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Concrete blocks versus poured concrete

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Concrete is one of the most popular materials used for construction, and it’s no surprise why – it’s commended for its flexibility, durability and its strength attributes, making it a sturdy and long-lasting solution for all types of commercial and residential buildings.

Concrete typically is available in two forms: concrete blocks and poured concrete. As specialist concrete contractors, we wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you the differences between concrete blocks and poured concrete, along with the advantages and setbacks of each.

Read on to learn more about these concrete types, and how Wright Minimix can assist with your construction build.

What is the difference between a concrete block and poured concrete?

Concrete blocks are solid concrete masonry units (CMUs) that are made of pure concrete, aggregated from crushed stone and sand. Nowadays, concrete blocks can contain steel, wood or mixed cement to improve its structural integrity. We recommend block construction as the preferred construction method when very little horizontal pressure will be applied to the CMUs.

Whilst containing similar materials to concrete blocks, poured concrete differs in that it’s a form of concrete that is poured, moulded and cured onsite. It’s best used for retaining wall or barrier installations.

Advantages of using concrete blocks vs poured concrete

Prebuilt

The main advantage of utilising concrete blocks (rather than poured concrete) for your build is that they are already prebuilt, meaning you don’t have to worry about bad weather for the concrete curing process. As the blocks don’t need to cure, you won’t have to worry about the loss of any strength resulting from the cold.

Compression Strength

Concrete blocks are renowned for their compression strength, and that determines how much weight the foundation can support.

Setbacks of using concrete blocks

Bowing and buckling

Concrete block foundations are also liable to crack, bow and buckle over time. This can lead to further costs repairing or even rebuilding the wall.

Minor water leaks

Whilst concrete blocks can be waterproofed, they are still prone to water leaks, and seeps comparatively more so than poured concrete due to the grout lines.

Advantages of using poured concrete vs concrete blocks

Material Strength

In comparison to concrete blocks that must be laid one at a time, poured concrete can be installed as a monolithic structure, meaning greater lateral strength.

Resistance to the elements

Poured concrete can withstand more pressure from nature like water and soil and is also known for its fire-resistance. Poured concrete is also easier to waterproof, as unlike concrete blocks it doesn’t consist of joints.

Versatility and efficiency

Poured concrete can fit into any design and can adapt to any last-minute adjustments. It also can be much faster and efficient to use, provided the cement plant is located nearby.

Setbacks of using poured concrete

Weather dependent

Poured concrete can take longer to form in the cold, as the chilly conditions can take the concrete longer to cure and develop its strength. What’s more, if it’s too cold, the concrete might not build its strength and may even collapse entirely.

Water leaks

This needs to be a key determinant when deciding your concrete structure as water leaks can arise due to a number of factors. For example, the foundation can drop or sink due to soil, leading to water seepage. Additionally, if the wall was poorly formed, the wall can crack, which not only causes leakage, but for it to be fixed the concrete needs to be dug up.

Which is better – concrete blocks or poured concrete?

There is no one clear answer in terms of which is better than the other – both forms of concrete can perform for your construction project. We strongly advise speaking to our team of specialists to best determine which is more suitable for your build.

Wright Minimix are top quality concrete suppliers in the UK

Wright Minimix have built our longstanding reputation on excellence, providing an unrivalled service in supplying top quality concrete blocks, ready mixed concrete and liquid screed across the South West of England and South Wales. Our highly experienced team of concrete contractors have a wealth of knowledge and pride themselves on giving expert guidance across both the commercial and residential sectors.

To learn how we can provide concrete to assist with your construction project, contact us today via our website or call our friendly team on 01179 582090.