The Masonry wall reinforcement requirements for masonry walls depend on local regulations and will vary from location to location. Different materials, sizes and building functions will need different levels of reinforcement to ensure safety and durability.
Masonry Wall Reinforcement Requirements Basics
In the past, hurricanes and earthquakes have felled a lot of houses in the United States because of poor builds. In un-reinforced walls, it’s oftentimes the roof that provides lateral stability to a building.
If the roof is pushed or becomes unstable, one wall or the entire structure can collapse. Building codes are a necessary part of making certain every piece of construction adheres to basic standards.
While it’s impossible to cover all of the variables in differing building codes, here we’ll try and cover the basic principles required to sufficiently reinforce masonry walls.
1. It’s Always Easier to Reinforce Sooner Rather than Later
Building proper reinforcement into masonry walls during builds is always cheaper and easier than adding it in after completion. Walls without proper reinforcing are a security risk in strong storms like hurricanes and other natural disasters.
They also don’t hold up well in the event of fires. In brick buildings that use bricks with holes in the center, concrete filling can provide good reinforcement.
Rebar is placed inside of the holes in the brick and hammered into the ground. Wet concrete is then used to fill in the holes, bonding the rebar to the brick for maximum stability.
Wire meshing is another technique that prevents walls from shifting underneath weight. The mesh is placed on every side of each masonry wall until it is all covered.
It’s then attached to the brick using a hammer drill and concrete bolts. It’s important that every corner be bolted securely, and then a bolt is placed every two feet around the entire perimeter of the wall.
Rebar bracing involves the use of sturdy metal to brace each side of a masonry wall. Essentially, rebar bracing holds the wall up if it attempts to shift inward or outward.
To find the right length of rebar, make sure you’re using pieces that are at least a foot longer than the height of the wall.
This will give room for the rebar to be hammered into the ground and still match the height of the wall.
Each piece of rebar should be placed a foot apart along the wall on both the inside and the outside. It should be hammered into the ground until the top is level with the top of the wall.
2. Inspecting Masonry Walls for Reinforcement
Before you go about reinforcing a masonry wall that’s already built, it’s important to assess the current level or reinforcement. Preforming an inspection will help you know what steps need to be taken to bring things up to code.
The first thing you should do is search for steel at the corners of the structure. This can be done with a stud finder or metal detector. You’ll want to try to see if the devices ping for steel at about head level, so you know how high the reinforcement goes.
It’s important to ensure that metal, whether it be rebar or meshing, runs from the top of the wall to the bottom. After you locate the first of any rebar, move sideways along the wall to determine how far apart any others are placed. It will help determine how extensive reinforcement measures need to be.
What actions you take will depend on the inspection’s findings. If steel has been found in the right places with proper spacing, then it’s likely there was enough reinforcement placed during the build.
If some steel was found on the corners without rebar along the walls, or there is a lot of room before poles, it’s possible the wall does not have enough reinforcement.
3. Understanding Local Reinforcement Requirements
As previously mentioned, local building codes will dictate how much reinforcement needs to be in a masonry wall. Adherence to code is vital to every project, especially DIY projects taken on by home or building owners because they are exposed to more liability.
There is no bonded contractor to should part of the responsibility for a violation. Finding and understanding building code can be stressful. The internet is a great resource for people looking to see if their plans are up to code.
People share past experiences and issues they’ve had that can help DIYers have more success. Government sites compiles databases of code and regulations that builders need to follow to make sure things are up to standard.
A local building or home inspector can also be a big help because of the years of knowledge they have keeping up to code.
4. Reinforcing Built Structures
Reinforcing masonry walls that are already built is more complex. It’s often an expensive fix to make happen. It’s difficult to maintain a structure’s original look and feel while giving it the reinforcement it needs.
Reinforced concrete jackets are often used to strengthen a masonry structure. The jackets are placed on both or just one side of the wall after the plaster is removed from the wall. Prior to placing the jackets, it’s important to clean the mortar joints in between the bricks to make sure no debris disrupts the jacket’s bonding.
Holes need to be pre-drilled for anchor ties that are then covered in cement with reinforcement mesh inside. The mesh connected with the anchors provides additional reinforcement. The main drawback of concrete jackets is that it adds to the overall thickness of a masonry wall.
Fiber-reinforced polymer, or FRP, is another way of reinforcing already built masonry walls. FRP involves reappointing masonry work in order to add strength to the structure.
Basically, the FRP process includes grinding down existing mortar joints. After they are sufficiently ground down, an epoxy-based paste is applied onto the joints and FRP rods are placed into the joints.
The rods add stability to the masonry walls. The only real precaution you need to take prior to placing the rods is to tape along the joints to prevent staining by the paste.