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Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences Volume 3, March 2011

© 2011 Cenresin Publications



S. Yusuf and Hamza, A.A

Department of Civil Engineering
Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna

This paper was embarked upon in order to determine the variation in compressive
strength between 6 and 9 inches hollow sandcrete blocks, using Dangote brand of
Portland cement. The research has shown that at age of 7days the compressive strength
of 6 inches is 2.55 N/mm2 and at the age of 28 days it is 3.86 N/mm2 . As for the 9 inches
block, at the age of 7 days, the compressive strength is 2.59 N/mm2 while at 28 days age,
the strength is 3.94 N/mm2. Both have satisfied the minimum compressive strength of
1.8N/mm2 at age 7 days, and 2.5N/mm2 at the age of 28 days as allowed by Nigerian
Industrial Standard (N.I.S). At the end it has been established that the strength of 9
inches block is stronger than that of 6 inches.

Sandcrete blocks constitute a unique class amongst man-made structural component for
building in civil engineering work. For example in buildings, walls are constructed (using
blocks), as either load bearing or non-land bearing to provide shelter, protection,
conveniently divide space, privacy and also to provide security for man and his properties
(Edward, 1985). This means that the importance of these blocks cannot be
overemphasize, due to their importance in the construction industry. Sandcrete blocks are
usually moulded from constituents of sand, water and Portland cement in specified or
prescribed mix ratio or proportion. The compressive strength of sandcrete blocks is
affected by the mix proportion, quality of material used in making them, size, shape, and
the mode of manufacture (i.e. hand or machine mould). Physical conditions such as
method and days of curing, duration of time, temperature etc will also contribute to the
strength of the block (Dhir, 1980). The strength of the block will contribute to the
strength of the units used in a structure. For example, walls built with poor quality blocks
that falls short of the standard strength are likely to fail, thereby causing severe damage
to the structure and sometimes even lost of lives and properties. This shows that there is
need to know the compressive strength of blocks. And in order to minimize the huge loss
of money by the block users in the course of handling and transporting substandard
blocks, a standard information on the mix proportion and the quality of materials to be
used in achieving the desired strength of structure, will certainly be useful to block
manufacturers, block users and building designers (Nene, 2009). The blocks that will be
discussed in this paper are hand moulded blocks.

Sandcrete hollow blocks are generally defined as a mixture of sand, cement and water
formed in a block making mould. The blocks are supposed to have adequate compaction
pressure so that they can be confidently used in building of walls and other structures at
various levels during construction (Hamza, et al, 2009)). Sandcrete blocks must satisfy

Comparing the Compressive Strength of Six and Nine Inches S. Yusuf and Hamza, A.A
Hand Moulded Sandcrete Block

building specification byelaws with respect to the compressive strength. The thickness of
the blocks ranges from 50-255mm. British standard BS2028, 1364 defines blocks as a
walling unit with dimensions greater than brick specified in BS 3921 (Nene, 2009). The
British standard gives more of a performance specification for block rather than detailed
description of mode of manufacture (Curtin, et al, 1982). The most popular size
recommended in accordance with the British Standard BS 2028, 1364 and Nigeria
Industrial Standard (N1S) is 450mm x 225mm and are available in thickness of 63mm,
75mm, 96mm, 100mm, 140mm, 190mm and 225mm. BS 2028 and 1364 also allows the
size of 150mm x 450mmm 200mm x 450mm, 300mm x 450mm, 200mm x 600mm and
225mm x 600mm blocks (Nene, 2009). The range of strength for sandcrete blocks
specified by N.I.S 74:1976 is between1.8N/mm2 to 2.5N/mm2 as the minimum strength.
The blocks can cope with thermal and moisture conditions, and the problem of algae
growth on the face of block work during construction is unlikely to affect the strength of
the block (Edward, 1985). The compressive strength of hollow sandcrete block increases
by adding optimum quantity of water, which will also have an impact on the mix a and
workability. This means that there is a limit to an increase of water in the mixture during
which further increase in water percentage will result to decrease in the strength (George,
1980). Also considering the three main forms of concrete blocks (i.e solid, cellular and
hollow) the hollow sandcrete block is more economical in terms of weight, density and
compressive strength and is commonly used in construction works. Research has shown
that the compressive strength in sandcrete block increases sharply with the increase in
the ratio of cement content and in the size of the fine aggregate (Hamza,et al, 2009).


