Posted On March 3, 2022
Lightweight clinker is a material with many uses. The airy clay balls, which today are also called leca balls, are often seen in both larger and smaller potted plantations, as decorative “ground cover” and as evaporation protection.
For many, these clinker balls are primarily a complement to potted plants and garden soil, but the balls also have other areas of use, primarily as building and construction materials.
The properties of the material, both in “loose weight” and as a building block, are very good. The fine quality contributes to the fact that both professionals and amateurs like to use lightweight clinker.
Few people know about lightweight tiles under this particular name. The product name leca, on the other hand, is familiar to most people, so this is another product name, in addition to, for example, masonite and plywood, which has become a concept.
Lightweight clinker is made of low-calcium clay that is mixed with sand and water. In furnaces with rotating containers, the pulp is then burned at a very high temperature. The result is airy clay balls in varying sizes. The balls have a hard shell, but are porous inside.
It is precisely this “fermentation” in the oven that gives the material its fine properties: Lightweight clinker weighs little, does not absorb moisture and the material is therefore, among other things, resistant to frost. About a third of all leca balls produced are used loose, as filling material.
When you mix light clinker in arable soil, the soil becomes looser. If, on the other hand, you cover the soil surface with a layer of leca beads , it helps to retain moisture in the soil at the same time as the weeds are reluctant to grow there.
The ball cover is also decorative and highlights the plants of the flowerbed nicely. As leca balls are a very permeable material, they are very suitable as drainage and drainage layers and as basic insulation for concrete slabs or other basic constructions. Repairs of settlement damage and soil improvement are other uses for loose balls.
Building blocks or building elements of lightweight clinker are also manufactured. They are made in several sizes and are modular. The balls are bound together by cement and the finished “building blocks” are completely permeable.
This means that exterior walls of this material must always be windproof to work well. The most common is that the lightweight clinker blocks are sludged or plastered because the rather rough surface has very good adhesion for use.
Other possibilities are to dress the leca blocks on the outside with insulation and then with facade stone or wood paneling. You can also paint with a suitable facade paint directly on the blocks.
Leca blocks are often used for masonry foundations. This is largely due to the fact that the material dries out quickly and can not be attacked by either mold or pests.
Interior walls of leca block soundproof well, especially if the wall is completely untreated or only painted. It is the porous surface that gives this sound-absorbing property, which thus deteriorates when you cover the wall with building boards and wallpaper. It is easy to work with lightweight tiles.
The blocks are not heavy and, despite their strength, are easily divided with a saw, ax or a special splitter. You can also shape the blocks so that the masonry stove, its location, the wall, etc., gets rounder shapes. It is easiest to work with a not too large ax.
Thanks to its permeability and low weight, the leca blocks can be used in many ways to create a pleasant garden environment. A planting wall in this material, for example, is happy to let water and nutrients through to the “earth coffin”, which can otherwise be depleted after a few years.
If you want to create a conservatory with a kitchen and dining area or do other major construction work, it takes a lot of building blocks. However, the low weight makes the material easy to transport and put in place. You therefore usually do not need to be more than one to do the work.
When you see a single lightweight clinker ball in cross section, it is easier to understand the material’s many fine properties. The porous inside has a number of small air-filled, but dense cells. They are the ones that, among other things, give the material its low weight, frost resistance, sound-insulating and heat-storing ability.
Lightweight tile walls can be surface treated in many ways. In addition to the leca blocks being clad with other materials, it is very easy to paint or polish the untreated lightweight clinker blocks (see also the picture on the front). Tiles also adhere well to the blocks.
Never drill in lightweight clinker with a percussion drill. The impact drill effect causes the clay balls to break and the hole to become too large. If, on the other hand, you use a standard drilling machine, it is then easy to study and attach to the material.
Worth knowing about lightweight tiles
There are leca blocks and leca elements in several sizes . An ordinary block is about the same size as 6-7 ordinary bricks. However, the elements may be larger. Lightweight clinker blocks for reinforcement have special grooves for concrete and rebar. When cutting lightweight clinker blocks with a saw, the blade should be hardened, otherwise you will destroy the saw. For the same reason, do not use the best ax when forming blocks.
Lightweight tile walls underground should be painted with thin plaster which is then worked in with a brush. The surface layer means a seal. This means that the inner wall does not need to be sealed or clad, but can be left untreated or only painted. An additional advantage of the thin plaster is that ants can not settle in the masonry. Although they do no harm to the material, they can be annoying.
Walls in lightweight tiles are heat-efficient. The material absorbs heat quite slowly, but in return the material also emits heat for a long time. When the room is sun-warmed or strongly heated by, for example, a fireplace, the heat is absorbed and stored and then penetrates again when the heat drops in the room.