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Design of Masonry Structures

1. Explain the theories of failure of masonry under


Masonry is typically a non-elastic, non-homogeneous, and an isotropic material

composed of two materials of quite different properties: stiffer bricks and relatively softer
mortar. Under lateral loads, masonry does not behave elastically even in the range of small
deformations. Masonry is very weak in tension because it is composed of two different
materials distributed at regular intervals and the bond between them is weak. Therefore,
masonry is normally provided and expected to resist only the compressive forces. As shown
in Figs. 1a and 1b, during compression of masonry prisms constructed with stronger and
stiffer bricks, mortar of the bed joint has a tendency to expand laterally more than the bricks
because of lesser stiffness. However, mortar is confined laterally at the brick-mortar interface
by the bricks because of the bond between them. Therefore, shear stresses at the brick-mortar
interface result in an internal state of stress which consists of triaxial compression in mortar
and bilateral tension coupled with axial compression in bricks. This state of stress initiates
vertical splitting cracks in bricks that lead to the failure of the prisms McNary and Abrams
1985; Atkinson and Noland 1983: Drysdale et al. 1994.
Since masonry is an assemblage of bricks and mortar, it is generally believed that the
strength and stiffness of masonry would lie somewhere between that of bricks and mortar. It
may be true in cases when one component of masonry, i.e., either bricks or mortar, is
substantially weaker and softer than the other, for example, bricks found in the southern part
of India are very weak and soft as reported by Dayaratnam 1987 and Sarangapani et al. 2002.
Based on an experimental study, Sarangapani et al. 2002 reported that soft bricks modulus of
elasticity 500 MPa were responsible for development of triaxial compression in bricks and
axial compression with lateral tension in mortar joints of masonry prism. This behavior is
contradictory to the generally accepted behavior of the masonry constructed with stiff bricks
and softer mortar. Sarangapani et al. 2005 conducted a series of tests on masonry prisms
constructed with very soft bricks modulus of elasticity 500 MPa and a combination of
different mortar grades. It was observed that for the soft brick-stiff mortar masonry, the
compressive strength of masonry increases with the increase in bond strength, which
increases with the mortar strength along with other factors. Ewing and Kowalsky 2004 tested
three unconfined and ungrouted single wythe clay brick masonry prisms constructed with
single brick type and mortar grade and proposed four performance limit states, which

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Design of Masonry Structures

correspond to 75 and 90% of prism compressive strength on the rising part of stress-strain
curve and 50 and 20% of prism compressive strength on the falling branch. It was concluded
that the stress-strain curve of masonry can be adequately predicted by the "modified" Kent—
Park model proposed for concrete masonry by Priestley and Elder 1983. The "modified"
Kent—Park model Priestley and Elder 1983 was also justified by Paulay and Priestley 1992
for use in case of unconfined masonry. The model consists of three portions: a parabolic
rising curve, a linear falling branch, and a final horizontal plateau of constant stress at 20% of
masonry prism strength, which are defined by following equations

2ℰ𝑚 ℰ𝑚 2
𝑓𝑚 = 1.067𝑓′𝑚 [ −( ) ]
0.002 0.002
For 0 ≤ ℰ𝑚 ≤ 0.0015 (Rising curve) (1)

𝑓𝑚 = 𝑓′𝑚 [1 − 𝑍𝑚 (ℰ𝑚 − 0.0015) ]

Until 0.2𝑓′𝑚 (Descending Curve) (2)

𝑍𝑚 =
3 + 0.29𝑓𝑗
⌊ ⌋ − 0.002
145𝑓𝑗 − 1000


McNary and Abrams 1985 conducted several uniaxial, biaxial, and triaxial tests on clay
bricks, mortar, and masonry to validate an analytical model describing the failure criteria of
masonry prisms, which considers the nonlinear behavior of confined mortar between bricks
and splitting strengths of bricks.
It was observed that the failure of masonry prisms took place because of lateral tensile
splitting of bricks, which was induced in the bricks by the mortar. Several relations were
proposed for the analytical determination of compressive strengths of bricks, mortar, and
masonry, which depend upon their compressive and tensile strengths. By regression analysis
of several experimental results on hollow structural clay tiles, Bennett et al. 1997 showed that
the masonry prism strength has a linear relationship with the compressive strength of bricks,
and that the prism strength for loading perpendicular to the bed joint can be conservatively
estimated as three-tenths of the brick compressive strength. This method of estimating the

