Our Construction Services
Universal Masonry Group is a full service masonry contractor able to fufill any and all masonry needs. See in-depth descriptions of our services below.
What We Do
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Tuckpointing becomes mandatory when mortar joints have cracked, flaked, or disintegrated due to the abrasive effects of the elements. Although the right material and technique are enough to deliver a water-tight job, Universal Masonry Group believes appearance is also a top priority. Our skilled crews carefully select the proper mortar mix and tools to compliment your existing mortar color and profile.
Penetrating moisture not only weakens the mortar that bonds the masonry units together, it also promotes premature deterioration of brick. If moisture finds its way into a defect on the brick and freezes, it will cause the brick to spall, deflect or displace. Once this happens, the brick is rendered useless as it offers no structural support to the masonry wall. Removing defective brick will prevent water damage from spreading to the healthy and sound brick remaining. Universal Masonry Group works with a variety of brick suppliers to insure you the closest match to your existing brick when masonry repair is required.
- Replacement of Spalling or Cracked Brick
- Resetting of Deflected or Displaced Brick
- Rebuilding of Leaning or Bowing Brick Walls
- Parapet Wall Rebuilding
- Firewall Rebuilding
- Infills / Cut-Outs
Limestone, Renaissance Stone, Sandstone, Terra Cotta are all different types of stone facades that Universal Masonry Group repairs. Stone is particularly porous and needs special attention to keep it looking appealing. Most of the time the stone in question becomes discolored or dislodged and Universal Masonry Group is contacted to clean, patch, reset, or replace it. Another common culprit that erodes stone surfaces is deicing salts. The salts etch the surface of the stone and slowly wear down its integrity. After the stone façade is properly repaired, waterproofing is highly recommended to stop the intrusion of water and chemicals.
- Replacement of Spalling or Disintegrating Stone
- Pinning/Stabilization of Deflected stone
- Resetting of Displaced or Dislodged stone
- Patching of Stone
- Capstone/ Clay Coping Replacement
- Stone Sill Resetting/Replacement
- Power washing of Stone
Lintels (angle irons), I-Beams and C-Channels with welded plates are all used to bridge openings within masonry walls. They are imperative in carrying the cumulative load of multi-floor heights of masonry.
If these crucial steel members corrode and bow, the structural stability of the masonry wall becomes questionable. Faulty lintels will cause the masonry shores to sag, skew or worst case fall off. For this reason it is vital that lintels be replaced if found defective.
In addition, all openings should have a proper flashing system installed to divert water out and away from the interior of the opening. Flashing with drip wicks are necessary components to keep steel lintels, C-Channels, and I-Beams from corroding.
Chimneys are usually the first part of a masonry building to manifest signs of deterioration. This is mostly due to the fact that chimneys are constantly bombarded by the elements. Resting above the roofline virtually defenseless, chimneys do not have any roof or gutter system to divert water away from them as on the main part of your brick building.
A simple hairline crack in your chimney capstone, if neglected, can cause serious damage. Water penetration through a failed cap can cause the top courses of your chimney to disintegrate to the point where masonry repair is mandatory. When the majority of the brick on a chimney are spalling, flaking, cracking, displacing or even missing it is time to rebuild it with new masonry units.
Caulking is one of Universal Masonry Group’s value added services as it uses the rigging already in place for our core tuckpointing and masonry restoration procedures. It is also another preventative maintenance device for thwarting leaks. An open caulk joint can cause the same amount of damage as a void within a mortar joint can, by allowing unwelcome water into your buildings.
Universal Masonry Group implements a variety of sealant products depending on job specifications. Polyurethane, silicone, and butyl rubber caulk are commonly used to form a watertight seal to all types of perimeter, control and expansion joints.
Waterproofing is a common preventative maintenance service that can minimize your masonry’s exposure to water damage. Just as tuckpointing will safeguard your mortar, waterproofing will shield your masonry from wind driven and saturating rains.
