Comments: 196 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

Lady-Mcncheese57 karma

Do you have any advice for people who are just starting in this business?

IllstudyYOU42 karma

As a boss or as an employee ? As a Bricklayer or as a helper?

Lady-Mcncheese33 karma

As a small construction company owner.

IllstudyYOU241 karma

Efficiency is key. 3 Masons for every helper and a forklift driver unless its stone work, if its stone work it's 5 masons for 2 helpers, or 2 Masons with 1 helper. Masons put most of their energy in the mornings. If you can, start nice and early, and leave nice and early. Most efficient hours are starting from 7-3, where lunch break is taken at noon. Have more scaffolds/arms/brackets/planks than you need. Also......dont hire talkers. They fuck the dog. The shy quiet type is the way to go in Masonry because it takes A LOT of FOCUS to be a good bricklayer. The ones who talk the most will more than likely do the sloppiest work. Cleanliness is key. Not all bricks are 100% straight, and i dont care how good of a mason you are.... but if its clean and spotless? Most wouldn't notice that 1 brick that's tilted. You usually get paid by completion of walls. For example a builder will pay out per wall completion and/or per house completion. Where im at, its usually a per wall completion. I dont know where you live, but over here, it costs 650 dollars per day, per employee. So if your crew is 5 people, it will cost you 3250 per day for workers alone. Doesnt include fuel, maintenance, and/or the builder provides you with the sand, cement, paper, plastic/etc.

My last piece of advice is if you've never worked Masonry before, and want to open a Masonry company, you will fail. If you dont know what the fuck is going on, you won't notice the mistakes, and mistakes are costly as fuck. There are too many variables in brick that can make a company go bankrupt in a heartbeat. Last but not least, for fuck sakes, safety first. I've been a mason for 15 years and i've had to bury 2 friends from falls. Both falls were caused by broken planks that the forklift driver didn't screen out when setting up scaffolds. Its a dangerous ass job for the workers and highly stressful job for the bosses because mistakes can cost you thousands and cost you the lives of your employees. A single brick from 6 feet can kill you. A fall from 3 feet can kill you. Scaffolds can collapse, fork lifter can run someone over, hell ive seen entire walls collapse. If you are not on top of your game, you will h ave a bad time.

IWasBornInThisPit22 karma

This advice reminded me of some of the descriptions of masonry in a great book, “Pillars of The Earth” by Ken Follet. Have you read?

IllstudyYOU15 karma

No but sounds cool. Ima check that out.

cg0011 karma

How much would you pay a forklift driver? And how would I go about getting into construction company.

IllstudyYOU2 karma

In Toronto Canada where im at , a forklift driver gets 41 per hour plus union benfits. 10% vacation pay, dental, free weed, the works.

Just get trained on either a Zoom boom, or a forklift like this https://www.google.com/search?q=load+lifter+forklift&rlz=1C1CHBD_enCA722CA722&sxsrf=ALeKk02vPDw3lL2tTXjamtiNQorAUO3kgQ:1582404154252&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjC-YTsgubnAhWPJzQIHUwdCZ0Q_AUoAXoECBMQAw&biw=1920&bih=969

Once your trained, just cruise job sites and ask if anyone is hiring. Take your boots and hard hat with you. Brick companies want tough and guys with energy. Show some energy.

theampersand41 karma

Is this a model home showcasing every different window model you guys sell?

IllstudyYOU50 karma

Woah woah woah.....i lied, i looked at the photos again. The first one IS a model home. Its being sold for 1.7 million here in Toronto Canada. I did that one last year.

bonzogogogo-68 karma


IllstudyYOU37 karma

I think it looks great !

IllstudyYOU41 karma

No, these particular photos are photos of just some houses we did, a good year after the model houses are built. I hate building model homes. It's annoying. Lots of work gets taken down and built again because the builder will not like a window somewhere, or doesn't like a certain color etc.... I remember this one job site , the colors didn't match, he legit made us demolish the entire house and rebuild it in different color stone or brick. It can be a hassle. But whatever, I get paid hourly. But ya these houses were houses already approved and built. I have countless other photos of houses I've done. ( Some prettier than others ) lol.

deathbyeggplant36 karma

What do other trades do that help and hinder your work?

IllstudyYOU77 karma

Window guys don't make they windows level and are sometimes off by an inch which throws us off. The floor that divides the first floor from the second floor sometimes sticks out as much as 3 inches from the foundation, which in turn makes our walls off level. Foundation guys make off level foundations. These are probably the worst ones that can really make masonry work look bad, everything else is just another Monday.

feminarsty16 karma

Foundation guy here, just curious to know what's the worst extent of Fuck up you've dealt with in terms of foundations?

