Cinder Block Vs. Poured Concrete Walls In Basement: Which Is Better?

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If you're planning to build a basement, you need to decide which type of construction you should go for. Cinder block and poured concrete walls are two popular choices but how will you know which one is better? We've done the research for you and here's what we found out.

A poured concrete wall is better for your basement. It is strong, durable, and can stand up well to soil and water pressure. It is a better investment because you aren't expected to deal with buckling, bowing, moisture, and water leaks as long as the concrete has been prepared and cured properly.

Keep on reading so we can explain further why poured concrete walls are better for your basement. We'll also tell you how much each type of basement construction costs. Let's get started!

A big sized cinder block wall for a residential house, Cinder Block Vs. Poured Concrete Walls In Basement: Which Is Better?

Cinder Block Basement Walls vs. Poured Concrete

Having a basement gives you additional space in the house that you can use for whatever purpose you deem necessary. It will increase the value of your house if done correctly.

That's why you have to think carefully about its construction. The materials you choose will have a great impact on the basement's durability and functionality.

Concrete is a popular choice for basement walls mainly because it is one of the most resilient construction materials out there. But as they say, not all basements are created equal and it starts with the kind of concrete construction that you choose for your walls.

Poured concrete and cinder block are the two most common types of basement construction. Each type of construction offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As always, we want you to make an informed choice so we'll go through them one by one.

Cinder Block

A tall cinder block wall

A cinder block construction makes use of concrete or masonry blocks that are joined together to create a wall. Cinder block construction used to be so popular up until the 1970s.

Pros

1. High compression strength

Cinder blocks are known for their compression strength. This refers to the amount of weight that the structure can bear on top of the foundation. This is why a lot of engineers and architects prefer this construction type.

A tall cinderblock wall

There are different ways to reinforce their strength such as grouting and rebarring. The stronger the reinforcement, the greater load-bearing capacity they have.

2. Ready-made blocks

A detailed photo of a cinder block wall

Cinder blocks are readily available at your local dealer of building materials. There's no more need for preparation to have the blocks ready for use.

3. Storage

These concrete blocks are easy to store. You can just stack them together and you're good to go. The holes in the blocks make it easier for the person to grip them and move them around.

4. Transportation

Cinder blocks are also very convenient to transport from the store to the construction site, even if it's in a remote location.

Cons

1. Requires expertise

You would need to hire skilled workers to be able to layout the bricks properly. This means that higher labor costs are expected.

2. Construction issues

Cinder blocks are pretty notorious for buckling and bowing issues. These can be caused by lateral water pressure and poor construction that's why the wall isn't able to stand up well to the pressure. When you observe these on your basement walls, you can bet that the repairs will be costly.

3. Prone to water leaks

Since numerous blocks are connected to each other, there are lots of joints on the wall. These grout lines are vulnerable to leaks as the mortar that binds each block together can wear down over time and create openings where water can pass through.

4. Dampness

Since cinder blocks have hollow cores, they can be filled with water and will cause the blocks to be saturated as time passes by. We all know that moisture in the basement is bad and can lead to further problems in the end.

Poured Concrete

Wooden forms intended for the reinforced concrete wall

Poured concrete walls, as the name suggests, are made by pouring concrete over forms that'll hold them in place until they dry. One might say that they took the place of cinder block walls when it comes to popularity as most modern basements now are made with this type of construction.

Pros

1. Strength and durability

Poured concrete is favored because it can withstand lateral pressure happening underground. It is very strong and durable once it dries.

2. Better resistance to lateral water pressure

Since poured concrete is denser and has a more solid foundation, this basement wall can endure lateral water pressure better than the cinder block wall. As such, buckling and bowing issues are unlikely to happen.

3. Fire-resistant

For the same reason stated above, the dense and solid construction of poured concrete basement walls make them better able at resisting fires than cinder block walls.

4. Design adaptability

A wall with metal extensions sticking out

Poured concrete can be formed into any shape and size that you want depending on the form that you use. You don't have as much flexibility with cinder blocks.

5. Low maintenance

Poured concrete is easier to waterproof since there are minimal joints. As long as your basement wall has proper waterproofing, you're not expected to deal with major issues that would require costly repairs.

Cons

1. Expensive to transport

Concrete is heavy and you have to rent a concrete mixing truck to bring it to the construction site. This can be expensive when the working site is far from the store.

2. Needs preparation

Unlike cinder blocks that are ready to use, you have to mix concrete with other ingredients before it is transported to the construction site. Then, it is placed, compacted, and cured to ensure its strength.

The Verdict

Now that we've presented the advantages and disadvantages of cinder block and poured concrete construction, it is easier to understand why modern builders now prefer poured concrete.

We all know that basements have special requirements considering their unique location within the house. You need to ensure the strength and durability of the walls so that you don't run into major problems later on.

Poured concrete offers a solid foundation for your basement walls. It is more reliable when it comes to resisting lateral water pressure and fires.

It proves to be a good investment as you don't have to spend on costly repairs from bowing and buckling. You also do not have to deal with moisture issues which means that your basement is protected from water damage.

Poured Concrete and Cinder Block Basement Wall Costs

Another major consideration for homeowners is the construction cost. This can also sway your decision when choosing between poured concrete and a cinder block wall for your basement.

For your reference, the average cost of building a poured concrete wall is $10 to $60 per square foot or around $2,900 to $10,350 for a complete wall.

Meanwhile, it would cost you around $3 to $5.50 per square foot to construct a cinder block wall. An 8 X 15-foot cinder block basement wall would be valued at $1,080 to $1,440.

Of course, various factors will affect the total cost of construction such as the quality of the material, size of your basement, the design you choose, and prevailing labor rate in your region among others.

This is just intended to give you an idea of the price difference between the two types of construction. In general, poured concrete costs more than cinder block walls.

Final Thoughts

A big sized cinder block wall for a residential house, Cinder Block Vs. Poured Concrete Walls In Basement: Which Is Better?

When building your basement, the strength and safety of the walls are your top priority. That's why it's recommended that you go with poured concrete basement walls. You will have to pay more initially but you'll reap its benefits in the long run.

If you want to read more about these topics, we may visit the following links:

Can You Finish A Cinder Block Basement [And How To]

Should I Pour Concrete In My Crawl Space?

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