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.

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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. 

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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.

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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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Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

Why brick and cement are sustainable building options

Why brick and cement are sustainable building options

Brick and cement are some of the most common building materials used in the construction industry. They are both sustainable materials that are made from natural elements. Cement is largely made up of limestone and other minerals, while bricks are made from clay and soil. LafargeHolcim Tanzania manufactures Tembo cement at its facility in Mbeya. Many of the bricks in Tanzania are made at small-scale plants.

Clay is an abundant natural element, but some bricks can be made with shale, soil (for soil-stabilised concrete blocks) or recycled brick dust. Similarly, post-industrial waste products, such as fly ash, silica fume and slag, can be used to make cement. Brick and cement can be manufactured from a variety of materials but their long-term strength and durability make them sustainable construction materials.

Brick manufacturing process

Brick-making facilities are usually set up close to the source of the raw materials. The process of making bricks is quite simple and it produces very little waste materials. Wet clay is packed into brick moulds and compressed. The wet bricks are removed from the mould and placed in a large oven which bakes the clay into the hard brick. 

Unfired clay is easily recycled into new bricks by simply wetting it and mixing it in with the raw materials. Fired bricks that are cracked or damaged can be crushed and recycled back into the production process, or used as a landscaping and rubble material. The brick ovens are normally fuelled by natural gas, although coal and wood are sometimes used in small-scale operations.

Bricks can be manufactured anywhere in the world, so they are usually sold to local markets within the same region as where they are manufactured. This means that less fuel is needed for transport and fewer carbon emissions are released into the air. The recyclability and durability of bricks make them sustainable building materials.

Brick and cement construction is eco-friendly

Once the bricks are sold to contractors, there is only a small amount of waste that is generated by brick construction. Only partial bricks, cracked bricks and unused cement mortar are the waste products from brick construction – all of which can be recycled into rubble for other building projects.

Brick masonry is a good insulator, which means that cool air can be kept inside on hot days and warm air can be kept inside on cold nights. The insulating properties of clay bricks and cement help to reduce the need for air conditioning or heating units, which use electricity and can be a source of air pollutants.

When a building has reached the end of its useful life, the bricks can be carefully deconstructed and reused in other building projects. Damaged bricks and mortar can be used for rubble or landscaping purposes. Brick masonry requires very little maintenance and the buildings can last for centuries. This makes brick and cement construction a sustainable building option for contractors.

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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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Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to estimate the number of bricks needed for a project

How to estimate the quantity of bricks needed for a project

Before any brickwork construction can begin, the contractor first needs to order the building materials (bricks, cement, sand, etc.) and have them delivered to the site. To do this, an accurate estimation will need to be made of the volumes of building materials that will be required. The contractor has to consider how many bricks are needed for the total area of the building.

When making estimations, contractors often work out the number of bricks needed to fill a space of one cubic metre. Clay bricks tend to have a standard size (roughly 222mm long by 106mm wide by 73mm high). For one cubic metre of standard-sized brick masonry, a contractor will need 494 bricks. This equates to about 60 bricks per square metre of single-brick wall or 120 bricks per square metre of double-brick wall.

The contractor needs to calculate the volume (for a double-brick wall) or area (for a single-brick wall) by multiplying the width, length and height. This can be done according to the architect’s drawings. Once the contractor knows the area of the wall, they can use the above guidelines to place an order. They can multiply the area by 60 (for a single-brick wall) or by 120 (for a double brick wall).

Once the number of bricks has been calculated according to the size of the wall, contractors should always add a 10% allowance on top of that number. This takes into account any additional bricks needed for verges, pillars or to replace broken ones. It is always better to have a few extra bricks than not enough.

The contractor will also need to estimate the quantity of mortar needed for one cubic metre of masonry. On average, buildings will require between 0.25 and 0.3 cubic metres of mortar per cubic metre of brick. This means that between 25% and 30% of brickwork consists of mortar (or sand and cement).

