Types of Brick Masonry
Not every brick mason works on every type of project. Some specialize.
- New constructions
- Heritage brick
- Walkway installation
New home construction involves scaffolding and laying high volumes of bricks on a daily basis. Frequently skilled masons will use apprentices to help with the mixing and transport of both the bricks and mortar.
Restoration work involves tuck-pointing, rebuilding sections, support columns, and piers. Sometimes concrete sills are replaced as well as door openings and steel lintel replacement. This also involves coloring the mortar to match what remains as well as finding bricks of the same genre to fit the architecture and era.
Dove-tailing means working with heritage homes that must meet the standards of Preservation Boards. This involves a specific skill set to re-create a final product. It means working in tandem or closely with architects and engineers as well as those who have specific knowledge of the period.
Dealing with older homes and historic properties means being able to identify and cope with problems that were not anticipated. This means this type of work should only be undertaken by a company that has master craftsmen on board. It takes more than skill; it takes the ability to adapt and work under unusual circumstances including access and public protection.
Brick masters have experience replicating complex designs, corbelling and working with different materials.
Chimney repairs is another area that may take specific expertise. It will take several days to complete even a repair project and still be able to work with speed and clarity. Chimney work means knowing how a fireplace and chimney works in all aspects so that the finished product will draw the air properly, is compliant with all safety regulations and building codes.
Chimney work usually involves erecting and using scaffolding, working with steep roof pitches, and at varying heights. The craftsman must be able to disassemble and then rebuild safely, including transporting debris and new products.
Older and complex chimneys may require new flue tiles and cement caps. This will require a minimum of a team of two and can range to six masons or more on large projects.
Less demanding, but still important is the landscape masonry work. This involves stone or brick around walkways, patios, pool surrounds, and driveways. This is either dry laid or in mortar beds. The finished product is aesthetically pleasing and adds value to a property.
Increased outdoor living has found a use for kitchens, fireplaces, ovens and fire pits. Using a skilled mason will assure that you have a final product that you will enjoy for many years in safety.
When working on outdoor hardscapes, masons must be familiar with drainage, soil composition, and math skills to calculate elevations and designs. With the addition of a creative and artistic element, the mason is able to deliver a product that will be functional as well as enjoyable to view.
For the right individual, masonry is an excellent career choice. There is a high demand for master masons. With expertise and a good reputation, there are many homes in Canada that need restoration as well as new construction opportunities. Teams consist of masons, technicians, and apprentices.
Interestingly, in Canada, the average age of a skilled mason is 55. While physically demanding, this is a rewarding career and should certainly be part of the consideration for young adults and those considering a change.