Tag Archive | concrete

A Brief History On Concrete Blocks

Concrete blocks began as sunbaked clay bricks in ancient societies. The modern concrete block was invented in the mid-1800s and revolutionized building the world over.

Beautiful and masterful examples of masonry can be found in most ancient cultures as well as in the modern world. The Pyramids have lasted millennia, as has the Coliseum in Rome. The Great Wall of China still draws thousands of tourists yearly and can even be seen from space. The evolution of bricks and concrete blocks is the backbone of historical and modern architecture alike. The feats of masonry have survived fires, earthquakes and time and most feature artistic detail even current technologies have trouble mimicking. Despite not having lasers or heavy machinery, ancient masons created complex and durable buildings that influenced architecture for centuries.

The predecessor to the modern concrete block is the sunbaked clay brick, which is coincidentally man’s oldest manufactured product. This old type of brick has been used for 6,000 years. To help maintain the integrity of the rectangular shape, masons added grass or straw to the clay mix. In 4,000 BCE, manufacturers streamed lined the brick’s shape and started firing them in kilns. This vastly improved the durability of the product as is evidenced by the various ruins of ancient civilizations. While concrete has replaced the sunbaked clay, some regions still use the method to build durable low-cost housing.

Concrete as the modern world knows it was first made in wooden frames in the early 1800s. Initially the material was dried and laid like brick with mortar. The first house to be made entirely of concrete blocks was built in New York during 1837. The inventor credited with the modern formula of concrete is an Englishman named Joseph Aspidin. He called it Portland cement after a type of stone native to the Isle of Portland. Joseph Monier invented reinforced concrete, which uses embedded metal, in 1849 and received a patent in 1867. Following these events, concrete began to replace other building materials for personal and commercial properties.

The cost of Portland cement fell as newly invented machines filled factories and shortened the manufacturing process. Builders responded to the pressure of building fire and weatherproof housing for investors and homeowners. Concrete blocks accomplished that goal and became the material of choice for many builders. Concrete structures are still very common especially for commercial and government buildings. These days even cheaper materials like dry wall are used for housing developments, but the foundations are still predominately concrete blocks and brick. Some theorists are now speculating whether the ancient Egyptians invented concrete, but while this is interesting, sufficient evidence has not been produced.

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Three Advantages Of Using Decorative Concrete Blocks For Retaining Walls

Retaining walls come in all shapes and sizes, and can be built using a variety of materials such as treated wood timbers or planks, natural stone available in different sizes and shapes, and manufactured concrete blocks. The blocks can range from very plain and utilitarian to remarkably natural looking and visually appealing. Decorative concrete blocks offer these advantages over other retaining wall materials. Continue reading

Concrete Vs Pavers – Three Important Factors to Consider


Concrete slabs are commonly used for driveways, sidewalks and patios, but there is another choice that the consumer should consider: pavers. Pavers are made from many different materials, but probably the most common are crafted from cast concrete that can be finished in all varieties of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Highlighted below are three factors to consider when deciding between concrete slabs and pavers.

1.    Installation

Concrete slab installation can include excavating and grading the site and setting the forms before the pour, then smoothing the concrete during and immediately after the pour. Excavating and grading is also a necessary step when installing pavers, but neither is as critical as in concrete pours because minor issues are much easier to correct later on. Additional installation steps for pavers are necessary however, including preparing and compacting base material, laying the pavers and borders and possibly having to make cuts on both, still more compaction and filling in the gaps between pavers. Once the paver installation is done, the surface can be used directly, unlike the concrete slab which must harden before use.

2.    Cost

For initial installation, concrete slabs are usually the cheaper option when compared with pavers. Over the long haul however, maintenance and repair costs of concrete slabs can make the higher initial investment of pavers the more cost-effective choice.

3.    Maintenance

Cracks are very common as concrete settles and ages, and they are often difficult to fix. Cracks in pavers are certainly possible as they shift and settle, but it is much easier to replace the affected pavers on a case-by-case basis than to deal with a solid slab of concrete.

Pavers are a viable option over concrete slabs when a cost-effective, durable, versatile and easily maintained hard surface is needed. Compare the pros and cons of both and you may decide that pavers are the way to go.

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