They are easy to use, easy to paint and easier to glue together than you might imagine and they are making a big name for themselves.
Here in Australia we call them Besser blocks after the famous Aussie concrete company; in the UK they are more often known as ‘breeze blocks’ and in the US ‘cinder blocks’.
Hollow rectangular grey building blocks used in their thousands for offices, apartment blocks and, well, any building you care to mention.
Whatever you want to call them, the blocks are getting a name for themselves as the latest upcycling material of choice.
Unfortunately they’re not free.
While taking a few timber pallets discarded on an industrial estate could be seen as a surrogate clean-up, taking a stack of Besser blocks is considered stealing.
If you don’t have some left over from a build though, then they’re only $3.60 from Bunnings for a standard 390 x 190 x 190mm block.
Incidentally, the reason for the odd measurements is that when you add 10mm of cement, then they round up to 400 x 200mm when building.
Easy to use, easy to paint and easier to glue together than you might imagine, the hardest part is probably pushing 10 of them around Bunnings on a wonky trolley and then loading them into your car.
Once home though, there are plenty of options open to you.
DIY HOME IMPROVEMENT: BESSER BLOCK IDEAS
Outside benches are probably the most ubiquitous designs used on social media at the moment, and the combination of block and timber works really well. Besser blocks are easy to paint with a decent exterior paint and you can do enough blocks for a bench with less than half a litre.
The blocks do soak up the paint though and the pitted surface means you need to push the brush into the holes and give the blocks a couple of coats. For the timber, 100 x 100mm fence posts are the best look, but they can be expensive.
Using 70 x 35mm untreated timber is cheaper, but make sure you sand thoroughly to avoid splinters on bare legs. Play around with colours for both timber and blocks, but a Brunswick Green for the blocks, with a clear gloss varnish on the timber gives a classic combination.
Shelves are even easier to make and you can definitely have more fun with colours for both wood and block. Dressed pine is easy to work with as the shelf material, it can simply be varnished, or you can paint it white and sand back lightly to create a distressed vintage look.
For neatness face the flat edge of the blocks outwards, but if you want to face the holes to the front, then it can create cute recesses for tea light holders. Worth pointing out at this stage is that simply placing the blocks is fairly sturdy, but if you need a more robust structure, certainly for a bench, you’ll need to stick the blocks together. Fear not, a cement mixer will not need to be involved – these blocks stick really well with a good covering of Liquid Nails.
OTHER BESSER BLOCK IDEAS
Whatever else you attempt to make simply comes down to your imagination, the number of bricks you have and possibly the suspension on your car when getting them home.
Planters are the easiest use, by simply turning blocks on their side and filling the cavity with compost.
But barbecues, fire pits, decorative steps, larger flower beds, the world is your cinder block. Weirdly, you may even get so used to using them that you get some cement and decide to build something like a wall … now there’s an idea.
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