Concrete block walls have served as the structural elements of large commercial and government buildings, including schools, office buildings and hospitals, for decades. These bricks, also called cinder blocks, concrete masonry units and foundation blocks, have gained popularity in homes and other small private buildings as well because of some advantages over traditional building materials like lumber. There are some disadvantages, however, that you must consider before choosing a concrete block wall.
A major disadvantage of concrete block walls is the cost. The cost of concrete fluctuates, but it is still more expensive than lumber, which is one of the most popular building materials. Whether the additional cost of concrete blocks is worth the advantages it offers depends on the needs of the homeowner, but the extra cost can be an obstacle for some construction projects.
One of the major advantages concrete blocks hold over other construction materials is durability. Concrete does not rot or mold and is not damaged by insects or other pests. It is also fireproof, and a concrete block wall can be used as a firewall between rooms or structures. Concrete block also resists moisture, making it ideal for wet environments, such as a home near the ocean or in a basement.
Concrete block walls are not known for having an appealing appearance. This is a disadvantage when compared with virtually any other wall material. Drywall, for example, is finishable in many different textures, styles and colors. You can paint concrete block, but you can't change the bare concrete's texture and pattern without spending more than you'd pay for fine quarried stone.
Concrete is environmentally friendly. It uses recycled materials and does not contain many of the harsh chemicals used in other building materials. Since concrete block walls offer superb insulation, they also reduce energy use, which is good for the environment. Their use also reduces the need for harvesting limited resources, like lumber.
Using concrete blocks can speed up the construction process, giving them an advantage over lumber and some other materials. This may also results in a cost savings for labor, since less construction time is necessary. In some cases, depending on the size of the wall and the amount of labor involved, the overall cost of using concrete blocks can be lower than other materials because of the labor cost savings.
Concrete block walls provide excellent insulation, especially if the hollow blocks are filled with concrete after they are placed. They keep heat in when it is cold outside, and keep a home or building cool when it is hot outside. Concrete blocks are also excellent at dampening sound and preventing it from traveling between rooms or sections of a building.