused by temperature variations. Others, such as shrinkage which occurs as the bricks age, are entirely one way.
Masonry wall reinforcement should be considered in your build to help control some of these movements. Providing movement joints will help to control the expansion and contraction of the wall and avoid cracking.
These joints should be properly constructed and cater to movement without compromising the wall’s stability to adhere to regulations.
Protection Against Cracking
As masonry structures begin to age, cracking becomes an inevitability. The use of RBM in crack control isn’t to wholly prevent cracking, but to control it and make the cracks less noticeable.
As mentioned above, factors such as temperature will cause a wall to expand. As the wall begins to shrink back, the steel reinforcements are put under strain which results in compressive stress in the steel. When the masonry cracks and tries to open, the stress in the reinforcement turns to tension and holds the crack closed.
There are certain standards set for Masonry walls as stated in NHBC Standard 6.1.11 – Construction of Masonry Walls. Builders must ensure that these standards are met.
What Types of Masonry Wall Reinforcements Are There?
Steel mesh is designed to be incorporated into a masonry wall for crack control. The mesh increases the rigidity of masonry panels by introducing steel into the bed joint of the wall.
Steel mesh comes in a variety of widths depending on your build and has excellent corrosion resistance. The mesh is available in either stainless or galvanised steel.
A brick reinforcement ladder is made up of two long, flattened bars of steel that are joined at intervals by thinner bars, creating a ladder effect.
Steel ladders come in a variety of widths depending on the size of the bricks being used. The ladder is hidden when the masonry is complete.
Reinforcement ladders are recommended for providing strength around openings in the masonry such as above and below windows and doors.
If you’re still not sure which reinforcement is right for your build, check out our blog where we delve into the advantages and disadvantages of both.