Traditional blockwork vs Specwall - how do we compare and why does it matter?

Blockwork and plasterboard systems are the standard for internal partitions across much of the UK construction industry. It is a simple system which is easy to assemble, but its various drawbacks are causing many developers to look for an alternative, improved system.

Just some of the areas in which traditional blockwork is becoming outdated include its environmental impact, its inflexibility and its impact on construction programme times.

In contrast, Specwall outperforms traditional blockwork on all these counts, making it a superior modern alternative. The lightweight solid panels which make up the Specwall system have inherent insulation, acoustic and fire ratings in the form of a lightweight solid panel, which allows for the direct application of finishes including tiles and paint.

Fire ratings

Specwall is A2 – S1 d0 rated. The three parts of Specwall are non-combustible, including the Specwall Core, and covered within the BSEN ISO 1716 part of BSEN13501 2018. Due to this, Specwall can achieve a minimum of two hours or more fire rating – a rating in excess of Building Regulations. This compares favourably to plasterboard systems which are rated for just two hours.

***UPDATE MAY 2022

Since publishing this blog, Specwall has developed an A1-rated panel which is completely non-combustible and cannot contribute to a fire at any stage, in addition to our existing A2-rated panel.

As well as going beyond safety requirements now, our A-1 rated panel will also satisfy further tightening of the fire safety regulations down the line if the government requires A1 standards for all external walls on buildings 18m tall or higher once its review is complete.

Get in touch with the team today to learn more about our A1-rated panel***

Wall acoustics

Specwall systems can be designed to achieve your target acoustic ratings by our Technical Team who offer bespoke calculations as part of the design package.

Installing high-performance acoustic walls is a key part of improving quality of life for end users. Specwall panels are durable and provide excellent acoustic performance, making them suitable for all types of development.

For more information about what wall acoustics are and why they are important, please click here >>


Reducing the heat loss of your building is one of the best ways to improve its environmental footprint. A u-value refers to the sum of thermal resistances built up by the layers of your building, calculated by an expert assessor.

The way to achieve the right u-value for your wall system will vary by development, but our Technical Team will assist with the calculations as part of designing the wall system to ensure that your needs are met.

Water resistance and construction programme

Additionally, Specwall is not affected or damaged by water or mould and can be installed before the building is watertight making it suitable for pre-build, Cat A and Cat B installs. The inert, cementitious nature of the panels means that they do not suffer damage when exposed to the elements in the same way as traditional blockwork and plasterboard systems do.

This has implications for the construction programme as Specwall can be installed before the building is water tight – and can in fact be used to protect other internal elements. In this way, Specwall can be installed at an earlier stage and speed up the whole construction process. What’s more, time and motion studies have shown that Specwall can be built up to 55% faster than blockwork alternatives thanks to its simple, single-visit construction process.


From a sustainability standpoint, Specwall also scores more highly than blockwork. The system is a truly “on-site” walling system which comes with many sustainability benefits which can’t be matched by traditional blockwork systems, including:

  • Less than 0.5% of waste sent to landfill
  • All dust is inert and can be fully recycled
  • Off-cuts reused on site as part of the construction process
  • General waste compacted, and all cardboard, metal and vinyl is recyclable
  • All pallets are from sustainable sources

Furthermore, Specwall panels can be reused fully on site if the configuration of a building changes. This is set to become increasingly important in the future as “reuse” becomes the construction industry’s watchword, rather than knocking down and rebuilding. Climate change means that the days of starting afresh every time are coming to an end – by using Specwall, you can be ahead of the sustainability curve and future proof your building in ways that traditional blockwork systems do not allow.

Specwall surpasses traditional blockwork wall systems in many ways and is suited to all types of development. For more information about how Specwall could improve your building, get in touch with our team today >>

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