Self-build homes

Building with masonry

This sponsored content article is provided by H+H

Masonry construction tends to be regarded as the traditional way to build homes in the UK, and over 80 per cent of new homes built in England still use masonry methods. There are many reasons that building with masonry is still the first choice among construction professionals, from familiarity to cost to personal preference. But just because the materials are familiar does not mean that they are out of date - in many cases, it is quite the opposite.

Redefining the traditional build with thin-joint construction

Masonry construction methods have come a long way. The most traditional masonry build method is the standard brick and block construction.  Robust, durable and efficient, a brick and block wall typically consists of a load-bearing inner leaf of aircrete, faced with an outer layer of brick. This is a robust and successful design and current materials have paved the way for modern methods of construction (MMC) to improve the performance of this traditional approach.

When it comes to laying the blocks, there are now two systems that can be employed; traditional and thin-joint. The traditional technique uses a standard 10 millimetre (mm) mortar joint, while the thin-joint construction method - made possible with an enhanced mortar formulation and light-weight aggregate (aircrete) blocks - has reduced this mortar joint to just 2mm.

It is with this method, which is offered by providers such as H+H whose Thin-Joint System uses Celfix Mortar, that housebuilders are benefitting from significant increases in build speed and enhancements in the performance of homes.

Thin-joint has been widely used in Europe for around 50 years, however even now is still seen as a new and innovative approach in the UK.

Thin-Joint systems combine the use of large format, accurately dimensioned aircrete blocks and quick setting thin layer mortar to create a highly productive and cost-effective building system. It can be used for solid or cavity walls in all types of buildings; be it houses, apartments, commercial buildings, schools or offices.

How does thin-joint work?

Using traditional mortar which takes time to set, block layers have only been able to build six courses per day. Thin-joint mortar, on the other hand, reaches full strength almost immediately allowing a whole storey-height wall to be built in a single day.

Typically a builder using the thin-joint technique will build the inner and outer leaves of a cavity wall independently of each other.  This allows a weather-tight shell to be constructed very fast. The interior trades can then go ahead with fitting out the living space at the same time as the brick-layers are building the outer wall.

Other practical benefits also help to increase the build rate,for example builders are able to cut blocks on-site and move them around with ease due to the light-weight nature of aircrete.

Industry experts H+H have utilised the Thin-Joint System to develop a new building method, the ‘Rå Build’. Rå Build provides a package approach to masonry building - the exterior walls, partition walls and upper floors are all specified and built as a single, continuous work project. This drastically speeds up the build process and simplifies the specification and procurement process for the developer. In fact, it incorporates many of the perceived advantages of an offsite system with the performance of a masonry build.

Find out more about building with Aircrete by downloading manufacturer H+H’s Products and Applications Guide.