Contractors can use these estimations as a guideline to know how many bricks will need to be ordered and what volume of sand and cement to have delivered. Running out of building materials will cause time delays and cost the contractor money. However, builders do not want to have hundreds of bricks leftover at the end of a project either.

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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.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

Things to know about mortar for bricklaying

Things to know about mortar for bricklaying

The two most common types of mortar used for bricklaying are cement and lime mortar. They have different properties and strength characteristics, so it is important for contractors to which one to use for a project. LafargeHolcim Tanzania manufactures a few cement products that are suitable for use as mortar in brickwork. These are Tembo cement, TemboFundi and FastPlus.

Here are the things that contractors should know about mortar for bricklaying and brickwork construction:

1. Mortar does not affect the strength of brickwork – Various mortar mixes have different strengths, but they do not affect the overall strength of the brickwork. For example, mortars of mix ratios 1:6 and 1:4 have different strengths, but the brickwork will have the same strength in both cases, regardless. This is because the strength of brickwork depends on the bricks used, not the mortar.

2. An ideal mix ratio is 1:3 – When a mortar is mixed with one part cement (or lime) to three parts sand, it creates a dense mortar with fewer voids. This is an ideal mix ratio for most projects and general applications. A mix ratio richer than 1:3 is not used in bricklaying because of the high shrinkage rate. 

3. Lime mortar has a few advantages – Although lime mortar is generally weaker than cement mortar, it does have a few other advantages:

  • Lime mortar does not experience as much shrinkage as cement mortar.
  • Lime increases the workability and plasticity of the mortar mix.
  • Lime has good water retention and the mix does not dry out as quickly.
  • Lime can increase the volume of mortar by filling voids.
  • Lime makes the mortar more water-resistant and impervious to rain.

4. Lime mortar gains strength slowly – This is the reason why lime has a lower strength than cement. Lime mortar may develop early strength but it does not develop long-term strength as quickly as cement.

5. Cement-lime mortar ratios are important – When mixing cement and lime to form a hybrid mortar, it is important to know that leaner mixes (a ratio between 1:4 and 1:8) tend to be harsh when mixed with coarse sand. In these cases, plasticisers are recommended to help improve the workability of the mortar.

6. Sand affects the strength of mortar – The following factors of sand affect the strength of cement mortar, regardless of the ratio between cement and sand:

  • The grading of the sand.
  • The fineness or coarseness of the sand.
  • The angularity and roundness of the sand particles.
  • The fineness or coarseness of sand affects the plasticity of the mortar mix. Plasticity can also be increased by adding more cement to the ratio.
  • Fine sand results in a more workable mortar but more cement and water will be needed in the mix. This increases the water-cement ratio which reduces the strength of the mortar.

8. Curing is critical – The curing process is absolutely necessary to achieve the maximum strength of the mortar mix. Curing can take about seven days after bricklaying.

9. Common mistakes in brickwork mortar – The following are common mistakes that are made by contractors when making mortar mixes for bricklaying:

  • Not mixing the mortar properly.
  • Adding too much water to the mixture.
  • Laying a thick bed of mortar between bricks.
  • Using dry bricks that suck moisture out of the mortar.
  • Uneven joints between corners and bricks.
  • Voids in vertical joints between bricks.
  • Disturbance of bricks after laying.

10. Addition of pozzolana – Adding pozzolana to the mortar mix increases its strength and makes it more resistant to chemicals and harsh substances.

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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.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

What to do with leftover concrete blocks

Repurposed concrete blocks

If you have leftover concrete blocks from a construction project, don’t throw them away. These building materials have many creative uses in the home, from creating benches to becoming pots for plants. Concrete blocks are a versatile and durable product that lend themselves to many uses.

If you don’t have leftover concrete blocks but still want to try some of these projects, you can easily make some soil-stabilised bricks yourself. Or, you can use Tembo cement and TemboFundi to create your own concrete blocks. Here are a few ways to repurpose concrete blocks in the home.

Use concrete blocks to make shelves

Whether you need to create space for some books or want some extra storage room, concrete blocks are ideal for making quick and easy shelves. You’ll need some extra timber to form the actual shelves and the concrete blocks will form the solid support.

