Concrete Contractors Colorado Springs offers several benefits, making it an excellent choice for construction projects. These include low maintenance, energy efficiency, and fire resistance.
Blocks are available in various sizes and finishes, making them versatile for building and renovation projects. They’re also easy to install and much less expensive than brick walls.
Concrete is a strong building material that can last for centuries. Its lifespan is longer than most other construction materials, including wood structures, which need to be replaced over time due to damage from wind and rain. Masonry structures are also resistant to fire and insects. The longevity of these buildings can save owners significant maintenance costs over the course of their life span.
Like any other building material, concrete masonry has pros and cons. However, it is an ideal option for commercial and residential buildings. It is also a good choice for large commercial facilities because it provides a high level of durability and can be designed to resist natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. It is also cost effective because it can be built to withstand a significant amount of weight without compromising structural integrity.
The strength of concrete masonry makes it an excellent choice for retaining walls. Moreover, it can be combined with brick to create beautiful facades and exteriors for buildings and homes. Masonry can also be used for interior walls, where it adds texture and character while providing a solid foundation.
A key factor in the durability of concrete masonry is the density of the blocks. The density of concrete is directly related to its compressive strength. The higher the concrete’s density, the stronger it is. The densification of concrete masonry is accomplished through a process called compaction. Inadequate compaction can decrease a block’s strength and lead to deterioration of the concrete structure.
Another factor that determines the durability of masonry is its resistance to moisture. Cement has a low water absorption rate, and this can help to prevent moisture from damaging a concrete structure. It is important to seal a concrete structure once it has been constructed to ensure that moisture does not seep through the concrete.
Another advantage of masonry is its energy efficiency. Concrete masonry is a thermal insulator, meaning that it can keep buildings warmer in winter and cooler in summer than structures made of other materials. This can significantly reduce the costs of heating and cooling a building, which can save owners up to $1,200 per month in utility costs.
Concrete masonry offers a variety of color, texture and size choices that allow designers to achieve unique aesthetics. These options can help to enhance building design and complement architectural elements and features.
While concrete masonry gets a reputation for its raw, industrial appearance when constructed improperly, it can create striking and beautiful buildings when correctly designed and detailed. In the right hands, concrete masonry can be used in many innovative ways to rethink conventional building materials and construction practices.
Many modern masonry designs require clean wall plane elevations. One potential problem can arise from a desire to avoid capillary water movement up the walls through unbonded, open mortar joints (also known as rising damp). A common way to address this issue is with a prefabricated drip-edge flashing system. However, this method can impose visually intrusive masonry detail at critical locations.
A more subtle approach is to use integrally colored masonry units, which offer a range of low-maintenance colors and shades for the entire concrete mix. This method of coloration is accomplished by dispersing mineral oxide pigments throughout the unit. This system allows the designer to achieve a wide range of color options and can be achieved more economically than site-mixed colored concrete.
Architects may also consider the use of specialty face units to provide a desired visual effect. Fluted concrete masonry units, for example, provide a rich texture that can also enhance the sound attenuating properties of the walls. Examples of this technique can be seen in the earth coloured masonry at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park visitor centre and gallery by Feilden Fowles Architects, the russet coloured concrete of the Islamic cemetery in Altach, by Bernardo Bader, and the red concrete pyramids of the Casa das Historias Paula Rego in Cascais, Portugal by Patel Taylor Architects.
Aesthetic considerations should also be given to the finish and placement of surface-mounted lighting fixtures. Non-diffuse light shining directly onto masonry walls can sometimes produce undesirable long shadows that inadvertently magnify imperfections in materials and workmanship, such as poorly-compacted concrete or ill-conceived bond patterns. To mitigate these issues, specialized lighting fixtures are available that refract, diffuse, reflect, partially block, shade and/or diffuse light so as not to directly illuminate the masonry wall surface.
Concrete masonry blocks do not require staining or painting, so they are more environmentally friendly than many other building materials. They are also durable, maintaining their appearance and protecting the structure for the life of the building. In addition, concrete block structures stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, which reduces energy costs. This type of sustainable building material can save you up to $1,200 per month on utility bills compared to a frame construction of the same size.
The thermal mass and inherent R-value/U-factor of standard masonry are usually enough to meet current code requirements for energy efficiency, particularly in warmer climates. However, concrete masonry assemblies can be further improved with interior insulation to optimize their performance. This may be done using insulated boards (extruded or expanded polystyrene or polyisocyanurate foam), rigid board insulation, foamed-in-place insulation or granular fill in block core spaces.
While a wall’s thermal inertia is important for energy efficiency, the resistance to heat flow within a wall is also important. Because a masonry wall resists the flow of hot and cold air more effectively than frame walls, it requires less insulating material to achieve the same R-value. This can significantly reduce construction costs, as well as the embodied energy and carbon footprint of the insulation products.
Concrete block has a high water-vapor resistance, which helps prevent condensation in buildings that can lead to mold and rot. The concrete itself is a good insulator and does not conduct heat like metals, so it does not transfer moisture to adjacent studs or framing.
A masonry wall’s high thermal inertia also means that it takes longer for the wall to cool after heating, which reduces energy use for air conditioning. This is known as the flywheel effect and can help offset variations in heating and cooling loads.
Unlike wood studs, which require coating with preservatives and other chemicals to extend their lifespan, concrete block will not rot or lose their strength over time. A properly built concrete masonry structure is low maintenance and can last up to 100 years. This will also save you on repairs and replacements, which is better for the environment and your wallet. In addition, a concrete block structure is made from recycled materials that can be reused and recycled again.
Concrete is a good insulator and effectively blocks the transmission of sound waves. However, the nature of concrete’s mass (and resulting inertia) and rigidity means that it tends to transmit vibrations within itself, rather than stopping them, thereby diminishing its effectiveness as a barrier. Fortunately, modern acoustical concrete products like Soundblox and Soundcell can greatly improve sound quality by providing the three-fold performance of structure/absorption/barrier.
The sound absorption capabilities of concrete masonry depend primarily on surface texture and porosity. For example, open-textured concrete has a higher SAC than smooth, dense concrete. However, coating a porous material with a heavy coat of paint closes small surface openings and decreases its SAC value.
Sound absorption values of different construction materials are listed in NRC tables. The NRC tables are used to determine a wall’s sound transmission class rating (STC).
In general, the higher the STC number, the better the wall will impede the passage of sound. STC ratings are determined by averaging the SAC values of a wall over twelve one-third octave bands from 200 through 2,500 Hz.
A concrete block building’s acoustical performance depends on how the walls are constructed, insulated, and finished. It is recommended that an independent acoustical engineer be involved in the design process to provide accurate and up-to-date information.
The acoustical properties of concrete masonry are also enhanced by using sound-absorbing finishes, such as drywall and gypsum board, in conjunction with other construction methods, such as air gaps and sealed penetrations. The addition of acoustic ceilings and walls can provide a quieter environment for residents to live and work, helping them focus on their tasks and relax after a hard day. Moreover, concrete barrier walls help reduce traffic noise and the impact of loud trucks on local wildlife and neighborhoods. This is especially true when concrete barriers are built alongside freeways.