Common Appearance Options for Concrete Block

Romtec designs, manufactures, and installs buildings made from many different construction materials, and one of the most common materials we use is concrete masonry units, also known as CMU block. This material is seemingly ubiquitous and can be found in buildings in all types of applications. CMU is low-cost and easily procured at construction wholesalers across the country, making it a reliable construction material. CMU is a common material, but it can include several options for appearance to give a concrete block building a custom look that will improve the aesthetic of any park or facility.

The most common type of CMU is referred to as smooth faced block. This is because the exterior face of the block is a flat and level surface. The block face is not actually smooth to the touch, but it gives the appearance of a smooth building. Smooth face CMU creates a clean look for buildings, with defined corners and an even surface. In order to get the best effect of this block style, the installing contractor needs to straighten out each block. Accuracy in the installation is important. When smooth block is slightly off the depth of the exterior wall, it can create an off-kilter appearance that is not in keeping with the expectation of smooth faced block.

Restroom with Exterior Shower Fixture and Local Art

To account for this, building can also have split faced block. Split face has an uneven exterior surface. It has the appearance of hewn stone with an edge that is not square. The unevenness of split faced block actually can lend itself to an improved appearance. Split faced block can have a slightly uneven installation, but the differences are hidden in the rough faces of the block. This leads to a more consistently attractive appearance because it is difficult to install it incorrectly.

Another option for CMU block is a burnished finish. Burnishing is essentially mechanically grinding or polishing the exterior face of concrete block to a smooth finish. As stated earlier, smooth face block is actually rough to the touch, but burnishing actually smooths out the face of smooth block. This creates interesting patterns by exposing the aggregate in the concrete in a polished face. The result is a surface that mimics old concrete with an aged patina that can be a more interesting visual feature than smooth or split-faced block.

One last option that is common for improving CMU block is coloring the block. Concrete used to make the block can be dyed with many different colors to customize the appearance of any building. Colored block can typically be finished in the same ways as discussed above smooth, split-faced, and burnished. Colored CMU blocks are often very effective when included as partial levels in a building. This can create a faux wainscot or interesting patterns on the building exterior.

CMU block is a very common construction material but that doesn’t mean that buildings have to have a boring appearance. When implemented correctly, CMU block buildings can include interesting layout options, finishes, and colors to create a custom looking building without incurring a lot of extra materials costs. Romtec has designed, manufactured, and installed many buildings structures that utilize these simple styles to create a compelling aesthetic. Contact Romtec today to learn more about our building designs and how you can get a great looking building without spending too much.

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