Architectural Blocks

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Nitterhouse is a producer of high-quality concrete masonry block, manufacturing the industry-standard ground face and split face architectural concrete block. Our product line also includes various other finishes and textures, including a filled and polished unit which we call our Elite finish and a shot blast finish on our Antique architectural block. Nitterhouse Masonry Products is proud to manufacture a recycled architectural concrete masonry block called eco-SMART we produce with 30 percent recycled material, and it comes in our standard ground face and split face finishes in a variety of color options. With a diverse product line and variety of sizes and shapes available, you can find the right concrete masonry units for any construction project.the projects needs.

Different Faces and Finishes for Architectural Blocks

Architectural concrete blocks are a versatile building product builders can use for a wide variety of projects from museums and universities to shopping centers and offices. We make these strong and environmentally friendly concrete building blocks with sand, rock, cement and water. Suitable for both exterior and interior applications, concrete masonry units (CMUs) come in different sizes and shapes to satisfy any construction demand. Depending on your project’s requirements, you can choose durable CMUs that meet ASTM-C90 standards for load-bearing walls or high-quality and attractive veneer concrete blocks that meet ASTM-C129 standards for non-load-bearing walls. Almost all architectural CMU blocks from Nitterhouse Masonry are available in 20 standard colors, with the option to create a customized color to perfectly capture your company’s branding or style. Architectural blocks can feature various faces and finishes that create a unique and eye-catching texture for your building.

1. Ground Face:

Ground face concrete masonry blocks offer a sleek, smooth and rich appearance. Grinding these CMUs on their face exposes the natural aggregates in the concrete. Nitterhouse’s Ground Face CMU comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with each block carefully produced to have a uniform appearance. Our ground face CMU meets ASTM-C90 standards, and builders can use these blocks at or below grade for exterior or interior applications. These concrete blocks arrive ready to use with an integral water repellent and sealed with a water-based acrylic resin sealer that meets ASTM C-744 standards. For exterior walls, Nitterhouse’s ground face concrete masonry units are resistant to weathering, and in interior construction, they provide an attractive shine. Our ground face CMUs come in a wide range of colors with the option of a matching Type-S mortar.

Nitterhouse also offers a ground face veneer block in our Legacy Stone with a terrazzo finish. Perfect for decorative accent bands or sills and chamfers, this 4″ ground face veneer meets ASTM-C129 standards. Legacy Stone concrete block products provide the visual appeal of smooth granite for both interior or exterior designs.

The classic and uniform appeal of ground face architectural blocks is well-suited for a variety of construction projects, including:

  • Libraries
  • Office buildings
  • Schools
  • College dormitories
  • Shopping malls

2. Split Face:

When you want a textured look, split face concrete masonry blocks offer a broken rock-face appearance that is rough but clean. The fully exposed aggregates in these concrete blocks uniquely catch the sunlight to create a visually stimulating building façade. For large exterior applications, split face concrete blocks often provide a more interesting and aesthetically pleasing look than a smooth finish. Split face CMUs are also an excellent choice for banding stripes to create a more diverse design. In interior applications, split face CMUs add depth and dimension to flat walls with their rough texture.

Nitterhouse’s Split Face CMU offers the same excellent durability and quality of our ground face CMU and is similarly designed to meet ASTM-C90 standards. Our split face masonry units are fire-rated for up to four hours and have an integral water repellent to prevent mold effectively. Perfect for building façades or accent features, split face textured concrete blocks are sure to add interest to any building.

The eye-catching texture of split face CMUs makes them an ideal choice for:

  • Museums
  • Banks
  • Fire stations
  • Schools
  • Office buildings

3. Polished Finish:

With an even more sleek and shiny appearance than ground face finish, a filled and polished finish offers an upscale look for interior or exterior uses. Nitterhouse’s Elite CMU with a polished finish has a ground face filled with an acrylic resin filler, polished to perfection and sealed with water-based acrylic resin sealer that conforms to ASTM C-744 standards. Our Elite CMU is safe to use for load-bearing walls in exterior or interior applications. An excellent choice for interior designs, the polished finish of our Elite CMUs means you do not need to face concrete block with ceramic tile to achieve a smooth and shimmering interior wall. These polished CMUs add class to any design, whether for full walls or accents.

CMUs with a polished finish offer high-class appeal in a variety of construction projects, such as:

  • Boutique shops
  • Courthouses
  • Municipal buildings
  • Universities
  • Apartment buildings

4. Shot Blast Finish:

Falling between the smooth surface of ground face blocks and striking texture of split face blocks, CMUs with a shot blast finish offer a slightly textured and distressed appeal. Shot-blasting these architectural blocks creates a weathered and antique look. Nitterhouse’s Antique CMU is available in a variety of colors with beautiful exposed aggregate. Perfect for exterior or interior designs, shot blasted CMUs also offer contrast when used in banding stripes.

