This article on designing with colored concrete masonry explains how new curing and better quality-control techniques assure greater CMU conformity and color consistency. Colored CMU are available in a wide spectrum of standard and custom colors to satisfy almost any design requirement. Subtle earth-tone colors can be used to blend a building into its environment, or more vivid colors can be used to create visibility and a more unique identity for a building. By using white cement and sand, delicate pastel colors also can be made. While many walls are constructed in a monolithic color, several shades of colored CMU can be combined in a wall to create special effects. For example, accent colors can be used to create fascia and decorative panels or to accentuate lintels, columns, and other architectural elements. Color blends can give a subtle texture to a wall or reduce its visual mass. And on many innovative projects, patterns and intricate coursing have been constructed with colored CMU to create uniquely decorated walls. The use of colored CMU also has been stimulated by improved manufacturing techniques. In the past, many builders avoided the use of concrete masonry for exterior architectural applications due to the potential for color variation and leakage. New curing and better quality-control techniques now assure greater CMU uniformity and color consistency, plus reduced porosity and shrinkage. In addition, high-performance water repellents can be applied to walls or added to the concrete and mortar mixes. With these improvements, colored CMU can now be used as an exposed finish in most climates and building types. Since it is no longer necessary to paint or coat the units with block-filler to avoid water penetration, the intrinsic beauty of the concrete masonry surface can be left exposed.