Learning What You can about Block Walls

The residential and commercial construction sectors make extensive use of a type of concrete construction material that is formally recognized as the concrete masonry unit. These hollow-core blocks and they work very well with Portland cement. They are produced with standard concrete along with traditional sand and gravel aggregate. It’s also possible to replace the sand and gravel aggregate with lighter-weight industrial waste products, such as coal cinders or fly ash or. In such a case, these block walls are referred to as cinder blocks.

Concrete Block Wall Anatomy

Almost all walls built with a concrete masonry unit share the same elements, although their application may vary considerably depending on the size, shape, and use of the wall. Listed below are the different parts of a concrete block wall so you can fully understand what it is, how to maintain it, and how to repair it, in case it gets damaged.

1. Foundation

All concrete block walls have to rest on a robust concrete. The foundation’s size and depth will vary depending on the length of the concrete block wall and the weight it needs to support. However, a typical freestanding wall requires a foundation that is about twice as wide as the wall itself and extends about one foot below the frost line.

2. Concrete Block

Block sizes and shapes are selected to match the wall function and the wall setup. Most cement block walls, particularly stretchers and corner units, will use several kinds of blocks. The right kind of block to use is best determined by a qualified block concrete contractor.

3. Mortar Joints

With either type N mortar, which also pertains to the above-grade mortar, or the type S mortar, also known as the below-grade mortar, each row of blocks will be attached to the adjacent blocks. Most concrete block walls are constructed for maximum strength so that the vertical joints are offset or staggered from one course onto the next.

4. Reinforcement

Freestanding block walls can be subjected to stresses that can break the joints and ruin the walls, thus making horizontal and vertical reinforcement necessary. Vertical reinforcement is given by steel rebar lengths integrated into moist concrete that is poured at prescribed intervals into block cavities. Metal reinforcement strips are laid in the moist mortar after each third or fourth block wall to provide horizontal strength.

Most concrete block walls are single-wythe walls, which mean that they are built from single-wide block rows that are stacked over each other. Where there is a need for higher structural strength, double-wythe walls can be constructed in which two block courses are set together.

Where a cement block wall, such as serving as a basement wall, is below grade, the surface must be waterproofed before the soil is refilled. This can be performed with a variety of membrane-waterproofing products or waterproofing materials with a rubberized brush-on. It’s not easy to install block walls but if you need to do so, it is highly recommended that you hire the experts in block wall Albuquerque NM.