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Module 1

Module Title: Prepare Masonry materials

Select materials, tools and

equipment needed in hauling and



Concrete blocks
Sand and aggregates

Bricks must be of good quality and without visible cracks
for a load-bearing wall. A hard ringing sound emitted
when two bricks are struck together indicates that they
have been burnt satisfactorily. Generally, the bricks should
be true to size and shape, with straight edges and even
surface, so as to facilitate laying them into position
without using too much mortar. Inferior bricks are
generally under-burnt and as a consequence are easily
broken and are very porous. These are neither hard nor
durable and are incapable of withstanding heavy loads.

Classification of bricks
1. Facing bricks
These bricks are thoroughly burned and
uniform in colour, and having plane
rectangular faces and sharp straight right
angled edges.
They are used in the exposed face of the
brickwork without any plaster or surface
Facing bricks are also used for Rat Trap
Bond masonry walls

Classification of bricks
2. Solid bricks

A solid brick is a brick with less holes or perforations of 25% of

its volume, in which frogs do not exceed 20% of its volume

Classification of bricks
3. Cavity bricks

A burnt clay hollow

block or brick with
holes larger than
20mm wide, which
exceed 20% of its

Classification of bricks
4. Special shaped

These are usually

solid bricks of
various shapes
suited to a

Quality of bricks
Generally common bricks are grouped into 3

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3


Max. 20%

Max 20%

Max 20%


Min. 105

Min. 70 kg/cm2 Min. 35 kg/cm2

Building stones are derived from
various types of rocks that are found in
the crust of the earth. They are natural
products and are used directly, except
for their rough sizing and dressing,
before being put in a structure.
Stones are or can be used in almost all
parts of construction such as
foundations, walls, floors, roofs, as well
as for roads, dams etc.

All size bolder stone try
masonry wall

Sized stone pillar


Classification of stones
Stones or rocks are divided into three main

Igneous (Granite)

(Sand-stone Limestones)
Metamorphic (Slates, Marble,

Quality of building stone

The fundamental requirements of building
stones are strength, density and durability
combined with reasonable facility for
working. A good building stone must be
hard, tough, compact grained and uniform
in texture and color.
Usually, crystalline and close-grained
stones are durable.

Signs of good quality stones


Stones should have uniform colour. Red and

brown shades and mottled colour indicate
the presence of injurious material.
Basically, the heavier and compact grained
stones are the stronger and durable they are.
A stone absorbing less water is stronger and
absorption: more durable as it will have less action of
Appearance: A good building stone should be free from decay,
flaws, veins, cracks and sand-holes

There are several
tests possible to
define the quality of a
stone. However, in
the field there are
basically three tests
where one can define
the suitable quality of
a stone.

Hammer test
Take a hammer and check the stone
for its sound. A hard ringing sound
indicates that the stone is of good
quality and has no major defect such
as holes or cracks.
Visible test
Check the stone for any defects such
as cracks, patches with soft materials,
discoloring etc.
Porosity or absorption test
Weight a stone of reasonable size and
place it for 24 hrs. into a waterbucket. A good building stone should
not absorb more than 5% of its
weight of water after 24hrs

Concrete blocks
Concrete blocks are nowadays very
common and time proofed walling
materials. Concrete blocks can be
produced by hand and by machine.
Hand made blocks are usually of lower
quality, because machine made blocks are
better compacted by a vibrator table.
The specific use of a concrete block
defines its size and the quality. Cement
and coarse sand with small size
aggregates are used with very low
water/cement ratio.

Classification of concrete blocks

Concrete blocks are classified into two main groups:

Solid blocks

Hollow blocks

Quality of concrete blocks

The basic quality requirement of concrete blocks are; strength,
uniform in size and to a certain degree water resistant.
A good concrete block is produced and stored under a
sunshade, has an appropriate mix ratio (not more than 1: 6 for
hollow blocks and 1: 10 for solid blocks) contains clean raw
materials (sand, aggregates and water) and fresh cement, is
properly cured for 21 days and is handled with care up to the
point of use for masonry work.

Description Solid blocks



(after 28

Min. 5 N/mm

(non load


>1500 kg /



Min. 3.5


Sand and aggregates
are very essential
building construction
raw materials and
deserve special

Classification of sand and

Material retained on a 4.75 mm IS (Indian Standard) sieve is
classified as coarse aggregate, and below that size as fine
aggregate or sand. The material passing a 75-micron IS sieve is
generally considered to be clay, fine silt or fine dust in an
Sand, which contains 90% of particles of size greater than 0.06
mm and less than 0.2 mm, is fine sand.
Sand, which contains 90% of particles of size greater than 0.6
mm and less than 2 mm is coarse sand.

