Step repair on the Mason’s home!

So for a while a large part of our projects were masonry repair and restoration. Some of the things that we have come across would amaze most masons and just have others just remotely wondering whats so bad about it. So we are currently working on a house who was a local mason and built most of the homes in the neighborhood. In one way it’s kind of a good thing to work on the mason’s house because you get to see what his craftsmanship was like. I mean, heck, you would think that his house, you know the one that he himself built (yes I actually verified that he was the one who built it not “his crew”) for him and his family would be the best of his craftsmanship, it would be the no cutting corners, the primo, the showcase job! Right?

So when we inspected the rear steps we found some issues, the first was that the steps were leaning out, it didn’t appear to be a footing / structural issue. Ok so he didn’t tie the steps in to the porch, that happens, maybe the steps were the last to go in. Then I noticed a hole underneath the brick tread, like a hole that I could stick my hand in. Ok, so we have to demo and investigate further.

In order to fully inspect, what that really means when we are checking out the actual structure is demo. We were already replacing the treads, giving the steps a new face, it is vital to make sure the existing structure is sound and can actually support the weight. So this is what we found.

So I’m not sure if you can see what the issues are. One of the first things I teach about masonry construction is that there is always a bottom and a top to a concrete block. This is very important, because the thing that most people not in our trade don’t realize is that masonry only has compressive strength from top to bottom. It’s one thing to lay a block upside down, hey, you’re throwing them in making the boss money, right, it happens. The one thing a block does not have is tensile strength, that means from side to side. So the weakest part of the block is it’s sides. That means it cannot support weight and it is no longer a structural unit. So these steps were never structurally sound, and one of the things we at BR Masonry & Restoration LLC pride ourselves in is longevity of our masonry projects, to surpass the test of time. There is a reason Rome was not built in a day.

The next issue is that they didn’t even use mortar in-between the blocks that they laid on their sides. The obvious issue with this is that there was never a bond, or tying the block work together. It leaves the strength of the structure to be largely susceptible to settling.

So we rebuilt the steps. As we anticipated the footing was in good condition, we actually extended them out a step, yes demo’ed the 8″ concrete driveway, dug down poured a new footing with rebar and started our re-build. One of the services we provide is rock facing (this is typically done on limestone treads).

Here are some pictures of the finished masonry portion of the project. We are still waiting for the hand rails to be installed.

BR Masonry & Restoration LLC specializes in custom masonry, pointing, masonry restoration and professional chimney services. We started on a simple ideal – to provide quality, professionalism and superior craftsmanship in the masonry and chimney industry. Give us a call to set up an appointment so that we may surpass your expectations!