Assessment of Pumice Blocks in Comparison to Cement Sand Blocks and Burnt Blocks ‘The Case of Mbeya City - Tanzania’
Modern buildings are standard and habitable structures that provide users with privacy, storage of properties, security and living area, amongst others. However, most people can’t afford in acquiring these modern structures due to lack of sufficient income. This paper assesses the properties of pumice materials on its particle sizes and the water absorption capacity. It also assesses the strengths of pumice blocks and wall units as compared with cement sand blocks and its walling units. The aim was to seek wider alternative choices of building materials. Samples of pumice material, and cement sand pumice blocks in different ratios have been prepared and tested in a laboratory. Results showed the tested pumice material to be classified as well-graded gravel. This material also had a maximum dry density of 663kg/m3 at optimum moisture content of 53%. The compressive strength of pumice block was found to be 4.8 N/mm2 against 4.7 N/mm2 cement sand block. Based on the characteristics of extraction and manufacturing processes, pumice materials are environmental friendly than burnt blocks that cause environmental degradation resulting from deforestation for firing woods. Pumice blocks are also of beneficial than cement sand blocks which are expensive and are liable to sand erosions when picked along the rivers. It is suggested that, pumice blocks are alternative to cement sand blocks and burnt blocks.