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Difference Between Concrete and Cinder Blocks

Concrete, cement and cinder blocks, even though they may appear similar, have unique properties that make them distinct.

What is concrete?

Concrete is made from cement and other aggregates. When the materials that are used to make concrete are mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs and concrete is formed.

What are concrete blocks?

On the other hand, the concrete blocks are precast concrete often used as a building material in the construction of walls. The blocks are made from pure concrete. The aggregates of concrete blocks are finely crushed stone or sand. The concrete blocks can be solid or have one or more hollow cavities. The sides of concrete blocks can be cast smooth or with a unique pattern.

Main characteristics of concrete blocks:

  • They consist of steel, wood or cement
  • They are typically heavier than cinder blocks
  • Concrete blocks have a significant tensile strength and hence can be used in tougher structures compared to cinder blocks
  • Is more efficient than cinder blocks and can withstand high pressure

What are cinder blocks?

Cinders refer to the remains of burned coal. Cinder blocks are made from an aggregate that includes concrete and coal cinders or ash. Cinders are often used in small spaces like garden walls or project walls unlike concrete blocks, which are often used in substantial construction projects.

Main characteristics of cinder blocks:

  • They consist of concrete as well as coal cinders
  • They are lighter than concrete blocks
  • They are not as strong as concrete blocks hence cannot be used in large construction projects or some places
  • They are more prone to bowing and buckling
  • Repairing cinder blocks is quite costly hence they are not recommended in areas where there’s a high risk of damage
  • Don’t have substantial tensile strength

When determining whether to use concrete or cinder blocks, consider the demands of the project at hand. The reality is that concrete blocks are much heavier, more durable and long-lasting than cinder blocks hence are a great option in most construction projects. However, some builders still prefer cinder blocks because they are lighter in weight.

When shopping around for the right blocks for your next project, you need to know how to tell the difference between pure concrete blocks and cinder blocks. Concrete blocks that are new and heavy were likely created with sand or gravel and not cinders. If you notice the concrete is older and light, there’s a high chance that it was made with cinders. Go to a reliable seller who will be very honest with you when purchasing concrete blocks and be able to tell you what it’s made of.

Keep in mind that there are several building codes, which explicitly prohibit the use of cinder blocks in certain areas of construction. Both concrete and cinder blocks are produced in open cells where additional reinforcement can be done for higher resistance and better tensile strength. Speak to the supplier and know what you’re getting before you fully commit.