Concrete masonry units have become a standard building material due to the structural
advantages, energy efficiency, durability, fire-resistant quality, economics, and
minimal maintenance. Concrete masonry also allows architectural freedom and versatility.
Due to its durable attributes CMU is a prudent material for both hot and cold weather
environments, hurricane or high wind areas, or fire prone areas. Concrete masonry
units can be a value in achieving LEED rating points.
The standard concrete block is a rectangular 8 x 8 x 16 - inch unit (200 x 200 x
400 mm) made mainly of portland cement, gravel, sand, and water. The concrete mixture
may also contain ingredients such as air-entraining agents, coloring pigment, and
water repellent. Recycled aggregate products are also being used in making CMU. There
are many different applications for CMU which are derived from its manufacturing
process. Concrete masonry units can be manufactured into a variety of shapes and
sizes for a variety of applications. During the manufacturing process, a machine
molds moist, low-slump concrete into the desired shapes for their specific use such
as residential building, commercial and industrial building needs, permeable concrete
pavers, and segmental retaining wall usage. Other uses for concrete masonry units
include retaining walls, hurricane safe enclosures (Safe Rooms) and exterior décor
hardscape applications such as patios, walkways, chimneys and fireplaces.
In addition to its many uses, concrete masonry units can be manufactured for virtually
any architectural or structural function. Split-face block units have been fractured
lengthwise or crosswise by machine to produce a rough stone-like texture. A patented
slotted concrete block provides high sound absorption, making it ideal for use in
residential home construction and commercial construction including gymnasiums, factories,
bowling alleys, or other places where noise generation is high. Concrete masonry
applications are used to construct small to large residential homes and commercial
and industrial buildings.