Cinder block vs Concrete block – Application, Uses, Cost-efficient, etc

In this article, I have described both Cinder block vs Concrete block in detail. First of all, we will discuss Concrete blocks then we will move toward Cinder blocks. So, let us start our journey of knowledge.

What is Concrete block?

Concrete is the complete heterogeneous mixture of different proportions of the cement, sand(fine aggregates), coarse aggregates of different dimensions, and water along with admixture mixed properly through hand or mechanical mixture to obtain monolithic mass on drying.

Cinder block vs Concrete block - Application, Uses, Cost-efficient, etc

The plastic and fresh grayish concrete mix which can be cast into the required shape are called green or fresh or wet concrete. And the whitish-gray in rigid and hard concrete after completion of hydration of cement binding the aggregates together to form monolithic mass is simply known as hardened concrete. 

The various strength of concrete can be maintained by adopting a suitable design mix. Concrete block has a very high compressive strength in comparison to other units and has sufficient tensile strength (i.e. 2 % of the compressive strength) so that a small amount of tensile load due to self-weight can be bear by it. The concrete block was first commercially patent by American inventor Harmon S. Palmer.

 The precast hardens blocks of such concrete is known as concrete blocks. Concrete blocks are cast on the mold and after compacting it, the mold is removed quickly (demoulding) and thus the set block is left to harder along with curing of water.

Concrete blocks are a generally rectangular-shaped block of various dimensions and can also be made hollow in order to provide the reinforcement within it during the construction of the structure.

The main advantage of concrete block is that they are extremely useful for the construction of retaining walls, masonry walls with simple cement mortar, or concrete filling with reinforcement (in case of hollow blocks). And this helps to decrease the cost of formwork for such a concrete structure. Another use of such a concrete block (solid)  is they can be used as a curb for the boundary of roads and footpaths.

What is Cinder blocks?

Cinder blocks are similar to the concrete block, but it doesn’t use aggregate within it, instead, it uses the coal cinder dust remnants from industries or the volcanic ashes. Due to the use of such ash instead of aggregates they are comparatively lightweight in comparison to concrete blocks.

Cinder block vs Concrete block - Application, Uses, Cost-efficient, etc

The cinder block was innovated for the first time in America in 1830 by an inventor named  Harmon S. Palmer. Cinder blocks don’t have the distinctive and required strength, so they are not preferred for the construction of structural components. Moreover, in some standard codes of different countries, there uses in construction are prohibited.

Due to this reason, they are generally available in form of hollow precast blocks rather than solid form, so that the hollow section can be filled with concrete and reinforcement bars to provide strength to strength if they are used.

The cinder blocks have low. Cost compare to the concrete blocks. So they are used for temporary settlement, gardening purpose, retaining walls, boundary wall construction. The hollow blocks are sometimes filled with the soil and thus the plants are grown over them using them as a vase.

So they are very popular for decorative purposes and increasing aesthetic beauty. They have less tensile strength even than concrete so they are very prone to bend, buckle even under less pressure.

Concrete block vs cinder block

ParametersConcrete blocksCinder blocks
CompositionConsist of cement, sand, coarse aggregates and other admixture to enhance propertyContains only cement and the Ashes or coal. Dust
TypesDifferent strength and type of concrete blocks such as Aerated Autoclave concrete blocks, solid blocks, light weight aggregate concrete blocks can be createdGenerally only single type of cinder blocks are available
ShapesDifferent shapes of the concrete blocks can be casted and available. Both solid and hollow blocks are available they can be casted info different rounded shapes, flat paving slabs etc. Hollow rectangular precast cinder blocks are available due to compatibility less strength, so that the reinforcement and concrete can be filled in order to provide strength. However solid cinder blocks are also available.
UsesCan be use as structural member construction. Also can be use for the retaining walls, structural wall, foundation wall etc.Generally use for non structural work. More useful for the gardening purpose, boundary wall, pavement.
SizesBoth the blocks can have same standard dimensions. There sizes are measured in terms of nominal dimensions, which means the size of the unit blocks along with the mortar thickness. This is made easier for dimensioning as some blocks(hollow especially) consist the flanges at edges for filling mortar between the units. The nominal sizes as per suggest from IS 2185(part1) Length : 400, 500,600 mm Height : 200, 100mm Breadth : 50,75, 100,150, 250,300mm
Cost effectiveThe cost depends upon the sizes of block. They cost NRs 35- 50 per block.(based upon District rate of the Kathmandu published on 2020A.D)There cost is 95 cents to 1 dollar. (Not more popular in markets of Nepal)
InsulationThe have not good insulating property especially thermal. Comparatively less. Sound insulation.They are comparatively excellent at both thermal. And sound insulation.
StrengthThe various strength concrete blocks can be designed. According to IS 2185(part1) the grade A (hollow) blocks have compressive strength ranging from 5MPa – 15MPa, grade B (hollow)  may have 3.5 MPa- 5MPa,and grade C(solid) blocks have 3.5-4MPa.They can have 10- 14 MPa compressive strength id filled with concrete in hollow space.  Cinder block alone have very less compressive strength though.
Water absorption and permeabilityThey absorb upto 10-15% of water and are impermeable.They absorb relatively more amount of water and are permeable due to content of organic carbaceous ashes.
Density of blockThe solid block have density of 1500kg/m³ – 2000kg/m³ And hollow blocks generally have 1000kg/m³- 1500kg/m³There density is about 700-900kg/m³
Concrete block vs cinder block Table

I hope this article remains helpful for you.

Happy Learning – Civil Concept

Contributed by,

Civil Engineer – Rajan Shrestha

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"Structural Engineer" with over 5 years of experience in estimation, structural design, and surveying. I am passionate about using his skills to create safe and sustainable structures. I am also a keen writer, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others.

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