Sean Welch, Area Sales Manager at Forticrete explores the appeal of architectural masonry.
Architectural masonry materials are supporting construction professionals in delivering new build and renovation projects that offer real kerb appeal, without compromising on durability or performance. Whilst concrete masonry blocks have been around for decades, they have traditionally been utilised for commercial projects based on their superior strength, minimal drying shrinkage and low maintenance properties. However, in more recent years, concrete masonry blocks have been rising in popularity, facilitating a real step-change with regard to the building fabric of individual or small-scale residential developments, particularly throughout London and the surrounding areas of south England.
Offering professionals the opportunity to replicate the high quality appearance of natural stone, combined with the associated performance and resilience benefits of commercial developments, concrete masonry blocks are an economical and effective construction method that supports unlimited design freedom and delivers uncompromising quality.
Providing a comprehensive range of unique finishes, profiles and shades, concrete masonry blocks are enabling construction professionals to build a new generation of residential properties that create outstanding aesthetics, without causing additional strain on budgets or resources.
These diverse finishes include rugged, tactile textures such as Splitface, Shot-blasted and Fairface, which emulate the natural appearance of stone to deliver an affordable alternative that provides a high quality and robust surface finish for the entire lifespan of the property. It also enables renovation or extension projects to seamlessly blend into their surrounding environments, in addition to the exterior style of the existing structure.
Available in an assortment of colours, from Bathstone, Straw and Terracotta, to Damson, Pewter and Flint, the exterior character of each property can be further customised to create a visually striking home that reflects the individual personality of the owner.
For more contemporary developments, smooth concrete masonry blocks that feature delicate, tactile finishes are a popular choice for creating exteriors that combine rich blends of selected natural aggregates. This includes Polished Florentine and Trentino finishes, which are also available in a suite of colour variations.
The use of concrete masonry blocks can also produce a unified aesthetic across the entire exterior of a property as the blocks have a higher resistance to moisture due to their low dry shrinkage, which enables them to be installed across the whole building fabric, including below DPC level.
The low dry shrinkage properties also helps to minimise the frequency of movement joints installed throughout the masonry wall, with joints required every nine metres externally and every 12.2 metres internally, in ideal conditions. This means the overall design of the exterior isn’t restricted to a certain visual design or specific use of multiple building products to ensure the suitability and water tightness of the house.
The combination of functionality, performance and aesthetics is further bolstered through the proportion of the blocks, which provide increased dimensional stability. This also significantly aids ease of installation when on site, whilst simultaneously reducing the quantities of mortar required.
Concrete masonry blocks also offer impressive environmental credentials, supporting professionals in using products that are recognised within the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Green Guide to Specification as an A or A+ rating.
Forticrete is aiding the industry in taking its commitment to sustainability one step further through its comprehensive range of concrete masonry products that feature recycled content of up to 20 per cent. This includes its Hi-Light block, which has been designed to provide all of the benefits associated with dense masonry, yet is up to 25 per cent lighter than an equivalent solid masonry unit. This is due to its unique construction, which features a cellular underside, combined with a solid top surface that creates a full bed for mortar.
As construction professionals across the UK continue to set the pace for a new standard of housing that revolutionises the visual and performance capabilities of the building fabric, the specification of concrete masonry blocks can help to achieve the most effective, economical and ecological building exteriors possible.
For further information on Forticrete’s Architectural Masonry offering visit https://www.forticrete.co.uk/products/architectural-masonry