When is a block not just a block?

When it’s a CMU!

The concrete masonry unit (CMU) has come a long way since it was first created; still, the story of how it came to be is an interesting one. An article, published in Popular Science (Apr. 2020), tells it like this…

“Your name for the venerable CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit) probably depends upon where you live, but cinder block, breeze block, and hollow block all refer to an 8-by-8-by-16-inch brick with two or three internal voids. This mainstay of construction emerged when, in 1900, Harmon S. Palmer developed a process for using coal cinders—hence the name—to create something lighter, more insulating, and easier to work with than the solid hunks of his day. The industry standardized the dimensions in the 1930s, and coal waste eventually gave way to concrete and other materials, making the items heavier and stronger.”

This durable construction mainstay is easy to install, low maintenance, and fireproof. The CMU has come a long way since it was first introduced and, as always, Colucci Realty remains on the forefront of methods and materials in construction and concrete.

Our most recent project, located at 95 River Rd Flemington NJ, began on July 28th, using 12” x 8’ x 34’ CMUs that are totally insulated with an r24 rating.


The project is at the finish-to-suit stage; completion will be 90-120 days after lease signing, depending on the fit out needed.

If you are interested in leasing the building, call us at 908-797-2305.

JLG lift

CRI is a diversified contractor and grounds support company serving New Jersey. Contact us for information and quotes related to concrete and asphalt work, water management (including sewer, water, and drainage projects), water recharge system installation, management and delivery of all phases and requirements of site-work, and professional dismantling services.

Cement vs. Concrete

Although the terms cement and concrete are often used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and Portland cement.

Cement comprises from 10 to 15 percent of the concrete mix, by volume. Through a process called hydration, the cement and water harden and bind the aggregates into a rock-like mass. This hardening process continues for years meaning that concrete gets stronger as it gets older.

Portland cement is not a brand name, but the generic term for the type of cement in virtually all concrete – just as stainless is a type of steel and sterling a type of silver. Therefore, there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk, or a cement mixer; the proper terms are concrete sidewalk and concrete mixer.

CRI provides a large portfolio of services that includes, but is not limited to, concrete and asphalt work, commercial snow removal, water management (including sewer, water, and drainage projects), water recharge system installation, management and delivery of all phases and requirements of site-work, and professional dismantling services.

For information, please call us at 908-797-2305, or submit an online form to request an estimate or receive answers to general questions.

Asphalt Installation

Colucci Realty was recently contracted to remove a landscaped island that prevented trucks from getting into the loading dock.

To begin, we removed and disposed of the concrete curb, along with the trees and fill contained within the island.

Once the construction site was cleared and prepped, 4″ of DGA (dense grade aggregate) stone was installed and compacted. On top of that was layered 4″ of I-2 base asphalt mix, which is a compacted mixture of both aggregates and asphalt cement.

Finally 2″ of I-5 top asphalt mix was installed and the area was coned off, as shown in the photos below.


For information on installing, repairing, or removing asphalt or concrete, call CRI, at 908-797-2305, or submit an online form to request an estimate or receive answers to general questions.

Curious about the pros & cons of concrete vs. asphalt? Check out our post Comparing Concrete vs. Asphalt.

Self-Healing Concrete

Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere accelerate the deterioration of concrete. As CO2 penetrates a structure, it reacts with already present moisture and calcium hydroxide, progressively eating away at the layer of cement covering steel reinforcements, leaving them vulnerable to rust.

Fortunately, an environmental scientist in the Netherlands has invented a self-healing version. The concrete is embedded with nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium lactate, and a limestone-producing bacteria.

The additives lie dormant until a fissure emerges, admitting air and moisture. At that point, the bacteria activate, feed on the calcium lactate, and convert it into limestone to seal the split in the concrete.

For information on installing, repairing, or removing concrete, call CRI, at 908-797-2305, or submit an online form to request an estimate or receive answers to general questions.

Cleaning the Air with Concrete

The Palazzo Italia, in Milan, is the first concrete building in the world to effectively improve the quality of the air around it. The facade of the building consists of 900 biodynamic panels made with photocatalytic concrete and titanium dioxide.