IllstudyYOU21 karma

We can deal with wavy, we can deal with off level. We cant deal with cracks.

A crack in the foundation will split the brick the whole way up to the roof.

I've seen semi-detached homes split in 2 from the basement to the singles.

Also sometimes they leave like a pile of fucking cement right on the foundation that we have to cut out with a quickcut. Its fucking annoying lol Also when they dont take the wood out from under the steps at the front or back doors.

DDodgeSilver33 karma

Is it you who keeps the metric system down? https://youtu.be/dSpOjj4YD8c

IllstudyYOU46 karma

Actually no, that's my friend Wilson, hes kind of a dick.

VESTINGboot30 karma

What is a common misconception about your job?

IllstudyYOU29 karma

There isn't that I've heard. Everything you've heard is probably true. Can you name a few so I can tell you wether it's true or not.

VESTINGboot18 karma

That your job is easy, that you guys hide things at the sites and etc. Not saying these are true, but wondered if there was common thing you guys hear.

IllstudyYOU52 karma

It's not easy. It's very hard, sometimes torture. But it's rewarding when a house is done because some are just so damn beautiful.

And hidding things happens often. But hidding things happen in all traits, and some are worse than others and is to the eye of the beholder.

For example, nobody is gonna notice a brick I out backwards, 3 stories up, on a sidewall that's 2 feet from the neighbors house. I'll see it on the way down when the wall is finished and cleaning it. Nobody is history will know about that 1 brick that's backward untill the house gets demolished.

Another example, and I see happen often is lack of wall Tyes. Wall Tyes are used to anchor the brick to the interior walls. The house needs to move as 1 when the foundation inevitably shifts over the course of its life. The wall Tyes makes sure the interior moves with the exterior. I've worked for bosses who skimped on wall Tyes like nobodies business. I didn't know better because I was still an apprentice. Sometimes smaller companies will skimp on material to save money.

SirEarlBigtitsXXVII-4 karma

Is your field comprised mostly of illegals?

IllstudyYOU7 karma

Naw but we got a good mix my crew. We have 2 Canadians ( white ) 3 Portuguese, 1 Brazilian, 1 Angolan and a refugee from Eritrea who lost his brother and sister to war. He still has bullets and shrapnel in his body. His name is Mike and he's a cool fellow.

kidicarus8914 karma

If I pulled some bricks from a poorly built wall in front of my house, can I repurpose them into a brick patio in the backyard? Or should I buy the larger paving stones for that?

IllstudyYOU42 karma

Bricks for walls are not designed for the floor. They will degrade within a couple years. You need specifically made stones/bricks for interlocking on the ground.

fourpuns3 karma

Small sample size but we took a bunch of salvaged brick and made a brick path. It’s not a patio but just some sand and what not and is now several years old.

Occasionally a brick breaks and I usually just ignore it but there is a section with steps where I have replaced two :p

If you have free brick laying around I think you can use it for your own path pretty easy. Wouldn’t make a good patio imo but for a path it’s been great.

IllstudyYOU16 karma

ya but Bricks for walls are not made for the ground. It will degrade super fast from foot traffic and weather.

XB0XYGEN12 karma

How's your back?

IllstudyYOU22 karma

In pain, constantly.

Pooflinger561811 karma

I live in a stone house with walls up to three feet thick. The front is granite and B,C,and D sides are limestone. It needs some retucking? If thats the right word. Can I get by with not filling the entire depth of the joints? Knowing I need to use soft mortar say no Portland.

IllstudyYOU11 karma

Id need a photo/photos.

IllstudyYOU12 karma

Oh snap. Your house is fucking GORGEOUS.

2nd- buy this tool https://www.homedepot.ca/product/marshalltown-12-in-x-24-in-vinyl-grout-bag/1000131687

Then buy this tool - https://www.krafttool.com/BL264

Then buy this tool - https://export.rsdelivers.com/product/rs-pro/iwi00039/4-row-steel-wire-brush-with-scraper/2076548

Peel the joints by about an inch, with a grinder. Once its all peeled power wash.

Mix your cement. Not to wet where it dirties the wall, and not to dry because it wont come out the wizard hat. Fill joints. Once filled condition the joints with your jointer. Once joints are done pass it with a broom. ( a Push broom head cut in half works well ) Use the wire brush to clean any mortar that fell.

But ya to answer your question 1 inch is enough.

Pooflinger56186 karma

Hey thanks for input. Indepth reply means a lot mate. U do good work BTW.