To make the shelves, use two upright concrete blocks as the base, as wide apart as the lengths of timber. Place a piece of timber across the top of the concrete blocks. Put another two concrete blocks on top of the piece of wood and repeat this process of building simple shelves.

The weight of the concrete blocks will keep the wooden shelves secure. Make sure that you build the shelves on a perfectly level floor otherwise they may fall over. Three or four layers of blocks should be ideal for a sturdy set of shelves for books, tools and papers. You can make the shelves in the home, an office, a garage or outside.  

Make a bench seat from concrete blocks

Like a set of shelves, all you need to make a bench seat is some concrete blocks and timber. To make the bench, start by placing eight concrete blocks upright on the ground – four on each side of the bench. If you’re building the bench outside, you may want to dig a small hole to secure the blocks in the soil and make them perfectly level.

Place another two concrete blocks horizontally on top of the four base blocks, repeat for the other side of the bench. Next, slot your timber through the holes in the top layer of blocks, joining the two sides of the bench. There should be four holes on the top layer of blocks, so you’ll need four pieces of wood.

If you have spare cushions or pillows, place them on top of the wooden slats for added comfort. If you build the bench against a wall, you can use the wall as a backrest. This type of bench can be made inside or outside and it costs next to nothing to build. You can even build a bench in a square around a fireplace.

Use concrete blocks as pots for plants

Concrete blocks make the perfect pots for plants – the two holes in each block can be filled with gravel, soil and mulch. Even half-block can be used as a single pot. Contractors often leave half-blocks after a project, so you may have more of these lying around.

Place the concrete blocks on the ground so that the holes point vertically. Put a layer of small crushed stones at the bottom of each hole to help with drainage. Next, fill the hole with soil and plant some herbs, smalls vegetables or flowers. Add a layer of mulch on top of the soil for added moisture retention.

Remember to water the plants often and put the concrete blocks in an area with enough sunlight. You can also stack the blocks to create a garden feature or wall of plants. The blocks can also be painted to match the colour of the house or to stand out in the garden.

Make an outdoor table or countertop

You can use old concrete blocks to build a useful outdoor table or countertop. This project does require some building knowledge and cement skills. You’ll need some cement to create the four pillars (or legs) of the table.

Mix a batch of concrete using Tembo cement, sand and water. Dig a small hole in the soil for each concrete pillar and pour in a layer of concrete to make the foundations. Let the concrete dry for two days. Then, build the four pillars using concrete blocks and cement. The pillars can be four or five blocks high, or about 1,5m tall. Let the concrete cure for two weeks.

Use some lengths of wood and attach them to the top of the four pillars using 90-degree brackets and some screws. The wooden top makes a great surface for the table or countertop and is ideally suited for outdoor use.

If you have any concrete blocks left over from a building project, make use of these ideas to create some useful furniture or features for your home. There are many ways to repurpose concrete blocks, it just takes some creative thinking.

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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.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to make concrete bricks and blocks

Pile of concrete bricks and blocks

Making your own concrete bricks and blocks is easy. It can be done outside with just a few items and will save you money. Small-scale businesses can even be started through the production of concrete bricks.

Concrete bricks and blocks can be solid or hollow, it depends on the builder’s preference. Hollow bricks and blocks are lighter and require less concrete to make. Bricks are smaller than blocks, but both can be made using the same techniques.

Making concrete bricks is quite easy, but they need to have a standard size and consistent quality if they are to be sold for a profit. Whether you want to make concrete bricks to sell or for your own building project, here are a few things to think about.

Choosing a site for making concrete bricks

Before you start constructing your own concrete bricks, make sure you have access to a flat piece of land big enough to store the equipment, materials and finished bricks. There should be enough space to store the aggregates (rocks or gravel and sand) and cement.

Do not store the aggregates or cement on bare ground as soil and water can contaminate the materials. Do not store them under trees as leaves and seeds can fall into the stockpiles. Keep aggregates and cement dry and separate until you need to mix them. Bags of cement should ideally be stored in a dry room.

