Masonry Division

Darrin Gray Corp., Masonry Division

Get It Right the First Time! That is our motto at Darrin Gray Corp. We get it right, the first time. We specialize in all things masonry including Custom Homes, Tract Homes, Commercial Buildings, Fences, Fireplaces, Additions, Retaining Walls and BBQs. We are specialists in the Integra Wall System, and all types of structural masonry including concrete block, brick, stone, glass block, and veneers.


Custom home in Coolidge Arizona

This Is a Custom Brick home that we are currently working on in Coolidge Arizona for Desert Dream homes.

It has presented several challenges that we have had to overcome. The brick are layed in a “stacked bond” pattern and the top if the brick is saw cut to receive a steel top plate. The tolerances were so tight, that we had to use a tile saw for our cuts just to get them right.


Marana, Az Sound wall

Marana, Az Sound wall

This is a Sound Barrier Wall that we built in Marana Arizona last week. It was 65 feet long, 14′ 8″ tall and made out of 12x8x16″ block that weigh just under 46 lbs. apiece !! We had some tired workers those three days!!


Block Wall Repair


This is the “before” picture of a Fence block column that we repaired for a customer in Mesa Arizona. We found that the  Column didn’t even have any re bar inside of it.


Here is the  “After” Picture. We epoxied rebar into the footing, and left our customer happy and content with a column that is stronger than it ever was.


Block Fence, Queen Creek, Arizona,

Block Fence, Queen Creek, Arizona,

This is a “Horse” Fence and Mailbox that we built for one of our customers in Queen Creek Arizona.

Integra from the Ground up part 3

Now that the floor is poured,  the Block  are delivered along with the Integra rods. These rods are 7/16″ wide, galvanized, and are screwed into the couplers in the stem walls. they are designed to be 3-4″ higher than the top of the wall so that the wood top plate can be attached.

The blocks are then layed around the rods in sections called “runs” until the walls are built to full height.

 Notice in the photo below that the block are open on the ends in the shape of an “H”. This helps increase the efficiency of the wall by reducing  “Thermal bridging”  which occurs when heat travels from one side of the wall to the other through material that conducts it. The foam that is sprayed into the wall is a great insulator!

Custom Integra Block house

Once the walls are complete, Superlite block comes out and places a tension plate, a washer, another “Tension indicator” washer, and a nut over each rod. The rods are then tensioned to 7000 psi. Notice that the top block at each rod is a different “Tension Block” designed to distribute the tension through the rest of the wall.Phoenix, Arizona Custom Block Home

After the walls are tensioned, Superlite’s technicians spray foam into them. It is important for the masons to lay a “tight” wall because the foam will enter and come out of any voids left in the mortar joints. This can leave a big  mess, and some annoyed Superlite Techs!  In the picture below, you can see only three places where just a small amount of foam came out of our wall. The foam that you see coming out of the top of the wall is normal. It is allowed to dry, and then is cut off  and recycled.

Phoenix, Arizona Custom Block Home

Phoenix, Arizona Custom Block Home

A happy Superlite Block Tech shows how much they enjoy working with the Darrin Gray Corporation. Here, he is adding the wood top plate after the foaming and tensioning of the walls. The house is now ready for the Carpenters.

Integra Block from the Ground up (Part 2)

Once the Stem wall is built, rebar installed, and Integra bolts layed out, it is time for it to be inspected, and grouted.

Stem Wall

This Integra stem wall is now ready to be grouted

On larger jobs, a concrete truck and a grout pump is used to fill up the block wall. Most stem walls are grouted completely solid. You can see in the photo below , a concrete truck, the grout pump, and the hose leading to Jason and Aaron while they place the “grout”.   (Grout is concrete that has smaller rocks in it so it will pass through the hose and flow properly inside the wall)

Jason and Aaron pumping grout (concrete) into the stem wall of this Integra House

Once the grout is placed, the grout is scraped level to the block, and the integra bolts are placed into the grout according to a plan outlined by the Integra Engineers.

Completed Integra Block Stem Wall

This is the Completed Integra Stem Wall. The Integra bolts have been placed precisely where indicated by the integra engineers.

Once the stem wall is complete, it is time for the plumbers and electricians to place their “underslab”  piping in its position. Then the stem wall is back filled with dirt, and compacted, a layer of  ABC (rock and sand) is placed on top of that leaving about 4″ remaining for the concrete floor to be poured to the top of the stem wall.

Quality Block Fences

One of things that Darrin started doing back in the early 90s, was to add an extra rebar at all gate columns. Gate columns  get extra wear and tear on them due to the weight of the gate, or heavy use. Darrin decided that it is easier to add an extra rebar to each gate column, than to go back and fix the occasional loose one.

Double Rebar at the gate Columns adds Quality

 Notice the two rebar  coming out of the footing in the above photo.  Adding an extra rebar to the gate columns is just one of the many ways that the Darrin Gray Corporation adds value to your Block Fence.

Gate opening after the block is layed

 This is the “After” photo.  From the outside of the Columns, you can not see that there are two rebar inside.  Beauty may be skin deep, but quality penetrates to the core.

This particular fence will soon be painted, have wrought iron panels attached between the columns, and a custom gate installed to complete this project.

Integra Block: From the ground up (Part one)

The photo below is of a footing that was recently poured for a custom home that we are building in Central Phoenix. (A footing is a foundation usually out of concrete that is used as a base to support the weight of your house. ) Many houses start out this way unless they are using a Post-tensioned slab. (We can discuss that at another time.)  You can see rebar coming out of the footing that will provide a connection between the footing and the stem wall.

Custom Integra Block House

The stem wall is used to raise up the outside perimeter of your house to the future level of your floor. (See Photo below)

Masonry Stem Walls for Integra Custom Home in Phoenix, AZ

In the photo above, you will notice a channel running through the top row of  block. This channel is an opening for the masons to place horizontal rebar into.  When grouted, (filled with concrete) that top row of block is called a bondbeam.  A bondbeam adds strength to a wall. It combines the weight bearing properties and rigidity of block, with the strength and bendability of rebar.

Advantages of the Integra Wall System

The Integra wall system, was invented in the 1980s by Paul Scott;  a structural engineer in the Phoenix area.  He partnered with Superlite Block to produce this energy-efficient building system. It didn’t take long for homeowners to see the advantages of  Integra… Combining the strength,and durability of  Post-Tensioned block construction with the energy efficiency of a proprietary polyurethane foam insulation that is sprayed into the masonry cores after construction.

 The above photo is of an  integra block shop that we built for “Grandma’s Farm” in southern Phoenix. We used 8″ wide C.M.U (Concrete Masonry Units).  As you can see, the Integra Block looks just like a conventional Masonry building once the construction process is complete.  An Integra wall can be finished just like any other block wall with Paint, Stucco,or even a Brick veneer.

Integra Block Barn Phoenix, Arizona

Integra Block Barn for Grandma’s farm in Phoenix Arizona

   In the next month, we will be building another large custom Integra Block home in the Phoenix-Metro area. We will be documenting the wall construction process so that you can see the differences, and advantages of the Integra wall system.

Beautify your home with Brick

Jason, adding Thinbrick to the Site walls

Adding brick to your  home will add value and durability to your new or existing home.  At the Darrin Gray Corporation, we are committed to help you realize your dream.

Thinbrick Remodel Finished Product

See the difference that brick can make to your home. Brick does not need to be painted. However, it is a good idea to apply a quality water-resistant seal to it every couple of years. This will increase the lifespan of your walls, and keep them looking like new for years to come.

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