Concrete masonry is comparable in cost to other popular building materials but sets itself apart with energy efficiency, low maintenance, and sustainability. Colorado Springs Masonry pays for itself over the lifetime of a structure, resulting in significant savings in utility costs.
Masonry is a type of construction using readymade blocks and pavers connected by mortar. It can also involve mixing and pouring concrete.
Concrete masonry is one of the most durable materials used in construction. It can withstand earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire, and other extreme events with ease. Its durability also helps reduce insurance costs, making it an affordable choice for homeowners and businesses alike. It can even help keep families and employees safe from burglars and other crimes.
Concrete blocks are a popular choice for building foundations, framing, and even entire buildings. These blocks are made from cement, aggregates, and water, which create a strong, resilient material that can withstand a lot of weight. They are also termite- and insect-resistant, meaning they won’t get damaged by pests or the elements.
A CMU’s lifespan depends on its raw materials, the conditions under which it is constructed, and other factors. If it is created under optimum conditions, a concrete block’s lifespan can reach 100 years or more.
To make sure your building is as durable as possible, it is important to build correctly from the start. This means using a professional masonry company to ensure your building is built to code.
It is also important to choose the right construction method for your project. For example, using a concrete block with an inverted mortar joint is a good option for walls that will be subjected to seismic loads. Concrete masonry blocks can also be installed in a variety of ways, including running bond, stack bond, and basket weave.
Another factor that can affect a CMU’s lifespan is its compressive strength. The strength of a concrete block is determined by how much water it has in its mixture and the ratio of coarse to fine aggregates. It is recommended that contractors use volumetric mixers to mix the concrete so they can control the amount of water and achieve a higher compressive strength.
The best way to test a concrete block’s strength is to measure it with a compression testing machine. This device uses eight full-size concrete blocks to determine the average compressive strength. The results from this test are based on the average of each block’s individual strengths, so it is important that all of the blocks tested are of standard quality.
Concrete masonry can be shaped, sized, and colored to achieve distinct aesthetic styles and complement other building materials. Its strength and durability also make it a long-lasting addition to any structure. It is resistant to fire, rot, and pests. High-quality, low-maintenance materials ensure a long life for concrete masonry structures.
Concrete block construction first emerged in the late 1840s and soon grew into a popular form of house building, from Tudor to Foursquare to Colonial Revival styles. Today, it is possible to build a loadbearing, reinforced concrete wall with decorative finishes such as brick or stone, using the same block units used for the structural walls. This approach combines the cost efficiency of concrete block with the architectural flexibility of traditional stone or wood-framed, wooden-shuttered houses.
The concrete masonry unit size, shape and texture allow designers to create distinctive designs, including multi-color walls, decorative bands, and layered and geological-like aesthetics. For example, the designed by Feilden Fowles Architects has slender, reinforced concrete blocks with earth-colored pigments and aggregates to mimic the underlying geology of the site.
Integrally-colored concrete masonry units offer a virtually limitless color palette. The minerals in the aggregates and sand that compose the concrete mix are blended with the cement to produce an integral color. This eliminates color variations that may occur naturally from varying aggregate and sand sources.
Although mortar generally comprises less than ten percent of a typical wall, it can have a significant impact on overall wall appearance. The choice of mortar, the timing of tooling, and the finish on the joints all affect the final look of the completed wall.
Mortar joints should be tooled when the mortar is thumbprint hard, meaning that a thumbprint pressed into the mortar will not leave any cement paste behind. Tooled at a later stage will result in darker colored joints. Joints should also be finished with a water-repellent, breathable coating that is compatible with concrete masonry.
Decorative treatments such as etching, spray-on coatings and textured surfaces add visual interest to walls and contrast with the natural gray of concrete masonry. These treatments can enhance the color and texture of the wall and help minimize the impact of weathering and stains. While adherence to industry standards and specification of quality materials is important for the integrity of concrete masonry, these requirements are generally not concerned with aesthetics.
Concrete block masonry has long been recognized for its durability, and it also contributes to energy efficiency in buildings. Its high thermal mass enables it to absorb heat during the day and release it during the night, helping to regulate temperatures inside the building. This helps lower energy bills. Its acoustic properties help keep noise in and out of the building, which further reduces energy costs.
When compared to frame structures of the same size, a masonry structure requires 18%-70% less insulation to provide an equivalent R-value. The higher thermal mass in masonry blocks means they can store and release heat more slowly, which improves the energy performance of a building without additional insulation.
Masonry construction can also save on maintenance costs. Since it does not rust, rot or burn, it requires less upkeep than other materials like wood. It is also resistant to mold and insects, resulting in a healthier indoor environment for occupants. This reduces the need for costly repairs and replacements, which can save homeowners money in the long run.
A concrete masonry building’s energy efficiency is further enhanced when it is incorporated with an efficient thermal envelope. This includes air barriers, insulation and masonry wall and roof assemblies that meet prescriptive IECC energy performance criteria.
The energy efficiency of concrete masonry walls can be further improved when the mortar is pre-mixed on site. This eliminates the need for transporting, handling, and storing large quantities of cement that can be subject to temperature changes. It also ensures that the mixing ratio is consistent from batch to batch, which is essential for the strength of the mortar.
In addition, modern masonry production plants employ highly efficient equipment and optimize kiln operations to reduce energy consumption. They also minimize harmful emissions during manufacturing.
In addition, a masonry wall’s R-value can be increased through the use of various bond patterns. Running bonds are the most common, but stacked bond, mortar joints that overlap less than one-quarter the length of each unit, and stack-and-tile construction can also improve its R-value.
In a time when many communities across the Southeast are adopting programs for sustainable development, non-combustible construction is a critical component. Masonry structures do not fuel a fire, making them safer for occupants and less likely to cause harm or total loss during a devastating event. In fact, a study conducted by Globe Advisors found that buildings constructed with masonry walls experienced significantly lower insurance premiums than wood frame and light gage steel construction.
In addition to fire safety, concrete masonry is environmentally friendly. It is a recycled product, and its use has the potential to significantly reduce embodied carbon emissions, which are those associated with the production and transport of building materials. Additionally, concrete masonry can be produced with local materials and can use waste byproducts from power plants and other manufacturing facilities.
Concrete block also offers a wide variety of aesthetic options for architects and designers looking to build green and sustainable buildings. For example, non-structural concrete masonry veneers can be polished for a contemporary look or ground for a rustic appearance. Additionally, CMU’s can be split to provide a natural “rock-like” feel.
Similarly, decorative concrete masonry is available in a wide range of textures and colors that complement any design. Additionally, architectural masonry can help improve site use and utilization by eliminating the need for expensive erosion control measures. Additionally, segmented retaining wall systems can be used to build structures on slopes that would otherwise be inaccessible.
A concrete masonry structure also requires very little maintenance over its lifetime. It does not need to be painted or stained and does not rot or rust like a timber framed structure. It is also resistant to insect infestation and mold growth.
Additionally, a concrete masonry building is more resilient than other materials and can withstand a greater level of impact. It is more resistant to damage from storms, tornadoes and earthquakes.
In terms of energy efficiency, CMUs are a great option for homes and commercial buildings. They are well insulated and provide a high degree of thermal mass, which helps to minimize heating and cooling costs. Additionally, the acoustic qualities of concrete masonry can help reduce noise pollution and enhance occupant comfort.