Masonry column is a structural element which is one of the main load bearing element in a masonry structure. The process of reinforced and unreinforced masonry column construction is discussed.
Usually, the column construction is carried out by concrete to order to accommodate all the axial and compression forces coming over it under severe load action. Constructing a masonry column is the conversion of the masonry structure into a complete load bearing structure.
Fig.1. Brick Masonry Column
Mainly the column constructed by masonry can be reinforced or unreinforced to bring similar behavior to that of a complete concrete column. Different Ideas and concept behind masonry column design and construction are discussed below.
Features of Brick Masonry Columns
The construction of brick columns over concrete columns helps in increasing the architectural beauty. The constructed brick columns can either be round, rectangle or square or elliptical in cross-section. These can be constructed to the needful height. These columns can act as corner pillars, porch columns, boundary gate pillars or free-standing columns.
The construction of brick columns is fast and easy with fewer tools and labor compared with the concrete column construction. When compared with R.C.C columns, the brick column construction is more economical in nature.
Process of Construction of a Brick Column
As mentioned above, the bricks columns can be constructed either reinforced or unreinforced based on the load-bearing capacity required. The construction process of a brick column is summarized below:
Unreinforced Brick Column Construction
- Preparing Layout on the Ground
Initially, the place and the center of the pillar or the column must be located on the ground by a temporary marking with a rod. This marking will help in supporting the vertical alignment and the horizontal alignment of the adjacent pillars.
- Excavation and Foundation
The excavation is performed for constructing the ground support. The thickness of the excavation is based on the thickness of the foundation and the type of the masonry construction.
If there is no reinforcement to be placed on the masonry, a simple concrete bed of suitable mix is poured into the excavated area. The rod that is used as a marker of the center is projected outside as shown in figure-2.
Fig.2. The Rod representing the center of the column projected after laying the concrete mix for foundation
- Brickwork for Masonry Column
Once the foundation layer is dried, the brickwork is started. The first-class bricks with a cement mortar of 1:4 ratio is used. This is sufficient to transfer the loads to the foundation safely.
The laying of the bricks must be done only after wetting them by dipping it in water. Certain brick column layer requires damp proof layer, for severe moisture conditions.
The brick is laid vertically upwards by maintaining the verticality and the horizontal alignment with the help of a plumb bob and compass.
Fig.3. Laying of Bricks over the Concrete Foundation
- Curing Works
Properly curing the brickworks for 7 to 10 days is required based on the construction.
- Plastering, Finishing, and Painting
Most of the brick column construction would give a good appearance without plastering. But if required, it can be plastered and finished. If necessary they can be painted.
Reinforced Brick Columns
The columns can be constructed of brick masonry by incorporating reinforcement into the same. This process of placing reinforcement in brick masonry will help in the increase in the load-bearing capacity of the column.
As this type of construction has a requirement of placement of reinforcement bars unlike the case of concrete design. Special grooved bricks are employed that will have the provision for the placement of the reinforcement.
The figure-4 below shows the construction details of the reinforced brick column. The cavity space through which the reinforcement is passed through is filled with grout/mortar that makes the whole unit monolithic.
Fig.4. Plan and Cross-Sectional View of a Reinforced Brick Column
As shown in the figure, special cavities are intentionally made during the brick manufacturer for the placement of the reinforcement. Every fourth layer is provided with a steel plate as shown in the figure-1.
These will have a thickness of 6mm. The vertical reinforcement that is placed through the masonry is fixed at the bottom concrete foundation block.
The main application of reinforced masonry is for the construction of the retaining walls, lintels, load-bearing columns, the walls constructed on the soils that are subjected to more settlement. All these structures incorporate columns within it that too is constructed of brick masonry.