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Bond Beam Location

Bond Beam Location

Bond Beam Location

I have seen a note on drawings that requires bond beams to be placed above openings and where shown on plans and shall be placed no greater than 10'-0" OC vertically.  Can anyone tell me where I can find anything that tells where bond beams should be placed, besides the top of the wall or when reinforcing is designed to span between bond beams.  This note is a typical note and applies to all projects even though the reinforcing is designed for a span from foundation to roof.

RE: Bond Beam Location

Typically above openings, a lintel is used, not a bond beam.  
As far as spacing, you need to follow the provisions of ACI 530-02, Section 1.13.  It's dependent on your Seismic Design Class.  You get lower loads if you reinforce to the criteria of, Special Reinforced Masonry Shear Walls which requires bond beams at 48 inch maximum spacing. The 10 ft. spacing is mentioned in Section  It seems excessive to me and I've never seen it used.  But I guess it's there.

RE: Bond Beam Location

As a minimum, bond beams should be placed at every bearing level (roof, floor, mezzanine, etc.) to help distribute gravity and lateral forces into the wall. Additionally, I would place them at the top of walls to them everything together. It would also serve to anchor wood blocking for connecting the coping.

Beyond this, there may be additional criteria for shear walls depending on the level of shear that you are trying to resist. There is also additional criteria for stack bond walls (48" oc). There may also be other structural reasons to add bond beams for special conditions.

RE: Bond Beam Location


As mentioned by Jedclampett normally you would use lintels over opening rather than bond beams because they are cheaper. but there are a number of situations where a bond beam would be  more suitable.

I imagine that this criteria is either for crack prevention, or for seismic ductility (is it in a high seismic area?).

I also agree with all jikes comments.



RE: Bond Beam Location

I believe that the wording of Article 1.13 has changed over the years.  When the seismic requirements were first introduced here in the East, they were not clearly understood.  Some designers would require both the horizontal joint reinforcing at 16 inches on center, and bond beams spaced at 10 feet on center.  Some of these old practices have carried over.  If you have many windows lined up in a wall, it may be simpler to provide a continuous lintel rather than individual lintels over each window.  Some call this continuous lintel a bond beam.

RE: Bond Beam Location

There are also some difficulty in the nomenclature difference between bond beams and lintels. There is a major differences between the east and the west, where reinforced masonry is more established and common. The local differences compound this. Unfortunately, codes write there own terminolgy in an effort to promote uniformity.

In general, bond beams provide vertical load distribution and continuity. Lintels provide spanning strength over openings to cary the loads above that are not subject to arching action.

A bond beam is a horizontal course of block, usually the top course, but it may also be an intermediate course that replaces horizontal joint reinforcement or for code purposes. - jike's post reflects this classical use of a bond beam.

A masonry lintel is usually a course of block (usually 8" to 16"+) that is used over an opening.

In some cases (especially for smaller openings - less than 3' or so, the same block that is used in a bond beam with minimal reinforcement is a lintel.

For smaller openings and for architectural purposes and "bond beam" block is preferred for aesthetics and economy.

For longer spans, in many situations, a "bond beam" block with reinforcement is used on the first course of a lintel and the remaining courses above (1 to 3 or more) may be common block above for an aesthetic or economic purposes and the multiple couses of the lintel are filled together to construct the lintel. I have seen 4' high block lintels that project into the wall on the upper floor on 20 story buildings.

For good information on bond beams and lintels go to the National concrete Masonry Association site (NCMA.org) and go to the TEK notes area. They have over 100 TEK notes that are prepared by engineers that serve on all national code and standards organizations.


RE: Bond Beam Location

I have always used "lintel" to mean reinforced course(s) that span over openings, with a solid bottom required at the lowest course. Everywhere else I call them "bond beams" where the webs are knocked out.

I believe FBC requires 10ft max spacing of "bond beams" or "tie beams" or whatever they call them in Broward and Dade county. You need to check your building code for special placings required other than what has already been mentioned.

RE: Bond Beam Location


You replied " It seems excessive to me and I've never seen it used.  But I guess it's there."

Do you mean that a bond beam every 10' is a bit excessive? If so, please explain.

I'm not trying to test you here, I'm trying to gather some insight on if a bond beam(s) is required in my design.

I've taken a glance at the masonry TEK's as well, but I can't seem to find the bond beam location info I'm looking for.

Unfortunately I'm not familiar with masonry, and I'm also from Canada, so I'm not overly familiar with US codes, so bear with me if it's a bit of an obvious question.


RE: Bond Beam Location

The 10' vertical bond beam spacing mentioned in 1.13.1 (Seismic design requirements) is specifically noted in This applies only when a bond beam is used to provide minimum reinforcing requirements in lieu of horizontal joint reinforcement at 16" o.c. (every other course of block). The purpose of the 10' spacing is to provide a reasonable distribution of steel in high walls instead of heavy bond beam steel at greater spacing.

