Ken Lambert is a Director of Industry Development & Technical Services for the International Masonry Institute (IMI)
It has been nearly 3 years since I started at the International Masonry Institute (IMI), focused mainly on the New England area. (This, after a 20+ year career in the construction industry.) IMI provides technical guidance on all aspects of masonry and tile/terrazzo.
As a conversation-starter and also I think a good topic that many architects, specifiers, and contractors would appreciate, in this article for the CSI- Northeast Region I wanted to list the most common inquiries that I receive on a regular basis. These are in no order and this is not a definitive list, but from my experience these are the concerns that come up all the time regarding masonry:
- Movement Joints: when and where are they needed? What’s the difference between an expansion joint and a control joint? Does a vertical joint in a brick veneer have to align with a control joint in the backup wall?
- Base of wall details: Can we place weep vents below grade? Can brick veneer be placed below grade? What types of stone can be set at or below grade? Is an exterior face water-repellant sealer needed?
- Adhered masonry veneer: Is a drainage mat required? What type of AVB is needed? What is the weight limit or thickness limit of the adhered masonry/stone? Can adhered masonry veneer touch the grade? When can we avoid installing lath?
- Natural stone: What are the guidelines on mechanical attachment to backup wall; guidelines on adhered natural stone to a backup? Which stone types are not recommended for an exterior façade in a freeze-thaw climate?
- Cavity wall specs: With Energy Codes being updated and requiring more and more continuous (exterior) insulation, how much is “too much” insulation to still use standard brick ties for a brick veneer wall? What are other options if the prescriptive Code is not enough?
- Flashings/ Thru-Wall Flashings: What options are there to avoid asphalt membrane staining at the wall face? What requirements are needed at the back leg of TWF? What are the most waterproof details to use at a parapet capstone?
These are several examples of what I speak about every week. Architects, specifiers, and structural engineers need to know that there are resources readily available to assist them in creating the best possible masonry wall for their Project Owner. For over 35 years IMI has been providing such advice and best practices without steering towards one product or manufacturer.
Masonry has evolved to various degrees, but overall it is here to stay- in much of the same manner as it has been for the past 50+ years. Whether it is new construction or a restoration project, masonry remains a large portion of the architectural landscape throughout much of the Northeast. Seek out qualified technical reviews as well as skilled & trained craftworkers to ensure your project’s success.