Different manufacturing techniques are used to achieve a varied range of finishes and textures

Today’s blocks are generally manufac- tured to a standard 440 mm x 215 mm face size, however smaller, lighter and more contemporary formats are now available. A good example of this is the ‘Roman Brick’ format which is 440 mm x 65 mm. This module has the length of a standard block but the height a standard brick. Having all the benefits and flexibility of a brick and only weighing 6 kg, it makes an attractive alternate to brickwork or conven- tional facing blocks. This provides savings in both material cost and labour, giving architects and designers the opportunity to design modern buildings which can blend into more traditional settings. Facing masonry shapes are a simple and effective way of adding character to buildings, while providing solutions to some technical and aesthetic issues. Shapes are normally available in a range of standard units including quoins, cill blocks, trough lintel blocks and jamb blocks. Few manufacturers can offer full length hand cast versions of these shapes together with design and bespoke manufacturing services. Different manufacturing techniques are used to achieve a varied range of finishes and textures.

Smooth or natural masonry is produced straight from a mould and is best suited to situations where clean crisp lines are required in conjunction with monotone colours. Enhanced visual effects can be created by using bands of different textures and colours. This may be particularly desir- able where wall heights span several stories. Splitting blocks creates a craggy and


heavily textured look producing a decorative masonry finish. Shot blasting exposes the natural aggregates within the block, producing a flat but weathered texture.

Polishing a block produces a high gloss finish with a shine that is both lustrous and distinctive while creating further visual interest by exposing the raw materials beneath the surface.

Stone faced masonry offers designers the opportunity to use high quality natural stone, normally granite and marble, in a conventional facing block manner with a bed of mortar, in a very cost-effective way. 10 mm slips of stone are bonded onto a dense concrete backing block. The bonding process uses the latest construction adhesive technology which has been rigorously tested for shear resistance and bonding. In addition, the finished product has been subjected to fire resistance and freeze/thaw testing.

A broad colour palette of blocks is available, created with the use of pigments and coloured raw materials. The most common are the earthy or natural tones such as sandstone or terracotta. Facing masonry blocks are extremely versatile. They are available in a wide variety of colours, textures and formats and offer good design flexibility. Additionally, use of blocks creates both unique and stunningly visual impacts on buildings and in a cost-effective manner.

Steve Frost is head of sales and marketing at Lignacite


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