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Design of Masonry Structures

masonry prism strength may overestimate the prism strength because it does not give any
weightage to the strength of mortar used in prisms. Also, a linear relationship was proposed
between elastic, modulus and prism strength of masonry.
Sawko and Rouf 1984 presented an analytical approach for the calculation of axial and
bending stiffness of masonry walls by considering parabolic variation of stress-strain curves
for masonry in compression based on past experimental studies.
The parabolic variation was proposed to continue in the descending part until 1.5 times
the peak strain corresponding to prism strength is reached, however, the authors did not
suggest any method of estimating the peak strain. Using experimental data, Grimm 1975,
Paulay and Priestley 1992, and Binda et al. 1988 suggested several analytical relations for
estimation of strength and deformation characteristics of masonry, which depend upon the
compressive and tensile strengths of bricks and mortar along with several other factors.
Although a large number of tests have been conducted in the past on masonry and its
constituents, very few studies have actually suggested simple analytical relations to determine
the compressive strength and deformation characteristics of masonry Grimm 1975; McNary
and Abrams 1985; Paulay and Priestley 1992; Bennett et al. 1997.
A few analytical models have also been developed to plot the compressive stress-strain
curves for masonry Priestley and Elder 1983; Sawko and Rouf 984; McNary and Abrams
1985; Paulay and Priestley 1992; Ewing and Kowalsky 2004.
However, most of these analytical relations and models are too complicated and require a
lot of experimental data pertaining to both compressive and tensile behavior of bricks,
mortar, and masonry. This emphasizes the importance of conducting more tests on
compressive behavior of masonry and its constituents, and further to develop simple
analytical equations to determine the compressive strength and deformation characteristics of
masonry, which can be used in the analysis and design procedure. Fig.1

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Fig. 1.a Test setup for different specimens: a masonry prism; b triaxial state of stress at
interface of brick and mortar in masonry prism; c brick unit: and d mortar cube

Fig. 2. Effect of water absorption and initial rate of absorption on compressive strength of
bricks C-=correlation coefficient

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2. Explain the effect of rate of absorption, curing, aging and

workmanship on the compression strength of masonry.

Effect of water absorption

Bricks often absorb water from the fresh mortar when they are laid dry. If the rate of
water absorption is high, it may affect the hydration of mortar and result in poor bonding
between bricks arid mortar. The suction exerted by the units is an important factor affecting
the fresh mortar, and consequently the properties of mortar joint. The suction depends upon
the unit water absorption and the ability of unit to remove water from mortar which is
measured by initial rate of absorption test. Apart from affecting hydration of mortar due to
capillary action of the units, strength of mortar is reduced and possibly contains more
unhydrated cement. In the effect of deformation, it could be expected that creep and
shrinkage might be less due to less water in the mortar absorbed by the unit, and unhydrated
cement which restrains the hydrated paste movement_ Moreover, the water absorbed by the
units would not appreciably affect the shrinkage of the unit because it is in the form of free
water which merely affects reversible shrinkage, this type of reversible shrinkage is small
compared to the irreversible shrinkage caused by the loss of absorbed water.
Generally, the unit water absorption causes a reduction of the water/cement ratio which
can lead to a poor quality of mortar. Since masonry consists of brick and mortar, the behavior
resulting from the transfer of water from the mortar to the brick can be likened to that caused
by absorption of water by the aggregate in concrete. Therefore, the modulus of elasticity is
not only dependent on the properties of the mortar and the masonry unit but probably also on
the effect of unit water absorption through an equivalent transition zone. The composite
model does not take this effect into account. In order to understand the occurrence of water
absorption in masonry, the absorption properties of aggregate in concrete may be useful to
explain this phenomenon. The water absorption of aggregate affects the bond between the
aggregate and the cement paste, consequently could influence the deformation of concrete.
Much work has been carried out into the mechanism of the bond between masonry units and
mortar. It was found under laboratory conditions that, when clay bricks are being used the
strength of the bond varies according to their water absorption properties. Thus for clay
bricks, BS 5628 provides characteristic flexural strength values for various ranges of water
absorption. This paper discusses on the deformation of small scale masonry structures caused

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Design of Masonry Structures

by unit water absorption and consequently affecting the modulus of elasticity, creep and
moisture movement.