The technology was invented by accident, by Luigi Cassar, a chemist at cement manufacturer Italcementi. While trying to create a construction material that keeps a bright white color even in polluted conditions, he hit upon a method called “photocatalysis”, which uses the sun’s energy to zap away dirt.

To his surprise, when the air around the treated concrete was tested, it contained up to 80% less nitrous oxide, which meant the concrete was cleaning the air as well as itself.

The material is also suited for use in road construction and roofing tiles.

From the repair of cracked, damaged, and broken concrete, to full concrete slab replacement, CRI can tackle concrete repair and removal jobs of any size. Call us, at 908-797-2305, or submit our online form to request an estimate or for general questions.

Concrete Pumping with Truck-Mounted Concrete Pumps

In our last post, we showed a video depicting a very creative construction crew moving cement from the mixing site, up one floor, to the installation site. But what if you need to move the cement even higher and, more importantly, safely and consistently?

The video below, titled “Concrete Pumping–The Future of Concrete Construction”, posted by the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA), demonstrates the economic, environmental, safety, and productivity benefits of concrete pumps.

The projects shown in the video employ truck-mounted concrete pumps with placing booms and stationary pumps. The video details the many uses of concrete pumps. Environmental benefits are also illustrated with footage of concrete pumping near rivers and streams, where precision placement and enclosed pipelines protect the surrounding area.

Creative & Unusual Cement Delivery Technique

We’re not sure what country is home to this construction project but know for a fact that it’s not the U.S.A. – OSHA would shut down this operation in a heartbeat.

OSHA notwithstanding, this construction crew shows amazing skill and creativity… No concrete pump truck? No problem for this construction team; using skill, strength, and coordination, they quickly and efficiently move cement from the mixing site to the application site.

Comparing Concrete vs. Asphalt

What are the advantages of concrete vs. asphalt? How do the initial installation and ongoing maintenance costs differ? Is asphalt or concrete the best choice for my project? You have questions… We have answers!

First, before examining the differences, let’s look at the similarities. Concrete and asphalt both require compacted bases of gravel before they are applied. Both take time to ‘cure’ before they can be driven on but, whereas concrete can take up to 21 days to come to 95% strength, asphalt only takes a few hours.

Interestingly, although they look very different, both are made from the same general material; i.e. stone and sand. The difference in their appearance is due to the adhesive used for bonding; in asphalt it is tar and in concrete its cement. That difference is what not only gives asphalt and concrete their unique characteristics but also affects the difference in cost, durability and maintenance.

When making the decision to choose either asphalt or concrete for your project, there are a number of factors to consider:

  1. Aesthetics
    • Concrete, allows for a variety of finishes, which can also be stained or tinted to a wide variety of colors and patterns. In addition, concrete can be stamped into different designs, etched, or engraved. Asphalt, on the other hand, due to how it is applied (i.e. rolled and compressed), has very little in the way of unique finishes. But, although black asphalt is pretty much the standard, there are tints that can be added either during mixing or to the sealant. In addition, there are also a few patterns that can be rolled to create a design in asphalt.
  2. Climate
    • Cold, freezing winters can cause a number of issues with concrete, such as cracking and frost heaving. And the associated use of salts for ice control can damage the appearance of concrete.* At the other end of the spectrum, the tar in asphalt can become soft during hot summers, becoming tacky and possibly even deforming. Climate is a very important factor when deciding to use either asphalt or concrete and one that should be discussed with a reputable, knowledgeable contractor.
      *Learn how salts used for ice control can cause significant damage to porous concrete.
  3. Maintenance
    • A properly installed asphalt project, depending on the sub base installation and type usage, is usually only good for 20 years or less and must be maintained over that lifespan; i.e. it must be sealed every 3-5 years.
    • It is not necessary to seal concrete but doing so can preserve the look and finish, and help guard against oil-based stains.
  4. Cost
    • Asphalt pricing is subject to variations in the price of crude oil but will generally fall into a range between $2.50 & $4.00 per square foot. By comparison, a basic concrete installation is in the range of $4 to $6 per square foot. However, concrete, with a longer life expectancy and less required maintenance, is usually the more economical choice.
      The thickness of each material also impacts the price; e.g. an asphalt overlay can be as thin as 2″ or, as in the case of a truck driveway, as thick as 8″, and concrete can be as thin as 4″ or, for installations such as truck pads, as thick as 8″.

