The Durability and Longevity of Concrete Blocks in Construction

The Durability and Longevity of Concrete Blocks in Construction

Within construction, it is absolutely critical to use materials that are durable and have longevity. Without this, buildings and structures have the potential to break down over time, or be destroyed easily. This is why concrete blocks are seen as a great construction material due to its resilient nature.

In this blog, we will discuss the durability and longevity of concrete blocks in construction.

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.

Which structures are concrete blocks used for?

Concrete blocks are a versatile building material used in a wide range of structures. Here’s a breakdown of just some of the most common applications:

Buildings:

  • Load-Bearing Walls: Due to their strength and ability to handle significant weight, concrete blocks are a popular choice for constructing load-bearing walls in houses, apartment buildings, commercial structures, and industrial facilities.
  • Non-Load Bearing Walls: They’re also suitable for non-load bearing walls like interior partitions, firewalls, and external walls with additional support structures.
  • Foundations: Solid concrete blocks can be used for foundations, particularly for smaller buildings or basements.

Other Structures:

  • Retaining Walls: Concrete blocks are well-suited for retaining walls due to their ability to withstand pressure from soil or water on one side.
  • Fences and Barriers: They can be used to construct sturdy and long-lasting fences and barriers for security or property demarcation.
  • Fireplaces and Chimneys: Solid concrete blocks are a fire-resistant material making them suitable for building fireplaces and chimneys.

The durability and longevity of concrete blocks in construction

How does water affect concrete?

Concrete blocks are known for their impressive durability and longevity. But there are factors that contribute to their lifespan. Below is a breakdown of its durability and longevity.:

High Durability:

  • Strength: Concrete is a strong material, and concrete blocks inherit this strength. This allows them to withstand significant loads and compressive forces, making them suitable for load-bearing walls in buildings.
  • Fire Resistance: Concrete blocks have excellent fire resistance properties. They don’t combust or significantly contribute to fire spread, providing a layer of protection in case of a fire.

Factors Affecting Longevity:

Although concrete has the potential to last for more than a persons lifetime if the conditions are right, it can vary significantly depending on the following factors:

  • Quality of Materials: The quality of the concrete mix used in the blocks plays a major role. High-quality concrete with proper proportions of cement, aggregate, and water will lead to more durable blocks.
  • Environmental Conditions: Harsh environments can accelerate the deterioration of concrete blocks. Factors like high humidity, frequent freeze-thaw cycles, and exposure to fast-moving water can shorten their lifespan.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspection and maintenance, such as repairing cracks and addressing water infiltration issues, can significantly extend the lifespan of concrete block structures.

Lifespan Potential:

  • Ideal Conditions: Under ideal conditions, concrete block structures can last for well over 100 years. Examples include Roman concrete structures that are still standing today.
  • Realistic Lifespan: In real-world scenarios, a lifespan of 50 to 100 years is a more realistic expectation. This can vary depending on the factors mentioned above.

In conclusion, concrete blocks are a highly durable building material with the potential to last for a century or more. However, the quality of the blocks, the environmental conditions they face, and proper maintenance all play a role in determining their actual lifespan.

Can concrete blocks be reinforced for durability and resistance after its been moulded?

No, unfortunately, reinforcing concrete blocks for improved durability and resistance isn’t typically possible  after they’ve been molded and set. Here’s why:

  1. Cured Concrete: Once concrete has cured (hardened), it becomes a rigid structure. Adding reinforcement like rebar or welded wire mesh requires placing them within the hollow cores of the blocks before pouring additional concrete. Since the concrete is already solid in a pre-molded block, this becomes impossible.
  2. Bonding Issues: Even if you could drill holes and try to insert reinforcement, creating a strong bond with the existing concrete would be difficult. The new concrete or adhesive used for the reinforcement wouldn’t achieve the same level of cohesion as concrete poured together initially.
  3. Structural Integrity: Reinforcement is most effective when it’s integrated within the entire concrete structure. Adding reinforcement after the fact might introduce stress points or uneven load distribution, potentially compromising the overall structural integrity of the block.

However, there are some alternative approaches to consider if you have existing concrete blocks and want to improve the overall structure’s durability and resistance:

  • Grout Injection: In some cases, depending on the type of block and the situation, a technique called grout injection might be an option. This involves pumping a fluid concrete mixture into the cores of the blocks through strategically placed holes. While not as effective as placing rebar, it can improve the structural integrity to a limited extent. Consulting a structural engineer is crucial to determine if this is feasible for your specific case.
  • Reinforcement During Construction: If you’re building a structure with concrete blocks, consider incorporating reinforcement techniques from the beginning. This could involve using pre-made reinforced blocks, filling cores with grout during construction, or incorporating steel rebar or welded wire mesh within the mortar joints between the blocks.
  • Strengthening the Existing Structure: Depending on what kind of reinforcement you’re looking for, you might be able to strengthen the existing structure with methods that don’t involve modifying the blocks themselves. For example, adding buttresses or installing shotcrete (sprayed concrete) on the exterior of the wall can improve its resistance to lateral forces.

Which concrete block is the most efficient?

Interlocking Concrete Blocks are a variation on the traditional concrete block, and can be argued are the most efficient kind of 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

Buy 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 shown you the durability and longevity of concrete blocks in construction.  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

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google