IllstudyYOU3 karma

Thank you sir and/or ma'am.

MyFriend_BobSacamano11 karma

When will 3D printing take your job?

IllstudyYOU26 karma

probably never. Masonry has a look to it that no machine can replicate with plastic.

MyFriend_BobSacamano16 karma

I mean 3D printing concrete

IllstudyYOU29 karma

They can 3d print the bricks/stone/blocks as much as they like, doesn't change the fact that there are just way too many variables that don't make machines viable to actually lay the brick/stone efficiently, and with human touch and fitness except for maybe building pillars. Not worried one bit about my job being taken by robots, it will never happen......unless the next generation homes are just squares with no windows. Lol

jkohl16 karma

As a dude who has also worked as stone mason, a machine doesn't have "the eye" (as my boss called it) for the artistic laying of stone. A machine can't look at a wall and decide that flipping one stone over will make it better. We worked primarily with found field stone on retaining walls, and it honestly required an artistic touch to placing the stone. We stared at those walls more than we put stone on them. The feeling of success after getting a line of stone just right was too good.

IllstudyYOU18 karma

It's true. Machines don't have critical thinking skills. Sure it can lay a straight wall. But can it spot a chipped brick? Can it condition the mortar joints perfectly? Arches ? Lentils ? Carpenter mistakes ? Machines will never take our jobs unless it's a pillar or a basic straight wall without windows.

LaSalsiccione19 karma

They can’t do those things now but I can assure you that one day, maybe not in our lifetimes, they’ll easily be able the build a house to whatever specifications you tell it to.

IllstudyYOU-7 karma

Of course. There will be a day when a machine can build an entire house from scratch, but specifically masonry work ? Never.

spooniemclovin4 karma

I think you're a bit bias on this one. I get that it's art... And I get that you're an expert... You do great work and I would hire you any day of the week for this. But my field is Automation and my team and I could automate ANYTHING given enough time and money. There will be a breakovet point that it won't take near as much time or money as the industry matures. This will be done by machines in the future 100%... And it'll be done to a precision and tolerance not achievable by human hands.

IllstudyYOU8 karma

I won't be alive by then I think. Lol it's gonna take decades at least. Just wait until I'm retired before you invent the machine please.

ontrial3 karma

I'd stumbled across this video by Vice about a bricklaying robot a couple of years ago: https://youtu.be/2-VR4IcDhX0

Curious to know whether your take on it matches the masons interviewed in the video??

IllstudyYOU6 karma

Woah cool video. This would work well with big industrial buildings that have nice straight walls, but never for residential. I do mostly residential. Sweet video.

anotheruser3010 karma

Are you a member of Stonemasons?

IllstudyYOU32 karma

Negative. Although I can become a member if I wanted. But I'm anti social. I can go a whole work week without speaking a word to my employees unless it's work related. I hate people in general. Lol

dMoisley8 karma

Old school or lasers? Lovely work.

IllstudyYOU11 karma

Lasers. Always lasers lol

ronatello7 karma

What Could I expect to pay for a not-elaborate-but-respectable-looking stone mailbox?

IllstudyYOU11 karma

1000 bucks. Its good to be friends with a Mason because if we were friends, id do it for a case of beer and some dinner because it would legit take like half a day of work as long as you pay for the material. But it costs a lot just to get the brickies out there. Just to get 1 brick changed will cost you 150 bucks.

bikerbomber7 karma

How are a brick and a 300lb white girl the same?

IllstudyYOU30 karma

Their both destined to get layed by me ?

loboda7 karma

My dad was a stonemason/ brickie. Tough gig that pays or has paid well. How do you avoid becoming broken in your later years? Besides the obvious of becoming a boss.

IllstudyYOU10 karma

Having good helpers. Its a hassle if your helper doesnt care about his job and it makes our job way more difficult. If they dont set up the material properly it means 4 hours of unnecessary bending over.

GearsFC3S6 karma

Do even still do full homes in brick?

Around here (NJ) I only ever see brick facades on new homes, but I love the look of a brick home.

Is it too cost prohibitive today or is it more a matter of the builders wanting to be quick?

IllstudyYOU8 karma

Toronto Canada here. Everything is stone and brick. I'd say about 90% of new homes is Brick/Stone.

awesomepawsome5 karma


IllstudyYOU6 karma

You mean flagstone? The stuff you basically glue on to chicken wire? It's not as long lasting but easier to repair. The real natural stone with last centuries, and fabricated stone, will last probably your life and your kids. Brick lasts about 50 years plus, depends on type of brick, weather and how well it's maintained. Fun tip. KEEP YOUR MORTAR JOINTS FULL. The second water is allowed to seep in the cracks it will cause damage.

