Concrete masonry, or concrete masonry units (CMU), are typically concrete bricks or blocks used for a variety of purposes in the construction industry. These blocks can be known as everything from besser blocks to breeze blocks to cinder blocks. You’ve probably heard of some form of CMU in your life, even if you’re not in construction. Let’s look at why concrete masonry matters, what it does and how it enriches your everyday life.
Concrete masonry blocks are often composed of cast concrete. Cast concrete is Portland cement and an aggregate, typically sand or gravel for higher-density masonry blocks. For lower density masonry blocks, industrial waste is typically used for aggregate. Aerated concrete can also be utilized in some forms of CMU.
CMU can be solid or hollow. Hollow concrete masonry is used to reduce the overall weight of the blocks, along with adding room for insulation. Most blocks come in a variety of sizes, but they’re most commonly 16x8x8 in the United States. You’ll find a 3/8 inch difference in that standard size block to allow for mortar joints to be utilized.
Depending on the scope of the project, you may find custom concrete blocks used rather that standard sized ones. This can be done, but can be more costly for projects. It all depends on the scope of the project, what you want to get out of it and what purpose the concrete will serve.
Concrete masonry is used for a variety of functions, including together with tie beams, concrete columns and reinforced rebar. It’s used most often in load-bearing walls, creating what’s called a concrete block structure (CES.) Many houses in America, and across the world, take advantage of a concrete foundation before building out the rest of the structure.
Without concrete masonry, we’d be missing out on many things in life, such as the way we build houses, roads and more. Concrete masonry makes it possible to build all types of buildings and structures, especially when combined with other construction methods. Concrete masonry can offer builders a way to make just about anything possible.