Protection of Unfinished Masonry Walls

It feels like fall in Denver. It’s been raining, and we’ve even had snow already. It’s time to think about protection of unfinished masonry walls!

The International Building Code requires unfinished masonry work to be protected from the weather. Now, you won’t find those words in the IBC, but what you will find in Section 2104 of the 2009 IBC is the following:

2104.1 Masonry construction. Masonry construction shall comply with the requirements of Sections 2104.1.1 through 2104.4 and with TMS 602/ACI 530.1/ASCE 6.

I know, I know – our eyes glaze over when we see all those numbers and letters, but this is important. “TMS 602/ACI 530.1/ASCE 6” is a separate document called “Specification for Masonry Structures” developed by the Masonry Standards Joint Committee (MSJC). Since it’s referenced in the IBC, it becomes part of the requirements of the IBC.

The latest “Specification for Masonry Structures,” in Article 1.8 “Project conditions,” tells us:

1.8B Masonry protection – Cover top of unfinished masonry work to protect it from the weather.

So if you see something like “Comply with ACI 530.1/ASCE 6/TMS 602” in the specs on the project you’re working on, the tops of unfinished masonry walls on the project better not be getting rained on!

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  1. Another undesirable result of water saturated brick is that the mortar placed on top of the wall under the next course may not mechanically bond with the saturated course. The pores of the masonry fill up with water and the cement cannot penetrate the pores as it normally does while it cures. The bond between courses is weakened and could result in water penetration and other forms of failure associated with poorly bonded brick coursing.

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