Throw_away_the_trash4 karma

Do you have children? And if so, do you intend on teaching them your trade?

IllstudyYOU12 karma

No children, I'm single. I'm too tired to go out and mingle.

SinisterCheese3 karma

I'm an engineer student. I just had to write about brick, concrete, and block building. I noticed one thing that was missing in our study materials, which were... slightly too broad and extensive for the purposes of the course.

Why and where you shouldn't use brick or block construction? This is a question that started to bother me, and I couldn't get a good answer. When you as an expert would say that "Don't use bricks, blocks, or stone, use something else". We had a lot about the benefits, styles, uses, and good things about those materials, but not a word was mentioned about their limitations.

My background is in welding, so I know the limitations of steel. I was taught the limitations of wood construction in another course. So now I'd like to know the limitations of this material. Especially since brick, block, and stone building isn't common around here. We only it in prefabricated facades, which is common.

IllstudyYOU3 karma

I wish i could give you the science behind it all. I dont have exact numbers to give you. I bet a structural engineer would have more info. I just build it.

1RandomUsernameAgain2 karma

Are you worried about the lack of interest in the trades by younger generations?

IllstudyYOU3 karma

Yes and no.

The less masons, the higher my wage.

but then again if we have no one to train, builders will just stop building brick houses.

swibbles_mcnibbles2 karma

Do you sign your work in some way, like the old Masons mark? Ever leave a memento in a wall?

IllstudyYOU3 karma

haha i sometimes leave 2 hand marks on the black paper we use before the brick goes up and sign my name.

walkingmydog2 karma

I’m an apprentice bricky, what skills are you looking for the most when you’re hiring a bricklayer?

IllstudyYOU5 karma

Tenacity and willingness to learn. Ive had new guys have a big mouth. Its annoying and makes not want to keep you. Also it will take you decades to master brick. i spent my first year just doing the joints, spreading mortar, and cleaning the walls. My boss wouldn't let me touch a brick until i mastered the basics. They put me on the side wall finally and stayed there for about 7 years. Now i work the fronts and stone work. It takes time to get good. Ever heard the saying it takes 10000 hours to become a master of any job? Well double it for Brick

puronerd2 karma

Masonry is one of the oldest professions. Do you feel like your contributing to it as a profession? Do you only work for the paycheck?

IllstudyYOU6 karma

I dream about my job when sleep. I enjoy it thoroughly.

leakyaquitard2 karma

My dad was a journeyman bricklayer. It’s drove him to distraction when someone would call brick, “bricks”. Do you have a simile aversion?

Secondarily, what does it mean to lay a, “hog in the wall”?

IllstudyYOU3 karma

Either the wall is developing a belly, ( pot belly pig ) or 1 single crooked ass brick that sticks out like a sore thumb.

wesmt2 karma

Seal brick or dont? If so, what sealer on old brick?

IllstudyYOU5 karma

Never sealed in my life. Couldnt give you an honest answer. My company doesn't seal.

drfarren2 karma

I live in the south and have a wood frame chimney that is in need of an overhaul. I want to rebuild it in stone. What should I watch out for?

Chimney is a 2x4 wood frame with 80's particleboard siding and a metal chute for the exhaust. It sits on a piece of foundation that sticks out from the main foundation of the house. Home has red brick, but I'd prefer use stone that compliments the brick color and look (as opposed to just more red brick). The ground is a bit soft as our ground water is only a few dozen feet below surface (we can't have basements here for that reason).

IllstudyYOU1 karma

I'd need photos. Is it a bungalo? 2 story?

gra-v-t2 karma

Your views /comments on free masons?

IllstudyYOU2 karma

They do a lot of charity work no? I've never actually researched what they do.

Beard_of_Valor2 karma

Can you rip a cast iron pan in half? I met a stone mason and I think he was pound for pound the strongest person I've ever met by about 60%. We're talking playable-character-to-NPC numbers.

IllstudyYOU18 karma

I'll do it with my teeth, and poop you out screws!

But yea, our arms and chests are strong as fuck, but our backs are as fragile as Donald Trumps ego.

AnalLeaseHolder1 karma

Why are you guys so secretive? People just wanna know what you’re doing. Why the rings?

Edit: I can’t reply cause comments are locked, but thanks for getting the joke.

IllstudyYOU3 karma

We are a focused bunch. One thing i noticed about us brickies is we have to analyze everything at every angle and perspective. We're quiet because we are in deep thought analyzing all the data. Situation awareness is our motto. The rings give us magic powers. Who else do you think built the pyramid on Mars?

illlew1 karma

How do you tackle efflorescence on your pointing ?

