Romtec constructs the majority of our buildings with concrete masonry units, commonly known as CMU blocks. Building construction with CMU blocks offers many advantages, such as speed, availability, durability, cost, and more. When it comes to CMU block, many people are familiar with the characteristic rectangular unit containing 2 to 3 holes often mistakenly referred to as “cinder block.” Another CMU block option is called double open ended bond beam, but it is more frequently referred to as speed block. Speed block offers a lot of advantages for concrete block construction.
CMU block walls are a combination of stacked blocks, grout, horizontal and vertical rebar, and concrete fill. Each wall starts with vertical rebar getting cast into the foundation of the building. Rebar sticks can be cast in place at various heights, but typical code specifies at least 24 to 30 inches. Additional vertical rebar can be lap joined (at the same 24 to 30 inch lap) to achieve the full height of the wall. Standard concrete block is installed by lifting each block over the top of the vertical rebar and lowering it into place. This can be tricky depending on the height of the vertical rebar.
Speed block is open at both ends, resembling a capital “H” when viewed from the top. This allows speed block to be installed by inserting each block between the vertical rebar sticks without having to go over the top. This allows the block to be installed faster to some degree. It is also typically faster when being installed in the bond beam courses. There are generally several bond beam courses depending on the building.
A bond beam course refers to the layer of block where horizontal rebar is installed and set in concrete fill. Speed block offers another advantage when installing bond beam courses as the block cross section is set deeper for the horizontal rebar chases. This allows the rebar to be easily set in the block “trough” on bond beam courses. Bond beam courses typically start with the first course and are installed at set intervals per code requirements. They also are installed below windows and above windows and doors. Bond beam courses are much more robust than other methods such as lintels for support in these locations. Romtec will also use lintels and bond beam courses to meet code and/or seismic requirements when applicable.
Speed block a versatile construction material. It offers many advantages on bond beam courses, but its light weight and easy installation make it suitable for entire buildings as well. Though, building corners will still require standard block or single opened ended block. These materials also typically cost the same as standard CMU block. Romtec can design and supply buildings with any required materials including speed block. Contact us today see how speed block can improve your building project.