Masonry Standards and Competencies

Mason/Masonry (46.0101)

Industry Standard(s): National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Home Builders’ Institute (HBI) Residential Construction Academy

Note:  The following framework and competencies are taken from NAHB and HBI’s “Residential Construction Academy Masonry – Brick and Block Construction” textbook by Robert Ham (2008).


Framework, Duties and Tasks:

  1. Basic Brick Positions and Brick Sizes

a.     Identify the six brick positions.

b.     Explain how extruded brick and wood-mold brick are formed.

c.     Identify the different sizes of brick available as standard production units.


  1. Brick Pattern Bonds

a.     Define the term pattern bond.

b.     Identify the five brick pattern bonds.

c.     Dry bond each of the five pattern bonds.

d.     Lay out and build a brick wall for each of the pattern bonds.


  1. Masonry Hand Tools

a.     Identify masonry hand tools.

b.     Describe available options for specific tools.

c.     List manufacturers of specific masonry hand tools.

d.     List safety precautions and care for specific tools.


  1. Masonry Construction Equipment

a.     Identify manually operated and power equipment used in the masonry construction industry.

b.     Discuss factors to consider when selecting specific types of equipment.

c.     List safety precautions and care for specific equipment.


  1. Laying Brick to the Line

a.     Lay out a brick wall in the running bond pattern.

b.     Demonstrate options for placing a cut brick in a wall.

c.     List the four procedures performed for laying every brick.

d.     Demonstrate procedures for hanging a line and twigging a line.

e.     Lay brick to the line in the running bond pattern.


  1.  Constructing Brick Leads

a.     Lay out and construct an outside corner.

b.     Lay out and construct an inside corner.

c.     Lay out and construct 4”, 8”, and 12” brick jambs.

d.     List precautions taken when brick toothing.

e.     Demonstrate procedures for setting a corner pole.


  1.  Masonry Spacing Scales

a.     Identify and give the application for the three sets of spacing scales.

b.     Lay out a wall to a specific height using the spacing scales.

c.     Lay out a brick rowlock using masonry scales.

d.     Discuss factors influencing the selection of scales.


  1. Masonry Mortars

a.     List the ingredients of masonry mortars.

b.     Identify the types of cementitious materials used to make mortar.

c.     List additives contained in some cementitious materials.

d.     Describe the procedures for mixing mortar manually and with a power mixer.

e.     List procedures for maximizing the intended performances of mortars.

f.       Describe the differences between mortars used for new construction and mortars used for repairing the joints of older and historical brick walls.

g.     Describe potential problems associated with mortars.


  1.  Concrete Masonry Units

a.     Identify types of concrete masonry units.

b.     Identify the sizes of concrete masonry units.

c.     List the ingredients of concrete masonry units.


  1.  Laying Block to the Line

a.     Lay out a block wall in the running bond pattern.

b.     Explain procedures for placing a cut block in a wall.

c.     List the four procedures performed for laying each block to the line.

d.     Demonstrate procedures for hanging a line and twigging a line.

e.     Lay block to the line in the running bond pattern.


  1.  Constructing Block Leads

a.     Lay out and construct block corners and jambs.

b.     Identify the special offset corner blocks and demonstrate their installations.

c.     Demonstrate the proper alignment for block cut to length at the end of a lead.


  1.  Estimating Masonry Costs

a.     Estimate quantities of brick, block, cementitious material, sand, steel reinforcement, and grout.

b.     Estimate the amount of concrete needed for a concrete footing.

c.     Estimate the amount of materials needed for a concrete slab.

d.     Estimate the labor costs for given masonry projects.


  1.  Residential Foundations

a.     Identify factors considered for the design of concrete footings.

b.     Describe methods for forming concrete footings.

c.     List design elements for foundation walls built with concrete masonry units (CMUs).

d.     Lay out and build a foundation wall.


  1.  Constructing Water-Resistant Brick Veneer Walls

a.     Identify the sources of water behind exterior masonry walls.

b.     Identify means of minimizing water migration through masonry walls.

c.     Define the terms flashing and weeps.

d.     Describe installation procedures for flashing and weeps.

e.     List different materials used as flashing.

f.       Explain how mortar collection systems can improve the effectiveness of weeps.

g.     Discuss the types of water repellants and their recommended applications.


