Innovations in special concrete block shapes are increasing the versatility of concrete masonry and helping masonry contractors claim a larger market share. We asked concrete masonry producers all over the country what innovative blocks they make for special applications. What follows is a brief look at the innovative blocks that they or the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) are selling or developing. NO CURING WITH MASONRY FOOTINGS Used instead of poured footings, special concrete masonry units are laid dry without mortar on a solid base, usually gravel or sand. Adjacent blocks interlock, and slots in the top accept steel reinforcement. Mortar is placed on top of the blocks to provide a level bed for the foundation blocks. BALLAST UNITS KEEP ROOF MEMBRANES DOWN Designed as ballast for single-ply roofing membranes, these lightweight block can resist wind speeds greater than 120 mph. FOR EASIER WIRING AND PLUMBING This multiuse block was designed so electrical and plumbing lines could be installed within a single-wythe block wall. THERMAL MASS FOR STUD WALLS Dropping specially shaped concrete block between stud walls adds thermal mass to the wall. Installed after the wood studs are up, the block are tapered at the edges to accommodate junction boxes and wiring. POURED WALLS WITH NO STRIPPING Small concrete panels, each similar to the face shell of a concrete block, are designed to be dry-stacked and tied together with special ties. CREATING CURVES AND ANGLES QUICKLY Several proprietary angled block shapes are available for making angled walls. There also are interlocking blocks that can create curved walls with a radius as small as 3 feet.