IllstudyYOU2 karma

Power wash with acid solution. https://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-clean-brick-with-acid

This happens when you lay wet/frozen or even damp brick.

trgTyson1 karma

Hey Mark, I don't have photos handy at the moment, will try to get some in the next day or two. But our house in the Durham region has some bricks close to where they meet the field stone foundation that are looking like they are eroding/along with the mortar around them (some have started to crack too). Same with the field stone foundation has some old lime mortar that's starting to breakdown. Mind if I send you some photos for your opinion in the next day or two?

IllstudyYOU2 karma

yea send em over.

dasponge1 karma

Do you work at all with fieldstone foundations? There’s all kinds of conflicting advice online for repointing - type s mortar, nhl 3.5 lime only, straight Portland cement, etc. I’ve got a fieldstone foundation in the northeast and the inside is really crumbling, but I’ve been stuck on what’s the right way to repoint it.

IllstudyYOU2 karma

Where im from we use concrete foundations, and not stones. Can't really give you advice on that one. The lime is great for waterproofing though and Type S is your best bet for compression stresses.

TheShacoSenpai1 karma

How many 8x8x16's can you lay in an hour if you don't have to mix for yourself?

IllstudyYOU1 karma

No idea , I don't count. I don't use 16 inch often.

Elbeske1 karma

Are you a member of the Freemasons?

IllstudyYOU3 karma


TreacherousDoge1 karma

I have a flat roof and a 3ft tall chimney on top that is getting unstable. Should I try rebuilding it myself or hire it? I’m pretty useful in carpentry but haven’t fiddled with masonry

IllstudyYOU3 karma

I'd hire someone if i were you. Here is a tip to not pay as much. Tear it down yourself, go to a job site with bricklayers, and ask if someone wants to do a chimney for cash. You'll save a few bucks by not going through a contractor for a small job.

Anyone who attempts brick for the first times in their lives, especially a chimney is gonna have a miserable time. It will be crooked, and dirty, and i bet my next pay check on that lol Chimney, especially small square ones are probably the most annoying/hardest thing to do as a bricklayer. Its tedious and you need to use your level hundreds of times. Any slight deviation will throw it off course and it will start listing to one side.

HiFi_ate_my_RX1 karma

Hi u/illstudyyou quick question- I have a backyard paver patio, and I want to build a fire pit somehow off of the side of it. I don’t have any left over pavers to work with, so what do you recommend? And the best way to build the pit?

IllstudyYOU2 karma

Interlock is the way to go. Cement will crack from the heat.

NotVerySmarts1 karma

My favorite part of the trades is learning about the apprentice & journeyman (or master) relationship. What do the new guys do to earn their keep, and how do you find time to pass your skills along to them?

IllstudyYOU7 karma

50 hour work weeks. New guys ? What new guys....Nobody wants this job.

We're a dying breed and there is Masonry shortage where im at. ( Toronto Canada ) But i dont mind, makes my wage go up and up and up! A brickie in Toronto as hourly can make almost 100k a year before taxes

Sean_Dubh1 karma

Do you build a lot of chimneys?

IllstudyYOU5 karma

Yes! But non functional ones now. Nobody burns shit no more so its all just cosmetic.

Jamabope1 karma

Have there been any jobs you completed just fine and were aboslutely not happy with the results? Not necessarily because of your own errors, but maybe the type/colour matching of brick or shape of house or whatever?

I'm in structural steelwork and i make things as compact/tidy as i can in my design and sometimes clients are like "NO! It's THIS way or NOTHING!" and i'm like aaaaaaallright, it's your job...while rolling my eyes but still doing a great job of something i personally think is crap. Know what i mean?

IllstudyYOU3 karma

Yeh a few times. But its not our call. Its the homeowners or the builders if were doing model homes. Ive torn down whole houses because the builder during coffee break was like " Meh, that shit is ugly, tear it down " Were like whatever man, money is money as long as your paying us lol.

queloquemmg0 karma

Where do you get off ? How fucking dare you ?

IllstudyYOU10 karma


queloquemmg6 karma

You’re not just a brick layer you’re an artist. I love brick and stone houses. I don’t own one yet but I will definitely be a stoner one day.

IllstudyYOU7 karma

I always say I wanna change the name of the company to " stoners masonry " but I don't think it would work hahahah

IllstudyYOU4 karma

And thank you for your lovely compliment. It's a very hard job, but very fulfilling knowing it's the first thing a home owner sees when purchasing a house.