Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about working with Masonry Frame Systems and the construction systems.

Commonly asked questions about thin joint blockwork and MFS build systems. Share these FAQs with your colleagues and managers.

MFS General FAQs

Which services are MFS able to offer?2019-04-02T09:51:41+00:00

We originally established the business to build the inner leaf of the superstructure from oversite right up to wall plate level and then pitch the roof structure, including the installation of the intermediate floors. However, as the building process becomes increasingly complex, we now find ourselves invariably undertaking the whole of the structural envelope, including the external leaf, managing and coordinating the scaffolding, installing any structural steelwork and PCC floor planks. We even supply the forklift and fit the soffit and fascia too.

How quickly can MFS erect the frame?2019-04-02T09:50:25+00:00

Essentially, we can build a typical pair of semis from oversite to watertight in 10 working days; and depending on the scale of the project and the desired handover rate, we can complete a pair of units every five working days thereafter. After that, it is just a question of adjusting the resource levels.

What is the lead time on the MFS systems?2019-04-02T09:42:08+00:00

Depending on the scale and level of complexity of your project, the average lead time would be in the order of six to eight weeks. However, to benefit fully from the system, we recommend that you get involved in the design process as early as possible in order to maximise the potential savings.

How expensive is thin joint Construction?2019-04-02T09:36:50+00:00

In a recent study undertaken by Calford Seaden, it was concluded that the thin joint blockwork solution at Code Level 3 was 8% cheaper than either the equivalent timber frame or SIPS panel solution. We would further argue that when adopted as part of an integrated design solution, at Code Level 4 the savings or benefits are even greater when you factor in the elimination or reduction in renewable technologies.

What strength blocks are used for thin joint construction?2019-04-02T09:35:04+00:00

Thin joint blocks are manufactured in all of the standard aircrete block strengths 2.80 N/mm2 Solar, 3.60 N/mm2 Standard and 7.30 N/mm2 Hi Seven, together with a few 10.30 N/mm2 Hi Tens. The principal difference is the accuracy and format of blocks. We tend to specify the Jumbo Plus format, which is 610mm x 270mm and manufactured to high degree of accuracy +/- 1mm.

Can MFS meet the latest Code for Sustainable Homes?2019-04-02T09:33:04+00:00

Yes, thin joint blockwork is recognised as a Modern Method of Construction and is widely adopted to meet both Code Level 3 and Code Level 4 of the CfSH (Code for Sustainable Homes). It can also be adopted for PassivHaus construction; in fact it makes an ideal structure because of its thermal mass properties.

How does thin joint compare to ‘timber frame’?2019-04-02T09:31:06+00:00

Essentially, it is a masonry alternative to timber frame. It offers most if not all of the benefits of timber frame, with the added robustness of solid masonry. It also has the benefit of increasing the thermal mass, which is an important factor in PassivHaus construction and increasingly recognised as a significant factor in personal comfort.

What is thin bed blockwork?2019-04-02T09:53:19+00:00

Thin bed, or thin joint blockwork as it is commonly known, is a large format block system manufactured to a higher standard of accuracy than conventional aircrete blocks. It uses a specialist high strength adhesive laid to a 2mm thick bed.

MFS Construction Systems FAQs

How quickly can you erect the Silka frame?2019-04-02T09:53:42+00:00

That is difficult to answer as we take every project on its merits; but essentially, we can turn a typical storey around in approximately 10 —15 working days depending on the scale of the project. Beyond that it is just a question of adjusting the resource levels to sequence and balance the programme.

What is the lead time on your Silka system?2019-04-02T09:53:59+00:00

Depending on the scale and level of complexity of your project, the lead time on the manufacture is in the order of 6 – 8 weeks. However, to take most advantage of the benefits of the system, we would recommend as early involvement in the design process as can be afforded that way the greater the impact we are likely to have.

Do MFS undertake the Design?2019-01-30T14:14:14+00:00

Yes, the net result is that we now consider every project on its own merits and offer to take Design Responsibility for the whole of the Structural Envelope from oversite and more importantly provide you with a Design Warranty. That way we are able to rationalise our approach and provide the client with the comfort of a ‘tried and tested’ solution with a single point of responsibility.

How do you address the Disproportionate Collapse?2019-01-30T14:12:42+00:00

This has probably been our biggest single hurdle to overcome as it relevant from 4 stories +. So after much debate, we have engaged our own Structural Engineer to design a range of solutions that could be relatively simple when adopted to given situations.

How many storey’s can you build with Silka Blocks?2019-01-30T14:11:37+00:00

Providing we address the Disproportionate Collapse, we can take the system up to 10—12 storey’s high.

How expensive is Xella Silka?2019-01-30T14:10:09+00:00

A formal ‘Cost Comparison’, will depend on its application. In a recent exercise that we undertook in the office on a 3 storey structure it was no worse than cost neutral compared with our Thin Joint blockwork system but more significantly, it was substantially quicker in fact halving a ‘traditional’ build programme. Yes, on a recent scheme we were able to reduce the build programme for the Structural Envelope from 34 weeks to 16 weeks!!! But it is in ‘medium’ to ‘high’ rise where we see it will be of most value. We are totally convinced that this will re-define the way apartments / flats / student accommodation / and care homes are constructed.

What thicknesses are the Silka elements manufactured in?2019-01-30T14:08:27+00:00

They are manufactured in a range of sizes to meet all different demands. We see the 150mm wide for external walls and the 214mm width for party and separating walls being the most common that we will specify and are confident these will satisfy a range of applications.

What size do the Silka elements come in?2019-01-30T14:07:47+00:00

The standard elements are 1000mm x 650mm and can weigh up to 240kg depending on the thickness hence the need for mechanical installation.

What is the Xella Silka composition?2019-01-30T14:06:52+00:00

Essentially the panels are manufactured from Calcium Silicate as opposed to Aircrete for our current ‘day to day’ Thin joint and achieves strengths in excess of 25 N/mm2 . This enables us to put an entirely different perspective on it and makes it appropriate for Medium to High rise where our standard 3.60 and 7.30 N/mm2 blockwork can’t cope.

How does this differ from normal thin joint block work ?2019-04-02T09:52:51+00:00

Well, I best describe this as an ‘adult version’ of our Thin Bed block system. It has all of the same qualities which means our labour can easily transfer but it comes in an even larger format that has to be installed with a mini crane.


The project is going very well and Westridge are excited to reach weather tightness two weeks early.

Martin Buckthorpe, Westridge Construction Ltd

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