Everything You Need to Know About Breeze Blocks (2021 Update)

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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!

Below are the most frequently asked questions we hear from customers. We'll cover everything from where we source them to design inspiration to installation instructions.

  • - What are terracotta breeze blocks?
  • - How are breeze blocks made?
  • - What are breeze blocks design options?
  • - Where can you install terracotta breeze blocks?
  • - How do I install breeze blocks in my home?
  • - Do I need to seal breeze blocks?

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’ red clay 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 block 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.

You can use an epoxy-based paint and apply it to the raw clay block. Just prepare a bucket of paint and dip the breeze block, coloring it inside and out. Let dry, then install!

Where can you install terracotta breeze blocks?

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!

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How do I install breeze blocks in my home?


When constructing a breeze block wall, you must, must, 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. So, you have to use some kind of adhesive between the blocks. You can not dry stack these blocks. Because there is some size regularity from block to block, grout joint spacing is usually going to have to be between ¼ and ¾ of an inch.

*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.

As far as adhering the blocks together, you’ve got a few options:

Option 1 for Installing Breeze Blocks: 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 and as the cement that will be visible between the block 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-inch 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-inch 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.

Option 1 for Installing Breeze Blocks: ProLite Large Format Tile Mortar

We recommend using ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar as an adhesive. 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.

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. That means, you can choose any sanded grout color you want, and are not limited to just cement gray.


Do I need to seal terracotta breeze blocks? 

Made of natural materials, terra-cotta breeze blocks are porous. They can be stained during grouting. To prevent staining, we highly advise you to seal the blocks either before installation or prior to grouting.

We recommend sealing your blocks with 511 Miracle Porous Plus . Just prepare a bucket of sealer and dip the breeze blocks, applying the sealer everywhere. Let dry, and proceed with installation.


Where do I order terracotta breeze blocks for my home?

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!

 

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