How Much Do Split-Face Blocks Cost?

Typical Range:

$1,200 - $1,500

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated October 24, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Expect to pay about $3 per square foot for split-face concrete or cinder units and add $9 to $12 per square foot for installation labor, supplies, and equipment. A completed, 100-square-foot project will cost between $1,200 and $1,500, depending on the difficulty of the installation. An average 100-square-foot wall will run about $1,350.

Split-face block, also called rock-faced, is a concrete building unit with a faux finish on one side that mimics natural stone. These are commonly used for retaining walls and decorative features. They are heavy and require expertise to install, so many homeowners hire a masonry contractor or landscaping company to perform the work, especially when it comes to structural elements like foundations, siding, and walls. While masons usually receive the best rates on materials, installation prices will vary by contractor depending on factors like operating expenses and overhead.

Average cost for a split-face block wall ranges from $12 to $15 per square foot

Average Cost to Install a Split-Face Block Wall

Average CostHigh CostLow Cost

Split-Face Block Prices per Block/CMU

Often referred to as a concrete masonry unit, or CMU, a standard split-face cinder block is 8-by-8-by-16 inches, made of concrete, and features a textured pattern on only one side. The price for standard units is about $3 each. Non-standard versions are available in other sizes and styles for $3 to $5 each.

Like brick, CMUs have actual dimensions and nominal dimensions. The nominal dimensions equal the actual dimensions plus the width of the mortar joint, usually about ⅜ inches. Units are typically identified by their depth because that is the thickness of the structure they create, like a wall.

Example: A standard CMU is 8-by-8-by-16 nominally. The actual dimensions are 7⅝-by-7⅝-by-15⅝ inches. It is referred to as an 8-inch block.

Concrete/Cinder Block Variations

While a standard unit typically has one textured and three smooth sides, other styles are available. They can be textured on one side and one end, on both faces, on both faces and one end, only on the end, etc. They can also have different edge styles, like bullnose. Non-standard units are chosen to be more aesthetically pleasing. They will cost more than average models and can typically only be purchased through a licensed contractor.

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Split-Face Veneer Prices

Veneer units are sold in panels or by the square foot and, depending on the material, range in price from $8 to $18 per square foot for the veneer only. When combined with the cost of the wall itself, veneer is a significantly more expensive option than a full block.

Rock-face blocks come in different materials, like stone, marble, or tile. However, they are not available in full blocks like their concrete counterpart. Referred to as thin blocks or concrete block veneer, this style is not load-bearing, and therefore is not used to build walls. They are designed to be placed on the outside of an existing interior or exterior structure.

Material Price per Square Foot
Stone $10 – $12
Marble $16 – $18
Granite $17
Tile $8 – $12
Other Synthetic Material $8

Note: Split-face veneer is also available in concrete but is not typically used for residential application. Price of materials, skilled labor, and installation make this type of veneer cost-prohibitive for most homeowners at more than three times the investment of other options.

Benefits of Veneer

Though it is more expensive, there are advantages to its use that may reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to other building options:

  • Green Building: Reduces the energy it takes to build the structure.

  • Mold & Mildew Prevention: Reduces potential moisture penetration.

  • Insulation: Better at resisting heat loss.

  • Durability: Easy to maintain and extends life of structure.

  • Easy Installation: No tuck pointing, sealing, painting, or staining required.

Rock-Face/Textured Block Installation Costs

As mentioned above, split-face blocks cost $12 to $15 per square foot for installation, equipment, labor, and supplies, but these costs can increase depending on the type of project. The type of finish on the side and the size of the project can drive up the cost. The most expensive installations are split-face veneer—typically on top of siding—foundations, and interior backsplashes. Interior and outdoor walls are less costly, but load-bearing requirements, grading, and excavation can increase costs. 

Interior Block Walls

Interior walls are usually decorative in nature, built on a surface that is already level and not exposed to the elements. Removing load-bearing requirements and eliminating grading and sealing work can reduce installation prices significantly. However, interior walls may require more non-standard units with additional rock-face sides, which could increase material costs. Consult with a professional for an estimate, because specific rates can vary greatly.

Retaining Walls or Outdoor Walls Costs

The average rate of building a retaining wall out of concrete/cinder units is $10 to $15 per square foot. Rock-face CMUs are more affordable, durable, and low-maintenance compared to other options like wood timber. They are also versatile enough to be installed on a curve.

The main cost factor when putting in any exterior or retaining wall is the amount of excavating and grading required to make the structure level. Material investment will remain the same, but more grading requires increased labor and use of additional equipment. As a result, labor and additional fees will rise. How much depends on the size and scope of the project.

For more information, see our Excavation Cost Guide.

