Concrete Masonry Is Sustainable

Concrete Masonry Is Sustainable

By Heidi Jandris and Jennifer Wagner. This blog is part of a two-part series. Part II of this blog series is entitled “Concrete Masonry’s Contribution to LEED version 4.”


Most designers know that masonry is inherently a green building material. Masonry has many attributes that contribute to its sustainability, including protection against rot, mold, and termites. Greater resilience translates into lower maintenance costs and reduced use of virgin materials. Masonry’s strength and ability to withstand severe weather and fire are helping to meet new demands for climate-resistant building materials. Moreover, concrete masonry’s (CMU) thermal mass benefits can reduce energy bills and improve thermal comfort in buildings.

CMU has come a long way since the term “cinder block” was coined, and there are many aesthetic options for both structural CMU and non-structural veneers. A polished CMU gives a contemporary, sleek look, where matte ground finishes are subtle, and split units give a rugged “rock-like” feel. With a wide range of materials, textures, and colors available, the design possibilities of CMU are endless.

Read the FULL ARTICLE here.

Article Courtesy of Masonry Design Magazine



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The mast climbers within the masonry industry are figuratively related to the mast climbers on early American ships, even though in masonry it refers to equipment and in ship lingo, it refers to humans. It’s all about vertical ascension. Most of the forests in England had been depleted by the 17th century, and King George laid claim to the tall white pines in Maine to meet his country’s need for lumber, both to build ships and for the masts. Masts were of particular importance, as they needed to be replaced often from battle or weather-related incidents.

Both lumber and shipbuilding were dominant industries in the early Maine economy. No doubt, the locals did not take any more too kindly to the British robbing their forests than Boston patriots did to the tea tax, prompting the Boston Tea Party in 1773. By the end of the 18th century, the best trees for masts had been harvested. While the white pine tree is renown for fast growth, even two feet per year, it still takes decades to grow to mast height and strength. Stonemasons were busy in early Maine as well, as evidenced by copious brick buildings in Portland and other communities and college campuses throughout the Pine Tree State.

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There is nothing so classic as the use of brick to warm up a space, add a sense of modernity and to enhance aesthetics inside homes and commercial buildings. Its use and visual appeal continues outdoors and amongst landscaping.

Thin brick veneer has emerged as a great alternative to traditional brick, giving the impression of traditionally laid brick while being functional. This modern material features comparable benefits of the beauty of classic brick with a variety of available colors and textures. Additionally, its durable, cost effective, has lower weight constraints and easy to install.

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5 Safety Construction Tips for Your Workers’ Well-Being

5 Safety Construction Tips for Your Workers’ Well-Being

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Construction worksites are an incredibly dangerous place to be. There are many safety hazards around every corner. This is why it is so important that workers at these sites know and follow safety rules set forth by you. To keep the workplace a safe environment, use these five helpful tips.

1. Getting In and Out of Equipment

Believe it or not, one of the leading causes of injuries to equipment operators are getting in and out of their equipment. However, you can easily lower the risk of your workers getting injured by having your workers follow these steps:

– Check your boots and gloves for mud or slippery substances and wipe them off
– Get a foot or hand hold before hoisting yourself up
– Use a step ladder if necessary to make sure you can climb on the equipment safely
– If you need help, be sure to ask. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about if you need a helping hand.
– Avoid hopping up or down on equipment, take your time

2. What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Wear

It’s important that you wear the right clothes for your job, which means wearing protective gear if need be. On the job, you should store your gear and other tools in a safe, dry place. First aid kits and fire extinguishers should be located near the work area and readily available.

If you’re lifting heavy objects, you should use a back brace to prevent damage to your body. You should also be sure to wear gloves and goggles on the worksite if you’re using dangerous tools. If you’re working on an elevated area and there’s a risk of slipping and falling, you should wear a safety harness.

You should also wear nonskid, rubber footwear if you are working in an area with slippery surfaces. Or, if you’re lifting particularly heavy objects. Be sure to find the most comfortable composite toe shoes for work.

It’s crucial to your health that you wear a breathing mask at work if your workplace has bad ventilation if you work with dangerous toxins, or if you deal with constant dust or other debris.

