a unfinished concrete block home sitting on a sandy lot, with a sign in the middle that says hurricane evacuation zone

Say you are buying a home in a hurricane-prone zone. The spot you choose for new home construction and area weighs in on the materials you need for the house. 

You may wonder if something like a cinder block or concrete seal your family from raging hurricanes.

So how do these homes fare against hurricanes? And how much reinforcement is needed to make concrete and cinder block homes stand strong against storms? Let’s check out these details below!

How Do Concrete and Cinder Block Homes Fare in Hurricanes?

Concrete, cement, and cinder block homes can withstand hurricanes, depending on the house’s construction quality and the hurricane category. During Category 3 hurricanes, these homes can withstand most damage. If built well, Categories 4 and 5 hurricanes and flooding leave minor scratches. 

A external wall built with cinder blocks under construction
Cinder block homes can be one of the strongest and best-performing ways to build when facing down a massive hurricane.

Are Concrete and Cinder Block Homes Hurricane-Proof?

According to research, concrete, cinder, and block homes are hurricane-proof and can survive storms without much structural damage. Even though cinder blocks are hollow and lighter than cement, they create a sturdy foundation that violent winds cannot easily knock off. 

The Debris Impact Facility at Texas Tech ran an experiment to re-enact a hurricane-like situation. The results conveyed how cement and cinder block walls reacted to a simulated hurricane. The entire simulation took place inside a controlled section of a laboratory for safety purposes. 

The researchers shot 15-pound (6.8 kg) lumber missiles to hit the walls. The speeds of these hits were faster than a hurricane’s, which helped determine how much stronger cement, concrete, and cinder block walls are against such devastating storms. 

The experiment included two types of projectiles—wood and steel.

The test was to hurl these projectiles at the highest possible speed at small wall sections. These wall sections were set as if part of an already well-constructed home. 

Wall materials included:

  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Drywall
  • Clay brick
  • Plywood sheathing
  • Vinyl siding

When the projectiles hit these components, they didn’t experience the slightest scratches. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about other pieces, such as wood studs and lighted decks. 

This research concluded that any cement or concrete home with a fortified base could withstand a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. However, if you have built your home near a water body or a hurricane-prone area, chances are the house will flood in the event of a storm.

What Allows Concrete to Withstand Hurricanes?

Concrete is a dense and solid construction material that can make your home stand tall against any hurricane attack. Be it howling winds, shattering storms, or a Category 5 hurricane, a cement home, when built to last, will protect your home and interiors and even safeguard you against flooding.  

Exterior backyard view of a home built with concrete

Houses built with concrete or cinder blocks are reinforced to be wind-resistant, making them an ultimate savior for homes in naturally disastrous areas. 

Thanks to massive climate changes over the last decades, many parts of the world are prone to frequent natural disasters like:

  • Earthquakes
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes 

The correct shape, sizing, and base can turn concrete homes into impenetrable powerhouses that stay standing, even with neighboring houses taking unfortunate hits. These types of homes are built with concrete and steel rebar. These are crucial for compressing and supporting the concrete throughout your home’s basic structure. 

You can ensure the rebars don’t rust and weaken your home’s cement foundation by taking preventive measures. For starters, professional construction personnel raises the rebars over non-metallic surfaces to prevent them from touching the water.

Another way is to keep galvanized rebars away from wooden materials and uncoated rebars, which can encourage corrosion. It can be very challenging to plan out a hurricane-proof home, but choosing concrete and cinder block as the foundation can save you from future worries during natural disasters.

The best type of concrete for this purpose is the insulated concrete form (ICF). ICFs are hollowed-out blocks made of foam. These can be stacked as walls of a building. Construction workers reinforce these blocks with steel rebar and concrete filling to add more stability. 

Closeup on the internal composition of an ICF block, a cinder block home alternative, before the concrete is poured

Insulated concrete forms can withstand 250 mph, which is higher than a Category 5 hurricane wind speed. And since the wind speed can rise with climate change and natural disasters, you need to plan out a future-proof home.

ICF comes with tons of benefits, including:

  • Low maintenance
  • Fire and wind-resistant
  • It takes less labor and time to install
  • The forms come in various sizes and are customizable according to your home’s blueprint

If you live in or near a coastal area, you need the best quality cement, rebar, and construction workers to build a solid house. As it’s been made clear by research, cement’s performance and strength stand best against hurricanes and strong winds. 

Advantages of Cinder Block Homes Against Hurricanes

Concrete block construction has become the heart and soul of many homeowners in natural disaster-prone areas. Recent hurricanes and tornado attacks have proven that only cinder blocks or insulated concrete forms have enough strength to withstand such raw power. 

So, what kind of advantages do these concrete-enforced homes come with?

Let us check out some benefits of owning and living inside ICF homes:

High-Level Storm Resistance

Concrete block homes have eight-inch (20.32 cm) blocks. These blocks can tolerate over 250 mph winds (402.34 kph), making them a beast against any natural disaster. Moreover, cinder blocks reduce the chances of items breaking or getting damaged inside your home. 

And since that reduces your need for insurance, many insurance companies will offer discounted rates on your home insurance policy. 

a blue tesla model 3 parked on the grey driveway with a white solar netzero home
Even though our second netzero home renovation project house was built in 1954, the fact that it’s concrete block, paired with a new roof, and hurricane tie-downs means it’s a relative fortress against even the strongest hurricanes.

Mold and Mildew Resistance (Avoiding Rusing)

Concrete-enforced walls prevent water from seeping into the walls and destroying the rebars. Since these walls don’t allow in excess humidity and moisture, mold or mildew will not deteriorate your home’s foundation from within. 

Even if you live in an area with torrential rainfall and daily hurricane warnings, these cinder blocks can ensure that no drop enters your house, keeping the indoors fresh and clean. 

Tips On Concrete Home Building

Let’s say you want to commission professional construction workers to build you a concrete home. In that case, we have some tips that will make your house feel more robust against natural disasters. Don’t forget to mention these when discussing your home’s construction planning with the workers. 

Elevate the Base

When there is a storm, there is flooding. And even while you are safe inside your home, many things can go wrong. 

For example, rusted rebars can weaken your house’s structural integrity. One way to avoid this is to keep them elevated. 

Ask your construction workers to place these cement pillars and walls over 12-foot-long non-metallic structures. The further the cement and concrete are from consistent water, the less likely these foundations are to erode. 

A traditionally-poured concrete foundation at a construction site

Use ICF Materials for Walls

Their interlocking ability makes ICFs the best way to protect house walls. They are water-resistant and come with high durability. As a result, ICF has become more popular than regular concrete, making them a must for future homeowners.

ICF walls have the added benefit of regulating interior temperatures, reducing heating bills, and insulating your house from outside noise.

Conclusion

All in all, concrete and cinder block homes are a perfect solution to staying safe during hurricanes. These materials are strong, wind-resistant, and easy to maintain. If you are planning to move to coastal areas and want a home fortified against natural disasters, opt for concrete or ICF home planning. 

Keep these tips in mind for a sturdy home in a hurricane-prone area, and you will have fewer worries when the weather worsens.

Sources

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