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Multi-Storey Loadbearing Masonry Structures

Find out what makes loadbearing masonry structures stand apart from other systems in the market

Compared to cast-in-place concrete and wood frame construction, masonry is especially well suited when comparing schedules and construction timelines.

Your one-stop shop for all things loadbearing, including the benefits, and resources to help make it happen

This comprehensive resource provides a thorough exploration of the benefits associated with loadbearing masonry structures, particularly within multi-storey buildings. It highlights the advantages of loadbearing masonry, including superior fire and sound performance, insurance cost savings, extended service life, and streamlined scheduling. The resource also presents a detailed cost comparison analysis. Furthermore, an open-access engineering mini-course is available tailored to enhance designers’ expertise in loadbearing masonry design and introduce the user-friendly MASS Design Software. Additionally, guidance to valuable technical support, an engineering textbook focused on masonry structures and a comprehensive seismic design guide is provided.

Overall, this resource underscores the reliability and effectiveness of loadbearing masonry while providing essential information and resources for designers working with Multi-Storey loadbearing Masonry Structures.

What exactly do we mean by "loadbearing masonry"?

When we are talking about a building using masonry as the “loadbearing” material, what we mean is that the walls are constructed using concrete blocks, designed and built to support the structure and resist all loads, including wind and earthquakes. Floors are typically done using hollow-core precast planks so that once the walls are built, the floors can be placed and work continues without much delay. Structural steel sections or concrete columns are not needed as long as the concrete masonry walls have been designed to support everything. Using this construction technique brings with it a number of impressive benefits.

Masonry has a number of aesthetic, durable, and practical applications in building design. This page is talking specifically about projects supported by a structure similar to what you see below:

Significant Benefits without the significant Cost Premium

An in-depth cost comparison analysis of loadbearing masonry compared to conventional building materials for multi-storey residential buildings in Atlantic Canada. The data for the study came from third party Atlantic Canadian companies and was written in 2019. The results from the study show that safer and stronger loadbearing masonry structures, compared to conventional wood framed building, can be constructed without the typical price increase commonly associated with concrete construction.

Following the cost study, a 6-storey 96-unit building was constructed in Dieppe, New Brunswick. As advertised, the masonry super structure was able to be constructed in only 21 weeks. This project proved to the local industry that loadbearing masonry was indeed as advertised and is becoming a popular method of construction.

Other work has been done by CCMPA to compare loadbearing concrete masonry to other systems.

These advantages come with a long track record of reliability and performance

It was found that compared to an equivalent wood frame structure, there was only a 4.1% cost premium. These results were done based off actual estimates and real designs.

The Natural Choice for Multi-Storey Structures

Using Concrete Masonry Units (CMU) as the loadbearing material is a natural choice for multi-storey structures, especially where continuity of walls from the top storey down to the foundation is achievable. The layouts of regularly spaced, continuous walls typically allow for the structure to be well supported for all combinations of loading. When building is laid out such that the loadbearing masonry walls are also the dividing walls between units, they offers superior fire and sound transmission performance, as well as many other inherent benefits to masonry construction. Scheduling with loadbearing masonry is also extremely advantageous as there is only one trade on site. This avoids many of the delays due to communication and coordination.

The main reason for the increased demand for these types of structures is that there is a demonstrated track record that these benefits do not come at a significant cost premium.

Masonry is a cost competitive alternative to wood structure for mid-rise construction while providing all the benefits of non-combustible construction and can also extend into higher-rising structures (6 to 12 Storeys) with relative ease to be a great alternative to typical concrete construction. This information has always been known to the masonry industry but with multiple different cost analyses and more loadbearing masonry buildings being built every year, more people are catching on that multi-storey masonry structures are an excellent design choice.

Explore the advantages of Loadbearing Masonry

Interested in learning more? Equipping designers with the knowledge and resources for your next project

What are the next steps for someone looking for more information?

Click below for the full complement of available options to empower you as a designer. Talk to an engineer at CMDC, check out our design software, order a copy of our textbook, or feel free to use other Canadian and international resources available from other organizations.

Skeptical? Check our math

Full Study including design drawings, scheduling, budget, and even structural drawings is available as part of the full cost study

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The Canada Masonry Design Centre helps members of the design community across the country by connecting them to the resources and supports they need. Contact us today and get the conversation started!

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