You've decided you need a mason for upkeep on your Contra Costa County home, whether you live in Walnut Creek, Concord, Richmond, Pittsburg, or Antioch. Your first thoughts may not actually be of a "mason," just that the retaining wall is sagging, or that you'd like to replace the driveway with something more attractive, or that you're thinking of building some outdoor living space. When you need work done with brick, stone, or concrete, and similar materials, you're looking for a mason.
Masonry is actually the very ancient art and science of working with these materials to construct buildings and outdoor spaces. Masonry use stretches as far back as Rome, when extraordinary structures of brick and stone were built, and it encompasses the dramatic pyramids of Egypt. Masonry has a proud tradition, but you just need to get some stuff done around the house. Use the information below to help you find the best masonry firm to help you get your job done.
Find a Licensed Contra Costa County Masonry Company
When you look in Contra Costa County for your masonry company, whether you are looking in Walnut Creek, Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Martinez, or Pleasant Hill, be sure you look for a licensed mason. California requires all contractors who do more than $500 of work to be licensed. The state has a specific license for masons, the C29. The C29 is granted to those who work with concrete, natural and manufactured stone, glass and clay block, terra cotta, firebrick, or similar materials.
According to regulations, a mason can make and install masonry units (i.e. bricks) that are load-bearing or non-load bearing walls for buildings or fences. Note that based on building technique, mortar may or may not be used. A mason can also apply veneers, or facing, and may install paving. The mason can also clean, waterproof and apply caulking as part of the masonry job.
You do not always need a contractor with a masonry license. The state has also said that anyone with a landscaping license, a holder of the C27 license for landscaping, can also perform masonry work if that work is part of a landscape system or facility.
So you, as the consumer, are ultimately looking for a licensed contractor. Depending on the work you are having done, look for a licensed masonry contractor to install or repair your existing masonry structures. But if you are working on a landscaping project that might include some masonry work and you believe your contractor is capable of handling it, your landscaping contractor can also do the work, as long as he or she has the landscaping license. In short, look for a license.
Is Masonry Construction Safe In Contra Costa County?
Before we discuss the ways a masonry company may help in and around residential buildings, let's take a minute to talk about masonry construction. This is California after all you're living in Walnut Creek, Concord, Pittsburg, Richmond, Antioch, Brentwood, or Danville. Some pretty famous faults are in your backyard. You may have some concerns from long-standing myths, including can you really use masonry components to build buildings in California? And what about earthquakes?
It's true that from very early in the twentieth century, unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs), for example, buildings built of brick only, were determined to be unsafe in earthquakes. These URMs were no longer built, and the state required that any existing ones be retrofitted. The problem was that earthquakes could cause the masonry units in the structures to pull against each other. As Californians know, buildings fare better in earthquakes if they move as a whole.
Unreinforced masonry buildings are definitely out of code. However, modern construction techniques typically use steel to reinforce the masonry material, and structures built using modern techniques with reinforced masonry are safe, even in earthquakes. Homes and commercial buildings throughout California are built using masonry for structural components.
There are some clear benefits to masonry construction. Masonry materials like brick, concrete, and stone are very long lasting and need little maintenance. They can help reduce energy costs by maintaining the heat or coolness in the building. Masonry units and all that means is the brick or other masonry component are usually made by local firms. This not only supports the local economy, it reduces transportation costs.
Often, material from masonry structures can be recycled for reuse, including as aggregate. Aggregate is the material included with cement in concrete. Because masonry structures are long-lasting, they reduce the amount of rebuilding and thus the impact on the environment.
Masonry material like concrete can be colored, so that no paints or other substances with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) need to be applied. Some masonry components, like concrete, are mold-resistant. There are many reasons why you might want to look into using masonry for buildings, now that you know it's safe.
Taking a Close Look at What Contra Costa County Masonry Firms Provide
Masonry firms provide a wide array of services. These can range from the relatively small to multi-story buildings. We'll focus mostly on what you, as a consumer in Contra Costa County, whether in Concord, Richmond, Pittsburg, Antioch, or Walnut Creek, might want from a masonry firm.
Masonry mailboxes are enjoying some popularity currently. These masonry mailboxes are not just a tin box stuck on a post. Instead, a design of bricks or stone or something similar is developed. Often, the masonry elements are chosen to match surrounding material. For example, a stone pillar with a mailbox on the top might be built into the end corner of a retaining wall. The masonry mailbox is becoming popular because it can provide a dignified and elegant look for this every-day object.
If you are thinking of an in-ground pool, you may find yourself working with a masonry firm. Masons may specialize in pools, and some pool firms may have masons on staff. The in-ground pool is typically created by first digging a hole in the ground. The base of the pool is often sand or vermiculite or a combination of the two. The pool walls and floors are often created by pouring concrete or by erecting steel walls with concrete footings to keep them stable.
There is a bit of a debate over which is the better option for pool construction. Concrete walls tend to cost a bit more than steel walls, but many favor them for their ability to withstand destruction over time, as steel may rust. On the other hand, owners have had steel-walled pools that last a long time as long as the vinyl liners are kept up.
Whether you are building pools, ponds, patios, outdoor fireplaces, or outdoor kitchens, and the like, a masonry firm can offer a variety of services. Some customers have firm ideas and strong opinions. With a design in mind, they want a masonry firm that will understand their design and execute it.
Other customers want to see designs from the masonry firm. Whichever approach you take, a good mason should be able to understand what you want. Many masons undergo apprenticeships and have long experience in the field. They can make useful recommendations about design and materials.
Working on Your Home With a Contra Costa County Masonry Firm
Depending on what you want, a masonry firm can provide help for your house and indoors, as well, whether you are living in Walnut Creek, Concord, Richmond, Pittsburg, or Antioch. Fences made of brick or stone are popular in some areas. You might call in a mason to replace stone steps, or to reface the house fa ade. Masons are frequently requested to repair or reconstruct chimneys. If you are looking for repairs, ask your mason about experience in matching colors. People often want a repair that is seamless with the existing structure. Masons can achieve this to some degree by sourcing matching material and by coloring any grout used so that it comes very close to matching the existing colors.
When you consult a masonry firm about constructing an entire building, you are making a sound decision. Masonry construction often costs less than walls built from glass curtains, metal panel curtains, and architectural precast concrete. By using masonry construction, you can reduce construction times because you are reducing the number of trades involved in the project. As mentioned earlier, construction materials are typically produced locally, so you do not have to wait for them to arrive. If you use cavity construction, you will have a built-in fire barrier and energy-efficient walls. Maintenance over the long term is minimal.
The cavity wall is a masonry construction method that has been around for centuries. A cavity wall is one that has two sides connected together with a cavity, or space, in the middle of them. The two sides built of masonry material are sometimes called wythes. The sides are connected with masonry ties. The cavity may include insulation or not. In modern buildings, the masonry is reinforced by steel. The steel is grouted to the masonry to form a unit that combines masonry's ability to resist compression with steel's ability to resist tension, making the building able to withstand both lateral and vertical forces.
Of course, it's up to the architect and mason to draw up designs that adhere to building codes and are structurally sound. As a consumer, you may want to pay attention to information about the flashing.
Flashing is a water barrier that is installed to prevent moisture from seeping into the masonry components. The flashing should allow the water a path to drip down and weep away from the building. It's especially important that it be well constructed around windows and doors. Masonry has strong structural potential, in addition to the beauty it provides.
Of course, on a commercial level, masons also perform work building and repairing buildings and especially for churches made of masonry materials.