Frequently Asked Questions
Stonework and Masonry
Q: What is Masonry?
A: Masonry is construction achieved using units of various natural or artificial mineral products, such as stone, brick or concrete. The structure is built by binding together individual units using mortar. The term masonry can be applied to the craft itself or to the finished product. Masonry is combined into almost all structures you see and is generally a highly durable form of construction. However, the materials used, the quality of the mortar and workmanship, and the pattern the units are put in can strongly affect the durability of the overall masonry construction. Which is why it is important to hire an experienced masonry contractor.
Q: What is stonework?
A: Stone blocks used in masonry can be "dressed" or "rough." Stone masonry utilizing dressed stones is known as ashlar masonry, whereas masonry using irregularly shaped stones is known as rubble masonry. Both rubble and ashlar masonry can be laid in courses (rows of even height) through the careful selection or cutting of stones, but a great deal of stone masonry is un-coursed.
Types of Stonemasonry
- Fixer Masons - This type of masons have specialized into fixing the stones onto the buildings. They might do this with grouts, mortars and lifting tackle. They might also use things like single application specialized fixings, simple crimps, and dowels as well as stone cladding with things like epoxy resins, mastics and modern cements.
- Rubble Masonry -When roughly dressed stones are laid in a mortar the result is a stone rubble masonry.
- Ashlar Masonry - Stone masonry using dressed (cut) stones is known as ashlar masonry.
- Stone Veneer - Stone veneer is used as a protective and decorative covering for interior or exterior walls and surfaces. The veneer is typically 1 inch thick and must weigh less than 15 lb per square foot so that no additional structural supports are required. The structural wall is put up first, and thin, flat stones are mortared onto the face of the wall. Metal tabs in the structural wall are mortared between the stones to tie everything together, to prevent the stonework from separating from the wall.
- Slipform Stonemasonry - Slipform stonemasonry is a method for making stone walls with the aid of formwork to contain the rocks and mortar while keeping the walls straight. Short forms, up to two feet tall, are placed on both sides of the wall to serve as a guide for the stone work. Stones are placed inside the forms with the good faces against the form work. Concrete is poured behind the rocks. Rebar is added for strength, to make a wall that is approximately half reinforced concrete and half stonework. The wall can be faced with stone on one side or both sides.
Fireplace Installation & Repair
Q: Does a fireplace add value to my home?
A: Yes. Not only can a fireplace increase your home’s resale value by up to $40,000, it may also be a bonus feature that prospective buyers are looking for!
Q: Would a fireplace be easy to install in my home?
A: Due to the improvements in fireplace installation and technology, there are fireplace options for almost every application. Call our skilled contractors at American Masonry and Chimney Corp to discuss which fireplace best fits your space and needs.
Chimney Repair & Installation
Q: How often should my chimney be inspected?
A: It’s best to have your chimney inspected every year. Call us to have a professional inspection of your chimney and fireplaces. Your chimney inspector will tell you if cleaning or chimney repairs are needed. Many home owners schedule an inspection in the fall. You’ll probably want to have your chimney inspected when you sell or buy a house (if an inspection hasn’t already been done recently).
Q: How do I stop my chimney from leaking when it rains?
A: This is never good! Unfortunately, there could be many causes for leaks. It’s best to immediately call a chimney repair expert. Your chimney cap could be missing or perhaps it was never installed, many masonry chimneys don’t have one. There is also a chance your chimney crown could be cracked. The crown is the crest on top of the chimney which causes your chimney to shed water. A cracked crown is an overly common cause of leaks. Finally, your chimney flashing could be damaged. If it’s sheet metal, the sealant may have deteriorated. It's important you call a chimney expert instead of a roofer when your chimney is leaking. Really, there are multiple possibilities when it comes to the cause of chimney leaks. It’s best to call American Masonry and Chimney Corp for a chimney inspection to determine what kind of chimney repair best suits your need.
Q: Are Chimney Cracks a Problem?
A: We get asked all the time whether or not chimney cracks are an immediate problem. Cracks in chimneys are OK so long as they do not exceed the size of a nickel. If you can fit a nickel in between the crack, it’s time for a repair. In cases where the width of the crack is smaller than the depth of a nickel, you are able to wait. But you should definitely note that the crack will inevitably spread, although the chimney repair can still be put off.