All You Need to Know About Concrete: Facts and Applications
Concrete remains one of today’s most popular construction materials because it is suitable for a wide range of applications. It’s also known for its cost-effectiveness, durability, flexibility and strength. You can see it almost everywhere, from different residential structures and offices to sidewalks and bridges.
Keep on reading to learn what the components of concrete are and why it is a great construction material.
What Is Concrete?
Concrete is a composite material made from mixing a binding material, aggregate, water and admixtures, if necessary. When mixed in the right proportions, these materials should create concrete that is easy to transport, place and finish. Once it sets and hardens, it should have a strong and durable surface. Moreover, the relative amount of each of the components of concrete affects its properties.
What Is in It?
The cement and water create a paste that covers the aggregate and sand in the mix. The paste hardens and holds together the aggregates.
Water is required for hydration to occur and to make concrete workable. The water-cement (w/c) ratio pertains to the amount of water in the mix in pounds relative to the amount of cement. Concrete with a lower w/c ratio is stronger and less permeable.
There are two types of aggregates: fine and coarse. Sand is the fine aggregate while gravel or crushed stone is the coarse aggregate.
Cement vs. Concrete
It’s a common misconception that cement and concrete are the same thing, and you can use the terms interchangeably. However, these are two different kinds of materials. Concrete is a mix of aggregates and paste. Aggregates are usually sand and gravel or crushed stone while the paste is water and Portland cement. Portland cement is the generic term for the kind of cement used in nearly all concrete. It means that there isn’t really such a thing as a cement mixer or sidewalks, but the right terms are concrete sidewalks and mixers.
Around 10% to 15% of the concrete mix is cement by volume. Cement, in its powder form, acts as a binding agent when combined with water and aggregates. The cement and water harden, and hold together aggregates, which turn into a stone-like mass. As concrete gets older, the hardening process continues, which means the material grows stronger as it ages.
Three Basic Categories of Concrete Mix
Lime is the binding material of Lime concrete. Lime is typically mixed with surki and khoa or stones in a 1:2:5 proportion. Before mixing, the khoa or stone is soaked in water. Builders usually use this kind of concrete in foundations and terrace roofing.
The main building material in most engineering constructions is cement concrete composites. It contains cement, sand, brick chips or stone chips of the necessary style, with a proportion of 1:2:4 or 1:3:6. After combining the materials, the concrete mix is allowed to cure with water for 28 days to give it enough strength building.
Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC)
Steel reinforcements are added to concrete for added tensile strength. In some cases, RCC is prestressed under compression to get rid of tensile stresses. This brings life to Prestressed Concrete.
Popular Concrete Applications
Sidewalks, Patios and Homes
Homes made of concrete are not only energy-efficient, but also highly resistant to strong winds. This material prevents sound transmission as well so you can enjoy a more peaceful home. With concrete, you don’t need to worry about rust or rot. It’s one reason it’s among the most popular housing materials in the world.
Moreover, your builder can easily use concrete along with other materials in your home, such as brick, stone and other kinds of masonry. Wood and vinyl siding also works well with concrete. Concrete and polystyrene foam are inert and can be recycled, meaning they are better for the environment.
A concrete driveway will significantly improve your home’s value and curb appeal. Many homeowners prefer this material due to its durability and longevity. It usually lasts for more than three decades, making it a good long-term investment. Another reason people love it is that you can have this material stamped, color or stenciled in various textures and decorative finishes. You can make a first good impression on guests and potential buyers with stamped and decorative concrete.
Concrete is virtually maintenance-free and doesn’t require yearly sealing. Among 96% of homeowners who already own a concrete driveway said they would choose the material again for future projects. Moreover, the smooth, bright surface of concrete helps increase the luminosity of exterior lighting.
What makes concrete an ideal material for newly built parking lots or ones that need reconstruction? Well, for one, it doesn’t require as much maintenance as other materials, which mean fewer repairs and more savings. You can add colors and patterns to the concrete to make your parking lot and business stand out from the crowd.
If you own a business, and trucks unload supplies all the time, you want concrete instead of asphalt. It’s especially essential to companies focused on product distribution. Concrete can handle even 18-wheeler delivery vehicles.
Curbs and Streets
More than half of the U.S. Interstate Highway System is built with concrete. This material is preferred due to its excellent durability, safety, higher light reflectivity at night and better traction. Asphalt only lasts for around 8 to 12 years while concrete has a service life of up to 30 years or more. To make the most of your investment, make sure to hire a reputable contractor for your concrete repair or application like NAV Construction.
Large vehicles like trucks and jumbo jets won’t cause damage to concrete. There’s less deformation with concrete than with asphalt. While the upfront cost of concrete is higher, it lasts two times longer than asphalt. Thanks to concrete’s color, it reflects from 33% to 50% more than asphalt.
At NAV Construction, you can rely on us for your superior residential and commercial concrete construction needs. We specialize in concrete repair, sidewalks and pathways, stamped concrete and more. Call us at (540) 812-2277, or fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.