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Cinderblock – is it a shortcut?

from Bob H

I have been browsing through your website and I really like what I see. My wife’s family are Thai and when I visit Thailand I often try to take pictures of how the Thais construct the buildings I see going up. Thank you for filling in alot of blanks.

My wife was concerned about the use of the cinderblock to build the walls of the house. According to her this maybe what you are calling a ‘short cut’. Or maybe it is a new practice. According to her, all of the homes she is familiar with they would use poured concreted into forms with steel. I will have to ask my father-in-law if he has any pictures of when his home was being built. (that was quite a while ago too). The house I am referring to is in Chiang Mai.

When I have more time I will more thoroughly look through your website.

editor. Glad you like the site.

In all likelihood what your wife is talking about is the pouring of the foundation columns. These are poured in wood forms with imbedded rebar. You can see the process here: pouring a foundation column. This doesn’t have anything to do with the selection of the material used for the wall.

There are various materials for constructing a wall. In order of expense, cinderblock, red brick or superblock. What I really like now is using a double row, cinderblock inside with red brick outside, or just double cinderblock is fine. double wall example This more comes into play if you are going to run A/C throughout, as thick walls will retain the cool air better.

The other thing of primary importance with walls is the thickness of the stucco applied to the outside. This is where a lot of the strength comes from.

Just from my own personal experience I have noticed that on occasion Thai’s can be awfully sure they know details on a particular subject – such as the way to get to the Bangkok airport, when they really have no idea. Or is it just my inlaws?

3 Comments

  1. cinder blocks are ok for simple fill in walls, dont use them for any significant load bearing, they crumble readily. Block vary in quality from 2.5bahr each to 3.5. try dropping a block onto earth floor from shoulder height to test its strength. dont every consider using block laid flat for step for exaple they have almost no strength sideways.

    try daub From cow dung, mud and straw and wattle using eucalyptus tree trimmings (small branches). that was the traditional way you may see examples of it around perhaps over a 100 years old – it works in mexico (adobe)

    ;-}

  2. There is a write up here basic materials Normally the load of the roofing is carried by the foundation pillars. The roof here would weigh about 24,000 kilos. Some of the load is distributed to the walls, no problems with cinderblock as long as the stucco layer is adequate. Good point on checking the quality of the blocks, what I’ve noticed here is that they are all around the same cost for good or poor quality. I prefer to buy direct from the factory.

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