Theoretical and empirical studies on the shear loading capacity of clay brick masonry

Research project conducted by the Research Alliance of the Clay Brick and Tile Industry Regd. (FGZ)
Project number
AiF 15211 N
Project funded by
BMWi through the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations “Otto von Guericke” Regd. (AiF)
Implemented by
Brick Research Institute Essen Regd. (IZF)
Project manager
Dr.-Ing. Michael Rossbach

1 Background

Objective of the research project was the more precise description of the load-bearing behaviour of masonry built with vertically perforated clay bricks under shear load. Basis for this was the determination of material laws, especially for the description of the fracture behaviour of the building materials, which were determined in tests on small specimens. Under application of these material laws, the shear loading behaviour was analysed in numerical simulations and comparative shear tests.


2 Problem description

The load-bearing capacity of clay brick masonry exposed to shear loading is crucially influenced by the strength properties of the masonry bricks under tensile and compressive load. The design methods currently anchored in German and European regulations are inadequate in their reflection of the actual shear loading behaviour of masonry. Basis for the more precise description of the shear loading behaviour, especially of the fracture behaviour, is the determination of the material laws of the masonry bricks under tensile and compressive stress as well as of the joints between the masonry bricks and the thin-bed mortar under tensile and shear stress.

3 Procedure

In the scope of this research work, empirical and theoretical studies were conducted, which in future are to enable more accurate calculation of shear strength while avoiding cost-intensive element tests and to form the basis for the derivation of analytical calculation methods. In some cases the material laws were derived direct from the empirical studies, in some cases an inverse determination was performed based on numerical simulation of the tests conducted. A vertically perforated brick optimized for shear-loaded masonry in the scope of the European research project ESECMaSE with continuous longitudinal web elements (vertically perforated brick A) and a commercially available masonry brick (vertically perforated brick B) with staggered web arrangement were chosen. They were combined with a thin-bed mortar matched to the masonry brick properties.


4 Results

The empirical studies on shear loading capacity showed no significant influence of the perforation pattern. Masonry built with type B bricks with a higher tensile strength in the longitudinal direction of the brick showed a somewhat higher shear loading capacity in all normal force geometry conditions. The loadable horizontal forces were in the order of magnitude already known from tests conducted in the scope of the EU research project ESECMaSE.

It could be established that a half-brick overlap ü = 0.5 l in comparison with an overlap of ü = 0.4 h does not influence the level of the maximum loadable horizontal load.

The ten shear tests on storey-high walls were simulated with an FE model of the wall element. The anisotropy and heterogeneity of the bricks makes the computational description of the shear failure of wall elements more difficult compared to that of homogeneous and isotropic materials. The model used could not be acceptably validated on the basis of the comparison with the available test results.


This project of the Research Alliance of the Clay Brick and Tile Industry Regd (FGZ) was funded under the project number AiF 15211 N by the BMWi through the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations “Otto von Guericke” Regd. (AiF). It was realized by the Brick Research Institute Essen Regd (IZF). The final report is 101 pages long and available for a handling fee from the Research Alliance of the Clay Brick and Tile Industry Regd in Berlin.




Related articles:

Issue 2011-10

Combined load-bearing behaviour of non-reinforced and reinforced masonry elements constructed with clay masonry blocks filled with standard concrete

1 Background Currently, the primary application of filled clay block masonry is the construction of walls with high apparent density and commensurably good sound insulation. As here neither the...

Issue 2012-7-8

Optimization of the strength properties of clay masonry bricks

1 Introduction and objective The shear loading capacity of stiffening masonry walls is playing an increasingly important role in the realization of construction projects. Current developments,...

Issue 2012-12

Application of the capacity spectrum method to the theoretical verification of masonry structures under seismic loading

1 Context and formulation of problem By tradition, the design of masonry structures subject to seismic loads is initially linear and based on anticipated loads. The nonlinear structural safety margins...

Issue 2013-10

Energy aspects of incorporating heavy metal companion minerals into clay masonry units via combustion-engineering measures in a tunnel kiln

1 Introduction and objectives Uniform national provisions concerning the reuse of industrial by-products and recycled materials are currently lacking in Germany. The planned alternative building...

Issue 2014-08

Energy-conserving method for obtaining highly porous structures in brick clay

Context and formulation of problem Vertically perforated clay bricks are highly porosity enhanced wall-building masonry units displaying low thermal conductivity. The thermal conductivity of stuffed...