  1.  Anchored Brick Veneer Walls

a.     Identify factors influencing the spacing of brick veneer from the backup wall.

b.     Identify and describe different methods for anchoring brick veneer to wall framing.

c.     Demonstrate the use of masonry spacing scales for proper brick course spacing.

d.     Demonstrate base, sill, and head flashing installations.

e.     Set steel lintels, and lay brick above openings.

f.       Identify areas where differential movements are likely to occur, and describe brick veneer construction details necessary for permitting differential movements of building materials.

g.     Construct brick veneer walls.

h.     Construct brick rowlock sills.


  1.  Composite and Cavity Walls

a.     Compare similarities and differences between cavity walls and composite walls.

b.     Identify the types of thermal insulation used in cavity walls and composite walls.

c.     Explain how a rain screen wall is designed to reduce water migration through its exterior wythe.

d.     Identify the types of joint wire reinforcements and their applications.

e.     Explain how brick veneer walls with masonry backing are different from cavity walls or composite walls.

f.       Explain the differences between control joints and expansion joints and where each is used.

g.     List the procedures for constructing both cavity walls and composite walls.

h.     Explain how grout is used to reinforce cavity walls and composite walls.


  1.  Brick Paving

a.     Describe different types of paving brick.

b.     List the elements of brick paving systems.

c.     Compare similarities and differences between the types of bases for brick paving systems.

d.     Describe the procedures for installing a rigid, brick paving system.


  1. Steps, Stoops, and Porches

    1. Identify and define the components of brick steps.

    2. List the procedures for constructing brick steps.

    3. Identify factors to consider when planning the dimensions for brick steps.

    4. Describe methods of providing foundation support below brick steps.

    5. Describe methods for constructing porches and stoops.


  1. Piers, Columns, Pilasters, and Chases

    1. Define the terms pier, pilaster, chase, and column.

    2. Identify and give uses for masonry piers, pilasters, chases, and columns.

    3. Lay out and build a pier, pilaster, chase, and column.


  1. Appliance Chimneys

    1. Identify the parts of brick masonry chimneys.

    2. Explain important regulations and codes governing the construction of masonry chimneys.

    3. Construct an appliance chimney.


  1. Masonry Fireplaces

    1. Identify the components of a wood-burning fireplace.

    2. Explain basic features of the five types of masonry fireplaces.

    3. Describe factors governing the performance of a fireplace.

    4. List building codes requirements for a single-face masonry fireplace.

    5. Explain procedures for constructing a single-face masonry fireplace.


  1. Brick Masonry Arches

    1. Identify brick arches by their shapes.

    2. Identify and define the parts of an arch.

    3. Construct a semicircular brick arch.


  1. Cleaning Brick and Concrete Masonry

    1. Identify sources for construction dirt and mortar soiling masonry.

    2. List measures for preventing dirt-stained and mortar-stained masonry.

    3. Describe the different brick cleaning methods.

    4. Describe methods for cleaning concrete masonry units.


  1. Masonry as a Career

    1. Describe the work performed by brickmasons.

    2. Describe the physical qualifications for doing masonry tasks.

    3. List possible career benefits for brickmasons.

    4. Explain the career pathways for becoming a brickmason.

    5. Describe the employment outlook and opportunities for brickmasons.

    6. List items of which a masonry contractor must be knowledgeable.

    7. Describe factors building a favorable reputation for a masonry contractor.


  1. Safety for Masons

    1. Describe the proper work clothing, shoes, and personal protection equipment required for compliance with governing safety regulations when performing specific tasks.

    2. Set up and maintain a safe work area in a masonry training lab.

    3. Demonstrate the safe handling and storage of construction materials.

    4. Explain why one must be trained by a competent person to use every tool, piece of equipment, or piece of machinery.

    5. List procedures for reporting an accident or injury.

    6. Recognize and report safety hazards.

    7. Explain safety precautions for preventing electric shocks and fatal electrocution.

    8. Identify supported scaffolding components and explain safety regulation requirements related to each component.


  1. Working Drawings and Specifications

    1. Identify the types of lines, symbols, and abbreviations used for drawings, and explain where they may be found on a drawing.

    2. Define and explain the types of working drawings that may be part of a construction document.

    3. Define, identify, and explain the purposes of elevation drawings, details, and sections.

    4. Explain the purpose of presentation drawings and how they differ from working drawings.

    5. Define that part of the construction documents called “specifications,” and explain its purposes and contents.

    6. Become familiar with interpreting working drawings, noting those parts of each applicable to the masonry construction of the project.