The main constituents used in making sandcrete block are: Portland cement (in this case,
Dangote cement), sand and water. The cement is used because it set and hardens by
reacting with water. The chemical reaction is called hydration and the sand aggregate
used in making sandcrete block can be either natural or manufactured, and should be
completely devoid of organic matter, have little or no cohesion and of high strength. It
must also contain sufficient amount of material smaller than 300mm (passing through BS
sieve No. 52) so that the mixture can be workable and does not segregate as stipulated in
B.S. 2028 and 1364 (Hamza,et al,2009). Again, the water for making the block should be
free from all impurities. Lightweight blocks have lower strength than dense block but are
superior in such properties as thermal insulation and ease of cutting. They are easier to
handle and reduce the dead weight of a structure. Light weight blocks offer less sound
insulation than dense blocks of equal thickness but are more absorbent to sound provided
the surface is open textured and left unsealed (e.g. unplastered). Block should be left to
mature for at least 28 days (by curing them) before they are laid, if enough strength is
needed (Hamza, 2009). Curing is the process of preventing the loss of moisture from the
block while maintaining a satisfactory temperature regime. Preferably, sandcrete block
should be moist air cured for the first seven days. Curing and protection usually produce
very good blocks and these could be carried out in the following ways.

1. Covering the blocks with wet material such as polythene sheets

2. Spraying the block with water. This could also be form of high-pressure steam
curing other wise known as auto cleaving.

Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences Volume 3, March 2011

3. The most commonly used out of other forms of curing is the spraying method.
(Hamza, et al, 2009).
Curing and protection of sandcrete block should start as soon as compaction is completed.
This will protect the block from the following:
- Leaching out by rain and flowing water
- Premature drying out particularly with solar radiation and wind
- Rapid curing during the first few days of moulding or production
(Nene, 2009).
The productions in which the cement and aggregate are mixed are generally expressed as
a volumetric rate based on a unit volume of cement. For example 1:6 block means: 1 part
by volume of cement to six parts by volume of aggregate. 1 bag of cement weighs 50kg
and has a volume of 0.035m3. The proportion of cement to aggregate depends on
strength, impermeability and durability requirements.

Research methodology
The sharp sand used in this research was collected from the bed of RIVER KADUNA in the
northern part of Kaduna town. The 6 inches and 9 inches hollow sandcrete block were
produced using a hand mould. During the mixing process, the batching was by volume
which is the most common method used for block production. For the production of
hollow sandcrete block using hand mould, the mould is raised at a height of 0.6m in order
to make the mixture compact very well and produce a good strength and more
satisfactory blocks. The 6 inches and 9 inches sandcrete hollow block produced was
450mm x 225mm x 15omm and 450mm x225mm x 225mm in standard size which could
be use for non- load bearing and load bearing walls. After production, the blocks were
then taken to material and structures laboratory of the department of Civil engineering,
Kaduna Polytechnic, for crushing. The weights and crushing load of the total number of
30 blocks were determined for 7days, 14days, 21days, and 28 days respectively. The
corresponding crushing strength of the blocks was determined for 7days, 14days, 21days
and 28 days respectively.

1. Washed sharp sand was collected from bed of river Kaduna in the northern part of
2. Bags of Portland cement (Dangote cement were purchased).
3. The cement and sand was measured in liters according to mix ratio of the research
using measuring bowl.
4. The cement and sand was then mixed at ratio 1:1 before 0.35 liters of water-
cement ratio was added which is considered to be an optimum for proper hydration
and maximum strength.
5. The mould was then lubricated with oil.
6. The cement-sand and water mixture was then fed into the mould of the block, and
raised to a height of 0.6m for proper compaction.
7. The compacted block was carefully removed on leveled surface timber plate and
placed on a good location for curing.
8. Step 6 and 7 were repeated until the entire mix ratio was exhausted from ratios 1-
9. The block produced was cured by spraying water.
Comparing the Compressive Strength of Six and Nine Inches S. Yusuf and Hamza, A.A
Hand Moulded Sandcrete Block

10. At the age of 7 days, 3 blocks per each mix ratio from the brand of cement was
carried to the material laboratory of the civil engineering department, Kaduna
Polytechnic where compressive strength was determined.
11. The above procedure was repeated for the remaining mix ratio at the age of 7
days, 14days, 21days and 28days respectively.

