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Brick Glossary

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Term Definition
Masonry Unit

Natural or manufactured building units of burned clay, concrete, stone, glass, gypsum, etc.

Hollow Masonry Unit: One whose net cross-sectional area in any plane parallel to the bearing surface is less than 75 percent of the gross. Modular Masonry Unit: One whose nominal dimensions are based on the 4 in. module. Solid Masonry Unit: One whose net cross-sectional area in every plane parallel to the bearing surface is 75 percent or more of the gross.


A plastic mixture of cementitious materials, fine aggregate and water. See ASTM Specifications C 270, C 476 or BIA M1-72.

Fat Mortar: Mortar containing a high percentage of cementitious components. It is a sticky mortar which adheres to a trowel. High-Bond Mortar: Mortar which develops higher bond strengths with masonry units than normally developed with conventional mortar. Lean Mortar: Mortar which is deficient in cementitious components, it is usually harsh and difficult to spread.

Nominal Dimension

A dimension greater than a specified masonry dimension by the thickness of a mortar joint, but not more than 1/2 in.

Non-Combustible Material

Any material which will neither ignite nor actively support combustion in air at a temperature of 1200 F when exposed to fire.

Overhand Work

Laying brick from inside a wall by men standing on a floor or on a scaffold.


The process of applying a coat of cement mortar to masonry. Often spelled and/or pronounced parging.


An interior wall, one story or less in height.

Pick and Dip

A method of laying brick whereby the bricklayer simultaneously picks up a brick with one hand and, with the other hand, enough mortar on a trowel to lay the brick. Sometimes called the Eastern or New England method.


An isolated column of masonry.


A wall portion projecting from either or both wall faces and serving as a vertical column and/or beam.

Plumb Rule

This is a combination plumb rule and level. It is used in a horizontal position as a level and in a vertical position as a plumb rule. They are made in lengths of 42 and 48 in., and short lengths from 12 to 24 in.


Troweling mortar into a joint after masonry units are laid.

Prefabricated Brick Masonry

Masonry construction fabricated in a location other than its final inservice location in the structure. Also known as preassembled, panelized and sectionalized brick masonry.


A small masonry assemblage made with masonry units and mortar. Primarily used to predict the strength of full scale masonry members.

Queen Closer

A cut brick having a nominal 2 in. horizontal face dimension.


A projecting right angle masonry corner.


A method entailing stepping back successive courses of masonry.


A groove in a joint or special unit to receive roofing or flashing.


Reinforced brick masonry.

Reinforced Masonry

Masonry units, reinforcing steel, grout and/or mortar combined to act together in resisting forces.

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