3. Staying Safe Loading or Unloading Equipment

No matter where you’re working, there’s always the risk of equipment rolling over if you’re loading or unloading it. This is why it’s important to make sure the ramps you’re using are straight and cleared. You should also be sure to allow plenty of room between you and the equipment in case of an emergency.

Make sure you use another co-worker as a spotter while guiding your equipment and make sure the machine is clear of the ramp before turning it. However, you should also make sure the trailer deck and you have proper clearance before loading it, in addition to using correct tie-down procedures.

4. Ladder and Stairs Climbing Hazards

Any worker who frequently climbs ladder or stairs during a project should take these special precautions. Workers should always inspect a ladder or stairs before they step on them. Check for damaged, loose, worn, weak, and otherwise broken spots. Avoid standing on these areas and inform the foreman of these safety issues. Stairs and ladders should be kept clean, uncluttered, and dry. Workers should not use metal ladders in rainy or wet conditions.

When you can, choose aerial lifts and elevated platforms as these are safer than standing and balancing on a ladder. Additionally, you should install safety features like warning lines, guardrails with toes boards, and control line systems.

When you are using a ladder, you should pick one out that is at least three to four feet taller than the location you need to reach. You should also make sure you calculate the distance carefully. For every four feet of height, scoot the base of the ladder out a foot from the wall. Be sure to move the ladder as you work. Do not try to overreach as you can easily lose your balance and get injured. When climbing and descending, keep your hands free and your tools in your tool belt.

5. Crowded Work Areas

When it comes to construction workplace frustrations, crowding in work areas is one of the biggest. This is especially an issue with large machinery. People on the work site gather to watch the large machines work. Usually, there is no reason for this; it is just a habit. However, it increases unnecessary exposure to injury.

If someone is working with large machinery, people on the ground should remain far from the operating area. Foremen should enforce this rule and review it at any safety meetings. It is not the operator’s responsibility to ensure people stay back while they are trying to work. However, they can beep their horn to warn others when they are about to begin working. They should also be sure to check closely behind them when they are backing up.


By following the five tips above, you can ensure that your construction site is a safe and efficient place to be. These are just a few suggestions for workplace safety; there are many more considerations that you should take into account when trying to protect your workers. However, no matter what you do and what changes you make, safety should always be your first priority.

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Happy New Year From Griffin Masonry

As we move into 2018, we wanted to thank each of our team members and customers for helping us have an incredible year in 2017. Our staff’s hard work and motivation to deliver the very best to our customers, as well as the trust and loyalty from our clients, is what keeps Griffin Masonry ahead in the industry. We can’t thank you enough for helping to make our company a success! We look forward to doing it again in 2018! #griffinmasonry2018



Masonry for Reducing Noise and Rich, Acoustic Performances

Masonry for Reducing Noise and Providing Rich, Acoustic Performances

Argo Community High School
is located just southwest of
Chicago, a few miles from Mid-
way Airport and near heavily
traveled roadway and heavy
rail lines. Grout filled CMU has
the acoustic mass required to
assure sound isolation of this
exterior noise in the Theater,
providing the essential quiet
background noise for perfor-
mances and presentations.

CMU was also beneficial for exterior noise isolation in the Band, Choral and Theater Rehearsal Rooms, which allows ease of instruction and uninterrupted archival and student recording in these rooms. This exterior wall construction was also key to controlling on-site noise by keeping the sound of marching band practice on the fields just outside the new Choral Rehearsal Room from impactihereng teaching and rehearsal and assuring that rooftop air handlers located directly adjacent to the Theater Stage are not audible in the space. A masonry parapet was also used to screen the new rooftop cooling tower from nearby windows of existing school classrooms.

Masonry was utilized for the interior acoustic design as a single building material that could provide robust, full-frequency acoustic response. The interior of the Theater is primarily exposed, grout-filled masonry resulting in a rich, warm sound for band and choral performances. A mix of integrally colored split-face and ground-face CMU gave Threshold Acoustics the ability to tailor the quality of sound reflection in the Theater while allowing variation in architectural design. Painted CMU was used in less visible areas of the Theater to assure good acoustic performance yet balance cost considerations.

