[Q&A]: Brick Masonry work | "Why bricks be soaked in water before placing them?"

One of BRICKS-n-MORTAR's regular readers, Mr. B. Kumar asks via 'contact us' form...

"My mason soaks the bricks in water before placing them.  Why?  Is it right to do so?  Please tell a.s.a.p."

Team BnM answers...
Image source: brickmasonry.info
Dear Mr. Kumar, the answer to your query is a big 'YES'.

Your mason is doing the absolutely right thing what he is supposed to do. Besides, consider yourself lucky that you've hired a knowledgeable mason since the fact remains that majority of the workmen do not adhere to this quality requirement for the simple reason that this practice, though very much required for attaining quality work, is time & efforts consuming exercise on its own. And, therefore, most of the masons hesitate to carry out this important and much needed exercise of soaking the burnt clay bricks before laying them for construction works.

Now, let us explain a bit as what is the significance of this procedure..

Red bricks, as what commonly these are called, are blocks of a mix of clay and other suitable constituents like silica, alumina, etc. that are wet-moulded, sun-dried and fire-burnt in desired shapes and sizes. The dried bricks become leather-hard and slightly porous in nature.

If these dry bricks are laid in construction of walls or other masonry works without soaking in water, they absorb the moisture from the cement mortar that is used to bind the brick courses. This ultimately may results in hollow & weak mortar joints that are not very strong in bond.

On the other hand, as a good quality practice, the burnt clay bricks should be soaked in water for adequate period so that the water penetrates to its full thickness and quench the un-slaked (un-reacted) chemical constituents /voids of the bricks to full extent.

Normally, about 2 to 6 hours of soaking of bricks in a tank full of potable water is suggested. Otherwise, in case of paucity of time, a minimum period of one hour prior to bricks being laid must be adhered to. Equally important is the fact that the soaked bricks should be removed from the water tank sufficiently in advance so that they are skin dry at the time of actual laying. Such soaked bricks are to be stacked on a clean place where they are not contaminated with dirt, earth, etc.

Blog Post Title: [Q&A]: Brick Masonry work | "Why bricks be soaked in water before placing them?"

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