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The strength and durability of masonry has been well recorded through the ages. Just think of the Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples, Roman cities, and the Great Wall of China!
Building with concrete masonry offers the homeowner a number of advantages and benefits, including low maintenance, fire resistance, durability and potential energy savings.
Concrete masonry walls will not rust, corrode, warp, grow mold, or rot. They are extremely weather resistant and can hold up in severe storm conditions, coastal areas. You also don’t have to worry about termites for your concrete masonry walls.
Concrete masonry provides a timeless, lasting beauty for your home or building with very little maintenance required.
Concrete masonry blocks are non-combustible and do not assist in the spread of fire.
However, using concrete blocks does not mean your building is fire-proof. Smart building designs that incorporate concrete masonry, insulation and other risk management systems will provide a firm foundation and provide greater peace of mind, especially if you are living in a bushfire zone.
Concrete masonry walls, with their high mass, can block out unwanted noises far better than other lightweight building materials. Concrete masonry structures are known to provide acoustic insulation especially for low frequency noises caused by building mechanical systems, elevators, amplified music, traffic and aircraft.
This results in a quieter home environment, and less intrusion from your noisy neighbours’ loud stereos or heavy trucks passing by at 2 am in the morning.
Concrete masonry walls have high thermal mass. This provides the walls with the advantage of taking longer to heat up and to cool down, and is especially useful in climates where there is a big difference between day and night temperatures. With well-designed and insulated concrete masonry walls, the concrete blocks gradually absorb heat from the sun and keep the building cooler during the hottest part of the day in summer. In winter, concrete masonry holds the building's heat longer, keeping occupants warmer.
The Australian Greenhouse Office defines thermal mass in the following way: "Thermal Mass is the ability of a material to absorb heat energy. A lot of heat energy is required to change the temperature of high density materials like bricks, concrete and tiles. They are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass. Appropriate use of thermal mass throughout your home can make a big difference to comfort and heating and cooling bills."
If you're about to build a home, you have a lot of things to think about. And none more important than the material you build your home from. We urge you to consider the long-term benefits and choose concrete masonry.
Did you know that according to the Australian Greenhouse Office, heating and cooling make up 39% of the average home's energy use? By combining concrete masonry and insulation, you can save on energy needed for heating and cooling of your home. You are looking at potentially saving on energy bills and making your home a more comfortable place to be, when compared to a home made of lightweight construction materials.
Choosing concrete blocks is a great first step, and when combined with good solar passive design and insulation, homeowners can now create a house that requires no artificial heating or cooling in nearly all parts of Australia, significantly reducing energy use.
Over a 50-year period, life cycle analysis (LCA) shows that most energy (89%) is used in the operational phase of a house, rather than in the building process. In particular, heating, ventilation and air conditioning represent a bigger source of greenhouse gas emissions than manufacture and construction, so it makes sense to focus on building your house to reduce operational energy by using materials with a high thermal mass such as concrete block.
Concrete block paving is also known as concrete brick paving, interlocking concrete paving, segmental paving among many other terms. This is not a new technology - in fact, the first recorded use of stone paved surfaces was in Assyria four thousand years ago, prior to the practice being adopted by the Romans.
There are many reasons to choose concrete block pavements, but the main advantage is the low maintenance cost from a properly designed and installed concrete block pavement. It is important to consider the whole of life costs when choosing between different types of paving.
When the concrete block pavement is newly installed, the only maintenance required involves topping up the level of the jointing sand between the pavers to maintain interlock. This is ideally on a 6 monthly basis, over time this will be required at greatly reduced intervals as the jointing sands bond together.
You can also choose not to have to do this type of maintenance at all with the many sealers and sand stabilisers that are commercially available that will do the job for you. This only leaves the occasional weeding to be done for weeds that survive the traffic running over the pavement surface.
Different coloured paving units can also be used to provide maintenance free line marking, such as arrows or parking lines.
Less curing time
Most importantly, the pavement is constructed with pre-cured concrete units on the wearing surface, so it can be opened to traffic almost immediately after installation, this means you don’t need to wait for the surface to cure as you would with concrete, leading to reduced construction times and labour costs.
Any service repairs are usually spot repairs of the affected area.
Skid and slip resistance
It is estimated that stopping distances on this wet concrete block pavements will be up to 5 metres shorter than the stopping distance on a wet asphalt or concrete pavement. Contrary to common belief there is no additional noise generated from driving over a dry paved surface, it is the same as asphalt or concrete.
Pavement designers are increasingly facing the need to consider environmental issues in pavement design and construction. It is therefore important that urban pavements comply with the principles of water-sensitive urban design.
Permeable pavements actively encourage water infiltration and a wide range of environmental benefits can be achieved, including flood mitigation by retention or detention, water improvement by filtration or retention and water conservation by collection and reuse.
Our technical manuals offer information on the benefits of concrete segmental and permeable pavers.