Ultimate

Breeze Block

Guide

WHAT ARE BREEZE BLOCKS?

Breeze blocks are non-structural patterned blocks. These design elements are seen in restaurants and building exteriors across this globe but are now accessible to anyone, found as close to you as your neighbor's backyard.


In addition to adding texture and pattern to interior and exterior spaces, breeze blocks are incredibly functional! These architectural pieces defuse the effect of direct sunlight to a space which is especially helpful in hotter climates.


They also provide ventilation to outdoor patios and breezeways while also defining spaces. Breeze blocks also provide separation and privacy by creating a breathable partition that allows light and air into a space without requiring expensive structural elements.


Breeze blocks first made an appearance in American design and architecture in the 1930s. They rapidly gained popularity up until the 1970s. The most iconic cement blocks were popular in warmer climates, a significant contributing element to the Palm Springs design aesthetic. Many designers are rediscovering new ways to include breeze blocks in residential and commercial design as they become more in-demand.


We have designed ours to combine the aesthetics of west coast Mid-Century Modern and Mexican contemporary architecture. Breeze blocks are beautiful and functional, but they are not designed as structural units.

WHERE ARE THEY MADE?

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


HOW ARE THEY MADE?

The Art Deco reminiscent clay blocks feature bold geometric patterns and highlight excellent craftsmanship.


Each piece is produced by extracting dense red clay through a patterned dye (think Play-Doh). Then, the block is fired. Voilà, you now have a decorative breeze block for your project.

DESIGN OPTIONS

We offer blocks in a variety of designs, from delicate, traditional floral patterns, to art deco geometrics and even funky, modern squares.


Our blocks all come in a beautiful, classic terracotta red. Color tones are fairly consistent across the board, however, you can paint your blocks any color you want. Find out more in the Breeze Block painting section.


Check out our incredible breeze block selection here!

CUSTOMIZATION

Although we currently do not offer customization of breeze block patterns, you can customize our blocks by painting the blocks any color you want or by mixing different patterns!

WHERE TO INSTALL BREEZE BLOCKS


A breeze block wall can transform your outdoor spaces. However, you can also use a breeze block wall inside to provide privacy and add dimension to your indoor spaces.


  • Front Yard | Screen off the view of your space from the street, while maintaining natural light within your indoor space.
  • Back Porch | Create your own, well ventilated and shaded oasis in your backyard.
  • Partition Wall | Inside or outside, create some boundaries.
  • Outdoor Paving | Make your walkway just as beautiful as where it takes you.
  • Commercial Project | Add an element of texture and depth to a commercial space.
  • Interior | Add warmth and privacy to your space. Just remember make sure the surface is both level and solid.
  • Bar Face | Give your gathering space an extra special design element
  • Terrace | Functional and pretty, a perfect addition to your elevated private outdoor space.
  • Paver | A non-traditional application, breeze blocks can be laid into the ground with aggregate and sand acting as a walkway or driveway.

AVOID USE

Frequent freezing climates, dry stacking , installations without a suitable, stable surface to build on, such as shifting substrate (ie. sand or gravel)

INSTALLATION

Installation is essential to the stability and beauty of breeze blocks. There are several factors to consider for your installation. We are here to help you with the basics.


No installation is the same. More complex installs such as a freestanding breeze block wall, increased wall height, climate, and stability might require more comprehensive project-specific installation methods.


For such installs, we recommend connecting with an architect or structural engineer to ensure the integrity of your installation will be ideal for the climate and use of your space.

INSTALLATION | THE BASICS

CLIMATE | Breeze blocks are inherently porous, therefore, freezing temperatures can significantly affect the integrity of your installation.


PREPARE | Preparing your design, foundation, installation method and materials is the basis for a successful installation.


FOUNDATION | When constructing a breeze block wall, you must ensure that you are building on a durable, stable surface and using appropriate footings.


ADHERE | Once you find or create a solid surface, it's onto the installation.


You must adhere breeze blocks together, use adhesive between the blocks. Do not dry stack breeze blocks.


