In India, most non-urban buildings are made in masonry. In the plains, masonry is generally made of burnt clay bricks and cement mortar. However in hilly areas, stone masonry with mud mortar is more prevalent. But now a day we are very familiar with R.C.C. buildings, and a variety of new composite constructions materials.
Masonry is made up of burnt clay bricks and cement or mud mortar. Masonry can carry loads that cause compression (i.e. pressing together) but can hardly take load that causes tension (i.e. pulling apart). Masonry is a brittle material, these walls develop cracks once their ability to carry horizontal load is exceeded. Thus infill walls act like sacrificial fuses in buildings: they develop cracks under severe ground shaking but they share the load of the beams and columns until cracking.
Concrete is another material that has been popularly used in building construction particularly over the last four decades. Cement concrete is made of crushed stone pieces (called aggregate), sand, cement and water mixed in appropriate proportions. Concrete is much stronger than masonry under compressive loads, but again its behavior in tension is poor. The properties of concrete critically depend on the amount of water used in making concrete, too much and too little water both can cause havoc.
Steel is used in masonry and concrete buildings as reinforcement bars of diameter ranging from 6mm to 40mm. reinforcing steel can carry both tensile and compressive loads. Moreover steel is a ductile material. This important property of ductility enables steel bars to undergo large elongation before breaking. Concrete is used with steel reinforcement bars. This composite material is called as reinforced cement concrete. The amount and location of steel in a member should be such that the failure of the member is by steel reaching its strength in tension before concrete reaches its strength in compression. This type of failure is ductile failure, and is preferred over a failure where concrete fails first in compression. Therefore, providing more steel in R.C. buildings can be harmful even!!