Why Do Masonry Care About Angles?

Masonry, as an ancient and revered craft, places immense importance on the precise and meticulous implementation of angles. The art of constructing durable and aesthetically pleasing structures relies heavily on the mastery of angles, as they determine the stability, integrity, and visual harmony of the final product. Masons understand that angles serve as the building blocks of their work, influencing both the functional and artistic aspects of their creations. From the foundation to the finishing touches, every angle is carefully considered and skillfully executed, ensuring the longevity and beauty of masonry structures for generations to come.

What Is the Role of a Relieving Angle in a Masonry Cavity Wall?

The role of a relieving angle in a masonry cavity wall is to provide support and accommodate vertical movement of the brickwork. In a cavity wall construction, where two layers of masonry are separated by an air gap or cavity, there’s a potential for vertical expansion or movement due to factors such as temperature fluctuations, moisture absorption, and structural settlement.

To address this issue, steel shelf angles, also known as relieving angles, are installed at regular intervals along the wall elevation, usually at each floor level. These angles act as load-bearing elements that support the weight of the masonry above a horizontal expansion joint. They’re typically positioned at a specific distance from the joint to provide adequate support.

By installing relieving angles, the masonry above the expansion joint can expand vertically without causing damage or structural issues. The angles restrain the brickwork from excessive movement while still allowing for the necessary expansion and contraction. This prevents the formation of cracks, bulges, or other forms of damage that may occur if the brickwork is unable to accommodate the vertical movement.

They can be designed in various shapes and sizes, allowing architects to incorporate them into the overall design scheme. Finishes such as paint or protective coatings can be applied to the angles to match the surrounding materials and create a visually pleasing finish.

Types of Relieving Angles: Explore the Different Types of Relieving Angles Available for Masonry Cavity Walls, Such as L-Shaped, T-Shaped, or Shelf Angles, and Discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of Each.

Relieving angles are commonly used in masonry cavity walls to improve structural support and distribute the load from the wall above. They come in various shapes, including L-shaped, T-shaped, and shelf angles.

L-shaped angles are typically placed at the base of the wall, providing support and stability. The advantage of this type is that it offers a simple and effective solution for relieving the load. However, it may require more material and labor to install correctly.

T-shaped angles have arms extending along both the inside and outside faces of the wall. This design offers increased stability and load-bearing capacity. The main advantage of T-shaped angles is their ability to evenly distribute the load. However, they can be more complex to install and may require more expertise and precision.

Shelf angles are horizontal supports that are connected to the inside or outside face of the wall. They provide a ledge for the masonry units to rest upon and distribute the weight. Shelf angles are advantageous because they allow flexibility for coping with variations in wall thickness. However, they require careful calculation and positioning to ensure proper load distribution.

Each type of relieving angle has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on the specific requirements of the project. Consulting with a structural engineer or masonry expert is crucial to determine the most suitable option for a particular masonry cavity wall.

They’re typically made of steel and are positioned beneath the brickwork, creating a ledge or shelf for the weight of the bricks to rest upon. Both lintels and shelf angles are essential components in ensuring the stability and structural integrity of a brick veneer assembly.

What Are the Functions of a Shelf Angle and a Lintel Angle in a Brick Veneer Assembly?

The functions of a shelf angle and a lintel angle in a brick veneer assembly are important for the structural integrity and stability of the brickwork.

A shelf angle is typically made of steel and is installed horizontally along the underside of the brickwork. It’s main function is to provide support and distribute the weight of the bricks and mortar to the building structure. By attaching to the building structure, the shelf angle helps to relieve the downward force applied by the brickwork and ensures that the weight is properly and evenly distributed. This helps to prevent any sagging or cracking of the brick veneer.

On the other hand, a lintel angle is also made of steel and is installed vertically above masonry openings such as doors and windows. It’s main function is to provide support for the brickwork over the opening. By bearing on the brickwork on each side of the opening, the lintel angle helps to transfer the load of the brickwork above the opening to the surrounding brickwork.

They work together to distribute the weight and loads to the building structure, reducing the risk of any structural issues. Additionally, the use of steel for the angles provides strength and durability, ensuring the longevity of the brick veneer assembly.

Types of Shelf Angles and Lintel Angles

Shelf angles and lintel angles are common components used in construction to support masonry walls and provide structural integrity.

Shelf angles are typically horizontal supports that are attached to the exterior walls and used to carry the load of the masonry above. There are various types of shelf angles, such as plain shelf angles, continuous shelf angles, and concealed shelf angles, each serving different purposes. They’re commonly made of steel and can be either visible or concealed within the masonry.

Lintel angles, on the other hand, are angled supports that are usually placed above openings, such as doors or windows, to distribute the load from the masonry above. These angles help prevent sagging or cracking of the masonry due to the weight placed on them. Lintel angles can be made of different materials, including steel or reinforced concrete.

By using a combination of shelf angles and lintel angles, architects and builders can ensure the stability and durability of masonry structures. These components play a crucial role in supporting the weight of the masonry, distributing the load evenly, and preventing potential structural issues.

Source: Brick Veneer/Steel Stud Walls

The Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures (TMS 402/602 Code) mandates the use of a continuous horizontal shelf angle in brick veneer, with subsequent shelf angles required at each floor above. This requirement ensures the stability and structural integrity of the brick veneer. However, an interesting question arises: How high can brick go without a shelf angle?

How High Can Brick Go Without a Shelf Angle?

