A tradesman preparing to install heavy loads on a masonry subsurface using injection mortar.

Masonry – fascinating from the coping to the sole plate

30. July 2020

Versatile, flexible and the perfect counterpart to structural concrete. Masonry is without a doubt one of the structural all-rounders. The solid construction material gives planners and tradespeople plenty of leeway in terms of design and aesthetics in addition to the physical construction properties. These properties have not gone unnoticed by potential builders. Unlike in the US, where post and beam construction is the traditional building method, stable masonry has been the ultimate in construction in Europe from the year one. This has been substantiated by the latest figures on the importance of the construction material in residential construction by the German Federal Statistics Office (StBA). According to their data, approximately 75% of Germany’s residential buildings were made of a type of masonry in 2018.

Bricks are usually differentiated by the type of stone and format. These range from classic masonry bricks to variants made of limestone or lightweight and porous concrete. According to the StBA study, various types of stone are used for the purpose of residential construction. The manufacturer-specific format is the decisive element when it comes to perforated bricks in particular. It’s not just the holes and pores that come in different sizes, some stone suppliers now also offer stones with prefilled holes that provide added insulation. In short, the range of alternative construction materials available in the masonry trade has increased significantly in recent years.

Torsten Kühnert, the Head of Technical Field Support from the Application Engineering department, explains why this is the case and how fischer is reacting to this development with its products.

A fischer Application Engineer determines the plug’s load-bearing capacity by carrying out pull-out tests on a structure.
The team of Application Engineers relies on pull-out tests to determine the load-bearing behaviour of injection anchors in masonry.

“Masonry is the all-rounder of construction materials”

Mr Kühnert, why is masonry in such high demand in the world of construction?

Torsten Kühnert: This is doubtlessly related to the flexibility and physical construction properties of masonry, as many types of stone offer high levels of insulation, which reduces the need for external insulation to some extent. The construction material also offers advantages in terms of the indoor climate. One of the reasons is that masonry is good at absorbing and dispensing indoor humidity.

Sounds good. But are there any challenges associated with fixings?

Torsten Kühnert: When planning fixings with anchor groups in particular, the dimensions of the spacing distances are heavily dependent on the respective stone format. Planners tend to have to factor in larger anchor plates than would be required in concrete, for instance. They also require a lot of information about the bricks, such as the stone type, format, hole pattern, filling, consistency, and bulk density in addition to the conditions of use, temperature and humidity.

At a glance: The number of bricks produced in Germany

Bricks are considered to be multifunctional. Which specific functions do they fulfil?

Torsten Kühnert: To begin with, they fulfil structural functions, such as carrying floor slabs or separating indoor rooms. They also offer physical construction benefits in terms of thermal and sound insulation. So masonry is the all-rounder of the construction materials!

An expert in masonry: Torsten Kühnert

Torsten Kühnert has been working at fischer for over 27 years. The 56-year-old qualified engineer gives seminars for engineers and architects across Germany through the fischer Academy. As the head of Technical Field Support, he provides advice to his colleagues as well as on the construction site.

The right solutions for (almost) any construction scenario

Which construction trends are influencing the field of masonry?

Torsten Kühnert: In the first instance, there is the thermal insulation trend. Bricks are being made more and more insulating. The brick industry plays a key role in this, of course. In terms of fixings, stones that offer high insulation must simultaneously offer high strength. That’s not easy to achieve, as a stone structure with a filigree finish can carry less weight.

And what’s fischer’s position when it comes to masonry?

Torsten Kühnert: We’ve covered many types of stone in the so-called European Technical Assessment (ETA for short). Each stone has its own data sheet with the characteristic load-bearing capacity of anchors depending on the thread diameter, anchorage depth and spacing and edge distances. fischer offers a large variety of products on this basis. By using the ETAs to determine the performance data of many stone types we are able to offer precisely fitting system solutions for many different types of stone.

What does this mean in terms of your product quality?

Torsten Kühnert: Other manufacturers also offer perforated sleeves, injection mortars or threaded rods, but thanks to the precise alignment between our solutions and the ETA performance data our products are highly effective. Our perforated sleeves are proven to require less mortar than competitor products, for instance. We also offer specialist push-through perforated sleeves or plaster bridges for many types of stone, to name just some of the product advantages.

FIS V – the high-performance mortar (by fischer) for every construction material

The fischer injection mortar can be used in various construction materials, both indoors and outdoors! With its multiple fixing elements, the styrene-free vinylester-hybrid mortar is approved for cracked and non-cracked concrete and masonry. The following content provides information on all product features and correct mortar application in masonry walling.

Find the optimal solution with the fixings compass

Specialist plugs should be used for optimal fastenings in insulated masonry walling depending on the load and the type of insulating material. Depending on the context, the FID and Thermax 8 and 10 systems are a potential solution in addition to the Thermax 12 and 16 for compliant fixings.

fischer also offers various sizes (from M6 to M16), lengths and anchorage depths when it comes to threaded rods for masonry. Combined with the FIS V injection mortar, tradespeople can always find the right system solution, including the European Technical Assessment. Follow this link to the fischer fixings compasses for various construction materials.

Forecast and tips by the masonry expert

What will happen with masonry in terms of its popularity in future?

Torsten Kühnert: That’s difficult to answer. I would leave that to the experts and studies of the Masonry Association. In general, it can be said that masonry will continue to play an important role in individual construction, particularly in single-family homes, in which case each home is one of a kind. In order to remain flexible, there is no avoiding this construction material.

In conclusion, do you have any advice for tradespeople and planners?

Torsten Kühnert: For tradespeople: If you’re unsure what type of masonry you’re dealing with, then carry out a test drill to see what colour the drill dust is and whether there are any perforated or solid parts in the stone. It is also crucial to clean every drill hole, except when working with perforated brick, as this can have a tremendous effect on the load-bearing capacity of fixings. In general, the system consisting of a threaded rod, mortar and perforated sleeve should always be used as recommended by the fischer instruction manual in accordance with the ETA.

I would recommend that planners contact my colleagues in the Application Engineering department in case of any uncertainties, for instance if a stone cannot be clearly identified in the ETA. In cases such as this, our Field Support can carry out pull-out tests to examine the load-bearing capacity and provide analysis support.

Additional (digital) fischer services related to masonry

  • fischer Professional app: The mobile fixings consultant can be found in the Apple Store and Google Play Store where it can be downloaded onto a smart phone. Tradespeople can simply enter the construction materials and loads to receive suitable product suggestions for plugs etc.
  • FIXPERIENCE design software: Ideal for engineering design in masonry! The fischer FIXPERIENCE design software is available free of charge and can be used to design complex construction projects across the globe.