Finding your guy: Managing quality with your projects
Flashing and drainage
The masonry industry constantly is dealing with changes. This year, we saw the new Energy Code become a more popular part of our wall construction. Moisture management has become a topic of discussion on its own; mortar has been improved and accepted as a standard when used with the silo dispensing system; and custom color matching of patching products is an everyday thing. And, air barriers are no longer the up-and-coming wall barrier we all must learn about. They are here to stay.
With all the changes mason contractors must become familiar with and experts on, the key to success hinges on every mason contractor having that one guy who will pull him through the project. That one employee who has, time and time again, built projects that had all sorts of issues handled in the field, as if they were no problem.
Now, I mentioned “one guy,” not six or three guys. Why? Because they are very hard to find. Once you have one of these guys on the payroll, you will do whatever it takes to keep him and clone him. He is a part of your quality that you do not need to manage, and it is built in.
Other ways to build in quality to your projects is to use products that take the human factor and reduce it to a level that can be managed using people who are far less talented than “that guy.” Pre-blended mortar has become popular to use for many reasons. The product has superior cement-to-sand ratio based on weight, not volume. The final product is consistently the same color, same texture, and has the same consistency with each batch. Not having clumps and trash that come from shoveling sand on a jobsite also is a plus.
What makes the silo dispensing system so useful is that the labor will not forget to cover the mortar pile at the end of each day; back injuries from shoveling sand are reduced; and site cleanup is much easier and less expensive – all with a product that consistently can be produced to a high level of quality, using an employee who is not “your guy.”
Patching on a masonry project of any size typically is not a big deal. But, depending on where the patch needs to be placed, it can be. A large Indiana Limestone cornice that has a big chip in the corner of the unit will never pass the punch list. Using Cathedral Stone patching mortars, custom formulated patches can be made based on your site sample.
This places the mixing time and color matching in the hands of highly trained chemists, saving you, the mason, materials and labor dollars to mix and create samples and drying/curing time. This is performed for you, for your convenience, to aid you in offering your client a perfect match. You can complete the punch list and get paid.
Sure, you could perform this task the conventional way, but why would you want to spend the time hoping to get it correct, when the manufacturer does this for you? Cathedral Stone takes a complicated patch and simplifies it. The company becomes “that guy.”
Air barriers entered the market years ago, with the technology that was superior to damp proofing and felt paper. But that did not make it an easy sell. There are many aspects to the air barrier industry that take it to many levels requiring certifications and training. However, many mason contractors are well equipped to take on the installation part of the air barrier system. Not all jobs are candidates for the mason contractor, but jobs you can add to your bottom line provide added value to the general contractor when comparing sub-contractor quotations.
It could be the difference between an award and an “almost.” Many mason contractors feel they know just enough to get in trouble with air barriers. But manufacturers are willing to train the mason contractor and provide all the information required to make him successful in his projects.
Manufactures, independent representatives and technical support all work for you. They can inform you of compatibility issues, component choices, penetration procedures and sealant requirements, just to mention a few of the topics for which they can provide assistance. The air barrier manufacturer can inspect your job and make recommendations to assist you in obtaining your warranty. The manufacturer and his team then become “your guys.”
Moisture management is another topic that sounds confusing, but really is not. Moisture management is moving the water that gets into our walls back to the outside, using flashings and weeps. Flashings and weeps have evolved during the last 20 years, becoming better and more efficient. Mortar Net Solutions has created a “that guy” flashing that takes the human factor out of most of the installation.
For instance, TotalFlash does not have to be specified for a contractor to use this product on jobs. They do the same thing in a factory for nearly the same price as conventional flashing, yet offer a labor savings and an incredible warranty. This service allows the project management and the building owners to know that their flashings will include the mortar collection, term bar, proper length of membrane and the drip edge. Nothing will be forgotten or skimped on.
Using one of Mortar Net Solutions’ four membranes, or one of your choices, the TotalFlash System includes having one of Mortar Net Solutions’ engineers perform a take-off, free of charge, for your job – detailing the masonry openings and providing a lintel cut list for your job.
Taking it one step further, they will pre-cut your flashing panels for no additional expense to your project. With all of the individual pieces required to install a complete moisture management system, it is important for a mason contractor to consider end dams and corner boot components as a major part. When end dams, corner boots and specialized sealants are specified, it is a common first thought to think of ways to “make them yourself” or maybe “you can do without those.” But, the reality is that, if you compute the labor and material dollars to the purchase price the factory made components, they generally are faster to install and do not have any seams for leaks to occur.
The industry has many things that have changed in the last 20 years. Building great projects with a great team has not changed. However, now, manufacturers offer teammates as a part of their service specializing in their discipline, allowing you one more “guy” on your team.
One thing that will never change is the pride masons have in every unit we lay, and the hard day of work in which we all participate. The love of being in the masonry industry in the United States of America is real.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Steven Fechino is engineering and construction manager with Mortar Net Solutions, makers of TotalFlash and BlockFlash. For more information, call 800-664-6638, or visit www.mortarnet.com.