Many masonry buildings suffer distress. Proper design and detailing, in most cases, could have reduced the distress to acceptable levels or
eliminated it completely. One common cause of distress is stress cracking of masonry elements caused by the absence or improper spacing of movement joints. The proper use of expansion joints or
crack-control joints is not well understood.
The maximum horizontal spacing between vertical control joints in concrete masonry walls is determined by: the local average annual
relative humidity; whether the concrete masonry units are moisture controlled or nonmoisture controlled; the vertical spacing of bed joint reinforcement; and exposure to weather.
Expansion joints are used in brick masonry to allow for movement and avoid cracking. This Technical Notes defines the different types of movement joints used in building construction. Equations are given to determine the proper size and spacing of brick expansion joints. .