References to dry-stacked, surface-bonded masonry appear in masonry textbooks and construction handbooks. Despite these references, some of which are 10 or more years old, this technique has never gained acceptance in the field and now is almost never used. WHAT IS SURFACE BONDING? The technique is simple. Standard concrete masonry units are laid in running bond, but only the first course is set in a mortar bed. Subsequent courses are stacked dry. Bond is provided by coating both sides of the wall with surface bonding cement, a factory-mixed blend of cement and glass-fiber reinforcement. POTENTIAL BENEFITS Technically, surface bonding works well. Shear strength and flexural strength for both horizontal and vertical spans are at least equal to conventional masonry. Compressive strength of surface-bonded walls built with standard block is somewhat lower than conventional walls with mortar joints. The surface bonding cement is highly resistant to moisture penetration. Also, surface-bonded walls can go up considerably faster than conventional masonry. WHAT KILLED SURFACE BONDING? Several factors seem to have led to its failure in the industry. The main factor was the marketing approach taken at the outset. Surface bonding was touted as a system that could reduce labor costs by using less skilled labor. This guaranteed opposition from masons, masonry contractors, and the bricklayer's union. Distribution of materials and training of contractors were also problems early on.