Primary reinforcement for a concrete slab should support the concrete, not the subgrade beneath it. However, once placed, reinforcement is constantly in jeopardy of being displaced either by workers or by the pour process itself. To solve this problem, the support mechanism for the reinforcement really needs to be secured in place.

Now, inventor and engineer Namon A. Nassef of Pensacola, Fla., has devised a support that's easy to secure to the reinforcement and won't get dislodged. Patented July 18, 2000, the "Method of Forming a Reinforcement Mat Assembly" invention is a brick with a series of holes and strategically placed slots. Its size, as a whole or in parts, will allow exact, consistent elevations of the reinforcement.

Commercially sold under the trade name "Tie Brick," the invention stands up to the weight of steel reinforcement and workers walking across it, resists sinking into soils, and costs about the same as standard brick and wire chairs. It provides support heights of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 inches from one unit. Contractors can easily break units along the side slots to achieve the various heights.

In installation, reinforcement fastens to the Tie Brick with either a wire or string, which passes through the hole in the center of the brick.

In addition to the standard rectangular configuration, the Tie Brick can also be designed with angular or diagonal slots so it may be broken off into triangular or other trapezoidal shapes, or spherical or cylindrical shapes to fit the needs of various supporting applications.

Contractors can break the Tie Brick into standard lengths without scoring or masonry sawing, unlike its standard brick counterpart, by striking it on a hard object or another Tie Brick.