Masonry Arch

By Robert Robillard on arch, Design

Arch Structures

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I love architecture and I love arches.

Masonry arch structures are curved architectural details that span an opening and support loads  above it.  today we see arches employed in high end construction, tunnels,  bridges and of course old buildings.

A Long history

The masonry Arch appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and the Romans were the first to apply the arch technique in bridges, aqueducts and other structures.

How do Arches work?

Masonry Arch construction depends essentially on  a series of wedge-shaped masonry blocks.   The blocks are called voussoirs and are cut and fitted so they   press firmly against the surface of adjacent blocks.  The tight fitting structure of these blocks carries structural load uniformly.



Brick arches and masonry arches can span much wider openings than masonry lintel or horizontal headers do.

An arch can also carry a much greater load than a horizontal beam can support because the downward pressure on an arch has the effect of forcing the voussoirs together instead of apart.

The Keystone

The top central voussoir is called the keystone and is often larger and decorative.

Incorporating a masonry arch into your construction can add an architectural element as old as the ancient Romans.






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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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