mason training laying brickAccording to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, shortages in 15 construction-specific occupations continue to grow. The shortage of bricklayers and masons is fourth in severity, which is bad enough, but shortages in other areas, like carpenters who set the forms for home foundations, and excavators who prep the job for the foundation work, means a mason’s job may be held up due to shortages in trades the mason depends on to prep the job. The good news here is that if you’re a skilled mason, you are pretty much guaranteed a job wherever brick is being laid. The bad news is that, if it’s harder to get a masonry building built because of a lack of workers, designers will turn to other veneer types. So if you’re a masonry contractor, support your local apprentice programs and your industry organizations like the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA – and the International Masonry Institute (IMI – These industry groups help promote the use of masonry and are excellent resources for helping masons keep up with latest trends and information in the industry. Promoting masonry to designers and building owners helps ensure the masonry industry will stay healthy and your livelihood will be preserved, so go to local AIA meetings and other industry meetings and talk up the benefits of masonry. See the link below for a closer look at the construction worker shortage.

4 Quick Tips to Streamlining Your Payroll

You’re probably spending too much time on payroll, but it’s not just you. Every business runs into this problem sooner or later. Payroll is vital to your operations, but it has far more moving parts than you expected. It doesn’t help that the risks are high. The IRS penalizes one in three businesses for payroll errors. So how do you streamline a process that requires strict accuracy while making sure it’s done right every time?

Whether you do all your payroll manually or manage these tasks with payroll software, here are four steps you can take to save time, improve accuracy and move the process along swiftly.

Set a Clear Schedule

The first step is to give your employees clear expectations. Choose a pay schedule and stay consistent with it. If your employees are paid by the job instead of on an hourly or salary basis, choose a set number of days after a job is finished when they can expect payment. The pay schedule is the foundation for an easier payroll process. Even if your company’s schedule hasn’t been consistent in the past, it’s never too late to start following a clear and consistent schedule.

Automate as Much as You Can

Even though you can do your payroll manually, it will probably cost you time and money. Save yourself the trouble of making tax calculations or sending out paychecks yourself and automate. There are several tiers of payroll services so you can find software suitable for any budget. The cost of payroll software is usually far less than any penalties you might incur from processing your payroll incorrectly. Plus, when you compare what your time is worth with the cost of the software, you’ll probably see that automating saves you money.

Automation keeps your process consistent, so employees know exactly what to expect. But even though automation is convenient, it’s a good idea to have a pair of human eyes do a final check for errors.

Consider Outsourcing

Payroll software is convenient, but it still requires basic familiarity with payroll. Having someone who has no idea what they’re doing with payroll will most likely result in errors. Errors either cost you extra time or money. Instead, think about outsourcing to a professional.

Outsourcing is the easiest way to save time. In general, you only need to enter the necessary company and employee information and the payroll provider will manage the rest. They’re guaranteed experts in local regulations, taxes, and wage law, plus part of their job is to keep up with changes in tax law. Many of these services send payments to your employees, pay your payroll taxes, file payroll taxes, and submit required payroll reports.

When outsourcing payroll, you should also look for a no-penalty guarantee. If your business is penalized, the payroll provider will pay the fee for you, since the error was on their end.

Go Paperless

When you automate payroll or hire a service, that’s the perfect time to go paperless. Making the transition to digital records isn’t just environmentally friendly; it saves your company the cost of paper, ink, and printing. Not to mention that digital files are far more compact than physical paper and are much easier to transfer to other people such as your accountant and the tax man.

Look for software or a service that allows you to create electronic pay stubs and post them on a secure, password-protected site. With all their pay stubs online, employees can access their information any time they need it. And if you haven’t already stopped using physical checks to pay your employees, it might be time to consider it. Direct deposit eliminates the need for paper or postage. Employees are paid quickly at the same time every pay period and you’re left with a clear electronic record of payments.

No matter where you are with payroll, you can take steps to streamline the process, eliminate tax-related headaches, and build your business. You should be free to focus on what you do best, creating beautiful, durable buildings you can be proud of, not the technicalities of local payroll taxes.

To learn how Mortar Net Solutions moisture management solutions for masonry walls can help you streamline your construction process while keeping your masonry walls dry and trouble-free for the life of the building, visit our website,, or click here for free product samples.

Here’s a link to a quick review of 4 different brands of work boots for masons. Good advice, good recommendations. Get comfortable, get ‘er done.

custom metal drip edgeDrip edges for masonry cavity walls. Not what many people would consider a fascinating topic, and something most designers and masons may not give much thought to. But specifying and installing the right drip edge can have a dramatic effect on the longevity and beauty of a masonry veneer.

Drip edges are instrumental in directing water away from the veneer face and ensuring that water that flows out of the weeps doesn’t get drawn back into the cavity under the flashing via capillary action. The ability of capillary forces to draw water in under the flashing when drips are not used is why we strongly recommend the use of drip edges. We realize some designers don’t like the look of a metal drip edge, and they may specify no drip edge and holding the flashing back from the brick face slightly to keep the mortar joints looking consistent. Unfortunately, this design almost guarantees water damage because is sets up perfect conditions for water to be drawn in under the flashing. Before deciding to omit a metal drip edge, we strongly suggest the designer weighs the cosmetic and structural damage that water under the flashing can cause against the aesthetic concerns of a visible drip edge.

Building Science Labs conducted a test of the effectiveness of several drip edge configurations. They found that both the size and shape of the drip edges made a significant difference in the water shedding ability of the drips, and in their ability to channel water away from the veneer face as opposed to letting it run down the face or be drawn back into the cavity under the flashing. One of the study’s conclusions is: “Whether or not the edge of the drip edge was hemmed had the greatest impact on the shedding of water from the surface of the wall.”  Mortar Net Solutions drip edges are all hemmed to provide the best performance. Click here to learn about available Mortar Net Solutions drip edges.

Click the link below to see the study.