STABILITY | Breeze blocks are sturdy, but they are not intended to be load bearing, which is why they need support. Support can be added inside the wall itself, and exterior support options such as existing walls or metal or wood framing to create secure connections.


The above information is based on industry recommendations.

Review your local building codes if you plan to vary from any of our recommendations.

CLIMATE

The recommended adhesives can be affected by the climate, if they are not suitable for extreme temperatures. In that case, alternative materials can be used that work better for such climates. If there is a temperature rating on the installation adhesives product information, this should be noted and adhered to.


In most cases, it is very unlikely that the adhesive would not stick the bricks together. If that is the case, the installer should not use this particular adhesive and try an alternative method or product.


Breeze blocks are not suitable for consistently freezing environments.


Extreme temperatures factor into installation and should be considered prior to installing breeze blocks.

PREPARE

Being prepared for your installation will limit issues you encounter along the way.


Gather your supplies, consider your project's limitations, what reinforcement is needed, your design preferences and of course, always double-check your measurements!


Selecting the best breeze block aesthetic for your project is entirely up to you. Although all of our blocks are suitable for most projects, we offer select designs in a wider dimension to create a wider footprint for your wall, providing more inherent rigidity.


Regarding all installation materials, the instructions listed on the manufacturer's packaging should be followed.


If your breeze block wall has a 90-degree turn, consider your options for optimizing the design of the corner.


  1. Line up one wall to the edge of the other terminating wall, resulting in a raw edge.
  2. Metal, angle iron or wood posts. If you want to make a corner disappear, paint your terminating post the same color as the blocks themselves!


As always, consider consulting a masonry professional if you aren't quite sure where to start.

SUPPLIES

  • Breeze Blocks
  • Spacers
  • Measuring Tape
  • Reinforcement (i.e., Rebar, Wire Ladders and/or Wall ties)
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Construction Adhesive


Before starting any installation, lay out all of your breeze blocks. Wall measurements should correspond to your breeze block layout, so you avoid having to make cuts. Breeze blocks aren’t meant to be cut, as this can result in disruption in pattern and wall integrity. Be sure that you’re measuring for space between the blocks as well that will be taken up by grout.


To lay the first row of breeze block, be sure to make guide marks on the supporting concrete structure. These guide marks need to be precise and boldly drawn. After making your marks, use a wet sponge to clear off the dust on the base.


Lay a strong adhesive on the concrete base. This is not slathered, rather “drizzled” on. This first row must be centered and aligned perfectly, as it’ll be the foundation for the rest of our wall. See photos and videos for more info.


We strongly advise consulting a professional mason, as they are generally qualified for installing breeze blocks. It is important to reference installation material (masonry cement, grout, etc.) instructions.

FOUNDATION

When constructing a breeze block wall, you must ensure that you are building on a durable, stable surface. All Breeze Block walls that are not inserted into existing walls, require a concrete footing or skirt. Concrete is the most common and best material for this type of project.


A general rule for determining the size of the footing required is the width to be three times the width of the breeze block. For every one foot of height, the footing should be 2" in height.


For example, if your block is 4" wide and the wall height is 4" tall, your footing should be 12" wide and 8" high. This is a general rule and will not apply to all installations.


Footings are the foundation for your breeze block wall, which makes them necessary for a successful installation.

  • It is possible to reduce the visual impact of the footing by digging a deeper footing, resulting in a majority of the footing being subterranean.
  • This can also be achieved by building up your surrounding landscaping around the exposed footing.
  • In any freezing conditions, breeze block installations are more complex and a footing will need to reach the depth of your climate's frost line.


Additional structural support is always the way to go, adding Vertical 3/8” rebar can be inserted into the footing between the vertical joints of the breeze block for maximum structural support.

STABILITY |

Reinforcing your breeze block installation is essential. Both exterior and interior reinforcement should be used to ensure the stability of your breeze block installation.


Depending on your project, you might have the opportunity to apply stability to your breeze block wall by utilizing existing structures or create framing structures for your walls.



