Dry-Stack Concrete Block Wall

Dry-stack block look like conventional concrete blocks, but they are always 16 inches long and 8 inches high.

The dry-stack blocks are used and put through a machine during production that grinds the top and bottom surfaces to a 0.005-inch tolerance.

Blocks can often be built without cement because of their parallelism, precision, and beautifully Texture ground surface.

Most dry-stack blocks have interlocking grooves and tongues on the ends to help align and hold them in place.

Along with normal blocks, there are half blocks and bond blocks for bond beams which include knockouts for taking horizontal rebar.

 For finished exterior corners, special corner blocks without tongues are produced.

The edges of the block are usually chamfered where it is exposed to create a hand-handled corner that is less prone to chipping.

The face can also be ground and sealed to give the block a smooth, marble-like appearance.

How to Build a Dry-Stack Concrete Block Wall?

1. Prepare the site for the wall:

Prepare the site for the wall:

A crucial first step is identifying the kinds of loads your wall will be exposed.

A low retaining wall to another structural wall might need grouting and rebar reinforcement, whereas a decorative wall is generally simple to build and won’t need much support.

Check your local construction code before doing any work on a load-bearing wall.

For the sake of this project guide, a straight, non-load-bearing building will be assumed.

  • Prepare your site by first marking the outline of the wall.
  • Excavate to the frost line to prepare the ground for the foundation.
  • Lay the foundation.
  • Allow the base to cure for about a week according to the product’s instructions before continuing.

2. Estimate:

  • A wall measuring 25 square feet can be covered with one bag of surface-bonding cement.
  • Use a mortarless masonry calculator to estimate your dry-stack concrete block, then add 10% to make sure you have enough supplies to do the job.

3. Mixing:

Mixing to Dry-Stack Concrete Block

For dry stack walls, mixing is done in two stages.

A small initial batch is used to lay the first course, then a larger batch is used after the entire wall is piled.

  • In a 5-gallon bucket, add the required amount of water after adding the dry mix.
  • One bag requires 5.0 to 6.0 quarts of water.
  • In addition to being offered in Gray or white, Secret Cement Colours can be used to customize the appearance of surface bonding cement.
  • Use a powerful 1/2″ drill with a paddle attachment to mix concrete or mortar or an electric paddle mixer.
  • Blend for two minutes to achieve a “peanut butter” consistency.
  • To achieve the ideal consistency, gradually add a bit more of the mixture or water.
  • Your mixture should stick to the trowel when set but still spread easily.
  • For convenient access, pour the prepared mixture into a mortar pan.

4. Laying the first course:

Laying the first course to Dry-Stack Concrete Block

The first course of your stone wall is the most important part of the construction process.

We advise spending extra effort making sure this layer is straight and level so your project can produce outcomes of a professional standard.

Two rows of material, each one-half inch thick should be run down the footing where the dry-stack concrete block will be set to form a levelling bed of surface bonding cement.

  • Set the first corner block and make sure it is level.
  • To adjust the height, tap the end of the hammer or your trowel.
  • Check the level after placing the second corner block.
  • Use string and line blocks to specify the alignment for the remainder of the first course.
  • Put the remaining pieces in the spaces between your corners to finish the first course.
  • Maintain the level and alignment of each block as you work, assessing your progress at the hand level.

5. Wall stacking:

  • The retaining wall should be stacked in a running bond pattern with each course being flush and level with the one before it.
  • To maintain the level, use brick shims to level any uneven sections.
  • Using a level, check that each course is level and plumb.
  • Dry-stack concrete block for caps completes the wall.
  • Before proceeding to the next step, confirm the level of the finished wall and plumb one more time.

6. Surface Bonding Cement Application:

Surface Bonding Cement Application

It’s time to glue everything together now that the wall has been built.

  • Using a spray bottle, moisten the wall until it is completely dry (SSD).
  • Before continuing, the block should look wet but feel dry to the touch.
  • After mixing, pour the entire volume of surface-bonding cement into the mortar pan.
  • Surface bonding cement should be used to close holes or defects larger than 14 and allow some time to dry before covering.
  • Apply surface bonding cement to the wall starting from the foundation with a finish trowel.
  • While holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle, use a wide, arcing motion to spread the material evenly to a depth of 1/8″ to 1/2″.
  • To ensure adequate wall strength, coat the top and all sides.
  • As additional material is added, you’ll find it easier to smooth and integrate small errors.
  • To assist conceal any obvious trowel markings, you might also use a brush.
  • Lightly mist the finished wall to promote good curing and prevent cracking.

Advantages of Dry-Stack Concrete Block Wall:

  1. Easy to stack and build by one or two people.
  2. No special efforts are required.
  3. As heat is transmitted back into the building at night, the filled core retains heat during the day, maintaining a more consistent room temperature.

Disadvantages of Dry-Stack Concrete Block Wall:

  1. Blocks with minor defects may have gaps, require shims, or need to be reduced to fit.
  2. Until the cement is poured, care must be taken when building because the blocks tend to move.
  3. Walls exposed to the wind should never be built too high without bracing or additional bond beams to secure the structure.
  4. Buildings of more than one story are not advised.
  5. It is labour-intensive, difficult work.


It is possible to construct surface-mounted, unreinforced, reinforced or partially prestressed walls using dry-stack concrete masonry block.

Walls are built with each type of construction by first stacking pieces of concrete masonry.

Hello and welcome to House Modify! I am Rahul and I am passionate about everything related to design, decoration and renovation. I am a serial renovator, currently working as a civil engineer. Take a look around, leave a comment and don't forget to subscribe to my emails so you don't miss out!

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