For non-load-bearing applications, Nitterhouse offers a Legacy Stone CMU with a textured finish. This shot blasted CMU provides a vintage appeal to any building and adds dimension to your building design.

The rustic appeal of architectural CMU blocks with a shot blast finish is perfect for building designs that call for antique charm, including:

  • Banks
  • Libraries
  • Courthouses
  • Museums
  • Hotels

5. Chiseled Finish:

For building projects that require a historic look, chiseled finish CMUs offer a stately and aged appeal. These architectural blocks have a chiseled edge that resembles naturally cut limestone while offering the ease of installation and affordability of concrete. Available in a variety of sizes and shapes, chiseled finish concrete blocks are perfect for creating contrast and interest in a banded design. Nitterhouse’s Legacy Stone with a chiseled finish meets both ATSM-C90 and ASTM-C129 standards. These CMUs are just four inches thick but offer excellent durability and longevity. If you are seeking a concrete block that looks like stone, a CMU with a chiseled finish might be the right choice for your building project.

The historical and natural appearance of architectural blocks with a chiseled finish is well-suited to capture the style of many building projects, including:

  • Renovations of historical buildings
  • Museums
  • Local libraries
  • Universities
  • Quaint shopping centers

6. Combination of Finishes:

To create contrast and diversity, a combination of architectural blocks with different faces and finishes can be used in a single building design. Architects and builders can combine polished and split face CMUs for striking contrasted bands or create standout edges by using chiseled finish CMUs on corners and ground face CMUs on building façades. The possible combinations of color, texture and finish for concrete masonry units are as limitless as your imagination.

When you are seeking more variety in your building design, Nitterhouse makes it easy to explore contrasting textures with our Legacy Linear Collection. These architectural concrete blocks feature both ground face and shot blast finishes, separated by beautifully scored linear lines. This dramatic horizontal banded design creates a unique and memorable exterior for any building. With adjustable bandwidth, you can create a truly unique and customized building façade that is sure to get some attention. These 4″ veneer blocks are non-load-bearing and meet ASTM-C129 standards.

The dramatic, yet streamlined, look of our linear legacy stone is perfect for projects like:

  • Municipal buildings
  • Universities
  • Office buildings
  • Shopping malls
  • Apartment buildings

7. Clay Brick Alternative:

Some building projects call for the rustic look of brick, but the sturdiness and strength of concrete. Nitterhouse offers our Monarch Blox as an alternative to clay brick. These load-bearing concrete masonry blocks are the same height as standard brick blocks, but the length and depth of concrete blocks. The natural and rustic appeal of our Monarch Blox makes them a perfect choice for:

  • Shopping malls
  • Office buildings
  • College dormitories
  • Schools
  • Banks

8. Recycled Concrete Masonry Blocks:

Concrete masonry units offer several environmentally friendly benefits, including providing building insulation that reduces the use of heating and cooling units and being constructed with entirely natural materials. Concrete building blocks also pose no risk of releasing chemicals into the environment. However, Nitterhouse also offers recycled CMU blocks that can make your building project even greener.

Nitterhouse Masonry’s eco-SMART blocks include at least 30 percent recycled materials and are one of the most environmentally friendly building products available. By using sustainable natural materials, our recycled CMU blocks reduce waste and create greener buildings. Builders and architects even have the option to increase the percentage of recycled materials in their CMUs to earn more LEED points for your sustainable building project. These eco-friendly concrete blocks still offer the high-performance features of other Nitterhouse products. Our eco-SMART blocks meet ASTM C-90 standards for load-bearing blocks, offer superior fire resistance and provide excellent soundproofing for a quieter office building, school or shop.

Eco-SMART blocks are available in ground face and split face finishes and can be customized to match the color of any regular CMU block. Our recycled CMU blocks can fit seamlessly into any building design to maintain a professional and pleasing aesthetic while offering added environmental benefits. Here are a few great applications for recycled CMUs in building projects:

  • Office buildings
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Apartments
  • Municipal buildings

Common Uses of CMUs

Versatile and durable, concrete masonry units are suitable for a wide variety of exterior and interior building projects. CMUs are available in several different textures and dozens of colors to create a unique design for any application. Ground face CMUs offer a sleek appearance for schools or office buildings, while CMUs with a shot blast finish provide an aged and textured look for courthouses or museums. Concrete blocks are weather- and fire-resistant, making them a practical choice for exterior walls, and their structural integrity makes them perfect for constructing durable basements and foundations. Below are a few common uses of CMUs in construction projects:

  • Exterior walls
  • Load-bearing walls
  • Partition walls
  • Accent bands
  • Foundation walls
  • Basement walls

Why Choose CMUs?

