Masonry and its adaptation to the current market: How we stay relevant

February 10, 2011 by BrikArt

Masonry Masonry is an ancient, time-honored trade. Few architectural elements captivate the eye and imagination the way masonry does with regard to how it combines beauty and technique in stone and brick work, seen in the intrinsic design in both structural and veneer applications. Indubitably much of the colors, patterns, and design concepts seen in more recent styles--such as the Arts and Crafts movements and Art Deco--owe much of their implementation to the visceral appearance originally created by masons, and the use of other materials, perhaps, such as tile, faux painting, and even wall and window treatments, have been inspired with earlier ideas that date to classical times.

However, with the progression of time and integration of newer technologies, and with the inexorable innovation of new building material methodologies, it can't be considered surprisingly that masonry has lost some market share in some previously typically-dominated usages. One example of traditional use in which it had a corner on the market was the construction of fireplaces and chimneys--its once-ubiquitous presence in the creation of fireplaces, chimneys, pizza ovens, and so on is yielding extensively to prefabricated metal fireplaces for reasons, factors, and conditions that range from economical to seismic to municipal building codes that make its use exclusionary and expensive. For that reason fewer and fewer craftsmen remain that can build a fireplace without a set of plans. For certain types of basic wall construction, competition from these newer building techniques and technologically-refined systems (for example, tilt up concrete or EIFS) have rendered it's use somewhat obsolete, limited, impractical, or more expensive.

Masonry While the trade may not win many blue ribbons for innovation, the industry has nevertheless worked to innovate. Today's architectural design seems to still favor the handsomeness of its properties, the permanence of its stateliness and the at-one-with- nature appeal of its naturalness (in an ever more synthetic world). It has compensated for aspects of its outdatedness (thin brick facings for structural walls built of other kinds of materials, for example), expense (cast stone in lieu of natural rock, for example), and the basic combination of tensile strength rendered through the use of reinforcing steel with the compressive strength provided by masonry.

Keeping the Dampness Out

January 8, 2011 by BrikArt
waterproofing brick los angeles

Wet weather tends to bring about problems for existing buildings and for building project- related planning. All too frequently not enough care and design are considered in the name of something so fundamentally important. Quite surprisingly there's a lack of uniformity in building code specification that governs this critical element, and probably no subject gets more attention in trade journals related to masonry and concrete that this very issue. Neglect of good design and the lack of implementation of systems designed to eliminate water intrusion will certainly lead to problems that can range from small to waterproofing brick los angeles catastrophic; degradation of structural integrity, health issues associated with mold, and a host of other issues are just some of the problems that will follow water penetration. Even basic issues such as flashing haven't a uniformly acknowledged and accepted methodology. Differences between waterproofing, damp proofing, differences in moisture barriers for above ground and subterranean concepts, and the constant innovation and marketing of new products suggest that the problems inherent in these matters can be best addressed in the planning stages, but can also be implemented after the fact. Retrofitting tends to be more labor intensive.

Like walls that get knocked over by high winds or earthquakes due to substandard footings, water intrusion problems ensue inevitably from decisions to spend less rather than more for sound construction. Invariably people prefer to spend money where they can see its effects--perhaps a corollary to the instant gratification syndrome--but plumbers, electricians, and many other tradespeople perform vital tasks for structures that largely go unseen, yet the temptation is to spend less for such things. When substandard materials and poor craftsmanship is chosen as a means of savings, quality, which is frequently measured by longevity, is sacrificed. Engineers, architects, geologists, seismologists, geotechnicians, building code codifiers, and many others with influence on building design all learn from experience, and sometimes time is the grandest teacher. The deleterious effects of water intrusion have become known over time, and redundant measures to guarantee the defeat of water intrusion is almost always money well spent. Home owners tackling do-it-yourself projects can profit in untold ways thru preliminary research and attention to detail.

What's Missing In Modern Heating Systems

December 12, 2010 by BrikArt
brik fireplace

The fireplace --the age-old symbolic representation of the heart of the home--has been largely relegated to the metaphorical ashcan in terms of historical architectural lore. Modern buildings with central heat and air, double paned energy-efficient windows and skylights, and artificial lighting, have obviated the functional use of the open flame as a source of heat, light, means of cooking and the myriad of other indispensable uses in virtually all building designed for human habitation.

Going back a scant century and half or so, the difference between having fire and not having fire was quite literally nothing short of, depending upon the situation, the difference between life and death. The appeal of an open fire conjures up the primitive ties to our not-too-distant past and surely is psychologically rooted in this subliminal realization that the taming of fire meant civilization, survival, and catapulting to the top of the food chain. So it is that utilized fireplaces in colder weather have a warming effect, a tip not lost on realtors and savvy hosts, innkeepers, restaurateurs, and such.

Brik-Art has specialized in revitalizing fireplaces for forty years. See our gallery of fireplaces and chimneys for ideas. Even with the implementation of laws designed to reduce emissions and other green-friendly progressive trends, fireplace manufacturers have improved efficiency in newer models and have brought out other eye-popping features and innovations in modern fireplace designs. There's a good chance that the next generation of newer housing will see a resurgence of fireplace implementation as it becomes more apparent that sterile, charmless cookie-cutter design just isn't cozy enough to be truly comfortable.

BrikArt can be reached at or by calling (818) 759-4738 for a free installation estimate.