Why Do People Leave Masonry? Exploring the Reasons Behind This Age-Old Craft’s Decline

Brick arches have long been admired for their timeless charm and structural integrity. However, as the world moves towards modernity, the need to adapt and renovate internal brick arches to meet contemporary design trends and functional requirements has become increasingly apparent. From creative lighting installations that emphasize the arch's natural beauty to incorporating cutting-edge construction methods for improved insulation and structural reinforcement, there are numerous possibilities to explore when it comes to revitalizing internal brick arches. Additionally, the integration of smart home technology, such as automated climate control and enhanced security features, can elevate the arch's functionality to meet the demands of today's fast-paced world.

What Are Arch Bricks Called?

All gauged or cut-brick arches are assembled from accurately tapered brick sections called voussoirs. These voussoirs are meticulously shaped to fit together in a precise manner, enabling the arch to distribute weight evenly and withstand the forces it must bear. The sizes and shapes of the bricks can vary depending on the specific arch design.

Arch styles encompass a wide range of architectural techniques and aesthetics. From the iconic pointed Gothic arches to the elegant Roman round arches, there’s a rich diversity in arch styles throughout history. Each style has it’s own distinct features, proportions, and decorative elements that contribute to the overall architectural design.

Architects and builders have long employed arches in their designs due to their structural and aesthetic benefits. By relying on voussoirs, the precision-cut tapered bricks, arch constructions can distribute the weight of the structure more efficiently, reducing the need for additional support. Moreover, arches can create visually striking features, adding elegance and drama to any architectural composition.

The names given to arch bricks can vary based on regional preferences and local traditions. Some common terms for these bricks include arch bricks, voussoir bricks, tapered bricks, and cut-brick sections. Regardless of the name, the purpose of these specially shaped components remains the same – to create structurally sound and visually appealing arches that have stood the test of time. From ancient Roman aqueducts to majestic Gothic cathedrals, the art of brick arch construction continues to be admired and utilized in modern architecture as well.

Techniques for Preserving and Restoring Historic Brick Arches

  • Pointing: Removing deteriorated mortar and repointing with compatible materials.
  • Cleaning: Gentle cleaning methods such as low-pressure water washing or specialized chemical cleaners.
  • Consolidation: Applying consolidants or strengthening agents to stabilize weakened or loose bricks.
  • Replacement: Selective replacement of damaged or missing bricks with matching materials.
  • Arch reshaping: Rebuilding or reshaping the arch to restore it’s original form and structural integrity.
  • Waterproofing: Applying protective sealants or membranes to prevent water infiltration.
  • Support systems: Installing temporary or permanent support systems to relieve stress on the arch.
  • Monitoring: Regular inspection and monitoring to detect any signs of deterioration or structural issues.
  • Historic preservation: Using traditional techniques and materials to maintain the architectural authenticity of the brick arch.
  • Professional expertise: Engaging experienced architects, engineers, and masons with expertise in the restoration of historic brick arches.

A rough brick arch is a type of arch that’s built using regular bricks, without any cutting or shaping of the bricks into voussoirs. Instead, the arch curve is created by making the joints wedge-shaped, with a thicker thickness on the outer curve (extrados) and a smaller thickness on the inner curve (intrados). The intrados refers to the inner curve of an arch or vault.

What Is a Rough Brick Arch?

A rough brick arch is a type of arch that’s constructed using ordinary bricks without cutting them into specific shapes called voussoirs. Instead of using specially shaped bricks, the joints between the bricks are made wedge-shaped, with varying thicknesses at the extrados (the outer curve) and intrados (the inner curve) of the arch.

The intrados, or inner curve, of a rough brick arch is an important component of it’s construction. It refers to the inner surface or face of the arch, where the bricks are laid in a curved pattern to create the desired shape. By carefully arranging the bricks in a way that creates a smooth curve, builders can achieve a visually appealing and structurally sound arch.

However, constructing a rough brick arch requires skilled craftsmanship to ensure it’s stability and durability. The correct placement and alignment of the bricks, especially in the intrados, are crucial for maintaining the structural integrity of the arch. Mortar is used to hold the bricks together, and careful attention must be given to it’s composition and application to ensure proper bonding between the bricks.

It’s simplicity, affordability, and compatibility with different architectural styles make it a popular choice among builders and designers.

Source: BCT: Brick Arches

Building a brick arch involves carefully laying the bricks on a base using a template or Mason’s arch tool as a guide. It’s crucial to ensure thin and even mortar joints are used to secure the bricks firmly in place. Maintaining the proper arch shape requires continuous adjustment of the template or mason’s arch tool throughout the process.

