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How do I build masonry piers for my log home foundation?

Masonry piers are a more durable foundation than wooden poles, and they are also relatively easy to construct.

You can build them in three different ways:
• 1- Pouring concrete into cylindrical fiber forms.
• 2- Stacking and mortaring masonry-block piers and filling the cores of the blocks with concrete.
• 3- Setting precast piers of solid concrete.

Dealing with a slope: Masonry piers can be used on gently sloping sites, provided the piers and their footing holes are deeper and wider than on a level site.

Note: you may want to consult a building contractor for parts of this job. If the slope is greater than 1 in 10 - 1 foot of rise in every 10 horizontal feet - you should build a continuous wall foundation.

Footings: All three types of masonry piers rest on footings. Footings are a solid concrete base that are wide enough to support the structure above. A footing should be as thick as the width of a pier, and twice as wide.

Dig the holes so the bottom of the footing is 1 foot below ground, or 6 inches below the frost line, whichever is deeper.

Cast cylinders: Fiber tubes 8 inches in diameter and 10 feet long make quick work of casting cylindrical concrete piers. Store them upright and perfectly dry until they are filled. These cylindrical piers can be built to any height, making it easy to set the tops of the piers to the same level.

Masonry blocks: These blocks come in a wide range of sizes. Single-core, 8x12x12 inch blocks make sturdy piers. Level footings for block piers with a water level in the same way you level forms, but mark the height on the reinforcing bars, then measure down from the marks to set the height of the concrete for the footings.

Precast piers: Although simple to install, piers are heavy and difficult to move afterwards. To level their footings, drive stakes into the footing holes, mark stakes with a water level as you would for concrete forms, pour concrete up to the marks, and remove the stakes before the concrete begins to harden. Because they generally come no more than 18 inches high, they are used mainly on level sites that have a shallow frost line.

Recommended books about masonry

Complete Masonry: Building Techniques, Decorative Concrete, Tools and Materials (Paperback) by Steve Cory, Sunset Books

Combining basic to advanced instruction along with projects you will enjoy, this masonry guide covers building paths, patios, and walls using various masonry materials including brick, stone, tile and concrete. Learn how to plan structures, choose materials and know what are the right tools for the job.

Projects included are - building an outdoor barbecue, casting stepping stones and using concrete decorating techniques like acid staining, resurfacing, stamping and tinting. The instructions take you step by step through every phase of the building process using easy-to-understand text and 200 photographs.

Masonry Construction Manual by Pfiefer and Ramcke Achtziger.

Covers technical principles to know when using brickwork for building. Materials used and their properties, the sizes and forms of bricks, bonds and behavior of brickwork under stress.

The methods of building with brick are examined including requirements related to heat, damp, sound-proofing and fire protection. Numerous built examples are presented that include plans and details that illustrate brickwork applications in contemporary construction.

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