While traditionally masonry was used to describe building methods that almost solely involved stone, modern building methods and techniques have expanded the definition to include both natural and man-made materials. As opposed to other construction techniques, such as carpentry and prefabrication methods, masonry is still one the most permanent and durable forms of construction used in building and landscaping. Here are four of the primary masonry techniques used in Orange County, CA landscape construction, and their benefits.
Classic brick masonry is still highly sought after for its warm character and vintage appeal. In landscaping, brick structures most frequently including retaining walls, low walls, open outdoor buildings and even paved surfaces and elevated patio structures. This option is typically chosen in order to match outdoor structures to the face brick character of a home or to introduce the character of brick into the landscape. Because of brick’s warm, rich clay coloring, it is ideal for providing a sense of rustic warmth or to offset the cool colors associated with modern architecture.
Brick provides moderate strength and durability, and structures can be engineered to bear reasonable loads. A number of finishes, styles and colors are provided by brick manufacturers and laying patterns also provide some degree of flexibility by introducing variation. Such laying patterns include the traditional stretcher bond, stack bond, header bond, quarter bond and flemish bond. The patterns can, however, be limited to the strength required by the structure.
Natural stone masonry is arguably the oldest form of masonry and is also the one with the most possibilities, given the range of natural stone options and their variety of sizes, cuts and finishes. Popular natural stone choices include limestone, sandstone, granite and flagstone, with construction techniques that include stacked slabs, boulder wall arrangements and carved stone bricks used in lieu of traditional bricks.
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Because of inherent size discrepancies, naturally occurring color variations and textures, natural stone provides a randomized and organic look that is hard to replicate with manmade materials. Natural stone features may include retaining walls, low walls, paved surfaces, steps, patios and fire features. For load bearing features, professionals with the necessary skills should be consulted in order to engineer proper reinforcement if required by the structure.
Concrete masonry units or cinder blocks are often used to create strong, load bearing structures. Unlike brick and natural stone masonry, these do not provide aesthetic appeal on their own. In order to achieve this, these are usually plastered or veneered. Concrete blocks are typically used for the construction of outdoor building such as pool huts and pavilions or for supporting walls of enclosed patios.
Stone veneer masonry is done solely for aesthetic purposes. This involves adhering stone to a vertical structure to attain the look of natural stone construction. As with natural stone construction, there is a wide variety of choices that can be applied to the structure in question. Natural stone veneer is a convenient way to transform the look of existing outdoor structures and the landscape in general, provided the structures are fit for the placement of veneer.