A brickmason (also referred to as a bricklayer, stonemason, or blockmason), is someone who uses bricks, concrete blocks, structural tiles, and natural and man-made stones to build walkways, fences, walls, patios, buildings and other structures. Brickmasons typically specialize in either doing residential projects or large-scale projects.
Brickmasons also repair older brick structures, repairing and replacing old mortar which has loosened or fallen away over the years, while retaining the structural integrity of the building.
A brickmason's duties are many and varied. They must read drawings and blueprints to calculate the needed materials for a structure, use straight edges to design foundations and patterns, and accurately resize bricks by breaking or cutting them. Brickmasons also mix mortar or grout for spreading on a slab or foundation, lay bricks, blocks, or stones according to plans and without error build corners with corner pyramids or a corner pole. Measurements must be precise for a structure to be sound, so brickmasons also use levels and plumb bobs to make sure a structure is accurately vertical or horizontal. When a structure is complete, the mason must also clean and polish the surfaces with power tools or by hand, correct contracting and expanding joints with the use of caulking materials once settling has occurred, and clean and maintain the tools and equipment.
A specific type of brickmason, called a refractory mason, installs refractory tile and firebrick in furnaces, ladles, soaking pits, boilers and cupolas which are used in factories and mills. These are high-temperature structures which handle molten materials. Refractory masons are also employed by glass furnaces, oil refineries, incinerators and other industries which use heat and high-temperatures as part of the manufacturing process.
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The work is physically demanding because brickmasons lift heavy materials and often must stand, kneel, and bend for long periods. They usually work outdoors, so poor weather conditions may reduce work activity. Employment for brickmasons is projected to grow 34 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.