Method for computation of result

The following method was used to determine the compressive strength of the blocks.

Computing the Compressive Strength of 6 Inches Block

Compress strength = crushing load
Net area of block
The area of block is calculated as follows:
Block size = 450 mm x 150 mm x 225 mm
Hollow section = 2(150 x 90) mm = 27000 mm2
Gross area of block = 450 mm x 150 mm = 67500 mm2
Therefore net area of block = Gross – Hollow section
67500 – 2700 = 40500mm2
Average crushing load for (7 days) = 110 + 100 + 100
= 103.33KN

Compressive strength = 10333.3 = 2.55N/mm2

Average crushing load for (28days) 1:1 = 160 + 160 + 150
= 156.6KN
Compressive strength = 156.6 = 3.86N/mm2

Computing the Compressive Strength of 9 Inches Block

Compressive strength = Crushing load
Net area of block
Net block area = 56250mm2
Average crushing load for (7 days) = 142 + 148 + 148
= 146KN
Compressive strength = 14600 = 2.59N/mm2
Average crushing load for (28 days) = 220 + 220 + 225
= 221.6kN

Compressive strength = 221666.6 = 3.94N/mm3


Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences Volume 3, March 2011

The compressive strength calculated in Tables 1 and 2 (see appendix) have shows that
the compressive strength of 6 inches block at 7 days and 28 days are 2.55 N/mm2 and
3.86 N/mm2. In the case of 9 inches block the compressive strength is 2.59 N/mm2 and
3.94 N/mm2 for ages 7 days and 28 days respectively. This shows that there is a variation
in compressive strength between the two blocks. To this end, it can be deduced that the
strength of 9 inches block is more and higher than that of the 6 inches block.

The graphs in figures 1 and 2 shows the corresponding increment in compressive strength
of the two blocks at ages 7, 14, 21 and 28 days of curing. And both sizes of blocks have
satisfied the minimum compressive strength of 1.8N/mm2 and 2.5N/mm2 at ages 7 days
and 28 days.

Similar studies should be carried out adopting batching of material by weight to check the
variation with volume. A machine mould method of manufacturing can be used to save
time. Similar work should be carried out with different sizes of fine aggregates. Seminars
and workshops should be organized for block manufactures, educating them on the safe
mix ratio in order to produce a reliable block that can be used in construction projects
with full confidence on safety.

Curtin W.G, Shew G., Bray W.A. (1982): Structural Mansory Designers Manual, BSP
Proportional Books, Oxford-London, (Second Edition) Pp 439 – 442

Dhir, J (1980): Civil Engineering materials. Macmillan, London. 5th edition Pp 493-526.

Edward, A (1985): Foundation of building construction, materials and methods. Macmillan,

London. 2nd edition. Pp 242-246.

George, C (1980): Construction Technology Guide. Volume 2. Northwood Book, London.

Pp 40-43.

Hamza, A.A and Yusuf, S. (2009): Determination of compressive strength of six inches
hollow sandcrete block. A paper presented at 12th annual National Engineering
Conference, College of Engineering, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna. 1st to 3rd
December, 2009.

Nene, R. (2009): Determination of compressive strength of nine inches hand moulded

sandcrete block. A Higher National Diploma project presented to the Department of
Civil Engineering Kaduna Polytechnic. October, 2009.

Comparing the Compressive Strength of Six and Nine Inches S. Yusuf and Hamza, A.A
Hand Moulded Sandcrete Block

Table 1
RATIO 1:1 1:2 1:3 1:4 1:5 1:6

7 2.55 2.45 2.41 2.35 2.3 2.13

14 2.78 2.7 2.6 2.56 2.56 2.5
21 3.35 3.3 3.21 3.19 3.11 3.06
28 3.86 3.8 3.66 3.51 3.42 3.1

Figure 1

Table 2
RATIO 1:1 1:2 1:3 1:4 1:5 1:6

7 2.59 2.56 2.54 2.51 2.5 2.48

14 3.4 3.24 3.19 3 2.82 2.63
21 3.9 3.82 3.76 3.62 3.59 3.48
28 3.94 3.91 3.9 3.87 3.89 3.78

Figure 2