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Common terms and definitions for brick masonry

Common terms and definitions for brick masonry

The following words are commonly used in brick masonry and construction using cement and concrete blocks. Contractors should understand these definitions and terms in order to complete a project with high quality. Knowledge of common building terms will help contractors to communicate properly with suppliers, engineers and architects.

  • Back – The inner surface of a wall that is not exposed. The material used to create the back of the wall is called the ‘backing’.
  • Bat – The portion of brick that is cut across the width.
  • Bed – The bottom surface of bricks in each course.
  • Bevelled closer – The portion of a brick in which the whole length is beveled for maintaining half-width at one end and full-width at the other.
  • Blocking course – The top-most course of bricks immediately above the cornice to prevent the tendency of the cornice to overturn. It also adds to the aesthetics of the cornice.
  • Bond – The method of arranging bricks so that the individual units are locked together. Bonding is used to eliminate long vertical joints in the wall.
  • Closer – The portion of brick that is cut across the length.
  • Coping – The course placed upon the exposed top of an external wall to prevent the seepage of water.
  • Corbel – The extension of one or more courses of bricks from the face of a wall to serve as a support for wall plates.
  • Cornice – A projecting ornamental course near the top of a building or at the junction of a wall and ceiling.
  • Course – A horizontal layer of bricks or stones. A brick wall will have many courses.
  • Face – The exterior of a wall that is exposed. The material used to create the face of the wall is called the ‘facing’.
  • Frog – An indentation or hole on the top face of a brick, made with the purpose of forming a key for the cement. Frogs reduce the weight of bricks too.
  • Header – The brick that lies with its greatest length at right angles to the face. Any course that lays with all the bricks as headers is known as the ‘header course’.
  • Hearting – The interior portion of a wall between the facing and the backing.
  • Jambs – The vertical sides of an opening for doors and windows. These may be plain or recessed to receive the frames of doors and windows.
  • Joint – The junction between two or more bricks. If the joint is parallel to the bed of bricks in a course, it is called the ‘bed joint’. If the joint is perpendicular to the bed, it is called the ‘vertical joint’.
  • King closer – The portion of brick that is obtained by cutting off a triangular piece from the corner of the brick.
  • Lintel – A horizontal concrete, wood or iron beam that sits above a door or window opening. The lintel gives support to the bricks above a gap in a building.
  • Plinth – The horizontal course of bricks at the base of a wall, above the ground level. It is the first visible layer of a brick wall and protects the building from dampness.
  • Queen closer – The portion of brick that is obtained by cutting a brick into two portions lengthways.
  • Reveals – The exposed vertical surfaces left on the sides of an opening after a door or window frame has been installed.
  • Side – The surface forming the boundary of bricks in a transverse direction to the face and bed.
  • Sill – A horizontal member of concrete, wood or bricks that sheds water off the face of a wall, underneath a window. It also gives support to the window frame.
  • Stretcher – The brick that lies with its longest side parallel to the face of the wall. The course of bricks that is laid as stretchers is known as the ‘stretcher course’.
  • String course – A horizontal course of bricks that projects out of the face of a wall for shedding rainwater.


LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 


LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.


At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.


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