There’s been much speculation and discussion regarding how high brick can go without a shelf angle. According to the Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures (TMS 402/602 Code), it’s prescribed that a continuous horizontal shelf angle must be used in brick veneer construction. This requirement is specifically applicable to brick veneer and not load-bearing structures.

It acts as a horizontal support, distributing the weight of the bricks and preventing excessive stress on the masonry. Without a shelf angle, the risk of structural failure or collapse increases significantly.

However, it’s important to note that the code is carefully designed to prioritize safety and structural integrity. It’s unlikely that a professional engineer or builder would deviate from the codes recommendations without valid alternative methods or engineering analysis.

This mandatory requirement ensures the stability and support of the masonry in taller structures.

In addition to it’s vulnerability to seismic activity, another disadvantage of using masonry is it’s limited flexibility in design and construction.

What Is the Main Disadvantage of Using Masonry?

Additionally, masonry tends to be a slower and more labor-intensive construction method compared to other techniques. The process of laying individual bricks or stones and applying mortar between them requires skilled craftsmen and meticulous attention to detail. This can lead to longer construction timelines and potentially higher costs, especially when compared to more modern and efficient building methods.

Another disadvantage of using masonry is it’s limited design flexibility. Unlike steel or concrete construction, which can easily be molded and shaped into various forms and configurations, masonry is often restricted to more traditional and uniform designs. This can limit the creativity and innovation that architects and designers can bring to a project, especially when aiming for a more contemporary or unique aesthetic.

Moreover, masonry construction is prone to moisture-related issues, such as water infiltration and mold growth. Brick and stone materials are porous, which means that they can absorb water and become more vulnerable to deterioration over time. Proper waterproofing measures and maintenance need to be implemented to mitigate these issues, which can add additional costs and effort to the construction process.

Furthermore, masonry buildings are typically heavier and more rigid compared to structures built with lighter materials. This can pose challenges in terms of structural integrity, especially during seismic events. The lack of flexibility in masonry construction can result in a higher risk of collapse or extensive damage during earthquakes, making it less desirable for regions prone to seismic activity.

Lastly, masonry construction requires careful supervision and quality control to ensure strength and durability. The strength of a masonry structure heavily relies on the competency of the workers, the quality of the materials, and the precision in execution. Inadequate workmanship or subpar materials can compromise the structural integrity of a masonry building, leading to potential safety issues and costly repairs.

Understanding the purpose of a brick relief angle is crucial for professionals in the construction industry. These angles play a vital role in providing the necessary support for the weight of brick veneer at specific intervals. By distributing the load evenly, relief angles ensure the stability and durability of the structure. Let’s explore the significance of relief angles in more detail.

What Is the Purpose of a Brick Relief Angle?

The purpose of a brick relief angle is to provide support for the weight of brick veneer at specific intervals. These relief angles are essential for maintaining the structural integrity and long-term durability of brick walls.

This helps to minimize cracking and other structural issues that can arise from temperature changes and moisture absorption within the brickwork.

By incorporating these angles into the design and construction process, professionals can ensure the stability, durability, and aesthetic appeal of brick structures.

(4) It allowed for uniformity and precision in architectural designs, (5) It facilitated the incorporation of doors, windows, and other features seamlessly, and (6) It provided a foundation for accurate measurements and calculations. This reliance on right angles continues in modern construction due to the practicality, stability, and aesthetic appeal it brings to our built environment.

Why Are Right Angles Used in Construction?

(4) It allowed for precise measurements and alignments, (5) It facilitated the use of symmetrical designs, and (6) It provided a sense of aesthetic balance and harmony.

First and foremost, using right angles in construction helps create stable structures. The perpendicularity of right angles helps in ensuring the stability of walls, floors, and roofs, reducing the risk of structural failure over time.

Cutting and joining structural members becomes much simpler when working with straight lines and right angles. Traditional construction techniques, such as carpentry and masonry, heavily rely on the principles of right angles to ensure accurate and efficient assembly. This saves time and effort, contributing to the overall productivity of the construction process.

In addition, right angles have proven useful in setting out plots of land. When demarcating property boundaries, surveyors and land planners often use right angles to lay out the exact dimensions and angles of different parcels of land. This ensures that each piece of land is clearly defined and can help avoid potential disputes or measurement errors.

Furthermore, right angles lend themselves well to symmetrical designs. Many architectural styles, such as neoclassical and modernist, heavily rely on symmetrical forms and compositions.

Lastly, the preference for right angles in construction is also attributed to their inherent visual appeal. Humans have a natural tendency to perceive and appreciate symmetry and balance.

14) the Use of Right Angles in Architectural Drawings and Blueprints

  • The importance of right angles in architectural drawings
  • How right angles contribute to accurate measurements
  • The role of right angles in creating symmetrical designs
  • Using right angles to ensure structural stability
  • The visual appeal of incorporating right angles in architecture
  • Common techniques for drawing right angles in blueprints
  • How architects utilize right angles for space optimization
  • The relationship between right angles and building codes
  • Case studies highlighting the strategic placement of right angles in famous architectural landmarks
  • Exploring the historical significance of right angles in architectural practices


The careful consideration of angles ensures that the elements of a construction project align properly, providing stability and durability. By mastering angles, masonry professionals can deliver projects that not only meet the strict standards of their trade but also stand the test of time, enhancing the reputation of their craftsmanship.

Scroll to Top