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Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

The ACE Mentor Program of Eastern Pennsylvania and Turner Construction Company recently held a unique learning session for Cheltenham High School participants, treating students to a hands-on demonstration of masonry wall construction.  Representatives from masonry contractor D. M. Sabia & Co. were kind enough to lend their time to teach and demonstrate the construction of an exterior masonry wall.  The demo provided a perfect accompaniment to the ACE program which, over the previous six sessions, brought the students on a journey through architecture, engineering, design development, cost estimating, and construction management, utilizing the recently-completed Wyncote Elementary School as a case study.

Turner Project Executive Bill Swanson began the session by reviewing exterior wall construction details from the Wyncote Elementary School construction drawing set.  Next, the students moved outside to construct the actual wall.  They first learned how to mix mortar and then watched as the CMU block wall was established.  Next, the students learned how to install a ‘peel & stick’ vapor barrier membrane with flashing, followed by the rigid cavity insulation.  They then proceeded to take turns ‘buttering’ bricks and laying brick courses.  The students were taught the importance of water protection and shown how flashing and weep holes permit the escape of moisture from the wall.  Finally, the students learned about the different finish joints and even took a stab at using a ‘jointer’ to strike joints in the mortar.  After one final photo opportunity, three of the students happily joined forces to topple the wall, punctuating the end of a unique learning experience.

Video was provided by The Cheltenham High School Media Club.