Arches are decorative elements formed over wall openings in a building. These are erected over door, window or any opening into rooms like lounges or dining rooms. Brick arches can be horizontal or curved. Usually the height is about a foot. They are essentially not load bearing. They should therefore carry very minimal loads apart from ring beams that are reinforced with steel. The arch acts like a lintel or a bridge above wall opening in a building and should be strong to carry its own weight.
Brick arches use the units arranged in a vertical manner. Different designs can be arranged to give good aesthetics to the opening. The spans should not be very wide, this is to avoid buckling at the center. When using bricks, it is wise to choose well burned and hard ones to avoid them crushing when pressed together. The mortar to be used should be fine sifted sand mixed with cement. This should be one part cement and three parts sand or any other approved fine aggregate.
Before the construction of a brick arch commences, the wall should be erected. A good height to start an arch is about seven feet from the finished floor level. This will allow only one or two courses to the ceiling level in a domestic house. The work starts with constructing a template form work. This has a curved surface on which the bricks are laid on top. After they are dry and can take there self weight then it is removed.
The arch construction starts with laying the bricks the longer side up. Some mortar is spread on the arched form work. Each brick is aligned as they are laid. The gaps formed between each brick are triangular shaped. Strong mortar is with a good consistency is poured in. The circular formation is then allowed to dry for at least one week. The action of holding them together is by the resistance of the bricks to slide down due the mortar. The form work is carefully removed and pointing done. When building a course above the arch, reinforcements are laid first.