The shape and surface of sealed, split-face masonry at wall surfaces near the Theater stage are crucial for early reflections from performers to audience. Threshold Acoustics worked with DLA to create a gentle curve for these walls to direct sound evenly across the seating area. The split-face texture provides high-frequency diffusion to mitigate any potential for echoes as sound travels across the width of the space. The timing of the reflections from these CMU walls balanced with the sound reflecting off the forestage ceiling panels give support for voices and instruments, allowing performers to communicate easily with the audience without amplification.

A mix of sealed and unsealed split-face CMU was incorporated at the rear wall of the Auditorium to provide high frequency diffusion and light acoustic absorption that provides response to the stage, giving performers needed feedback about their sound in the room while controlling overall loudness for large bands or amplified presentations.

Masonry exposed within the Band, Choral, and Theater Rehearsal spaces provide full-frequency support for rehearsals and classes in those rooms while aiding in isolation between spaces during simultaneous class use. Large-scale angling of masonry walls in conjunction with limited areas of applied diffuser panels in the Band and Choral Rooms create an even blended sound with a cost effective solution. Full case study here.

“In all and all, you are just another brick in the wall … “

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Posted by | Sep 1, 2017

brick in the wall

Those title lyrics come from a popular song by the English rock band Pink Floyd. However, any brick is simply not just another brick in the wall. Each and every one is an integral part of an architectural composition, which speaks softly of fine craftsmanship across the ages.

Innovative technology is not relegated to the gurus in computer engineering or advancements in the automotive industry, medical instrumentation or the host of industrial applications. It can be found in the world of bricks. Embraced by architects, homeowners and property developers the world over, brick remains in high demand for its timeless qualities of authentic beauty and sophisticated expression.


Among the many improvements in brick is color. County Materials Corporation, headquartered in Marathon, Wisc., has been manufacturing concrete products for more than 70 years.       Their extensive industry knowledge and manufacturing capabilities include vastly improved coloring that enhances color retention for many years and adds stunning depth and richness. Pigments are integrated throughout the entire brick rather than just coating the surface. Light colors and specialty designs can insert a vintage character into traditional and contemporary homes and add drama to any space.

The uncompromising elegance of brick is now often found in contrasting colors and patterns that can radiate a company’s brand in the exterior of its building. White, gray and creamy bricks are sought for modern or sleek industrial designs. The Heritage Collection™ Designer Concrete Brick [from County Materials] offers durability, sustainability, an abundance of color choices and the many advantages of concrete masonry construction combined with the aesthetics of traditional brick. Their colors include Dove Gray, Sienna Cream, Tuscany Villa Blend, Sable and many more.


Interstate Brick, based in West Jordan, Utah, offers many brick colors between its Arctic White or Almond and Ironstone or Midnight Black. Some incorporate light and dark shades of the same color like Copperstone or Bronzestone, while others are solid, such as Walnut, Ash and Park Rose.

The Echelon brand under Oldcastle Architectural offers a variety of colors for its Quik-Brik® products. “We’re having success with Quik-Brik at the national account level, mainly with retailers who want to install the same look and feel for their locations regardless of region,” states Jim Cooper, National Accounts Sales Manager. “Quik-Brik is an excellent consideration for home builders seeking a quality finish and attractive price point.”


Another style innovation in the brick industry beyond color is texture, which has both a visual quality and a touch trait. More people see texture than feel it, and it can evoke an emotion as well as an opinion. Smooth can be quite pleasant and transmit a modern flair for a brick, while a roughed-up brick creates a rustic character. Uneven textures establish creativity and interest from a distance. Textures can influence a person’s perception of value and enthusiasm for a building, a company, and a product.


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2017 Hot Trends in Brick

Brick options continue to evolve for virtually endless aesthetic flexibility.

Hot trends in fired clay brick are a preference for whites, greys, and lighter colors, thin brick, rustic/weathered textures, and larger brick sizes.

Brick Industry Association (BIA) member manufacturers around the country report that residential and commercial trends include whites, light greys, ivories, rough-hewn textures, glazed brick, and larger brick sizes. Video: White-Hot Brick: 2017 Trends.

“As an abundant natural resource made in America, brick options continue to evolve for virtually endless aesthetic flexibility,” said Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO.

Read the full article here and check out a video demonstrating some of these modern 2017 styles.

Source: Brick Industry Association