Likely candidates for waterproofing include smooth/splitface concrete block, limestone, renaissance stone, single wythe brick veneer walls, and sandblasted/waterblasted common brick as they are all particularly porous. Universal Masonry Group also recommends sealing all types of masonry after any sort of rebuilding process is completed in order to sustain the new masonry work.arr
A standard Rilem Tube test is used by Universal Masonry Group to determine water intrusion resistance and deflection. Once the saturation level is known, Universal Masonry Group can predict which type of waterproofing material would be most effective on the masonry facade in question. Universal Masonry Group utilizes two types of waterproofing agents: siloxane clearcoat and elastomeric colorcoat. Both products bond chemically to the substrate of the brick, block or stone and allow them to breathe. Siloxane agents are rolled or sprayed onto the masonry and do not change the appearance of the façade at all. Typically, clearcoat agents are applied to brick and stone surfaces. Elastomeric sealants are decorative coatings that are hand brushed on to the masonry and come in a variety of colors. Due to the porosity of concrete block, the elastomeric sealants are the best option for splitface and smooth block surfaces. Water can penetrate straight through the block allowing moisture/condensation to form on the interior of the block, in between the studs, insulation and drywall. If not addressed, mold and other toxic spores can form between your walls creating a health risk to you and your family. Once the elastomeric paint is applied it locks out moisture and prevents drafts. Universal Masonry Group’s waterproofing applications are for above grade vertical surfaces exclusively. Waterproofing agents do require re-applications every so often as the products breakdown over time. Maintenance cycles of 3-5 years are recommended.
In addition to tuckpointing and masonry repair, Universal Masonry Group also provides cleaning services for brick and stone. Power Washing is a relatively safe and cost effective method of furnishing your masonry building with a fresh new look. It is usually requested on older buildings where heavy pollution and traffic fumes have left their mark over the years.
Atmospheric dirt, carbon, mold and algae are all common deposits defacing brick surfaces. Chemicals, with the aid of a pressure washer, can work wonders to uncover the original look of your brick. The chemical is sprayed on to the masonry or stone surface then power rinsed off. Stubborn deposits are treated with a waterblasting method which incorporates both water and silica sand. Universal Masonry Group pays special attention to preparing the worksite prior to any cleaning process to insure protection of exposed windows, doors, and landscaping.
Split Face Block Repair
We have noticed an increase in the amount of calls to our office relating to water permeation and damage on new construction (buildings only 1-3 years old). You would not think that new buildings would have such issues but we have considerable evidence to the contrary. In fact, we are providing you with two recent articles (one from the Chicago SunTimes and one from the Chicago Tribune) remarking on how prevalent these problems are.
Undoubtedly these leaking issues derive from initial workmanship flaws coupled with an inferior building material. Summer months can bring temperatures as high as 120 degrees on block walls which are directly exposed to the sun. Block walls exposed to the wind, snow and ice can drop the wall temperature to 20 or 30 degrees below zero. These temperature extremes expand and contract the block units creating small hairline cracks within the mortar joints and often within the block themselves. If water penetrates these cracks and freezes the cracks get larger. This pattern is repeated every freeze/thaw cycle. The same thing happens during the settling of a newly constructed block wall building. As the new foundation shifts it puts pressure on different areas of the building causing structural cracks within the mortar joints. Vibration from traffic and construction also puts stress on the block facade exacerbating the cracking of the mortar joints.
To combat these complaints Universal Masonry Group has devised a preventative maintenance program addressing each new construction problem and its solution. The following photos illustrate these serious workmanship concerns.
Any type of concrete pad, whether it be a balcony floor or a pedestrian walkway, will have repair issues. Concrete alone has a tendency to crack and matters could be exacerbated by standing water, outdoor carpet, deicing salts, chemicals, oils and gasoline. All of these could contribute to the decay of your concrete decking/flooring.
Detecting any cracking, pitting or leaking is indicative that your concrete deck needs restoration. If repairs are ignored, water infiltration into the substrate could systematically destroy the concrete and impair the infrastructure of the steel support members.
