A modelling approach for the thermo-mechanical material behaviour of bulk ceramic refractory materials has been formulated using material laws available in DIANA. This paper illustrates the application of the proposed approach for the simulation of stress fields and crack formation in refractory linings of vessels of the steel industry. Effects of thermal loading are investigated for the lining of a teeming ladle with combined monolithic and brick lining. The analysis results are used to determine mechanisms of material failure observed under service conditions. Modelling of some specific load cases, such as cyclic loading of cracked material with partially irreversible crack strains, demands extension of existing material laws.