The cost of concrete blocks depends on the type and size. For example, cinder block (sometimes referred to in specifier language as concrete masonry units or CMU) comes in a variety of standard sizes, including 8-in. by 8-in. and 16-in. blocks that are hollow and cost $2 to $3 each. These are a good choice for load-bearing walls and foundations that rise from ground level. A more decorative option is a split-face block, which adds texture and can cost $3 to $4 each.
Another kind of concrete block is insulated concrete form, which is usually made from recycled concrete and has Styrofoam or Nexcem brand cement-bonded wood fiber for insulation. These are also stackable and easy to install, but they can run $10 to $15 each.
Concrete block can also be more expensive than drywall and lumber, especially when it has to be cut to reach plumbing or electrical systems. In addition, construction of a wall or foundation requires a building permit, which can add $50 to $500, depending on the location and type of project.
The performance and superior fire rating of lightweight concrete masonry can help reduce overall project costs in many ways. According to mason contractors like Joe Bonifate, president of operations for Arch Masonry Inc. in Pittsburgh, the use of this innovation can result in installation labor savings of up to 50% over its heavier counterpart. It also helps to avoid workplace injuries, resulting in higher production rates and increased profitability for the contractor.
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