Reasons Why You Should Never DIY a Masonry Project. Things to learn before starting your masonry construction!
Thanks to the internet and the rise of YouTube tutorials, there are a lot of home projects you can do yourself. This has led to many home improvement enthusiasts tackling their renovation projects on their own. Whether they’re looking to save a little on labor costs or just want to try their hand at a new skill, there’s no denying the rise in DIY home improvement.
However, when it comes to masonry projects, you will want to steer clear of DIYing. It is no secret that masonry work is quite expensive, so it can be tempting to take on masonry tasks yourself. But there are several reasons experts recommend that you don’t try to do masonry work on your own.
Essentially, masonry projects include any work that deals with stone, brick, or concrete. This can include walkways, walls, home exteriors, and more. Masonry units (i.e., stones or bricks) are generally laid and bound together by mortar.
Mortar is a sort of paste that binds stones and bricks together.
It is made up of sand and cement particles. Often, masons specialize in one of the three areas. They are either stonemasons, brick masons, or concrete masons. Though skilled masonry professionals sometimes do all three.
So, fixing those broken bricks, laying a stone walkway, applying concrete sealer, and building that stone fence are all examples of masonry projects. And you should think twice before tackling any of them on your own.
We already talked about how masonry workers tend to specialize in one material. There’s a reason for that. Being a competent mason requires an insane amount of knowledge about materials, tools, and more.
For example, you can’t use modern mortar on historic bricks. Today’s mortar can severely damage any bricks laid before the early 1930s. There are even professional masons who don’t know this.
For another example, efflorescence is a term any skilled mason will know. It’s when salt crystals form on bricks, which can eventually crack and damage the brick. It’s caused by water entering into the brickwork, and while it’s difficult to prevent entirely, a lot of thought goes into caulking and flashing to minimize these risks.
Most masons go through an apprenticeship program lasting up to four years before they ever start working independently. Masonry requires demanding physical labor, but it also requires a strong understanding of math and blueprint reading. The most skilled masons have decades under their belt, and they’re still learning new things every day.
You can’t gain this type of knowledge in a YouTube tutorial.
Masonry work also requires very specific equipment. Some examples include:
These tools aren’t often in the standard homeowner’s toolset. When avid DIYers don’t have the right tool, they’ll often use whatever they have that’s closest. In masonry work, you can’t use regular tools. Even if you committed to buying the proper equipment, learning how to use them is also challenging.
Plus, when all the costs come in to play, it can be more expensive to get all the right tools than to have hired a professional in the first place.
On average, it takes about forty to fifty hours of practicing brickwork before you can create a structurally sound wall that looks good. You can’t learn masonry through reading a book or watching a video. You actually have to practice. All that practicing costs time and money. Plus, without an expert there to help with any hiccups, learning on your own can be incredibly difficult.
Bricks are just one type of masonry work, too. Think about stones. Stone is incredibly costly, and unlike manufactured materials, stones don’t have any uniformity. They aren’t soft or malleable, yet in masonry, you have to get rocks to bend to your will. They have to fit in spaces they weren’t meant to fit in. It requires decades of working with stone to understand how to break, saw, and fit it accurately.
While the initial price of masonry work might seem shocking, homeowners who choose to go with the pros often save money in the long run. Like we’ve already discussed, the cost of materials and equipment alone can be astronomical. And you have to figure in the value of the education and experience you get with an actual professional.
While you can argue that you can learn to do it on your own, it doesn’t make much fiscal sense. Plus, the time it would take you to learn and execute would be much more than the time it would take a mason to complete the job.
Masonry work can add value to your home. With quality masonry work and repairs, you can expect a huge ROI if you sell your home. However, lousy masonry work has the opposite effect.
Those large cracks you see in masonry work are usually caused by poor installation, water damage, or poor maintenance. Even small cracks spell more significant damage in the future. For instance, cracks in a brick home can result in foundation damage later on. That’s why it’s essential that your masonry work is done correctly from the beginning and maintained properly throughout its lifespan.
Masonry work is beautiful and awe-inspiring when done correctly. While you might want to take on the challenge of DIYing your masonry project, you shouldn’t. Masonry requires expertise and a vast amount of knowledge and hands-on experience to get it right.
Going with an expert in the first place saves time and money, and guarantees a good result.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.
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