There are mainly
three sources
from where
coarse aggregates
originate namely:


There are
mainly four
types of sand

Pit sand
Sea sand
River sand
Crushed sand

Pit sand

Quality of sand and aggregates

The quality of the mortar is directly linked to the
characteristics and condition of the sand. Sand and
aggregates must be free from clay, loam, vegetables and any
other organic material.
Clay or dirt coating on aggregates prevents adhesion of
cement to aggregate, slows down the setting and hardening
process and reduces the strength of the mortar.
Therefore, clay and silt content should not exceed 10%,
otherwise the sand needs to be washed.

Sand storage
The sand should be stored
preferably under a shade. The
sand should be sufficiently
protected, such that no impurity
from animals, agricultural waste,
children, trees, etc. is possible.

Testing the
sand quality

Visible test
Check the sand for

There are two main

sand quality-testing
methods, namely:

impurities such as
organic materials
(mud, leaves, roots
etc.) Remove them
before using the sand

Hand test

Clay and silt

content test

The sand sample is rubbed between damp

hand. A clean sand will leave the hands only
slightly stained. If the hands stay dirty, it
indicates the presence of too much silt or clay.

Bottle test
Take a bottle and fill in the sand until it is half

The clay and silt

content test can
be in two ways:

full. Fill in clean water until the bottle is

threequarters full. Shake up vigorously and
leave it to settle for about one hour. Clean sand
will settle immediately, silt and clay will settle
slowly on top of the sand. The thickness of the
clay and silt layer should not exceed one-tenth
or 10% of the sand below.
This test is also called decantation test. This
test is not applicable to crushed stone sands!!
Dirty sand should never be used in masonry
because it will reduce the adhesive value of the
mortar considerably.

Sea sand
Sea sand is unsuitable for mortar as it
contains salts, which attract and retain
moisture. In addition the salt content in
the mortar will produce a whitish
powder of efflorescence, which
discolors the brickwork or masonry.

Cement is a mixture of 60 to 67% lime, 17 to
25% silica and 3 to 8% alumina, which are
intimately mixed together with water to form
into a slurry, which is subsequently heated,
dried, calcined and ground to a very fine
powder. A small proportion of gypsum is
added before grinding in order to control the
rate of setting.

The terms setting and hardening have
different meanings.
Setting is the process which changes a
fluid concrete to a solid but weak state.
Hardening is the process by which the
weak set concrete attains strength.

Hydration of cement
When water is added to cement, the
cement hydrates and during the
chemical reactions, which take place
while the cement is setting, an increase
in temperature occurs and a
considerable quantity of heat is

Different types of

1. Ordinary
Portland Cement
2. Rapid hardening
There are total five different kinds of
cements. Cements are classified by their 3. Quick setting
properties and chemical composition. The
names of these five kinds of cements are:
4. Blast furnace
Slag Cement
5. High Alumina

Type and quality

For ordinary brick masonry work it is
recommended to use ordinary Portland
cement. In order to achieve a good
mortar in strength and durability, it is
essential that the following rules and
regulations be followed:

Cement storage
Cement can be safely stored in bags for a few months if kept in a dry room.
Paper bags are better for storing than jute bags because paper bags
perform better in regard to quality deterioration due to moisture. During
the monsoon time, the cement storage plays an even more important role,
since the relatively higher humidity accelerates the deterioration process
of the cement.
Cement bags should be stored on a raised wooden platform (e.g. timber
pallets) about 15 to 20 cm above the floor level and about 30 to 50 cm
away from walls.
The cement stack should not be more than 10 bags high. The bags should
be placed close together to reduce circulation of air.
A cement bag should never be opened until its immediate use for mixing.

Cement storage

Use of fresh cement

Ordinary Portland cement, which
has been stored for over six months,
should not be used for masonry

The average reduction of strength in a 1:2:4 mix as a

of storage is:
strength reduced by 20%
Cement after 3
strength reduced by 30%
Cement after 6
strength reduced by 40%
Cement after 12
strength reduced by 50%
Cement after 24

Testing the cement quality

The indication of damaged cement is
given by the presence of large lumps of
set cement. These lumps of set cement
should not be used, not even if screened

The freshness of cement can be tested

as per following description:
Lump test:
Check the cement for any small or large lumps. Remove them.

Rubbing test:
When cement is rubbed between fingers and thumb it should feel like a smooth powder
such as flour.

Setting test:
If you are uncertain about your cement quality you can make a simple setting test.
Make a stiff paste of neat cement and water and form it into a cake about 75 mm diameter
and 12 to 15 mm thick. The cake should commence to set in about 30 to 60 minutes. In 18
to 24 hours the cake should have hardened sufficiently so that it does not effortlessly
scratch the surface with a thumbnail.