Existing Structure

The most ideal breeze block installation is to have many solid points of structural integrity to adhere your blocks to by using interior reinforcement to connect to existing structures with masonry cement. Another preferred installation scenario would be adhering to flooring and two walls as points of contacts. Although these are the preferred installation methods, there are many creative ways to install breeze blocks in other structural environments that provide the needed rigidity for your breeze block wall.


Columns

If you have existing supporting columns or want to construct columns for additional structure and privacy, you can use brick ties to attach the blocks to the columns. You can then cover the brick ties with grout.

FRAMING REINFORCEMENT

STABILITY |

FRAMING REINFORCEMENT

Metal Frame

Metal posts and flat metal plates are increasingly popular options for framing and supporting your breeze block wall. This framing option emphasizes the breeze blocks instead of the structure. Using steel posts and plates adds integrity to your screen wall where you may not have an existing structure. Attaching metal posts and plates can be adhered using masonry cement. For added security, you can also adhere the blocks using a stronger adhesive that is suitable for adhering masonry to metal, such as liquid nails. Utilizing wall ties to attach to the metal post and bent between the breeze blocks.


Wood Frame

For interior applications, large masonry columns and metal framing may be space consuming and feel too commercial. In these applications, by utilizing interior reinforcement smooth, flat wood paneling, you can have breeze blocks with a warmer and softer feel.


Inserting into Wall

Inserting into a wall creates a seamless structural supporting structure between breeze blocks. Especially if there are supporting walls on all fours sides of the wall i.e., stucco wall, a wall structure built of 4-inch (10 cm) 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 mason. Blocks can be placed centered or flush with one side to create a shelf.


Frameless

Although we always recommend as much support as possible, with the right application and enough interior reinforcement and substantial footer, it is possible to go partially or fully frameless for a breeze block wall. Consult a masonry professional for this application.

INSTALLATION EXAMPLES

FRAMELESS +

EXISTING STRUCTURE


Installation using existing exterior structure and interior reinforcement with exposed, stacked blocks


Petalo | Design Howdy Vintage

Gastamo Group | Michael HSU Architecture | Parrish Ruiz de Velasco

FRAMELESS +

METAL POST+

EXISTING STRUCTURE


Installation using existing exterior structure and a metal post with exposed blocks at the top and metal posts as side support


Ventana | Design Quarterlab Design Build

Dulce | Photo Brien Silver

METAL PLATE FRAME


Thin metal plates used for vertical and horizontal support, not only do they add structure to the freestanding walls, but also protect the blocks from exposure.


Design by B. Berry Interiors for Lewis Barbecue | Photo by Peter Frank Edwards

WOOD FRAME


Short interior pony wall with entire vertical and horizontal span wrapped and adhered to a wood frame with terracotta masonry adhesive


Design by Lilianne Steckel Photo by Andrea Calo

STONE COLUMNS | Stone column installation with stone base masonry

CEMENT COLUMNS | Cement columns constructed with breeze blocks for integrated reinforcement.

BRICK COLUMNS | Mix traditional brick masonry as a structural element for breeze blocks

WOOD COLUMNS | Privacy wall supported by wood columns

Design by Laura Branson

Design by Seedlings Gardening

INSET INTO THE STRUCTURE | Create ventilation by using the surrounding structure of cement or sheetrock

FAUX SUPPORT


Blocks used only as a decorative element to give the illusion of support


Block Red Clay | GDP Design Build

Claire Zinnecker Design

CEILING + FLOOR SUPPORT


Small format installation supported by ceiling and floor only


Triangle | Design A-Frame Club Photo by Kylie Fitts

METAL POSTS

(Below) Metal side posts supporting the wall + pergola | (Bottom Left) Metal post welded into a top metal plate to create a wrapped metal frame | (Bottom Right) Post in the middle for additional support on a lengthy installation

Design and Install Jon Nuckels | Photo by Nick Simonite

INTEGRATED REINFORCEMENT

STABILITY |

In addition to exterior reinforcement it is ideal to have interior reinforcement that is integrated into the breeze block wall during installation. Interior masonry reinforcement provides additional rigidity to the horizontal and vertical joints of an installation as the wall is being constructed.