How Is a Brick Arch Built?

Building a brick arch requires precision and careful attention to detail. The process begins by laying the bricks on the base using a template or a Masons arch tool as a guide. This template or tool ensures that the bricks are placed in the correct position to create the desired arch shape.

As the bricks are laid, thin and even mortar joints are used to secure them in place. The mortar acts as a binding agent, holding the bricks together and providing stability to the arch structure. It’s crucial to ensure that the mortar joints are consistent in thickness to maintain the strength and integrity of the arch.

This is particularly important because any deviation from the desired shape can compromise the structural integrity of the arch, causing it to weaken or even collapse. Careful adjustments must be made to ensure that the arch is symmetrical and in line with the intended design.

Once the bricks are in place, the arch must be allowed to dry and set. This usually requires a waiting period of several days to ensure that the mortar has fully cured and the arch has achieved it’s maximum strength. After this drying period, any excess mortar can be cleaned off, and the arch is ready for use or further finishing.

Reinforcing Brick Arches: Explore Different Methods of Reinforcing Brick Arches to Increase Their Structural Strength, Such as Using Steel Bars or Mesh, or Incorporating Keystones.

Reinforcing brick arches is a common practice to enhance their structural strength. Various methods are employed to achieve this, such as incorporating steel bars or mesh into the brickwork or incorporating keystones into the arch design. These reinforcements provide additional support to the arch, preventing it from collapsing under heavy loads and ensuring it’s long-term stability. By fortifying brick arches with these techniques, structural engineers can increase their durability and resilience, making them capable of withstanding greater forces and extending their lifespan.

Looking to give your old brick a modern makeover? There are several techniques you can use to update the appearance of your bricks. One option is to stain the bricks, which allows you to change their color while still maintaining the natural texture and beauty of the material. Another popular choice is to paint the bricks, ideal for creating a clean, contemporary look. If you prefer a more rustic aesthetic, consider whitewashing or applying a German Schmear technique to your bricks. Whatever method you choose, these simple updates can transform your brick surfaces and give your space a fresh, modern feel.

How Do You Make Bricks Look Modern?

Updating old brick to achieve a modern look can be achieved using various techniques. One popular option is staining the brick. If the original color of the brick is undesirable, staining can give it a fresh, modern appeal.

Painting brick has also become a trendy choice for those looking to modernize their space. This technique is particularly popular for brick fireplaces, as it can completely transform the room. By painting the brick in a contemporary color, such as a soft gray or a sleek black, you can create a modern focal point in the room.

For those seeking a more rustic, yet modern look, the German Schmear technique can be employed. This involves slathering mortar over the surface of the brick, leaving some of the brick exposed. The result is a textured, weathered look that adds depth and character to the space.

In addition to giving your old brick wall a thorough clean, there are several other ways you can enhance it’s appearance.

How Can I Improve the Appearance of My Old Brick Wall?

In addition to cleaning, there are other ways to enhance the appearance of your old brick wall. One option is to apply a fresh coat of paint. This can add a pop of color and transform the look of the entire wall. It’s important to choose a paint that’s designed specifically for masonry surfaces and will adhere well to the brick.

Consider installing wall panels, trellises, or hanging plants to create an interesting focal point. These additions can help distract from any imperfections in the brick and add a touch of personality to your outdoor space.

If you want to preserve the natural beauty of the brick while still giving it a facelift, consider applying a brick sealant. This will protect the brick from weathering and staining, while also enhancing it’s color and texture. Sealants come in various finishes, so you can choose one that suits your desired aesthetic.

For a more dramatic transformation, you might consider covering the brick wall with a cladding material. This could include options like stone veneer, wood panels, or even a simulated brick face. Not only will this completely change the look of the wall, but it can also provide additional insulation and protection against the elements.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of lighting to enhance the appearance of your old brick wall. Strategic placement of outdoor lights can draw attention to it’s texture and create a warm and inviting ambiance. Consider using uplights to illuminate the wall from below, or adding wall sconces to highlight specific areas.

Whether you choose to clean, paint, add decorative elements, apply a sealant, cover it with cladding, or use lighting, the key is to find a solution that suits your personal taste and enhances the overall aesthetic of your home or outdoor space.


This revitalization not only preserves the architectural integrity of these historic features but also enhances the overall ambiance and functionality of the surrounding environment.

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