Effects of Moisture on Stonework

Effects of Moisture on Stonework

 

For some people, the fall and winter seasons are a nice welcoming change to the hot summer temperatures. However, what comes along with fall and winter is weather that includes moisture, such as rain and snow. For as long as structures have been in existence, moisture has been the main cause for its deterioration. Moisture in all forms affect how well the building materials function.

The way masonry systems are designed should prevent the intrusion of moisture into the building’s interior. It should also keep the building’s structural components safe. If there is any structural break, then your building could be compromised. Masonry units that are made poorly are among the most common failure points. These include mortar joints, hairline cracks, parapet, and door and window details. Water can also come through by vapor condensation and can enter the structure as a result of poor work. The lack of proper drainage can exacerbate the impact of any type of moisture that makes its way through; therefore, creating major damage to the building.

Structural Problems

When unwelcome moisture seeps through, masonry units and mortar can crack. Thermal expansion can be a result when water gets into brick, concrete, and natural stone. Thermal expansion can cause the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. This is also known as spalling, which is caused by too much moisture in the masonry that puts pressure outward. Spalling can ultimately result in large sections of the masonry to crumble and fall off, which will lead to structural damage.

Too much moisture cam also result in the wall rotting, which is very unaesthetic and an unhealthy condition. The insulation can also disintegrate along with staining of the interior finishes. Other effects may include the deterioration and/or corrosion of the wood/steel backup studs, cladding, ties and reinforcements. If this is left unattended to, the excess water can cause an increase and spread of additional structural degradation and complete structural failure.

Aesthetic Degradation

When there is excess moisture seeping through the masonry, efflorescence is a main problem. Efflorescence is a white, powdery, crystalline deposit that forms on the surfaces of masonry, stucco, and concrete. Efflorescence is caused when salt within the masonry unit itself has been dissolved due to too much moisture and has made its way to the surface of a porous material. It then forms the white, powdery, crystalline deposit as the water evaporates.

In order for efflorescence to happen, three problems must be present.

  • There has to be water-soluble salts somewhere in the wall
  • There must be enough moisture in the wall to render the salts into a soluble solution
  • There must be a way for the soluble salts to move their way through to the surface so the moisture can evaporate, getting rid of the salts so they can crystallize causing efflorescence

Just because sulfates may be present in a masonry wall, it does not mean efflorescence will occur. The sulfates must be dissolved by water in order for it to happy. If there is no moisture then the sulfates will not find their way to the surface. However, there are certain conditions that will aggravate the possible creation of efflorescence. For example, if a block is exposed to cold, rainy weather during storage or if the structure has been poorly designed in regards to drainage and moisture control, then efflorescence is more likely to occur.

Health and Safety

Too much moisture can cause bacteria to grow which can create new odors or worsen current ones. The effects of growing bacteria can cause existing conditions to become worse, such as asthma and allergies. These bacteria have also been known to cause cancer and birth defects.

Managing moisture is a top priority when designing and building, especially here at Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls. It is important to us that you and your family are safe from any potential harm. We work hard to make sure your masonry is up-to-par and lasts for many years to come. Contact us to today at (631) 861-1530 so we can help you create your masterpiece.

Clayton Masonry: Different Stone Masonry Techniques

Clayton Masonry: Different Stone Masonry Techniques

Have you ever asked yourself what exactly is stone masonry and if it is something you would want to add to your outdoor living space? Stone masonry is described as the shaping of rough pieces of rock into accurate geometrical shapes and then arranging the results together using mortar to form structures. This technique dates back thousands of years and uses basic tools such as a metal straight edge, mallet, and chisels.

There are a variety of different techniques that are used in stone masonry. These techniques have advanced along with changes in the way people live and the modernization in construction.

Traditional Dry-Stack

With the dry-stack technique, walls are layered up with stone without mortar joints. Gravity is what holds everything together. Dry-stacking involves little expense except for the labor. The standing stone wall is usually made large at the bottom and becomes thinner as it gets higher.

Advantages
– Attractive, strong, and can last hundreds of years
– Shows traditional character
– Environment-friendly
– Can be re-used multiple times
– Unlike a brick wall, the life of the stone structure is long-lasting

Disadvantages
– The cost of labor is high and the construction is slow and costly
– An improper structure can lead to the collapse of the property
– Not a good fit for high walls or buildings

 

Traditional Mortared Stone Technique

In this technique, the foundation of the wall must be solid so the joints do not crack easily. To make sure the joints do not crack easily, a paste made of lime and water is used which helps bond the materials together.

Advantages
– Concrete block is more resistant to weather, pest, molds, and fire
– Materials for concrete blocks is locally available
– Concrete blocks are good insulation against heat, sound, and moisture

Disadvantages
– Due to their weight, concrete blocks are hard to handle and involve more workforce
– A large quantity of steel is needed to reinforce cement concrete structures
– The issues of plumbing in concrete masonry structures are difficult to solve

 

Modern Veneered Stone Technique

Most stonework these days consists of a non-structural veneer stone against a structural wall of the concrete block. Concrete mortar includes Portland cement mixed with sand, gravel, and water. When using the veneered stone technique, the large particles of gravel are interlocked like little finger to make the concrete long-lasting.

Advantages
– Less expensive
– Longer life when installed correctly
– Provides natural beauty on the exterior of your home
– Perfect for walls that do not need extra support
– Lightweight
– Come in larger panels which allows for easier installation in a shorter amount of time
– Low maintenance
– Can be used on different surfaces such as stone, metal, and wood

Disadvantages
– Allows moisture to come through the joints which can cause mold issues
– Incorrect installation could lead to breaking and chipping
– Abrasive cleaning material can damage the surface

 

Slipform Stone Technique

This technique is known as a cross between the traditional mortar stone wall and a veneer stone wall. Natural stones are used and placed inside the forms with the presentable side faces against the formwork. The concrete is then poured behind the rocks.

Advantages
– Decreases the use of building cranes
– There is less use of accessories such as scaffolding, support bars, and platforms

Disadvantages
– Involves high costs in the beginning stages
– Highly skilled experts and hi-tech equipment are needed

 

Framed-One Side Stone Technique

Framed-one sided stonemasonry is more obvious on building with stone on the outside and the framed wall on the inside. Half the formwork is done when the interior frame is built first. This type of stonework is a traditional way of masonry and creates strong, beautiful walls that are built with the strength of the stone, reinforcement of concrete and steel.

Advantages
– Less time taken in the construction than with other techniques
– Comparatively lesser costs involved in workforce and materials
– Strong and good-looking walls that are built with masonry stones

Disadvantages
– Causes lateral deflections
– The span length is much less

 

Tilt-Up Stone Technique

This technique is done by pouring stone walls flat on the ground and then setting them in place using a crane. Stone, sand, gravel, and rock materials are used for the tilt-up stone technique.

Advantages
– More economic than cast-in walls mason stones
– Hazards are much less
– Faster and safer installation

Disadvantages
– Can’t be used for complex building wall
– Lack of versatility

There are all types of techniques that can be used in stone masonry. Choosing the right technique for your needs may be overwhelming and confusing. Contact us at Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls today so we can help you create a masterpiece that you will enjoy for years to come.