It is often useful to incorporate reinforcements when working with bricks or building blocks. Applications include extension walls, block partitions and free standing garden walls. Apart from rolled steel bars, which are occasionally used for vertical reinforcement, nearly all the reinforcements employed in brick or blockwork are inserted on a horizontal plane.
Stainless steel helical bars are widely used for masonry repairs, crack stitching and general brickwork reinforcement
Used in this way, they can make up for unavoidable breaks in bonding patterns or add strength to corners and changes in section. Single skin block structures are less sturdy than their brick equivalents and reinforcement is nearly always specified by the architect or building inspector and Specifications must be followed by the builders.
All are mortared into the bedding joints as brick or block laying proceeds. Expanded metal, light mesh, or tramline reinforcement can be used between brick or block courses while twisted metal ‘butterfly’ ties are generally inserted across the line of the brickwork on a double thickness or cavity wall.
Strengthening house walls
The walls of most modern houses, extensions and outhouses are built in two layers with a cavity between. The inner wall is usually made of lightweight building blocks while the outer wall consists of bricks. To hold the two leaves together, steel wall ties must be built into the mortar joints between them.
To strengthen the wall further, particularly if the building is higher than one storey, reinforcement must be added at certain weak points in the structure. These occur at changes of section in a brick wall, particularly above doors and windows. To strengthen these points, two lines of reinforcement should be added to the first one course above the opening and the second three or four courses higher up. The reinforcement should extend 600mm either side of the critical section. And where two openings are in close proximity, the strengthening will bear the stresses better if it is positioned in two lines above and between the openings.