Learn about the most common types of wall and ceiling construction.
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Masonry houses have block, stone or brick as the structure for the house. While living spaces with block walls have finished interiors, garages and outbuildings may have unfinished walls.
Exterior Masonry Walls
These are usually made up of two layers of masonry. The two layers of a cavity wall are held together by metal wall ties. The cavity may contain insulation and a vapor barrier.
The internal and external layers are made of brick, with no cavity between the layers of masonry.
Brick and Block With Cavity
The external brick layer provides the finished exterior look. The internal layer is of blocks, and requires a finish. Wall ties connect both leaves.
A modern construction that uses thick, thermally efficient blocks to create a solid wall.
Block and Block With Cavity
Both layers are made of modern blocks, so both the interior and exterior faces need finishing. Wall ties connect both leaves.
This may use one or two layers of stone — the space between layers is often filled with broken stone and mortar. Sometimes the external face is stone and the internal brick.
Stone and Block With Cavity
An external layer of natural stone provides the finished look, while the internal layer is of blocks that need finishing. Wall ties connect both leaves.
These are the walls inside a building, dividing it into rooms. They may be loadbearing or non-loadbearing.
Modern ones are built of a single layer of bricks, though older ones may have two layers.
A modern wall will be one layer, but an older one may be made of several layers of stone blocks.
Any of these finishes can go on any masonry wall, whether it is the internal layer of an exterior wall or either side of an interior wall.
Render and Plaster
A coat of render or undercoat is covered with a layer of finishing plaster to give a smooth wall surface — getting this right requires considerable skill.
Taper-edged drywall can be attached to a wall. The seam between the boards is taped, and filled with a filling compound (joint compound). The compound is applied in three layers before being sanded smooth with the surrounding drywall surface. The whole wall surface is then ready for further decoration. The drywall may be attached to the wall with screws.
Straight-edged drywall can be attached to a wall, with the joints between boards taped with joint compound, and then plastered over. The drywall may be attached to the masonry using dabs of adhesive, with a wood furring-strip frame, or using metal channels. This avoids the need for render or undercoat, but still demands great skill in plastering to achieve the top layer.
A frame of wooden battens can be attached to the masonry, forming a base for the attachment of wooden panels.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009