What is a CMU Wall and What is it Used For?


Whether you’re a weekend warrior doing DIY home projects or a private contractor, building a structure that will endure for generations starts with a solid foundation with all the right components to properly reinforce the structure with durable materials and powerfully strong infrastructure.

A CMU Wall is an essential part of the walls that helps them to stand the test of time. If you’re hearing the term for the first time or looking for more information, you’re in the right place. Here is everything you need to know about CMU walls, what they are, and what they’re used for.

What is a CMU wall?

According to Civiconcepts, a CMU Wall is short for Concrete Masonry Units Wall. It’s a group of blocks that come in various sizes and shapes. They’re used in a broad range of applications, but they are n essential choice for completing a solid foundation. CMU blocks are used to make CMU walls.

They come in a variety of ingredients including Portland cement, water, and aggregates. They’re available in a wide range of sizes that ranges from 4 to 12 inches high and wide. They are made in full blocks and half blocks for convenience and less waste for contractors and installers.

What are CMU walls used for?

CMU walls have two main functions. They solidify the foundation of walls and are also used to create decorative finishes for buildings. They come in a variety of attractive and ornamental finishes that designers and builders consider to achieve the desired aesthetic for the final project. Some CMU blocks are already completed with a design, but others may be ornamented after they are installed. Many architects use these blocks as a part of the design scheme to achieve a particular appearance.

Different types of CMU blocks

The CMU blocks used to make CMU walls come in several different types. They are available in concrete brick forms, in calcium silicate face brick, segmental retaining wall units, blocks made of calcium silicate masonry units, and prefaced concreate, solid interlocking concrete paving units, CMUs for construction of Catch basins and Manholes, and load-bearing concrete masonry units. This gives you an idea of how many different kinds of CMU blocks are available for various applications.

Uses for CMU walls

CMU wall construction consists of series of blocks that are placed together and secured. You can use them to create interior or exterior walls in whatever size and shape are desired. The CMU walls generally are placed against foundations that are a minimum of two times the width of the wall, extending down at least one foot into the ground for stability.

CMU walls are created by using different types of blocks that also include corner units and stretchers. The joints of the walls are connected with mortar. They’re usually staggered in their placement to create a stronger wall with vertical joints. Both vertical and horizontal reinforcement helps the wall to resist joint cracking that would destroy the walls.

In most cases, a straight steel bar is embedded into wet concrete, then poured into the block cavities at regular intervals for additional strengthening of the integrity of the wall. Most CMU walls are made in single rows of blocks that are stacked on top of one another. Occasionally, double rows of blocks are used when there’s a need for exceptional strength.

Mortarless CMU walls

According to Hunker, some CMU walls are constructed of CMU blocks that offer an interlocking feature. This makes it possible to place them securely without the need to use mortar. The interlocking tongues and grooves of each block hold them firmly in place and prevents shifts and movements at critical places. This reduces the time and effort required to build the walls, but the type of blocks may be more expensive.

The Pros and Cons of CMU walls

There are benefits and disadvantages associated with CMU systems. CMU walls are usually easy to install. When done correctly, they are durable and fireproof. Most are low maintenance and offer a variety of decorative options for both interior and exterior walls.

They provide extra fortification for buildings in zones that experience severe weather events such as high winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes. A CMU wall can extend the lifetime of structures and lower the maintenance requirements. CMU walls have a high tolerance for heady loads and provide the necessary support for using other types of heavy building components such as brick, plaster, or stone facing.

There are a few drawbacks to using CMU walls, however. Concrete blocks take up a large amount of space. They have a low thermal resistance value with makes it more difficult to insulate them. There is less flexibility with the CMU systems, which are also heavier than metal or wood. There is little flexibility in achieving some unique shapes. It’s necessary to weatherproof CMU blocks/walls as the materials they are made of are porous and they tend to absorb a lot of moisture from the environment.

Final thoughts

CMU Walls are not found in every building but they do add to the overall strength, durability, and stability of a building. They are ideal for construction teams that are charged with using heavier materials to achieve a decorative exterior. They help to shore up the foundation and create a stronger and more stable structure that can last for generations.

CMU walls help to reduce the amount of maintenance and repairs needed on walls. Although CMU walls are not as flexible for creating some of the more unique architectural shapes, it does provide necessary strength for adding more decorative features to a home.

They do have their drawbacks, but overall, if you want a finished project that has strong reinforcement, then CMU walls may be the best option. They’re usually not difficult to install. You can choose between the types of CMU blocks that require mortar or you can go with the style that comes premade with tongue and groove features that eliminate the need for mortar.

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