Masonry has always been mankind’s preferred building material. Locally, iconic structures such as Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the Custom House Tower, the Old State House and many hand laid masonry buildings in Back Bay, Beacon Hill and elsewhere stand as strong testimony to its exceptional strength, durability and beauty.
Today, masonry has even more to offer. Thanks to continued innovations in materials and engineering, it’s now celebrated as a highly cost-effective, and extremely flexible option as well – making it a top choice for a wide range of modern designs.
Design flexibility that builds creativity
Whether it’s exteriors, structural applications, interior partitions, decorative applications or paving, masonry is the one system that does it all. In fact, no other building material offers as much variety.
A growing offering of masonry building materials means more design options. With exteriors, for example, choices include face brick, glazed brick, natural stone, manufactured stone and concrete units like ground face block — all available in various sizes, textures and colors. Add in numerous options for bond patterns, style of mortar joint and material orientation and it’s easy to see how choosing masonry can help you create a unique and strikingly beautiful structure.
Immediate cost savings that extend over decades
Exceptional durability, minimal maintenance needs and impressive energy efficiencies have made the long-term cost benefits of masonry well known. However, as more and more masonry material options hit the market, the immediate cost savings of masonry have also become a major selling point.
If you’re looking to see just how affordable hand-laid masonry can be, this MCAM Cost Book can help you compare your options and come up with a design plan that works for your budget. Often, simple design changes like using larger brick units can significantly reduce the cost per square foot. Other strategies, like using laid-in-place masonry as the structural system can help minimize the need for steel framing. With so many material choices and applications, the opportunities for cost savings are significant.
A “green” material that’s naturally energy efficient
Not only does the manufacturing of masonry products require less energy than other building materials, it doesn’t deplete forests, pollute the land or drain natural resources. This makes it a smart choice for environmentally focused projects.
Exceptional long-term energy efficiency is another “green” advantage. Because masonry is greater in mass than other lightweight backup and wall systems, it outperforms other materials in restricting the flow of air, thereby reducing heat loss in cold weather and heat gain in warm weather. In addition, masonry cavity walls can easily accommodate a variety of energy-saving insulation types (rigid, mineral wool, spray foam) and air barriers.* These factors lead to significant cost savings over time.
*Many MCAM contractors are Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) accredited.
A solid barrier against noise and fire
With more mass and density than other material options, masonry is not only ideal for creating quiet building environments, it also provides unmatched fire protection. The solid nature of masonry walls provide a permanent structural fire barrier that is totally non-combustible and will not fail due to lack of maintenance. Depending on the design, cmu masonry walls can have up to a 4-hour fire rating. No wonder it’s a top material choice for all kinds of structures, including schools and colleges, hospitals, nursing homes and government institutions.