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 got you. Terracotta breeze blocks, or screen blocks, are having a comeback. Now, you can get your beautifully designed blocks at Clay Imports!

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

What are Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

Breeze blocks are the patterned blocks you may have seen covering the sides of buildings across the world. They can serve as a design accent in hip restaurants, or more recently in your neighbor’s backyard! Besides from being pretty to look at, these architectural pieces can be functional, too. Breeze blocks balance the impact of sunlight and provide ventilation for outdoor patios and breezeways.

Breeze blocks were first used in U.S.-American design and architecture in the 1930s, and rapidly gained popularity up until the 1970s. Most iconic, cement blocks were beloved (and have revived) in warmer climates, such as trendy Palm Springs. Many designers are rediscovering new ways to breeze blocks as they become more and more in-demand. 

We have designed ours to combine the aesthetics of west coast Mid Century Modern with Mexican contemporary architecture.
While breeze blocks are beautiful and functional, they are not designed as structural units (no breeze block load bearing walls).

Where do you make Terracotta Breeze Blocks?

Mexico, of course! We produce our Clay Imports’ breeze blocks using 100% natural clay native to Central Mexico.

How are Terracotta Breeze Blocks made?

The Art Deco-reminiscent clay screen blocks feature bold geometric patterns and highlight excellent craftsmanship. Each piece is produced by extracting dense red clay through a patterned die (think Play-Doh!). Then, the block is fired. Voila, here is a decorative breeze block for your project!

What are the Breeze Blocks design options?

Our clay architectural screen blocks combine the aesthetics of West Coast Mid Century Modern with Mexican contemporary architecture. We offer delicate floral patterns, and blocks featuring geometric lines and squares. Color-wise, there is our classic red terra-cotta natural clay. Color tones are fairly consistent across the board, but our clay breeze blocks can also be painted in other colors.

Where can Terracotta Breeze Blocks be installed?

We love how our blocks separate and define space. Moreover, they protect from the sun and allow for welcoming ventilation, and create privacy. A breeze block wall can be very impactful in your outdoor spaces. You may also use a decorative breeze block wall inside. Us it as a partition wall, a focal point in your entry, or use it as a bar face!

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

How do I install Breeze Blocks? 

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

Then, tackle the breeze block install. The first thing you should know is terracotta breeze blocks must be adhered together. You have to use some kind of adhesive between the blocks. You can not dry stack these blocks. 

These blocks are sturdy but not meant to create load bearing walls. Information provided is based on industry recommendations. Local building codes must be reviewed for any variations from these recommendations.

Structural Recommendations

We recommend a vertical beam every 8 ft, supporting the wall, however, this depends upon the height. Typically, breeze block walls should have a maximum height of 9 ft, otherwise, you will need horizontal bond beams. NOTE: This is a recommendation and can vary depending upon a specific project installation.

We advise using ladder wire between the courses for additional stability.

If you have supporting columns, you can use brick ties to attach the blocks to the columns. The brick ties can be covered by grout.

Breeze block walls require a concrete footing or skirt.

These are our installation suggestions. With that said, we strongly advise consulting a professional masonry contractor, as they are generally the most qualified trade 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 to contact@clayimports.com

Determining Grout Joints

Breeze Blocks are extruded, meaning fairly consistent in size, however, the grout joint should be determined by the installation method. 

  • -Conventional masonry installation method (ie. brick wall) would requite a minimum of 3/8" to 1/2" grout joint
  • -Technical installation (ie. liquid nails or construction adhesive) would require a minimum 1/4" grout join, then fill with sanded grout
  • - We do not recommend mixing breeze block styles/designs due to potential size differences

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.

Advantage of using masonry cement: This is a rather straightforward installation: You would use the mortar as the adhesive that will stick the blocks together. 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 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 the 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 terra-cotta 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, and are not limited to just cement gray.

INSTALLATION - PERVIOUS OUTDOOR PAVING

If installed properly, breeze blocks can be laid in 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 blocks into a stucco wall. For example, a wall structure built of 4inch cinder block and masonry. Breeze blocks can be placed into the wall during construction. Following the construction of the wall, cinder blocks can be coated with masonry and painted with an exterior grade masonry paint. Overall, the construction is fairly simple, but it's definitely recommended that it be built by a professional.

Do I need to seal Terracotta Breeze Blocks? Can they be painted?

Made of natural materials, terra-cotta breeze blocks are porous. They can be stained during grouting. To prevent staining, we advise you to 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 and bottom of the block. Miracle Porous Plus 511 will  Let dry, and proceed with installation.

There are two painting methods. Dip painting is 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 terra-cotta breeze blocks in your projects!

 

 

Disclaimer: since the installation of tile greatly determines the integrity of the project and the tile itself, Clay imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all tile 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 tile installer before installing your tile.

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