What’s the difference between ‘concrete masonry products’ and ‘concrete masonry units’?

The legislation authorizing the creation of the CMU Checkoff defines both of these terms as follows:

Concrete masonry products means a broader class of products, including concrete masonry units. This also includes hardscape products such as concrete pavers and segmental retaining wall units, manufactured on a block machine, using dry-cast concrete.

Concrete masonry unit means a concrete masonry product that is a man-made masonry unit having an actual width of three inches or greater and manufactured from dry-cast concrete using a block machine. The term includes concrete block and related concrete units used in masonry applications.

‘Concrete masonry units’ includes units such as standard CMU, architectural CMU, concrete masonry veneer units over three inches in width, prefaced CMU, sound wall block, screen block, fence block, etc. ‘Concrete masonry products’ also includes products such as segmental retaining wall units and paving units.

While the legislation provided a broader authority relative to concrete masonry products, the industry at this time is only pursuing with the Department of Commerce a CMU Checkoff program that is specifically related to concrete masonry units. As such, “other products” such as segmental retaining wall units and paving units would not be assessed, and manufacturers that only produce those products would not be included in the industry referendum.

In the United States, the National Concrete Masonry Association and the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute determined in March of 2020 that there are approximately 328 companies that produce ‘concrete masonry products.’ Of those:

  • 30% produce CMU (but not other concrete masonry products)
  • 54% produce CMU along with other concrete masonry products (such as SRW units and paving units).
  • 16% produce other concrete masonry products (not CMU).

The figure below shows the industry breakdown graphically. As it relates to the CMU Checkoff program, the estimated 276 manufacturing companies represented by the green regions would be entitled to vote in the referendum, and be required to submit assessments on the CMU they sell.

Concrete Masonry Product Manufacturers in the United States