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Architectural Block
  1. Can there be color variations in masonry products?
    It is important to note that minor variations in tone and texture are inherent in all masonry products. Factors influencing these variations in Concrete Masonry Units include: color variation in pigments, aggregates, cements water content, degree of compaction achieved during manufacture, kiln conditions and atmospheric conditions including temperature and humidity. If properly dispersed through the wall, these variations can enhance rather than detract from the appearance of a project.

    There are several steps that can be taken to ensure that the product performs as intended;
    1. The architect should request samples for verification purpose showing the full range of exposed color and texture to be expected in completed construction.
    2. A sample panel should be built on the jobsite. This sample panel should be used as a reference for the color of the CMU, the texture of the CMU and the workmanship. In case of disputes over these issues on the project, the sample panel should be referred to.
    3. The mason should pull product to be placed in the wall from opposite corners of three randomly selected pallets to ensure dispersion of variability.
    4. The initial order should be as accurate as possible, as OldcastleCoastal Block cannot guarantee an exact match from subsequent production runs.
    5. Following construction, the concrete masonry units should be cleaned using well-established and specified techniques.

  2. Where does concrete block stand in regards to fire resistance?
    Concrete block wall systems are unsurpassed in functioning as a barrier to contain the spread of fire. These systems effectively resist transmission of intense heat through the wall while also preventing the passage of flames and hot gases. The fire resistance rating period of concrete masonry elements is determined by testing, by calculation methods or through a listing service.
    1. Testing of representative elements of the wall constructions in accordance with standard fire test methods is usually measured by ASTM E 119, Standard Test Methods of Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials.
    2. Calculation methods determine fire resistance ratings based on physical and material properties of the concrete masonry unit, such as the equivalent thickness and aggregate types used in the manufacture of the concrete masonry units. These calculations methods are based on extensive research which has established a relationship between physical properties of materials and the fire resistance rating. The rating is a function of the aggregate used in the manufacturing of the units and the equivalent thickness of the unit.
    3. Private listing services allow a designer to specify a fire rated assembly which has been previously classified. The listing service monitors materials and production to verify that the concrete masonry units are in compliance with appropriate standards.

  3. How is the strength of masonry construction determined?
    Structural performance of masonry is based on the physical characteristics of its components and on the construction methods used in assembling these components. The strength of masonry is influenced by the structural properties of units, grout, mortar and reinforcement. In engineered masonry structures, the required strength of structural elements is determined by distributing design loads to the various resisting elements in accordance with a structural analysis. After the required strength is determined, the designer uses it as a basis for specifying f´m, which is defined as the "specified compressive strength of masonry". This property is noted in the project documents and is used in accordance with masonry design codes to establish allowable stresses for masonry elements.

  4. What type of weight classifications are there for concrete block?
    Concrete Block has three classifications according to weight. Lightweight units weigh between 85 and 105 pounds per cubic foot. Medium Weight units weigh between 105 and 125 pounds per cubic foot and Normal Weight units weigh over 125 pounds per cubic foot. OldcastleCoastal currently manufactures only Medium and Normal weight units. Medium weight block is lighter, has a higher fire rating, a higher R value and is more effective for sound absorption (NRC rating). Normal Weight block has a higher  compressive strength, a tighter texture and is more effective for sound transmission (STC rating). Lightweight block is available upon request.

  5. What types of aggregates do concrete blocks contain?
    The most common aggregate in our market is Limestone. OldcastleCoastal uses limestone in manufacturing Medium Weight block that conform to ASTM C 331. Normal Weight Block uses aggregates that conform to ASTM C33 and are composed of sand and rock. All units that are produced by OldcastleCoastal are available in multiple mix designs. For more information about OldcastleCoastal, please visit our website at www.OldcastleCoastal.com.