How to Estimate Masonry Work

by Steve Coffey  // in Masonry


Masonry is an ancient building technique, but it’s still commonly used in construction today. 

What is Masonry?

Masonry uses brick, concrete, and stone to create structures such as walls, buildings and bridges. Masonry work is frequently used in conjunction with other construction trades, such as carpentry and welding.

Masonry is a demanding job requiring an elevated level of skill. To understand this topic further, let’s look into various aspects of masonry and how to estimate masonry work.

Types of Masonry Work 


Veneer is when masons place small and light pieces of stones or bricks on a building’s exterior or to create something like a feature wall or chimney. 

It is usually added to give the appearance of stone without being as expensive or heavy as solid stone. 


Masons use thicker stones or bricks to provide durability to structures. This type of masonry is typically used under load-bearing structures where walls and bridges are added. 

What You’ll Need for Masonry Work

Masonry Material

Commonly used masonry materials are:

  • Brick 
  • Stone 
  • Concrete CMUs

You can also check your local hardware store for essential tools such as a chisel, trowel, tape measure, level and broom to help you with your tasks. 

Mortar Vs. Grout: The Difference

A brown brick mason wall.

Mortar and grout are two of the most used materials in masonry work. Although both can function as binding agents, they serve different purposes. 

Let us look at their definition below.


Masons use mortar to hold building materials such as bricks and stones together. 

These are usually made of a mixture of lime, cement and sand. The ratio for these combinations will depend on the project you are working on. 

To ensure bricks or concrete are kept in place, mortar is placed between the joints of the blocks. In the same way, a mortar bed is usually laid before adding tiles to the wall or floor. 


Grout is similar to mortar but is made with higher water content. Masons use grout to fill the gaps between tiles as soon as the mortar has cured, ensuring a seamless and level surface.

How to Estimate Masonry Work

People working on an unfinished masonry wall.

Measure the size of the wall to be built

Using a tape measure, you need to determine the size of your wall by measuring its height and length. 

Start by placing the tape measure from one end of the wall to the other. If there are corners and curves along the way, make sure to add these to your measurement. 

For height, place the tape measure from the base to the top. Include any curves or corners as well. 

Once you get the length and height measurements, you can compute the surface area (square footage). Do this by multiplying the length by the height. 

Take, for example, a 10 feet long and 8 feet high wall. To get the square footage, you can do this: 10 x 8 = 80 square feet. 

Determine the number of bricks needed per square foot 

The blocks you’ll use will depend on the project you’re working on. 

Masonry blocks come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, so it’s best to decide first whether your structure requires concrete, brick, or stone materials. 

Once you identify the material to use, you can evaluate the number of bricks needed per square foot. 

Bricks needed (half-brick) = surface area (square feet) x 60 

Bricks needed (one-brick) = surface area (square feet) x 120 

It’s important to note that half-brick walls are not used for load-bearing structures. However, you can use one-brick walls since these be used as a stand-alone structure. 

Get the total number of bricks needed

Industry beginners can refer to this calculation to derive the number of bricks you’ll need per square foot: 

No. of bricks per square foot multiplied by total square ft area = the total number of bricks required

Suppose you’re using an 8″ x 8″ brick for your wall. So: 

Surface area = 8 x 8 = 64 square feet 

60 bricks x 64 square feet = 3,840 bricks 

Estimate the amount of mortar or grout needed

Manufacturers will usually give guidelines on the packaging as to the amount of mortar or grout necessary for your project.

For grout, if you have 80 pounds of concrete mix, this amount will give you 0.6 cubic feet fitting 55 standard bricks. 

For mortar, the standard ratio is 1 part of mortar will cover five parts of bricks. 

You can also take advantage of online grout and mortar calculators to help you derive the best estimates for your construction. 

Other factors to consider for estimating masonry work

Other factors in estimating masonry work are the price of materials you’ll need. Factor in the bricks, mortar, and other resources, so you can budget accordingly. 

The cost of labor is another crucial aspect of any building job. If you’re planning to do this by yourself, skip this aspect. However, if you’re looking to hire a mason, it’s best to ask for an estimate first before starting the project. 

Existing masonry structures should be accounted for as well. Adding a system from an existing wall would mean removing old barriers. 

Consider the location where masonry work will take place. Is the wall difficult to reach? The harder it is to get the job done, the more cost you’ll need to factor into your budget. 

Buildings with concrete footing should factor in excavation and concrete costs. Moreover, you should factor in the depth of the base, size and type of concrete in your building expense. 

Seasonality is another consideration for any masonry work. Working under extremely hot or cold conditions will impact your building budget. 

Wintry weather will usually prevent the mortar from curing quickly, causing delays in your project. For hot weather, the mason needs to ensure bricks are moist enough to prevent them from drying too quickly in the heat.

Masonry can be challenging and time-consuming. However, by calculating the amounts of all materials, labor costs and resources needed before the start of the project, you are ensuring the quality of work, budget and schedule will be spot on. 


How is masonry priced?

Masons usually charge by the square foot or by the project. They will consider the labor costs, materials, and overhead costs needed to ensure quality results. 

How is masonry material calculated?

The simplest way to calculate masonry material is to determine the total number of square feet for every wall and divide the surface area. It should show you the number of cubic yards needed for that specific section.

How much does a masonry wall cost per square foot?

Depending on the wall and height measurement, materials required, and types of blocks used, the cost will vary. On the national average, masonry walls cost about $10 to $17. 

What is included in masonry works?

In most cases, masonry work will consist of the following: 

  • Excavation 
  • Masonry units (e.g., bricks, blocks, stone) 
  • Mortar and grout 
  • Caulking 
  • Waterproofing materials 
  • Flashing 
  • Reinforcing materials 
  • Drainage materials 
  • Masonry sealer 

How do you calculate wall materials?

When computing for the mortar and concrete, you only need to identify the surface area for each wall. Then divide this number by 144 (a number allotted for code regulations) to derive the cubic yards. 


Two people working on a masonry wall.

Planning is essential when it comes to masonry projects. By estimating the materials and labor needed, you can be sure your project will stay on budget and schedule. 

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About the author Steve Coffey

I am passionate about the building materials industry helping companies all throughout the channel see success and exceed the expectations of their audiences

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