About Concrete Block Walls

Written by sandra ketcham
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About Concrete Block Walls
(Concrete Forms http://www.flickr.com/photos/concrete_forms/530418835/)

Concrete block walls are everywhere, and they are used for everything from building homes and buildings to surrounding or marking off landscaping. Typically produced with hollow centres to improve insulation and reduce weight, they offer numerous benefits over other materials when used in construction. They are sometimes considered unsightly and dull when compared to other structures, and are therefore often covered or painted to mask their appearance while retaining the benefits offered by this type of wall.

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History

Concrete masonry dates back to one of the most amazing periods in history. Some of the earliest structures built using masonry and concrete walls are still standing today, including the great Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples and Roman walls. Concrete block walls were first built out of necessity. They kept enemies from easily invading territories and they kept Mother Nature at bay. Today, concrete block walls are still used for their durability and strength, but they are also used for decorative reasons.

Significance

Concrete block walls, especially when reinforced with tie beams and concrete columns, are a very common and wise choice for load-bearing walls of homes and other buildings. Many homes in the U.S. are built on a concrete foundation and employ a concrete block wall on the perimeter of the structure. Large buildings, such as those used for commercial offices or apartments, typically use large amounts of concrete block in their construction. Concrete blocks are being relied on more frequently due to recent natural disasters that easily destroyed homes built using wood or other materials. Glazing is sometimes applied to concrete to produce a hard finish that is water-resistant, which is especially useful in areas prone to moisture, such as locker rooms, commercial kitchens, car washes, shower stalls, and cafeterias. The National Concrete Masonry Association in the U.S maintains concrete block wall construction and masonry standards.

Benefits

Concrete block walls have numerous benefits over other types of walls. They are fire resistant and made of non-combustible materials, which makes them ideal for use in hazardous areas. Concrete walls are also weather resistant and can withstand heavy storms, subzero temperatures, extreme heat, high winds, and U.V. degradation. When used in homes, concrete block walls offer resistance against termites, protection from mould, fungus, and rotting, and provide better sound proofing than wood or other traditional building materials. Moreover, concrete block walls require very little maintenance and are environmentally friendly.

Identification

A concrete block, sometimes called a cement block, breeze block, or foundation block, is a rectangular brick used in the construction of walls. Concrete blocks are made from cast concrete, Portland cement and aggregate, sand and gravel for high-density blocks, cinders of fly ash or bottom ash for lower density blocks, or aerated concrete for lightweight blocks. Concrete blocks, and the walls created using them, come in many sizes. Typically, a common block size in the U.S. is 8 inches in width by 8 inches in height by 16 inches in length. However, most blocks are actually sized slightly smaller to allow for mortar joints. The colour of concrete blocks and unpainted concrete block walls is typically ashen to grey. Many concrete blocks have a hollow centre, sometimes with a dividing piece of concrete running through the middle of the rectangle.

Function

Concrete block walls are used for a variety of reasons and purposes. They provide structural support for homes and other buildings, and are used to frame outdoor areas, line gardens, and prevent erosion when used as retaining walls for soil. They are relatively easy to construct, and require less time and training to erect than walls made of brick or other materials. When reinforced with steel, concrete block walls enable builders to construct larger buildings without compromising safety. However, many people find the appearance of concrete block unappealing, and so the surface is typically painted or covered with stucco, siding, or brick for decorative reasons.

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