A brick mason's basic job is to build and repair walls made out of bricks, though she may also engage in building or repair other types of structures. Like other building trade jobs, this has historically been a predominantly male job, though many women have found work or become self-employed brick masons as of 2013. A one- or two-year trade program or on-the-job apprenticeship are common backgrounds for brick masons.
The first step for masons is to plan for a project. In large-scale buildings, this may include reviewing blueprints or less formal drawings of the proposed structure and brick wall requirements. This helps the mason decide how many bricks, materials and supplies are needed for the work. In a commercial project, the brick mason may also communicate with a general contractor to plan timing and scope of the project.
Prior to the actual laying of bricks and mortar, you have to prepare the bricks and materials for placement. In some cases, masons must cut bricks, stones or other building elements to the size needed for a particular project. Some masons buy precut bricks from wholesalers, though. You also need to mix the mortar or other sealing elements used to bind the bricks together. This process may be completed by hand or machines.
The most significant duty for the brick mason is the actual laying of brick and building of the wall or structure. This is a systematic process that involves placing one brick at a time, then applying mortar before the placement of the next brick. This process is typically completed with the use of a hand tool, such as a trowel, to evenly place the bricks and remove extra mortar. Cornering tools are also used to form neat, sharp corners where two walls come together.
A brick mason is typically responsible for her own cleanup work. This is especially true for those working in self-employment and small projects. Once the wall is complete, the mason often needs to clean and polish the bricks. Depending on the amount of mortar, dust and other particles that collected during building, a power tool or hand tool is used. Any other packaging materials, supply wrappers and other debris are also cleaned after a project.
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