Everything You Need to Know About Breeze Blocks

By Clay Imports

 

If you have been looking for the ultimate Mid-Century Modern style accent, we have exactly what you're looking for. Terracotta breeze blocks, or screen blocks, are having a comeback. Get your beautifully designed breeze blocks exclusively at Clay Imports!

We'll cover everything from where we source them to design inspiration and even installation instructions.

  • What are Terracotta Breeze Blocks?
  • Where do you make Terracotta Breeze Blocks?
  • How do you make Terracotta Breeze Blocks?
  • What Breeze Block design options are available?
  • Where can Terracotta Breeze Blocks be installed?
  • How do I install a Breeze Block Wall?
  • Do I need to Seal Terracotta Breeze Blocks? Can I paint them?
  • Where do I order Terracotta Breeze Blocks?
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    Want the overview? Check out the Clay Imports Ultimate Breeze Block Guide.

      What are Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

      You may have spotted breeze blocks adorning buildings worldwide, their patterned designs making them a popular choice as a modern decorative accent in trendy eateries or even your neighbor's outdoor space!

      But, these architectural blocks offer more than just visual appeal. Breeze blocks can help regulate sunlight and promote ventilation in outdoor patios and breezeways, making them functional too.

      First introduced in American design during the 1930s, breeze blocks rapidly gained popularity until the 1970s, particularly in warmer locations like Palm Springs. Today, in 2023, as they continue to grow in demand, many designers are finding new ways to utilize these iconic cement and concrete breeze blocks. 

      Our version of breeze blocks combines the aesthetic of west coast Mid-Century Modern and Mexican contemporary architecture. It's worth noting, however, that while these blocks are beautiful and functional, they are not intended for use as structural units.

      Where do you make Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

      Mexico, of course! Breeze block is one of the most important and popular mexican hand made tile. We produce our Clay Imports breeze blocks using 100% natural clay native to Central Mexico.

      If you want to know more about breeze blocks, you can always check our youtube channel!

      How do you make Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

      The Art Deco reminiscent clay screen blocks feature bold geometric patterns and highlight excellent craftsmanship, while keeping a modern design. Each piece is produced by extracting dense red clay through a patterned dye (think Play-Doh). Then, the block is fired. Et voilà! You have a decorative breeze block for your project!

      What Breeze Block design options are available?

      We offer different breeze block sizes and patters, such as delicate floral patterns, geometric lines and squares. Our blocks all come in a beautiful classic terracotta red. Color tones are consistent across the board. However, you can paint your blocks whatever color you want (read more on how to paint breeze blocks here.)

      Where can Terracotta Breeze Blocks be installed?

      You will love how our blocks separate and define space, making an impressive design. They also protect from the sun and allow for ventilation, depending the size of the breeze block your wall is built with. A breeze block wall can also provide some privacy when used outdoors.

      A concrete or clay breeze block wall can transform your outdoor spaces. However, you can also use a breeze block wall inside to decorate indoor spaces or separate different rooms. One of our favorite design use for breeze block walls is as a focal point in your entry, partition wall, or as a bar face.

      Some more uses for breeze block walls are:

      • Front Yard: Screen off the view of your space from the street, while maintaining natural light within your indoor space.
      • Back Porch: Create your own, well ventilated and shaded oasis in your backyard.
      • Partition Walls: Inside our outside, concrete breeze blocks walls create some boundaries.
      • Outdoor Paving: Make your walkway just as beautiful as the where it takes you.
      • Commercial Projects: Add a modern element of texture and depth to a commercial space.

      How do I install a Breeze Block Wall?

      When constructing a breeze block wall, you MUST ensure that you are building on a durable, stable surface.

      Once you find a solid surface, onto the installation.The first thing you should know is you must adhere breeze blocks together. You have to use some kind of adhesive between the blocks. You cannot dry stack these blocks.

      Breeze blocks are sturdy but not made to create load bearing walls. The following information is based on industry recommendations. Review your local building codes if you want to vary from any of our recommendations.

      Structural Recommendations

      We recommend a vertical beam every 8 feet (2.44 m) to support the wall. However, this depends upon the height of the wall and the size of your breeze blocks. Typically, breeze block walls should have a maximum height of 9 feet (2.74 m). Otherwise, you will need horizontal bond beams. We advise using ladder wire between the courses for additional stability.

      NOTE: This is a recommendation and can vary depending upon a specific project installation.

      If you have supporting columns, you can use brick ties to attach the blocks to the columns. You can cover the brick ties with grout.

      Breeze block walls require a concrete footing or skirt. Vertical 3/8" rebar can be inserted into the footing between the vertical joints of the breeze block for maximum structural support.

      We strongly advise consulting a professional masonry contractor, as they are generally the most qualified for installing breeze blocks. It is also important to reference installation material (masonry cement, grout, etc.) instructions.

      If you have specific questions, please feel free to reach us at contact@clayimports.com and check out how to DIY built a free standing wall in part 1 and part 2. 

