5 Essentials You Need to Know About Concrete Blocks

5 Essentials You Need to Know About Concrete Blocks

If you are considering using concrete for your construction project, there are certain questions that you should know before even considering beginning your project.

In this blog, we will provide 5 essentials you need to know about concrete blocks.

At PPC Concrete Products, we are here to provide solutions for your construction needs,

from the person working their own part-time project, to commercial clients, and everyone in-between.

Monthly construction output had risen an estimated 1.6% value in June 2023, and we would like to think our accessible concrete products had a small part to play by giving our clients easy access to reliable and easy-to-use construction solutions.

How many concrete blocks do I need?

How many concrete blocks do I need?

The amount of concrete blocks you require for your project are dependent on a few factors, including:

  • The perimeter of the proposed structure.
  • The size of the blocks being used.
  • The height of the proposed structure.
  • The kind of blocks being used.

These factors will determine the amount of concrete blocks you require. For example, using larger blocks would require fewer in total compared to if you used smaller concrete blocks.

5 Essentials you need to know about concrete blocks

1.   How is concrete cut into a block?

There are a couple of ways to cut concrete into a block, depending on the size and precision of the cut you require. Here are two common methods:

  • Hammer and chisel: This is a good option for small cuts or for making a score line for a cleaner break. You’ll need a masonry hammer and chisel. First, mark your cut line on the concrete block.

Then, put the chisel on the line and tap it with the hammer to create a score line. Once you have a score line, you can position the chisel in the score and hit it with the hammer more forcefully to break the concrete along the line.

  • Power tools: For larger cuts or more precise work, you can use a power tool with a diamond blade. There are a few options here, including:
  • Masonry Saw: This is a specialized saw designed for cutting concrete and other masonry materials. It has a water feed system to help keep the dust down and the blade cool.
  • Circular saw with diamond blade: You can use a regular circular saw with a diamond blade attachment to cut concrete. Make sure to use a wet saw if possible to reduce dust.
  • Angle grinder with diamond blade: An angle grinder with a diamond blade can also be used for cutting concrete blocks, but it’s not as stable as a saw and can be more difficult to make precise cuts.

2.   Can concrete have different levels of strength?

Yes, concrete can have very different levels of strength. The strength is crucial, and will vary, depending on what the concrete will be used for. Below are the key details:

  • Strength variations: Concrete is mixed with various proportions of cement, sand, aggregate (gravel or crushed rock), and water. By adjusting this recipe, concrete manufacturers can create concrete with a wide range of strengths.
  • Strength measurement: The strength is typically measured in compressive strength, which is its ability to resist squeezing forces. It’s denoted with a code like “C-XX”, where XX is a number representing the compressive strength in megapascals (MPa) after 28 days, a standard curing time.
  • Strength range: Common concrete grades range from C10 (low strength) to C50 (high strength). C10 concrete might be used for walkways, while C50 concrete could be used for high-rise buildings or bridge supports.
  • Choosing the right strength: Selecting the right concrete strength is vital for a project. Using concrete that’s too weak can lead to cracking or failure, while over-engineered high-strength concrete is a waste of money. Construction professionals will specify the appropriate concrete grade based on the project’s requirements.

3.   Is concrete weatherproof?

Concrete isn’t exactly weatherproof, but it has a level of weather resistance:

  • Porous nature: Regular concrete is inherently porous due to the curing process. This creates tiny holes that allow water to seep through over time, especially under pressure or constant exposure.
  • Water resistance: While not waterproof, concrete offers good resistance to moderate weather conditions like rain or occasional moisture. It protects the inner structure from major water damage.
  • Susceptibility to cracks: Cracks in concrete can significantly increase water penetration. These cracks can be caused by improper mixing, movement in the foundation, or extreme weather events.
  • Weatherproofing solutions: To make concrete truly weatherproof for foundations, basements, or structures exposed to harsh elements, waterproofing solutions are often applied. These include sealants, membranes, or special concrete mixes with lower porosity.

4.   How many years can concrete last?

The Portland Cement Association estimates a lifespan of 50–100 years for well-maintained concrete structures. Understandably, there are factors that can affect this, they include:

  • Quality of materials: The quality of the cement, sand, aggregate, and water used in the mix all play a role in the final strength and durability of the concrete.
  • Installation methods: Proper curing (hydration process) and construction techniques are crucial for maximizing lifespan.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to harsh weather conditions like freezing and thawing cycles, de-icing salts, or aggressive chemicals can accelerate deterioration.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance, such as repairing cracks and sealing surfaces, can extend the lifespan of concrete.

5.   Is concrete the best material for construction?

Like any material, concrete thrives in certain situations when it comes to construction, making it ideal for a wide variety of structures including:

  • Buildings
  • Roads and pavements
  • Foundations
  • Bridges
  • Walls
  • Pre-cast elements

Are all concrete blocks the same?

Are all concrete blocks the same?

No. Interlocking Concrete Blocks are a variation on the traditional concrete block. These special pre-cast blocks do not require mortar in order to create a long-lasting and effective connection, and are available in multiple sizes.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks connect to each other via studs and recesses at the top and bottom of the blocks, respectively. Individually, concrete blocks are heavy, but once they are joined, they provide an excellent counterweight against exceedingly heavy applications like a retaining wall.

Considering the fact they do not require mortar to connect, it is safe to say you will be saving money that would otherwise be spent on binding materials, and even some labour costs. But what actually makes Interlocking Concrete Blocks special? Well, a lot of things.

Here is a list of some of the uses that Interlocking Concrete Blocks can facilitate.

  • Material Storage bays
  • Blast walls
  • Salt stores
  • Crash protection
  • Push walls
  • Security barriers
  • Segregation bays, i.e. recycling centres
  • Retaining walls
  • Industrial buildings
  • Fire breaks
  • Counterweights
  • Roadblocks

What are the advantages of interlocking concrete blocks?

  • Longer lasting and more durable than a Gabion basket
  • Quicker and less hassle to install
  • No need for mortar, saving you money and time
  • No need for steel reinforcement or shuttering
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions
  • Fire-resistant properties, mitigating the spread of fire depending on the structure
  • Little maintenance required
  • Often, no foundation is needed before installing

Find the best concrete blocks today

As an established supplier all over the UK, PPC Concrete Products is always happy to help, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with any questions you may have or have a look at our FAQ.

In this blog, we hope to have provided guidance by showing you 5 essentials you need to know about concrete blocks. Whilst also providing additional information including construction solutions that we offer.

Take a read of our case studies to truly understand how we have provided solutions for business in the past with the use of our interlocking concrete blocks, and ultimately, how we can help you today.

Read our blog page for more insights into our passion, construction.

Address:

The Old Gasworks,

Higginshaw Lane,

Royton,

Oldham,

OL2 6HQ

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday – 8 AM until 4 PM

Tel: 01706 655245

Email: info@ppcconcreteproducts.co.uk

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