How to Read Masonry Blueprints

Though now manufactured by computer, the name

In order to pass skills and competencies tests when training to be a mason, you must be able to read blueprints, including the drawings, written specifications and symbols used in the trade. Masonry focuses on specific parts of a blueprint since it deals only with structures made from units bound together with mortar, such as brick, stone, concrete block, glass block and tile. This means you do not need to learn the symbols of the entire blueprint, though of course it is always better to learn as much as you can for your profession.

Identify the scale of the blueprint. This is usually found next to the title, near the bottom of the page. Usually, it will simply state something like, 1/4". It is up to you to realize this means that every 1/4" on the paper represents 1' in the finished structure. Likewise, 1/8" means 1/8" on the paper is 1' in real life, and so on.

Look for areas that will require masonry. Walls and floors are likely candidates, though many of these may be made from other materials that are not part of your work.

Identify the materials used by referring to symbols. Occasionally, a key will be provided to tell you what various markings mean, but often you are simply expected to have memorized common conventions. For example, diagonal lines spaced far apart represent concrete block, diagonal lines close together represents brick and cross-hatched diagonal lines represent tile.

Read any written instructions that pertain to the masonry areas of the blueprint. Be sure you understand them, and reread them if necessary.

Based in Tucson, Ariz., Elio Lewis has served as a writing tutor since 2005. He received a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Arizona.