Split-Face Veneer Siding Cost

Like brick and stone, split-face veneer can be used over the top or in place of siding at $8 to $18 per square foot, not including installation. It is durable and provides excellent insulation, but it is one of the most expensive siding materials and requires the skill of a mason to put on. How much and what type of veneer you need will play the biggest role in the overall rate of your project.

For more information, see the Siding Installation Cost Guide.


Crawl space and basement foundations can be built from rock-face units for a more finished look than traditional cinder blocks. Textured varieties will increase material costs by 30% to 100% because they are $1 to $3 more expensive per unit than a plain cement version. Other costs, like moisture protection and installation, should remain the same.

For more information, see the Foundation Cost Guide.

Split Block Backsplashes

While full blocks are not ideal for interior applications, text veneer can be used indoors in kitchen, bathroom, and fireplace backsplashes to achieve the same look. This finish is more expensive than other interior options like tile or wood paneling at $8 to $18 per square foot, not including installation.

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Additional Cost Factors

Depending on the type of project, textured blocks may require additional finishing. These added factors can increase installation price by several hundred dollars whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

Labor Costs

Labor rates to install a rock-face cinder block average $8 to $10 per square foot. Additional charges range from $40 to $50 per 100 square feet and include labor and equipment to cut and grind materials, as well as mortar and reinforcement materials.

On top of being physically demanding, concrete installation requires extensive planning, equipment, and skills. In addition to purchasing and laying materials, a contractor or homeowner must prepare the area by measuring, excavating, and grading, pouring a level concrete foundation, and cleaning up the site. To ensure each of these tasks is completed properly and your structure is sound, it is a good idea to hire a masonry contractor with experience, required licensing or insurance, and positive online reviews. An estimate from a contractor normally includes all labor, materials, and equipment.

Design and Planning

The significant weight of split-face blocks means that planning the project is a crucial part of the process. During the planning stage, you’ll also decide on the design for the project. Complex shapes and designs like curves and corners will add time to the project, as will framing for openings and support beams (think: windows, doors, and gates). Load-bearing walls will also cost more and require deeper footings.

Adding a drainage system costs about $10 to $50 per linear foot and will protect the foundation, and adding spray foam for insulation costs about $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot.

Block Sealing

For water impermeability, CMUs used in foundations or structural features may need to be sealed. Expect to pay $100 to $125 for a 5-gallon bucket of sealant that will cover up to 1,200 square feet of concrete. This price does not reflect labor.

Cement is porous and contains pockets of air, allowing rain water and humidity in the air to be drawn inside. In some cases, this moisture travels through the masonry into the interior of the structure. Sealing closes the surface of the concrete, shedding water off the surface and preventing it from soaking through.


One of the advantages of rock-face units is their natural beauty. However, if you choose to paint, you will need to take multiple steps. Each one will come with an added investment, not including labor.

  • Pressure Washing: $100-$400: the cost of the pressure washer.

  • Mortar Repair: $7-$10 for an 80-lb. bag, sufficient for most repair jobs.

  • Primer: About $20 for a gallon of latex masonry primer. Will cover 350 to 500 square feet.

  • Caulking: $5-$10 for 48 linear feet of ¼ inch bead.

  • Painting: About $50 for one gallon of acrylic, white waterproofing paint. Covers up to 100 square feet

Pros & Cons of Split-Face Blocks

Low Material CostsRequires Professional Installation
Quick InstallationPotential Water Intrusion
Structural StrengthNot Suitable for Interior Use
Long-Term Durability
Variety of Uses
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DIY Split-Face Block Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

While it can be done, installing a block wall requires heavy lifting and considerable expertise. Working with a local masonry contractor will ensure your structure is built safely and to last. A licensed professional will also be knowledgeable as to what permits are required and how to obtain them.


What's the difference between split-face and ground-face concrete blocks?

The difference between split-face and ground-face concrete blocks is that split-face blocks are rough, while ground-face blocks are semi-polished. One or more sides of split-face units are molded to resemble a chiseled rock face, while ground-face CMUs are ground on one or more faces to showcase the natural beauty of the aggregates used in the manufacturing process. Which one you choose is up to your personal style.

Is it more expensive to install split rough-face or standard concrete?

Smooth, standard concrete blocks are less expensive than split rough-face ones, making them cheaper to install. In addition to offering a textured look, split-face units typically last longer. Labor for both options will be virtually the same. You should budget $9 to $12 per square foot for standard concrete units versus $12 to $14 per square foot for split-face units.

Where can I buy split-face blocks?

You can buy popular brands of split-face blocks at local home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards. Most stores offer standard sizes and finishes in stock and can special order non-standard options. Local masonry and landscaping contractors may also sell materials. Expect the most aggressive pricing in the late fall and early winter, so plan around purchasing then if you’d like to save.