After determining the type of installation needed for your breeze blocks, you can now decide what type of interior reinforcement will work for your project. There are 4 main types of industry standard masonry reinforcement options often used for breeze block installations. Remember to keep any interior reinforcement centered and as straight as possible to maximize stability.


METAL BEAMS | PLATES

For a more rigid reinforcement, we recommend a vertical beam every 8 feet (2.44 m) to support the wall. However, this depends upon height. Typically, breeze block walls should have a maximum height of 9 feet (2.74 m). Otherwise, you will need horizontal bond beams. Metal plates can be inserted between the grout joints, just as rigid but less visually disruptive. Depending on the size and thickness of your metal beam, they can be used as an additional decorative element to your wall.

REBAR

Rebar can be inserted between vertical and horizontal courses with construction adhesive starting with being inserted into the footing when it is poured and will not be visible.


LADDER WIRE

A more flexible but still appropriate reinforcement option that comes in various thicknesses, use the thinnest thickness possible without extending past the thickness of the breeze blocks. We advise using ladder wire between the courses for additional stability and will not be visible.


WALL/BRICK TIES

If you have supporting columns, inserting into a wall, or attaching to another wall, you can use wall/brick ties during installation between the joints to attach the blocks to the existing structure. If they're made out of ribbed sheet metal, you can fold them and nail them into the wall on the sides. Then bend them, so they're inside the joints of the breeze blocks meaning that the masonry holding the breeze blocks together now has a masonry tie inside as well. These brick ties can be covered with grout.


These are recommendations and can vary depending upon a specific project installation. We strongly advise consulting a professional masonry contractor, as they are generally the most qualified for installing breeze blocks. It is also important to reference installation material (masonry cement, grout, etc.) instructions.

ADHERE |

METHODS

Breeze Blocks are extruded, meaning they're fairly consistent. However, you can determine the grout joint by the installation method.


  • Conventional masonry installation method (i.e., brick wall) would require a minimum of 3/8” to 1/2” grout joint


  • Technical installation (i.e., liquid nails or construction adhesive) would require a minimum 1/4” grout joint, then fill with sanded grout


We do not recommend mixing breeze block styles/designs due to potential size differences. However, if your design includes a combination of patterns, make sure to order samples to review size differences. Sizes can vary in width, length, and height.


For most installations, you can use masonry cement (mortar) to adhere the breeze blocks together. Essentially, the same material that you would use when building a brick wall. Mortar is typically offered in gray, but you can purchase pigmented mortar or purchase pigments separately to add to the mortar mix to create different colors.

ADHERE |

MASONRY CEMENT

The advantage of using masonry cement that it's a rather straightforward installation. The mortar is the adhesive that will stick the blocks together. However, 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 the 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 your 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

ADHERE |

TECHNICAL INSTALLATION

We recommend using ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar as an adhesive. You can also use liquid nails. You can assemble terracotta 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. Meaning you can choose any sanded grout color you want, don't limit yourself to just cement gray.

SEALING

Terracotta breeze blocks are porous since they're made of clay. That means they can be stained during grouting. To prevent staining, we advise you seal the blocks prior to grouting.


Although not required, we recommend sealing your blocks with Penetrating Sealant 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, bottom, and sides of the block. Let dry and proceed with installation.

PAINTING

SUPPLY LIST

  • Dust Brush
  • Masonry Paint
  • Container big enough to dip blocks in 
  • Gloves (optional)

PRE-INSTALLATION DIP METHOD

There are a few methods for painting breeze blocks before installation. Breeze blocks can either be painted on both sides or a single side. Our preferred method is dipping the breeze blocks, individually, in paint. The advantage of dipping breeze blocks is that it's quicker and easier to fill all the spaces. Before dipping your blocks into paint, make sure that they're completely free of dust and debris.


Even if you paint your breeze blocks properly, it’s still possible for them to chip over time, which will reveal the contrasting terracotta tones underneath. You can also whitewash breeze blocks using a sponge application.

WHAT PAINT TO USE

  1. We recommend using Behr masonry paint.
  2. Dip painting can also be done with a Masonry Stain (pigment you mix with water).
  3. Epoxy-based paint and spray it on to the raw clay block with an air sprayer.


