Q: Are block walls built with surface-bonding cement as strong as walls built with mortar?
A: Concrete-block walls coated with surface-bonding cement are stronger than walls built the traditional way. Surface-bonding cement is sold in bags containing fiber-reinforcement, cement, sand and polymers. The surface-bonded wall must rest on a solid concrete foundation. Also, check with your local building department about requirements for internal reinforcement. If it’s required by code, you may need to fill the block cores with an approved grout. After you’ve stacked and capped the wall, dampen the surface with water and use a trowel to apply the surface-bonding cement as thick as the manufacturer recommends.