CMU walls are partitions built from concrete blocks called concrete masonry units (CMU). These walls can serve many functions and aesthetic purposes. From retaining walls to planters, CMU structures are durable and practical additions to the outdoor areas of your home.
The building process for a CMU wall varies depending on what its purpose is; however, it typically starts with digging a shallow 4″ to 6″ trench in the space where the wall will be built to make room for footings. At this time, any issues with grading should be addressed before compacting the dirt to prep for pouring the foundation. Once the dirt is compressed, concrete is poured into a mold to make a foundation where the CMUs sit. If the structure bears any weight, like a retaining wall, it will need to be reinforced with rebar per city code. This gives the wall more strength without compromising any flexibility as the structure will need to bend and flex according to the weight it carries. Freestanding structures, like planter boxes or privacy fences, will need less reinforcement. The first row of CMUs can now be placed on the foundation with mortar applied betweeen each new row until the desired height is reached. To complete the wall, a thin decorative cap can be installed to the top of the final course.
There is a wide variety of finishes that can be applied to make a CMU structure fit your home’s aesthetic. Stucco is a popular option that is cost effective and versatile, though stacked stone and stone veneers are also commonly used.