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Masonry and StuccoMasonry and Stucco

What is Masonry?
Masonry is used for the walls of buildings, retaining walls, and monuments.
Bricks and stones such as granite, marble, limestone, travertine, glass block, concrete block and tile are commonly used materials in masonry construction. These materials are also referred to as masonry units. The term ‘masonry’ refers to the individual units that are laid in and bounded together by mortar to build structures.

Needs of Masonry
Masonry is generally considered as a highly durable form of construction. The material used, pattern of the units, quality of mortar and workmanship strongly affect the durability of the masonry construction. The most commonly used masonry units are widely used as bricks as they do not require painting, therein reducing the life cycle costs. Concrete block masonry provides greater compressive strength, and are therefore, rapidly gaining popularity. Presence of hollow cores in these blocks make them ideal for the use of building structures with light traverse loading wherein the cores remain unfilled.

Filling few or all cores with concrete provides greater tensile strength to the structures. Building of masonry ‘piers’ at regular intervals and thickening of the walls also help in increasing the tensile strength of the structures. To avoid potential cracking and settling, masonry must always be built upon a firm foundation. Masonry buildings offer better shelter than wooden buildings during extreme weather conditions like hurricanes or tornado. Being heat resistant, these buildings also provide good fire protection.

What is Stucco?
Stucco is usually applied directly over masonry or other relatively firm based structures since it requires a solid backing to give it the required strength. Stucco is a material made of an aggregate, a binder that is sand and water. Earlier lime was used as an aggregate but in recent times Portland cement has replaced it because of greater durability. On wooden framed structures, stucco is applied over a wood lath to prevent moisture passing from the stucco to the timber. Stucco has traditionally been applied in 2 or 3 layers and can be either hand applied or sprayed.

Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. The first layer also referred to as ‘scratch layer’ consists of plastic cement and sand. Once applied the surface is scratched to provide key for the second layer hence the name. The second layer called ‘floating’ layer or ‘brown’ layer consists of sand, cement and lime. The third layer or the ‘finish coat’ is a thin covering, which is either colored or textured to give the final appearance. The application takes minimum 7-10 days to dry to allow cracking and shrinkage to take place.

Dos and Don’ts in The Application of Stucco
Quick drying results in incomplete chemical hardening resulting in a weaker and brittle stucco. If applied during very dry weather, the layers of stucco should be sprayed with water for one or more days to keep the moisture level within the stucco while it dries or cures. This process is known as "moist curing."

Applying stucco in heavy weather should also be avoided because of the risk of frost during the drying period. In major parts of the world stucco is used as a predominant exterior for both residential and comercial constructions. It is also widely gaining acceptance as a sculptural and artistic material for decorative purposes as well as figurative representations.


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