The method of repair starts with resurfacing the deck which involves etching, detailing and patching of structural cracks, voids, and pitted concrete. This is followed by the application of a polyurethane basecoat and a protective topcoat which flexes and expands to bridge any future shrinkage cracks or failed patches. In addition to providing a durable non-skid surface, this waterproof coating system protects occupied areas underneath from water damage and comes in a variety of colors to suit your needs.
Universal Masonry Group inspects all types of masonry buildings from single family residences to multifamily housing associations. Here is a checklist of what our estimators look for when we perform a critical inspection:
- Hairline or previously repaired cracks in the parapet wall capstone joints and the interior of the parapet walls. If there is metal coping we inspect both horizontal and vertical seams for openings.
- Termination bar where the roof flashing is anchored to the interior of the parapet wall must be caulked.
- Perimeter caulking around any windows or doors leading to the roof access to see if there are cracks or holes allowing water to penetrate…in many instances on new construction, it was never done.
- Roof flashing and deck for open seams or punctures.
- Penthouse with Dri-Vit terminating at a vertical cinder block wall – check the seams.
- Pitched roof terminating at the gutters, we inspect the size of the gutter and downspout to make certain that it can handle the correct capacity of water runoff in a heavy rain. We also check that the flashing was installed under the roof shingles emptying into the gutter, not running behind the gutter and down the fascia board.
- Flat roof with a slight pitch: the parapet walls will have openings with galvanized water collection boxes for water runoff into the downspouts… we inspect the seams where they anchor to the wall for cracks or voids.
- Ponding of water on the roof deck.
- Interior roof parapet walls built of concrete block (if exposed) should be sealed with an Elastomeric Sealer or they will allow water into the walls and the top floor unit.
- Projections for HVAC, plumbing and electrical on roofs are checked to make sure they were properly installed – not just caulked or tarred over. A watertight rubber sleeve should have been installed under the shingles extending + 6” above the shingles or roof deck.
Brick / Concrete Block Walls
- Chimneys with a metal cap at the top have to be pitched otherwise water will pond at the top and drip into the firebox.
- Wall projections (pipes, vents, electrical and plumbing) are inspected for missing or improperly installed backer rod or caulk.
- Mortar joints for areas of missing or defective mortar, step cracks or stress cracks
- Lintels are checked above window and door openings for the presence of flashing and drip wicks.
Limestone sill joints and returns are inspected for cracking or openings.
Perimeter caulking of all window and door openings are inspected for evidence of caulk failure.
- Vertical control joints are checked for failing caulk and if there is vertical cracking in walls over 40’ long a control joint should be installed.
- Gutter and downspouts are looked at to make sure they are the right size and if the roof is flat gutter cables should be present to prevent ice damming over the winter.
- Flashing and weep systems are checked to see if they are present above all windows, doors and at each floor level.
- Porosity of the block is checked for water infiltration
Do you have water leaks that have penetrated through or behind your brick, block or stone walls promoting the growth of toxic mold? Are your windows and door frames sealed? Is your masonry building efficiently insulated? Do you have gaps in your insulation resulting in cold drafts and high utility bills? If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these questions, Universal Masonry Group can help!!
- Leak Detection: With infrared imaging technology, Universal Masonry Group will locate the most probable sources of the leak and identify any damaged components on the exterior of your masonry building. Our leak detection services are for above grade vertical masonry facades exclusively (brick/block/stone). Recommendations will be made detailing the corrective measures necessary to resolve the moisture penetration problem and offer cost effective solutions to maximize your buildings efficiency.
- Energy Efficiency Audits: Universal Masonry Group will thoroughly inspect your home, apartment, office or condominium complex for any flaws in your exterior masonry façade. This is an all inclusive program covering exterior walls, windows, and doorways where heat can escape. Upon completion of the inspection, recommendations will be made outlining the scope of work necessary to repair breaches within your masonry buildings infrastructure.
- Corrective Measures: Universal Masonry Group has the capability to repair most deficiencies found within your exterior masonry envelope. Our crews specialize in masonry restoration techniques including tuckpointing, caulking and waterproofing… all of which will minimize energy loss.