Effect of curing
One of the problems studied in this series of tests was to determine the effect of damp
curing on the compressive strength of brick walls. At the time these tests were outlined there
was a more or less general opinion that walls kept damp for a time after they had been built
would be stronger than others allowed to age without wetting. Cylinders of Portland cement
mortar (size 2 by 4 inches) aged for 60 days in water are about twice as strong as those kept
in air and, consequently, it might be expected that conditions which tend to keep the mortar in
the wall moist would also tend to increase its strength and therefore increase the strength of
the wall. Some walls of series 2, built with cement mortar, were allowed to age in the
laboratory under ordinary conditions.
Other similar walls "wetted" were covered with burlap. The burlap was kept damp for one
week after the walls had been built and was then removed. It is seen from these data that
there was no increase in the strength of the walls due to damp curing. Whether the same
results would have been obtained on specimens built out of doors is, perhaps, open to
question. Although the strength of small mortar cylinders is increased by keeping them wet,
there are several reasons why much greater strength in the wet walls than in the dry ones
would not be expected. In the first place, the failure in all of these walls laid in cement mortar
occurred in the brick and not in the mortar. While walls similar in all respects, except as to
mortar, will generally have the higher strengths with stronger mortars, the strength of the
brick is probably the determining factor in wall strength when the mortars are of about the
same strength. In the second place, it has been found that an increase in mortar strength is
accompanied by a relatively smaller increase in wall strength if the same quality of brick is
used. Hence, a large increase in mortar strength is necessary to produce a notable increase in
wall strength. This should not, however, be taken to mean that the mortar is not a very
important factor in wall strength. It is probable, moreover, that the wetting of the walls did
not increase greatly the strength of the mortar, for although the wetting would tend to retard
the evaporation of moisture, the loss of moisture from the walls in dry storage proceeded at a
slow rate. The moisture present in the brick and mortar at the time the walls were built
evaporated at such a slow rate as to provide sufficient moisture at early ages for favorable
curing conditions, since in all of these walls the brick wore probably wetter when laid than is

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Design of Masonry Structures

the case in ordinary commercial practice. Finally, a few samples of the mortar taken from
these walls after test were found to contain, on the average, about 8 per cent of moisture by
weight. This damp condition would tend to decrease the strength of the brick and of the
mortar and, consequently, the strength of the damp cured walls. There are no definite data to
show how much the strength of either the mortar or the brick was changed by the indefinite
or rather non-uniform moisture content of the walls after they had aged. Numerous tests have
shown that Portland-cement mortars and concrete are considerably weakened when wetted
just previous to testing. The strength of some bricks is decreased by moisture. Others do not
appear to have their strength influenced by this condition. The wet bricks had been immersed
in water for 48 hours before test and were, of course, much wetter than were those in the
walls at the time of test.

Effect of aging
Influence of deterioration and ageing of brickwork masonry has significant effects on
mechanical properties of both masonry constituents and masonry as a composite material. For
Kolizej Palace moistening, capillary rise and freezing-thawing cycling were probably the
most powerful parameters that accelerated deterioration of the masonry.
Prior application of more invasive techniques for the evaluation of mechanical properties,
detail survey regarding built-in masonry constituents should be done. Evaluation of moisture
content of the masonry should be done in respect to the water absorption of particular type of
brick built in the masonry.
Due to moistening and capillary rise, the infiltrating water leads to the mobilization and
generation of salts. Salts are powerful damaging agents and can act in porous building
material in several ways: by crystallization, hydration, differential thermal expansion and
osmosis. All of these processes may significantly influence properties of the mortar and
masonry bond. In this respect results of compressive tests on mortar tablets and the results of
shove tests revealed reduction in strength of 40-60% for the mortar samples and 50% for
initial shear strength.
Reduction of strength properties due to decay of material may be up to 30% for
compressive strength and 36% for reference tensile strength of the masonry. Due to mortar
degradation, the modulus of elasticity of the masonry in wet condition is very low and it
corresponds to the modulus of elasticity of saturated sand.