You’ll need space to produce and store the concrete bricks and blocks. A flat concrete slab is ideal – about 50 square metres is big enough to store 1000 bricks or 200 blocks for curing and drying. This slab can be slightly sloped to ensure that rainwater runs off but not so much that the stockpiles fall over.

Using the right equipment to make concrete bricks

To make your own concrete bricks, you’ll need various general purpose tools and a moulding machine. There are two types of moulding machine – a stationary block moulder that produces one brick at a time on a pallet, and an “egg-layer” machine that moulds bricks on a concrete slab. Both of these moulding machines come in hand-operated versions and electrically-powered versions.

Concrete mixers are not necessary, but they do make the process easier. Mixing concrete by hand will save money but it is more physically challenging. It can be done with a shovel on a flat concrete slab or steel sheet. Never mix concrete directly on the earth as the soil will contaminate the mix.

If you are able to use a concrete mixer, only a pan mixer should be used. Drum mixers do not work because they cannot mix the semi-dry concrete needed to make bricks. Other equipment needed includes wheelbarrows, hosepipes, plastic sheeting and shovels.

Using the right cement and aggregates

The cement used for making concrete bricks should be strength class 42,5N or higher as the concrete needs to cure as quickly as possible. Tembo Cement’s SupaSet and TemboFundi brands are ideal for this purpose.

Sand and stones will form the aggregates for the concrete bricks. You can use fine river or pit sand, coarse sand (up to 5mm in size) or stones with a maximum size on 13mm for solid bricks or 10mm for hollow bricks. Usually, it is possible to make concrete bricks with just coarse sand, but a combination of aggregates can be used.

When making your first batch of bricks, try using coarse sand only. Then replace some with fine river sand and stones to see what makes the strongest mix for your bricks. Try using aggregate to cement ratios of 6:1, 8:1 and 10:1 (230 litres, 300 litres and 380 litres of aggregate per 50kg bag of cement).

For each combination or ratio, mix a batch of concrete with water and use the brick moulding machine to create some test bricks. This will allow you to find the perfect mixture for your needs – the heavier the freshly moulded brick, the better. Test the strength of the dried bricks by knocking them together – a hollow thud means they may be weak, a ringing sound means that they are strong.

Making your own concrete bricks

Once you’ve established the best mixture for the concrete bricks and blocks, you can start producing them in larger quantities. Make sure you have enough cement and aggregates to make the number of bricks you require.

Using an aggregate to cement ratio of 8:1 with three-and-a-half bags of cement and a cubic metre of aggregates will produce enough concrete mixture to make about 400 bricks. This number can vary depending on the size of the bricks and whether they are hollow or solid.

The amount of water added to the concrete mix is usually judged by eye. Once the approximate amount of water needed per batch is known, measure about 90% of this and add it to future batches. The remaining 10% can be added slowly to get the right consistency of concrete.

The concrete mixture must be wet enough to hold together when compacted, but not so wet that the bricks sag and deform when removed from the mould. If you see ripple marks on the bricks once they are moulded, then your mixture has slightly too much water. If the concrete is too dry, the bricks won’t bind properly and will crumble when dried.

To mix the concrete, first spread the sand out on a steel plate or concrete slab. The sand should be 5cm to 10cm thick. Spread the cement over the sand and add any other aggregates. Mix the sand and cement with a shovel until a uniform colour is achieved. Sprinkle water over the surface of the mixture and continue to mix until the right consistency of concrete is achieved.

Place the concrete in the moulding machine and compact it about six to eight times to ensure that the brick is properly formed. Take the moulded brick out of the machine with care and set them somewhere to cure for seven days. The bricks should be protected from rain and direct sunlight while curing.

You can cover the bricks with a plastic sheet to prevent moisture loss. A light spray of water may be necessary if it’s hot and windy. This will allow the bricks to cure properly and avoid drying too quickly. Congratulations, you’ve just made your own concrete bricks or blocks.

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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 the Mbeya Region at Songwe in 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.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.