Masonry Division

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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.

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Quality Block Fences

One of the 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,  http://www.superliteblock.com/integra_introduction.htm 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.


Why Quality is important

Here is an example of what can happen when you burn wood in a fireplace that was designed for gas. The Homeowner burned wood in his fireplace for a while, and then decided to switch back to gas.  He neglected to clean out the ashes that had piled up over the burner. When he turned on the gas, it built up under the ashes and exploded when he tried to light it. This fireplace was not built properly and could not withstand the explosion. The insurance company called us to rebuild and repair it because they knew it would be done right!

This outdoor fireplace was constructed without rebar (reinforcing rods) and grout (concrete) in any of the open cells in the walls.   The result was a destroyed fireplace,and a seriously injured homeowner. There would have been considerably less damage to the fireplace had it been constructed properly. As it was, the homeowner was lucky to be alive after being knocked unconscious and blown into the swimming pool  with 100 lb. chunks of the fireplace found up to 50 feet away. Luckily for him, his wife was inside the house, heard the explosion, and decided to investigate.

There are many people who trust  landscapers, or unlicensed contractors to build their fireplace,or repair your wall, fence,  or BBQ. You wouldn’t trust a plumber to do electrical work at your house would you? You can count on The Darrin Gray Corporation to make sure that your masonry barbecue, fireplace, home,fence or block wall repair will be done right.


Dressing Up a Remodel with Brick

If you are planning a remodel, consider using brick or block to add to its value. Brick is a durable material that never needs paint and adds beauty and style to your home. Masonry walls need less maintenance than wood. This characteristic will save you time and money over the life of your home.

This is Oscar, one of our talented (and camera-shy) masons.  He is adding brick to a carport support column in a residential remodel.  The brick columns will make a beautiful addition to this remodeling project.