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Effect of workmanship
The workmanship typical of each of the two masons who built these brick has already
been summarized as follows: For walls of series 1, relatively high rate of laying brick,
absence of mortar in the longitudinal vertical joints, and pronounced furrowing in the
horizontal mortar beds; for walls of series 2, slow rate of laying brick, careful filling of the
vertical joints, and smooth spread bed joints.
For the 8-inch solid wails of Chicago brick, the average thickness of the mortar joints was
almost the same for both groups, and the 30 per cent increase in strength for the walls of
series 2 must be attributed to the differences in workmanship. The important differences as
far as they could be observed consisted of the absence of furrowing of the horizontal mortar
joints in series 2 and the better filling of the vertical joints. With the Mississippi brick, wail
155 of series 1 had exceptionally thick mortar joints (0.73 inch), and it may be that the
greater strength of walls 37, 38, and 39, of 59 per cent, was due to their having thinner joints.
The absence of furrowing and the filling of the vertical joints apparently made the 8-inch
solid walls of New England brick and the 12-inch solid walls of Chicago brick of series
decidedly stronger than the companion walls of series 1. The large increases in strength for
the hollow walls of series 2 over the strengths of walls of series I was unexpected. It was
supposed that the use of brick on edge in the construction of the hollow walls would not
permit furrowing.
However, demolition of these walls after testing showed that the mason furrowed the
horizontal mortar bed on the narrow edge of the brick as consistently as on the regular solid
construction. The furrow was continuous throughout the entire length of the mortar bed, but
was broken up in much the same manner as were the furrows in the solid walls, he uneven
and irregular bedding probably produced bending stresses in the bricks.
Which caused the local concentrations of load and resulted in failure at lower loads than
would have been with more even loads.
These comparisons of strength of hollow walls lead to the belief that full spread
horizontal mortar beds without furrowing are more important from a strength standpoint than
the complete filling of vertical joints. In the hollow walls the longitudinal space between the
rowlock wythes, of course, contained no mortar, and differences in strength were, therefore,
almost entirely due to differences in the horizontal mortar beds.
The apparent effect of furrowing and unfilled vertical joints on wall strength is strikingly
brought out by a comparison of the strengths of walls 155 and 159. Both walls were built by

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the mason of series 1. Although wall 159, with no furrowing in the mortar beds, was built at
an exceptionally fast rate, its strength was 70 per cent greater than that of wall 155 with the
typical furrows. The rate of laying wall 159, as given in Tables 3 and 17, and the statement of
the mason who built the walls of series 2 show that spreading the mortar bed without
furrowing does not reduce the rate of laying brick. The comparative results given in Tables
18 and 17 show the remarkable increase in strength obtained by the better filling of the
mortar joints. It is believed that the realization of the importance of having smooth and level
horizontal mortar beds in a brick wall is the most important conclusion of these tests. This
construction practice, which apparently involves no increase in labor cost, but which results
in a very significant increase in strength, is strongly recommended to builders of masonry
structures. A comparison of "spread" and "shoved" workmanship for walls of series 2 is
afforded in Table 18. Wall 18 of Chicago brick and "shoved" workmanship had thinner
mortar joints than did the companion walls 166 and 167 built of the same kind of brick with
the full spread joints of series 2. In the three groups listed in Table 18 the walls of Chicago
brick constitute the only group for which the "shoved" workmanship was superior to the
other. The table shows that shoved work introduces no improvement in strength over the
spread and fully slushed joint workmanship which was typical of series 2. Reference has been
made several times to the thickness of the mortar joints as having a possible effect on wall
strength. Although this investigation was not planned with a view to having thickness of
mortar joint a variable for the walls, Table 3 shows that some variation did exist. A study of
the data for the single walls shows that joint thickness was by no means a controlling factor
in strength for the hollow walls.
The thickness of the beds in the groups of solid walls of series 1 was practically uniform
from wall to wall and the results of these tests throw no light on this subject. The thickness of
the mortar joints and the wall strength are given in Table 19 for 18 groups of solid walls of
series 2 built with comparable workmanship and aged under ordinary conditions. The walls
of each group have been arranged in the order of wall strengths, and it might be expected that
the wall having the least thickness of mortar joint would have the greatest strength. In the
column designated "order of this table those groups have been classed as "regular," for which
increase in joint thickness is accompanied by decreases in wall strength, as "reverse," if
increase in joint thickness is accompanied by increase in wall strength, and as "irregular" for
the others which follow neither of these classifications entirely.

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3. Write the various stress reduction and shape reduction

factors used in the masonry construction in IS 1905-1987

Stress reduction factor

Slenderness Eccentricity of loading divided by the thickness of the member

0 1/24 1/12 1/6 ¼ 1/3
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
6 1 1 1 1 1 1
8 0.95 0.95 0.94 0.93 0.92 0.91
10 0.89 0..88 0.87 0.85 0.83 0.81
12 0.84 0.83 0.81 0.78 0.75 0.78
14 0.78 0.76 0.74 0.70 0.66 0.66
16 0.73 0.71 0.68 0.63 0.58 0.53
18 0.67 0.64 0.61 0.55 0.49 0.43
22 0.56 0.52 0.48 0.40 0.32 0.24
24 0.51 0.47 0.42 0.33 0.24 -
26 0.45 0.40 0.35 0.25 - -
27 0.43 0.38 0.33 0.22 - -

Shape Modification Factor

Height to Width Shape modification Factor for Units Having Crushing Strength in N/mm2
5 7.5 10 15
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Up to 0.75 1 1 1 1
1 1.2 1.1 1.1 1
1.5 1.5 1.3 1.2 1.1

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