Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Controlling Moisture in Masonry

Resolving the number one cause of structural deterioration in buildings
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Sponsored by Oldcastle® Architectural
 
Continuing Education
 

Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss flashing and other proper masonry installation strategies to manage moisture in a masonry wall
  2. Describe water repellent admixture advances and uses in concrete block and mortar that help control moisture and meet green building codes
  3. Explain the advantages of complete masonry systems that mitigate water penetration and provide backup moisture management
  4. Specify a masonry solution that delivers superior moisture control and an environmentally sound structure

Credits:

1 AIA LU/HSW
0.1 IACET CEU*

In 600 B.C. Lao Tzu, credited with authoring the esteemed spiritual classic known as the Tao Te Ching, weighed in on water. “Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it.” Lao Tzu’s words certainly ring true for the design and construction industries whose practitioners well appreciate the destructive potential of water which, in the wrong place at the wrong time, can cause devastating structural damage as well as mold and efflorescence. Properly protecting structures from moisture intrusion has been an ongoing mission in the design and construction environment, and advances in technology have enabled designers to specify the building materials and systems that limit intrusion through the wall facade. This article addresses not only the key concerns relating to moisture in masonry construction, but how to solve them through advancements in water repellent mortar and block systems that provide additional moisture control, environmental, and visual requirements.

Masonry and Moisture – What Can Happen?

The design of masonry systems should prevent the intrusion of the elements, rain, snow, heat, and cold, into the building’s interior, and it should safeguard the building’s structural components. The design must be properly detailed, however, as there are many ways water can enter a masonry building—through porous or poor quality masonry units—mortar joints, hairline or shrinkage cracks, parapet, door and window details—in short, through any structural break in the wall. Water can also enter through vapor condensation and can penetrate the structure as a result of poor workmanship, with lack of proper drainage aggravating the impact of any type of moisture intrusion. Vapor condensation can also result from interior sources when thermal properties are not in alignment. The results can take a serious toll on a building along several fronts.

Water-repellent admixtures integral to masonry products, both block and mortar, offer a high-performance solution to the challenge of effective moisture management in today’s buildings.

Photo courtesy of of Oldcastle® Architectural

Water-repellent admixtures integral to masonry products, both block and mortar, offer a high-performance solution to the challenge of effective moisture management in today’s buildings.

 

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Originally published in Architectural Record.

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