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What are the Advantages of Concrete Block Construction?



A Concrete Block Construction Home Under Way in Naples, Florida by Nova Homes of South Florida

ADVANTAGES OF CONCRETE BLOCK CONSTRUCTION OVER WOOD FRAMING:

Strength – Hurricane Resistance

There is a preconception that a concrete block house is stronger than a 2×6 stick-frame house. While I agree with this notion, either type of construction, in accordance with location, is designed by the engineer to meet current building codes and to withstand 140-mile-per-hour wind speed, whether constructed from CMU or wood framing (with various strapping and fastening mechanisms).

Fire Resistance

CMU is indeed more fire resistant than wood studs and plywood sheathing, although wood framing is still used and attached to the inside of CMU walls to allow for concealment of mechanical piping and wiring. If a fire occurs where CMU walls are used, wood studs (sleepers) would most likely be damaged while the CMU may or may not be salvageable.

Stucco Walls – Better Substrate

Given our location in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and in a high wind zone, CMU walls are less likely to move during high winds than wood-framed walls. Furthermore, wood framing has more potential to move as wood dries out over time. Stucco over a CMU substrate performs much better in the long run as compared to wood framing, provided proper use is made of expansion joints, as concrete and stucco also have some movement due to thermal changes.

Termite Resistance

CMU wall framing has an advantage over wood-framed construction. Still, the sleepers or wood framing pieces attached to the inside of concrete block walls are still susceptible to termites, but the potential damage to the overall structure is diminished because the wood strips are not a structural part of the home and can easily be replaced. While the termite population is alive and well in Florida, maintaining termite inspections and treatments (bond) reduce termites as a determining factor in choosing which exterior wall system to use.

Flood & Weather Resistance – Moisture Intrusion

Concrete block is more forgiving to water and moisture intrusion. For example, if a garage were to flood, it would be much easier to dry out or repair damage to CMU walls. Water coming in over time will rot out exterior sheeting, window and door headers, and structural wood framing.

For multi-story projects, we have observed an increased use of CMU on the first level with wood framing on upper levels. This is advantageous from a cost perspective, while the combination still captures the advantages of having a better substrate for stucco and being easier to repair after potential flooding from heavy rainfall like we’ve seen over the last several years. - Chris Burch, Coastal Luxury

For more information about building with Concrete Block contact Nick Cornwell at Nova Homes of South Florida at 239.776.5076 or email Nick at BuildNow@NovaHomesBuilder.com - Custom Homes from the $300s.

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