How to Make a Masonry Wall Stronger in Shrinkage

During the construction of masonry walls, one common issue that may arise is the formation of cracks due to shrinkage. Shrinkage occurs when the moisture present in the masonry evaporates, causing the materials to contract and potentially crack. However, there are a few measures that can be taken to make a masonry wall stronger in shrinkage-prone areas. Firstly, it’s advisable to avoid using rich cement mortar in masonry. Rich cement mortar contains a higher proportion of cement, which increases the shrinkage potential of the wall. Instead, a weaker mortar mix with a lower cement content can be utilized. Additionally, delaying the plasterwork until the masonry has properly dried and undergone most of it’s initial shrinkage can also help minimize cracks.

Does Cement Reduce Shrinkage in Mortar?

Cement does have the potential to reduce shrinkage in mortar, but it isn’t a guaranteed solution to minimizing cracks in masonry walls caused by shrinkage.

Additionally, timing is crucial in reducing shrinkage cracks. Delaying plasterwork until the masonry has dried and undergone significant curing is recommended. During the curing process, mortar experiences initial shrinkage, and allowing it to dry properly minimizes the chances of cracks forming.

Curing involves keeping the mortar damp for an extended period of time after it’s been applied. This prevents rapid drying and allows for the gradual release of moisture, reducing shrinkage.

It’s also important to ensure that the mortar mix is well proportioned and of good quality. Following established guidelines and best practices in masonry construction can further contribute to reducing the occurrence of shrinkage cracks.

otherwise cause shrinkage. However, in certain cases, mortar can expand due to moisture absorption. This expansion is typically seen in cases where the mortar is exposed to high levels of moisture or in freeze-thaw conditions. It’s important to understand these factors when working with mortar in order to ensure proper application and longevity of the construction project.

Does Mortar Shrink or Expand?

Normally be extended. However, despite the use of plastecisers, some shrinkage does still occur in mortar.

Shrinkage in mortar can be a concern, particularly in construction projects where precision and accuracy are crucial. The shrinkage of mortar can cause cracking, which can undermine the structural integrity of the project. Therefore, it’s important to take measures to minimize shrinkage.

One of the main factors is the evaporation of water from the mix too quickly. This can happen if the surrounding temperature is too high or if there’s a strong wind blowing across the mortar. In these cases, the water in the mix evaporates before it’s a chance to hydrate the cement, leading to shrinkage.

This is because the cement particles tend to shrink as they hydrate, while the sand particles do not.

Proper curing involves keeping the mortar moist for a specified period of time to allow the cement to fully hydrate. If the curing process isn’t properly carried out, shrinkage can occur.

It’s important to take proper precautions, such as using plastecisers and ensuring proper curing, to mitigate shrinkage and prevent any detrimental effects on the construction project.

The shrinkage in mortar isn’t only influenced by the materials used, but also by factors such as ambient temperature, humidity levels, and the presence of reinforcement. It’s important to understand the causes behind shrinkage in order to properly address and minimize it in construction projects.

What Causes Shrinkage in Mortar?

The main factor contributing to shrinkage in mortar is the loss of water. This can be influenced by various factors, such as ambient temperature, humidity, and the water-cement ratio. High temperatures and low humidity can accelerate the drying process, leading to faster shrinkage.

This can lead to cracking and reduced overall strength of the mortar.

Aggregates with high water absorption capacity can lead to excessive water loss and greater shrinkage. On the other hand, well-graded aggregates can help to minimize shrinkage by providing a more stable matrix.

Some types of cement have higher shrinkage characteristics than others. Additionally, excessive use of cement can result in a higher water-cement ratio, leading to increased shrinkage.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these different types of volume reductions and their impact on the overall dimensions of cured concrete.

Does Concrete Shrink When Cured?

One of the factors that contribute to the shrinkage of concrete after it’s cured is drying shrinkage. As concrete cures, it undergoes a process called hydration, where water is chemically combined with the cement particles to form a solid structure. This phenomenon is primarily caused by the loss of moisture content in the hardened concrete.

Apart from drying shrinkage, there are other types of volume reductions that can occur in cured concrete. Thermal contraction is one such process where the concrete shrinks due to changes in temperature. When exposed to lower temperatures, concrete contracts as the molecules become closer together, causing a reduction in volume.

Understanding these shrinkage processes is crucial in designing and constructing durable concrete structures.

When using mortar as levelers, it’s important to consider the potential for shrinkage during the curing process. Exceeding the recommended ¼” build under the tile can lead to lippage in the final tile installation.

Does Mortar Shrink When Cured?

Mortar, a widely used material in construction, undergoes a curing process after it’s applied. Many may wonder whether mortar shrinks during this process. However, the extent of shrinkage depends on various factors.

When mortar is used as a leveler, it’s typically applied in a thin layer under tiles. For optimal results, it’s recommended to have no more than a ¼” of mortar build-up beneath the tiles once they’re installed. This ensures a smooth and even surface. However, if the ¼” limit is exceeded, the amount of shrinkage that occurs during curing can become a concern.

Excessive shrinkage can lead to lippage, which refers to unevenness or differences in elevation between adjacent tiles. This can be unsightly and affect the overall appearance of the tiled area. To avoid this issue, it’s crucial to carefully manage the amount of mortar used and be mindful of the curing process.

However, it’s essential to control the amount of mortar used and monitor the curing process to prevent excessive shrinkage and the occurrence of lippage. By following recommended guidelines and considering various factors, you can achieve a level and aesthetically pleasing tile job.


Furthermore, the incorporation of expansion joints and control joints in the masonry wall design can help accommodate the shrinkage and prevent the formation of cracks. These joints allow for movement and flexibility in the wall, thus distributing the stresses and reducing the risk of cracking. Additionally, using reinforced masonry elements, such as steel reinforcement bars or wire mesh, can significantly enhance the strength and durability of the wall, making it more resistant to shrinkage-related cracks. Proper construction practices, such as adequate compaction of mortar and careful installation of masonry units, are also crucial in ensuring a stronger wall with minimized shrinkage issues.

Scroll to Top