A higher wall using joint reinforcement only needs a bond beam as the top course of the masonry for the purpose of continuity and load distribution. Special loading conditions and load distributions could require other locations based on the geometry and loads.


RE: Bond Beam Location

Hunt007, I poorly worded that.  To me, 10'-0" is too far between bond beams.  We try to space them at no more than 4'-0" on center.
There's nothing in the code that says that you can't exceed the minimum.

RE: Bond Beam Location

JedClampett -

Apparently you have very unusual conditions and applications to require 4' O.C. bond beams, unless you choose to eliminate horizontal joint reinforcement. The majority of masonry in the world is not even classified as "reinforced masonry" unless the design engineer is partial to that type of construction.

The Special Reinforced Masonry Shear Walls ( are not a very common occurance. When ACI 530-20 was written, however, there was some concern that the reference to close spacing could easily be used out of context on common structures.

I have seen hundreds of up to 30 story load bearing masonry buildings built without "intermediate bond beams" because the situation never came up. - Possibly because engineers dictate the structual wall layout and construction and not architects. - Just basic meat and potatoes engineering to perform well.


RE: Bond Beam Location

You're right.  We don't use much joint reinforcement in Phoenix and we make it up with more frequent bond beams.  We have a general distrust of contractors putting in joint reinforcing since it's hard to see unless it's the truss type which we don't like for other reasons.

RE: Bond Beam Location

JedClampett -

Why don't you like truss type?

RE: Bond Beam Location

We think they clip the wires to get the vertical reinforcing in.

RE: Bond Beam Location

I am with Jed Clampett on the joint reinforcing.  Useless stuff.  In Australia, we just use bars and generally fill all the cores.  Simple and robust.

RE: Bond Beam Location

We would use bond beams at 4'-0" o.c. to meet SDC=D requirements for horiz reinf. This was without joint reinforcing.

RE: Bond Beam Location

Thank you for the replies. Also, I apologize for the late response as I just got back from vacation.

Now, I'll get into more specifics to get an idea if my design is on track.

The location of the buildings is Connecticut. The first building is a steel frame with an eave height of 24'. There are 4 frames, each equal spacing of 17'. Due to sound attenuation issues a 12" fully filled block is used, with vert. reinforcement at 16" c/c, and horz. joint rein.(truss) at 36". There are no bond beams, and the wall ends are tied into the steel frame. From my calcs, it seems fine, probably even over-designed.

The second building is 40'x16'. It has an eave height of 12'. It's just 8" fully filled with vert. reinforcement at 16" c/c, and horz. joint rein.(truss) at 36".

I have no bond beams in either of the buildings, which may be of concern.

Any glaring issues I should address? Unfortunately I don't normally deal with masonry, and my company doesn't either, so I don't have much experience to go by with regards to the design.

RE: Bond Beam Location

Your walls certainly seem to be more than adequate from a structural standpoint. Without the need for the mass for sound attenuation, I would have increased the vertical steel spacing and grouted only those cores. The difference between the 100% grouting and 25% grouting is probably less than 1 db (an approximation) if you are concrened with sound transmission.

Since it sounds like an industrial building, the solid walls are nice to have when there are probably fork lifts or other equipment roaming around looking for a wrinkled tin wall to hit.

I would have gone with a bond beam at the top course of the wall just based on detailing and standard practice. I also would have used joint reinforcement in every other or every third course course of block deoending on the type even though the panels are not that long.


RE: Bond Beam Location

I agree with concretemasonry's assessment.

Also, the 36" joint reinforcing spacing seems odd; what size(height)is the block?

RE: Bond Beam Location


Thanks for the joint reinforcement question. Sometimes you overlook things when you have nobody to check your work. Block size is 8", so I'll revise the spacing to fit in evenly. I believe it originally was 24", until the project manager (mech) wanted larger spacing due to $$. The 36" works, just not convenient.

I'll also re-evaluate (first building) to see if every second or 3rd course is more appropriate. Joint reinforcement is actually set at 24" on the second building.

Concretemasonry, I really appreciate the help. Your input has been very valuable. Thank you!

RE: Bond Beam Location

One last remark from me...

You indicated that you have vertical reinforcing at 16" o.c. and are using truss-type joint reinforcing.  I always specify ladder type joint reinforcing for walls with vertical reinforcing, as recommended in NCMA TEK 12-2B, as the diagonals can interfere with the rebar and grout placement.

RE: Bond Beam Location

JKW05 -

You are dead on about the ladder type being preferred for grouted walls. Also clipping cross wires is something I have never run across in 40 years. Any mason is smart enough to set the wire right and a rebar or wire can also be accomodated since at most it is 1/2" longitudinally.

Sometimes engineers always assume truss-type elements are better, which is not always true.


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