Bricklayers and Stonemasons


Architecture and Construction > Bricklayers and Stonemasons > Overview
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Bricklayers and Stonemasons

Bricklayers and Stonemasons - Overview

Bricklayers and stonemasons build walls and structures using bricks, stones, and mortar.

Bricklayers and stonemasons do similar work. They both create durable surfaces and structures, such as walkways, floors, walls, and fireplaces. A major difference is that stonemasons work with stone rather than brick. They may work with natural cut (granite or marble) or artificial stone (concrete or marble chips).

When building a wall, bricklayers and stonemasons read blueprints or survey the area to see what work needs to be done. They measure distances from points of reference. They calculate angles to align the material horizontally and vertically. Bricklayers and stonemasons mark guides to follow as they lay the material. Stonemasons may also number the rocks in the order that they want to use them.

Bricklayers and stonemasons start by laying out the foundation for the project. They may mix sand, dirt, or powder with water to create the mortar that holds the pieces together. They use a trowel to spread the mortar, lay bricks or stones on top of the mortar, and press and tap them into place. Stonemasons may use crowbars or rubber mallets to move stones. Bricklayers and stonemasons usually cut material to create a corner. They may use hammers or power saws to cut the material to the needed shape.

Some bricklayers and stonemasons fix old masonry buildings or decorative brickwork. They may remove damaged material, such as bricks and mortar. They also repair the cracks that form as buildings begin to settle. Some walls need extra reinforcement. Bricklayers and stonemasons may add brackets or wire clamps to anchor stones or bricks to the wall. Once they are finished, they may spray their work with a material that keeps the stone or brick work from breaking down.

Some bricklayers are refractory masons. These workers specialize in installing firebrick or refractory tile. The tiles are installed in high temperature boilers and furnaces. These bricks are able to withstand high temperatures. Many of these workers work in steel mills.

Stonemasons may need to dig a trench to create the foundation of their project. If they use natural rock, they may carry it from the truck bed. When stones are too big to carry, they may use a hoist or lift. Stonemasons who work with artificial stones may use molds to create them. They pour the composite material into the mold. After the material dries, they position it along the wall and remove the mold. They may also smooth or polish the rocks' surface to match the other rocks.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.