Learn About the History of Block Fences in Phoenix
You have probably noticed the presence of the cinder block fence and other block structures in Phoenix, Arizona, whether you’re new to the city or have been there for a long time. Although we often take it for granted, a block wall fence provides a number of benefits, such as durability, visual appeal, and more.
The structure can also serve as a privacy fence to keep wandering eyes away from the home or business and can increase the value of the house; but where did they come from, and why are they such a prominent part of the city?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of the fence block wall to answer the question, “Why do homes in Phoenix have block walls?”
About Phoenix, Arizona, and the Prevalence of Stucco Block Wall Structures
One look around the city, and you will soon realize that your backyard painted cinder block wall isn't one of its kind. In fact, the area comprises thousands of residential and commercial cinder block and wood fence, and building structures.
Phoenix is often described as the “block capital of the world,” and for good reason. The Valley has a remarkable number of concrete block structures, partly because of Superlite, a prominent local block fence company and producer of concrete blocks that grew to fame during the postwar real estate boom.
Superlite concrete blocks made up a staggering 75 percent of all new buildings by 1955 and a remarkable 80 percent of all stucco block wall structures in 1965. This provides insight into the current cityscape of block structures.
Superlite Blocks Use in Construction
The ornate block, which gained popularity in the 50s and 60s and is still used today to beautify the Valley, is the Superlite invention you might be most familiar with. It was used in residential block fence designs, entire buildings, and everything in between.
However, the majority of these blocks are concealed in plain sight as the austere, boxy construction material that block wall contractors are desperately trying to sandblast back to its plain, grey, and essentially maintenance-free integrated color.
Modern architects of the post-World War II era benefited greatly from the development of ornamental block units.
Jimmie Nunn, a local architect, recalled that some of the ornate patterns were created by Ralph Haver's company (currently out of production). Haver Block, a local term for the material, was once used to describe it.
The History of Concrete Blocks in Phoenix, AZ
Wood frame construction was customary in the Valley until Superlite transformed it in the middle of the 1940s. Although concrete masonry was already utilized at that time, the concrete blocks used up until the invention of Superlite were built of hefty sandstone and occasionally even manufactured on-site.
Inventors Look for a More Effective Material
Bill Thomas, Coach Thomas, and Gilbert Olson began developing a novel, lightweight cinder block in 1944. They started Builders Supplies Corporation with a meager $3,500 investment. In the beginning, they worked to accomplish their objective using a mixture of perlite, sand, and Portland cement.
However, they soon started employing volcanic scoria, which is a product that naturally forms during volcanic eruptions. After an eruption, the foam quickly cooled, trapping minute air pockets.
This material had amazing thermal qualities while being durable and incredibly lightweight, which is what they were looking for.
In Winona, which is located east of Flagstaff, where Superlite has operated a mining operation since 1959, volcanic scoria can be found naturally.
The Use of This Substance in Construction
The substance has a long history in the construction industry, having been utilized in ancient Rome on structures like the Pantheon. However, as they focused on the material's insulating qualities in the arid Southwest, Superlite's developers recognized even more promise for it.
A massive Superlite cinder block wall served great purpose in construction, absorbing heat throughout the day and retaining it until nightfall due to its remarkable insulating qualities.
When it was first created, the Superlite cinder block was special because it tackled numerous issues at once. It continues to be an all-purpose material that is used in construction in the city. Its makeup and eight-inch height make it strong enough to sustain a roofing structure.
Moreover, block serves as a finishing and construction material. The building doesn't require any additional covering from the architects, not even paint. Regrettably, after the 1970s, many people began covering the blocks' naturally attractive texture with synthetic stucco.
Why Were Superlite Blocks Popular?
In a world where people believed that "ornaments are crime," how did these decorative blocks come to be a part of buildings and fences?
One potential reason ornamental block was so prominent at the time is that it brought visual interest and adornment to a building without compromising structural integrity. After all, decorative blocks may serve structural purposes and frequently do so in addition to their cosmetic ones.
Superlite Block Use Today
The employment of ornamental blocks has decreased as architects prefer other Superlite technologies like the Integra Wall System, which fills the spaces between individual blocks with expandable insulation to create an incredibly energy-efficient construction. The tale of Superlite and its impact on Phoenix goes far beyond ornate blocks.
Cinderblock and wood fence structures are now popular in the city. A masonry contractor will create this kind of fencing system by adding a wooden privacy fence on top of a block wall for great aesthetic appeal and functionality.
Final Thoughts on the Use of Concrete Blocks in Phoenix, AZ
Concrete blocks have a long history in Phoenix and they continue to form part of the construction industry today. They are now used with coverings and as part of more elaborate systems and continue to provide functionality and visual appeal throughout the city.
You can take advantage of many cinder block fence ideas today to improve your home's look and functionality. Whether you prefer to construct your home from cinder blocks or add a fence for greater privacy, concrete blocks are the perfect material to use.
The were popular in the past and continue to be a prominent part of Phoenix’s rich history.
We hope we have answered the question, "Why are there block walls in Arizona?” adequately! You can find extra information here if we didn't quite cover everything.
If you require block wall repair or installation services, please contact the Phoenix Block Wall Experts or fill out the contact form, and we'll be in touch!