Just make sure that whatever paint you pick is ready for outdoor use and is suitable for application on brick or other masonry products. Although following these steps should result in a durable product, always test a few pieces before painting all of your breeze blocks.

PAINTING

POST-INSTALLATION SPRAY-ON METHOD

First you’ll need to thoroughly clean the wall using a degreaser or detergent such as a concrete driveway cleaner. If your wall is outside, you can spray it down with a water hose. If it’s inside, wipe it with the cleaner and a damp sponge.


Once it’s thoroughly dry, paint it with an airless sprayer. Dip painting won't work and using a brush won’t either due to the block’s crevices. If the paint is “no primer required”, put the paint in the sprayer and spray away. However, make sure to prime your paint before you put it into the sprayer if required.

Design by A Taste of Koko

Painted White Pixel Breeze Block | Design Kim Wolfe | Photo Madeline Harper

Painted White Mariposa Breeze Block | Design Create Atelier | Photo Robert Tsai

Painted White Tres Abanicos Breeze Block | Picknik Austin

MAINTENANCE

Clay breeze blocks are composed of natural terracotta. Although breeze blocks are durable, depending on your application, maintenance is recommended to ensure that your installation looks great for years to come.


Maintenance is especially helpful with outdoor applications, specifically installations that are exposed to harsh sunlight, freeze/thaw conditions and rainwater. Regular cleaning and inspection of your wall can help with upkeep and integrity of your breeze blocks in addition to avoiding costly maintenance in the future.


Similarly to how foundation movement can cause cracks in the wall of a house, structural movement can lessen the integrity of your breeze block wall installation. We recommend visually inspecting your breeze block wall occasionally. If excessive corrosion or separation from your structural supports are visible, contact a masonry specialist to assess the integrity of your installation as soon as possible.


Design by Austin Living Landscape | Reagen Taylor Photography

MAINTENANCE


Common Issues and Maintenance Solutions

MOLD: Breeze blocks are porous, a combination of rain and sunlight can lead to mold growth. Clean your blocks of dust and debris with a dry cloth or broom regularly. For harder to clean spots, You can use a damp cloth or non-acidic cleaning solution to spot clean these areas.


CHIPPING: Breeze blocks can chip when impacted. Be careful when operating outdoor lawn equipment or moving heavy furniture around your breeze block wall. If chipping occurs, add a recommended sealer to the chipped area. For painted blocks, keep your original paint on hand. When chipping occurs, the clay terracotta color will be visible. Clean any debris and then apply paint to the chipped area, this will also protect the chipped area from further chipping. Excessively chipped or broken blocks can be replaced by an experienced professional.


CORROSION: Due to the porosity of breeze blocks and their perforated design, water tends to settle in lower areas of the blocks and can cause erosion of the clay. If not addressed promptly this can lead to structural integrity issues. Regular cleaning and inspecting as well as sealing during installation, can help prevent sitting water and erosion of clay. To best avoid corrosion from water absorption, we recommend applying sealer occasionally, either as recommended by the sealer manufacturer or when you notice the blocks starting to absorb water.


COLOR VARIATION: The natural coloration of your terracotta breeze blocks will change over time, especially in areas with exposure to outdoor elements. This is part of the natural beauty of terracotta. We love the natural variation but understand it might not be for everyone, although not always avoidable. You can limit the color variation progression of your blocks by applying sealer, or you can eliminate color variation entirely by painting your breeze blocks a color of your choice.

DISCLAIMER

Since the installation of breeze blocks greatly determines the integrity of the project and the breeze blocks themselves, Clay Imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all breeze blocks 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 masonry professional before your installation.

TECHNICAL

  • Load capacity rating 2300 psi
  • Water absorption: 0.5% - 3%
  • Abrasive resistance: C4
  • Scratch hardness: MOHS 6
  • Shade Variation: V2.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Breeze block walls are not load bearing and should not have weight added that is not distributed through other structural elements
  • We do not produce or supply bond beams or other masonry reinforcement
  • Although adding reinforcement is helpful for the structural integrity of your wall, it is not indestructible.