      Determining Grout Joints

      Breeze Blocks are extruded, meaning they're fairly consistent in size. However, you can determine the grout joint by the installation method.

    • Conventional masonry installation method (i.e. brick wall) would require a minimum of 3/8" to 1/2" grout joint
    • Technical installation (i.e. liquid nails or construction adhesive) would require a minimum 1/4" grout joint, then fill with sanded grout
    • We do not recommend mixing breeze block styles/designs due to potential size differences. However, if your design includes a combination of patterns, make sure to order samples to review size differences. Sizes can vary in width, length and height.
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      INSTALLATION - CONVENTIONAL MASONRY CEMENT

      You can use masonry cement (mortar) to adhere the breeze blocks. Basically the same material that you would use when building a brick wall can be used in a breeze block wall.

      Advantage of using masonry cement: This is a rather straightforward installation: You would use the mortar as the adhesive that will stick the breeze blocks together. You should consider that the cement will be visible between the grout joints.

    • Mix a batch of mortar, following the manufacturer’s instructions. (We’d recommend Quickrete Mortar Mix.)
    • Place the mortar onto the starting point with a trowel (typically one of the corners of the breeze blocks). Apply the mortar in a layer 1" inch deep, the same width of the block and about three block-lengths down the footing from the start point.
    • Place the first breeze block into the mortar. Place a level across the top of the block, and position the block until it's level.
    • Apply mortar to the side of the second breeze block and place it into the mortar next to the first block, keeping about a 3/8" gap between the blocks.
    • Place the level across both breeze blocks, and even them out if needed. Set blocks onto the footing where you have applied the mortar, then repeat the above steps until the first row is complete.
    • Lay the breeze blocks on the footing between the corner blocks. Apply mortar to the footing as you go, keep a 3/8" gap between the blocks and check them for level as you lay them. If you need to cut any blocks to fit, use a masonry wet saw and diamond blade.
    • Lay the blocks until the wall reaches your desired height. Starting in the corners and working in towards the center. Allow the mortar to set for the time specified by the manufacturer.
    • Make sure to reference the installation instructions on the installation materials for the best installation results

    • INSTALLATION - TECHNICAL INSTALLATION

      We recommend using ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar as an adhesive. You can also use liquid nails. You can assemble terracotta breeze block walls by using an adhesive between the blocks and sticking the blocks together with some type of spacing system.

      After the adhesive is dried and the spacers are removed, the grout joint void will still be visible. You then have to fill that grout joint void with a conventional sanded tile grout.

      Make sure to reference the installation instructions on the installation materials for the best installation results.

      Advantage of using ProLite: You can use a minimal amount of ProLite to adhere the blocks together and then fill the grout spacing with a conventional sanded grout. Meaning you can choose any sanded grout color you want, don't limit yourself to just cement gray.

      INSTALLATION - PERVIOUS OUTDOOR PAVING

      If done correctly, breeze blocks can be laid into the ground with aggregate and sand acting as a walkway or driveway. We recommend consulting a professional for this installation method.

      INSTALLATION - INSERTING INTO A WALL

      A great example of this would be inserting breeze blocks into a stucco wall. For example, a wall structure built of 4 inch (10 cm) cinder block and masonry. You can place breeze blocks into the wall during construction. Following the construction of the wall, you may coat the cinder blocks with masonry and paint the exterior with masonry paint. Overall, the construction is fairly simple, but we definitely recommended that it be built by a professional.

      TECHNICAL INFO

      • Load capacity rating 2300 psi
      • Water absorption: 0.5% - 3%
      • Abrasive resistance: C4
      • Scratch hardness: MOHS 6
      • Coefficient of friction: C3 Shade
      • Variation: V2.

      Do I need to seal Terracotta Breeze Blocks? Can I paint them?

      Terracotta breeze blocks are porous since they're made of clay. That means they can be stained during grouting. To prevent staining, we advise you seal the blocks prior to grouting.

      Although not required, we recommend sealing your blocks with 511 Miracle Porous Plus as it will maintain the natural clay look. The sealer can be rolled or brushed onto the front and back with a penetrating sealer, making sure to avoid the top, bottom, and sides of the block. Let dry and proceed with installation.

      There are two painting methods. Dip painting can be done with a Masonry Stain (pigment you mix with water). Or you can use an epoxy-based paint and spray it on to the raw clay block with an air sprayer. Either way, let it dry, then install!

      Where do I order Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

      You can check out our breeze blocks online! We do recommend viewing samples to best understand the product. We can’t wait to see our terracotta breeze blocks in your projects! 

      And remember, if you have any questions or require more information, don't hesitate to reach out to us at contact@clayimports.com or chat with us here.

      Disclaimer: Since the installation of breeze blocks greatly determines the integrity of the project and the breeze blocks themselves, Clay Imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all breeze blocks upon receipt and notify us immediately if you have any quality concerns. This guide is meant to serve as a general resource. Because each project is unique, consult your masonry professional before your installation.