In addition to the above, other important factors, specific to each unique project, must be considered before making an informed decision; e.g. the specific use of the surface, the condition of the subbase, area restrictions, regulations, etc. And, once the asphalt-or-concrete decision is made, there’s another round of comparative details to consider, as there are many types of asphalt mixes that are appropriate depending on the situation, and there are a variety concrete types and strengths, from a slurry mix used as a fill mix, to a high early mix that is appropriate for situations such as a highway bridge repair and can be driven on in a couple of hours.

Need more information or assistance in making the best decision? Contact us to discuss, and receive a quote on, your project.

Considering Porous Concrete in NJ? Please Beware!

To my friends, colleagues, and clients thinking about installing porous concrete to keep the impervious ratio down and comply with best water practices… Please beware!

I installed porous concrete, in 2013, on a lot for which I also did the snow plowing; I was therefore able to ensure that no salt was ever used and that snowplowing was always done with a rubber-edged plow blade.

During the winter of 2013/2014 there was a tremendous amount of salt used to keep ice off the roadways but, of course, we used absolutely none on this lot. Even so, THAT salt destroyed 30+ parking stalls on which porous concrete was used.

The concrete company, who was the selling factor to train and install this material, did not warranty any of the concrete and, unfortunately, in 2015, I had to remove all the porous concrete material and install porous pavers to keep the site’s impervious ratio within the town’s limits. The pavers worked out better than expected but were very expensive.

So what went wrong? What I found, and what the concrete company, and the concrete industry in general, did not know, or did not want to share, is that when cars drive on salted roadways, the salt builds up behind their tires. When those cars park on  porous concrete surfaces during the day time, the salt clumps fall off and start to destroy the porous concrete.

I think porous concrete is a good fit for climates that do not need to use much salt to keep roadways, walkways, and pedestrian hard surface areas clear of snow and ice; but, in New Jersey and other cold climate areas, it is just a waste of time, effort, and money.

If you have questions, would like to discuss further, or have a project for which we can help, please feel free to contact me (908-797-2305).

Facts about concrete services

Amazing Facts about Concrete

The dictionary defines concrete as a heavy, rough building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water, that can be spread or poured into molds and that forms a stone-like mass on hardening.

But, while technically correct, it barely scratches the surface of this remarkable material’s flexibility and myriad uses.

10 amazing facts about concrete that you may not know:

  1. The Ancient Romans were the first to develop concrete as a building material. They accomplished this by mixing lime, water, and volcanic ash.
  2. Cement is one of the main ingredients in concrete, and over 2 billion tons of cement is produced each year.
  3. The Venetian in Las Vegas held the U.S. record for largest continuous concrete foundation pour with 21,000 cubic yards. However, in February 2014, the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles beat that record with a continuous pour of 21,200 cubic yards!
  4. Concrete is used more than any other man-made material on the planet.
  5. Thomas Edison held 49 patents related to concrete. He experimented with concrete houses and concrete furniture. Concrete furniture?! Imagine binge-watching Netflix on a concrete couch!
  6. The Pantheon was built using concrete, and it’s still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
  7. About 6 billion cubic meters of concrete is made each year, which equals one cubic meter for every person on Earth.
  8. A natural deposit of cement rock was discovered in 1796 by the English. They quarried the material and sold it as Roman Cement.
  9. Three Gorges Dam in China is the largest concrete structure in the world, standing at 607 feet high and 7,575 feet long.
  10. In 1909, the first modern concrete road was built on Woodward Avenue between Six and Seven Mile Roads in Greenfield Township, now northwest Detroit.

For more information on our concrete installation and removal services, please call Colucci Realty at 908.782.3910.

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