Many builders and architects choose CMUs for their strength, attractive appearance and affordability. If you are wondering if concrete masonry blocks are right for your construction project, consider these benefits of building with CMUs.

  • Durability: Concrete blocks are durable against severe weather such as hail and sleet. They are also resistant to physical damage such as if a car bumps the building. Concrete building blocks are long-lasting and reliable.
  • Low maintenance: Concrete masonry blocks will retain their original quality for a long time, without fading or becoming discolored from rain or snow. Because the color pigments are added internally, you never have to worry about painting or maintaining CMUs.
  • Easy to install: CMUs are easy to install, and their hollow cavities allow reinforcement with vertical steel beams. Concrete masonry blocks provide reliable and stable performance, making them a popular choice for government and industrial buildings.
  • Better building insulation: Save on heating and cooling costs by choosing concrete blocks that offer improved insulation. The thermal mass of concrete blocks allows them to better trap heat in the winter and cold air in the summer. Concrete blocks also stabilize internal building temperatures despite outside temperature fluctuations.
  • Better soundproofing: Concrete blocks help prevent outside noise from entering the building to provide quieter offices and schools.
  • Fire-resistant: Many concrete masonry blocks are fire-resistant for up to four hours, making them a safer choice for schools, hospitals and other buildings.
  • Excellent appearance: Concrete masonry blocks provide a clean and attractive appearance for building exteriors and interiors. The variety of decorative finishes available makes them an affordable way to construct a beautiful building.
  • Environmentally friendly: Nitterhouse offers eco-friendly CMU blocks with 30 percent or more recycled materials. These environmentally friendly blocks are long-lasting, so they rarely need replacement or repair and greatly reduce waste.

How to Determine How Many Architectural Blocks Your Project Needs

Whether you are constructing a large office building or building a DIY concrete block retaining wall in your backyard, you will need to determine how many concrete blocks your project will require before you begin building. A simple way to decide how many concrete masonry blocks to order is to calculate the square footage of the wall you are planning to construct and divide it by the square footage of the CMU you plan to use. There are also online concrete block calculators available to confirm your calculations.

Concrete building blocks come in a variety of sizes, but when calculating the number of blocks required, you only need to consider the height and length of the concrete blocks. The bed depth of the concrete block is essential to determining the amount of mortar the project will require, but not the number of CMUs. Two different measurements describe the size of your concrete blocks: the size and the nominal size. The nominal dimensions will be the actual physical size of the block, while the size will include an additional 3/8″ for the standard mortar joint. When calculating the number of blocks, always use the size measurement to accommodate for the added height and width from mortar joints. If only the nominal size is listed for your CMUs, add 3/8″ to both the height and width first.

When determining how many architectural blocks your project needs, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the height and width of the wall you plan to construct.
  2. Multiply the height in feet by the width in feet to calculate the square footage of the wall.
  3. Calculate the square footage of the blocks you plan to use by multiplying their height in feet by their width in feet. If your concrete blocks are measured in inches, you can multiply the height and width in inches and then divide the result by 144 to get the square footage.
  4. To determine the number of blocks needed, divide the square footage of the wall by the square footage of the block.
  5. Once you have the final answer, add 5 to 10 percent more blocks to your order to will account for any blocks that get broken during construction or that must be cut for edges and corners.

To determine how much mortar your concrete block construction project will require, refer to the specifications for the mortar mix you plan to use. Each mix will be different, but in general, you will need about three bags of mortar for every 100 concrete blocks. You can calculate this by dividing the number of blocks you will be using by 33.3. Again, it is best practice to have extra mortar available just in case.

Find CMU Blocks From Nitterhouse at Your Local Dealer

When searching for the right concrete masonry units, start with a supplier you can trust. Nitterhouse Masonry Products has been manufacturing high-quality concrete products for more than 90 years and has earned a reputation for offering some of the best masonry materials on the market. Our product line includes a broad selection of concrete blocks and veneers, with colors and textures available to complement any building design. If you want to see and feel our concrete blocks in person, visit our hands-on product design center in Chambersburg, Pa. Our experienced staff can assist you in choosing the perfect texture, size, color and quantity of CMUs for your project. If you live elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region, locate a Nitterhouse dealer in your area to find the perfect concrete masonry units to make your building shine.