4 Reasons Why Concrete Overtook The Construction Industry
When you really think about it, most of the structures that we rely upon are based on concrete. The most widely used construction material across the globe, concrete is the basis of so many buildings, as well as swimming pools, walls, and many more structures that many of us take for granted. With that being said, there is much that people don’t know about concrete. The more you know about concrete, the more informed you will be whenever you begin any kind of construction project, whether you’re remodeling your home or simply trying to add a driveway to your property. In recent years, there have been certain questions raised about the different types of concrete used in construction. As concrete is used in almost every type of construction project, a lot of building companies tend to over-estimate how much concrete is needed to complete a job. This can actually drive the cost up, which is one reason why some have become more critical of concrete in recent years. However, this is less to do with the actual cost of the concrete itself, and more to do with the inability of some companies to accurately estimate the amount of concrete needed for a task. Others have cited issues that they have with concrete cracking, as well as how quickly some types of concrete succumb to erosion. Again, much of this has to do with the incorrect types of concrete being used for specific projects, rather than the concrete itself being flawed. But this is really what we’re trying to get at the heart of: misconceptions regarding concrete, and what people really need to know about this surprisingly complex material before using it.
Before launching into the different types of concrete used in construction, it’s important to understand that concrete needs to be used carefully. If not handled properly, concrete can cause injuries. For that matter, not all types of concrete are inexpensive, and it’s important for people to remember this so that they don’t order the incorrect type of concrete or otherwise damage it. Handle with care, and concrete can be incredibly useful and reliable. Again, many of the reasons why people dislike or complain about concrete often has to do with incorrect usage. Let’s look into what you need to know about this sometimes tricky material.
1. There Are A Number Of Different Types
There are a number of different types of concrete used in construction; while many people are only familiar with the more basic types of concrete, they are certainly not the only ones available. The different factors that determine the type of concrete you’re using include the materials with which it is made, how those materials are mixed, the consistency of the concrete, and its strength. The most common type of concrete is of course normal concrete, which is created through the mixing of cement, water, and aggregate. This will usually have a setting time between 30 and 90 minutes depending on the environment in which it is applied, and normal strength concrete used by a lot of different commercial building companies. Plain concrete is sometimes confused for normal concrete, but this type of concrete is not necessarily going to have as much tensile strength. It’s often used to create pavements and buildings, but it’s not especially strong. There have certainly been more durable types of concrete; however, when used correctly, plain concrete still is perfectly durable for its intended applications.
In contrast, however, reinforced concrete is among one of the more popular of the different types of concrete used in construction. This is because reinforced concrete has had another factor added to increase its tensile strength. These often come in the form of steel rods, though fibers have been added to concrete in more recent years. When a manufacturing engineering company uses concrete, they may sometimes require reinforced concrete depending on the types of projects the company is taking on. However, mega projects often require prestressed concrete. This type of concrete comes with reinforcements that have already been stressed. In theory, those with prestressed concrete can rely on the fact that the concrete being used will hold up, as you already know the conditions through which the concrete’s reinforcement have been stressed. On the other hand, when structural components have already been cast and arrive at the site pre-made, this called pre-cast concrete. These are just a few of the many different types of concrete used in construction. Other types include lightweight concrete, as well as the contrasting high-density concrete. These types of concrete are certainly not the only ones available, but they are great options for certain kinds of construction projects.
2. Concrete Admixtures Vary
Just as there are different types of concrete used in construction, there are also different types of concrete admixtures. These will often affect, not so much the purposes of the concrete, but the purpose as it sets. For example, an accelerating mixture will have certain accelerants used to speed up the setting time of the concrete. This would be necessary in certain conditions in which you need to ensure that the concrete sets before it is marred in some way. A seawall repair project would be one example of a project that requires concrete to set quickly. Though amateur mixers may use calcium chloride to accelerate the setting of concrete, this can actually corrode reinforcing steel, so it isn’t often used by professionals. In contrast, retarding admixtures would be used to delay the setting time, often in response to hot weather which can of course dry the concrete out too quickly. They can also cut down on the water in a concrete mixture. Another type of admixture is specifically meant to cut down water in a mixture, primarily because this makes the concrete stronger. Low range water reducers are estimated to reduce the water in a concrete mixture by 5% to 10%. High range water reducers reduce the amount of water in the admixture by 12% to 30%. Higher range admixtures are not often used, because they are more expensive. Therefore, they are very rarely used for residential projects like custom garage floors.
Another popular admixture is fly ash, which is essentially a by-product of coal burning plants. This is used to replace between 15% and 30% of the cement in a mixture, and be added to different types of concrete used in construction. Why replace the cement used in a concrete mixture? Simply put, fly ash is easier to finish and improves the overall workability of a concrete mixture. It also cuts down on the amount of heat produced by concrete, and it furthermore costs the same amount of money as the cement it replaces. With such benefits and no drawbacks, it’s no wonder that construction companies like adding fly ash to their concrete mixtures. If a mixture is going to be exposed to freezing or thawing, it needs to have an air-entraining mixture. An air-entraining mixture keeps tiny air bubbles within the mixture. This is because, when the temperatures freeze, the outside water will fill those tiny bubbles. Therefore, that water will freeze within, rather than damaging the concrete itself. This type of concrete is more workable, and also is more durable, ultimately creating a better product.
3. Concrete Is Meant To Last For Many Years
There are a number of reasons why the different types of concrete used in construction have been relied upon as a replacement for other materials. While bricks and wood may be still used on the exteriors of some buildings, especially residential buildings, concrete is relied upon as a foundational material. Building contractors have come to understand that concrete is much more durable than materials that were used in the past, like stone. However, it also is more malleable in other ways. Of course, that malleability only occurs with a certain amount of force is used, ensuring that while changes can be made, they’re not going to leave the buildings at risk of easily falling to damage.
This durability means that the different types of concrete used in construction can resist a great deal of weathering, as well as heavy pressure over long periods of time. It can also withstand chemical corrosion, as well as abrasion. This naturally occurs over time and can break down other structures much more quickly. It’s actually believed that concrete can last for as long as one thousand years. While this may seem a bit difficult to believe at first, it’s not theorized without evidence. Researchers have discovered that the existence of manmade concrete dates back to 500 B.C. This was discovered through ancient construction debris, and the fact that it still exists is proof of the durability of concrete, and its ability to last far longer than many would believe. This is why concrete is now one of the principal materials that is relied upon for commercial and residential buildings alike, and indeed is why it can even be used for bridges and dams. Concrete is even relied upon for the pavement that makes up our roads, despite the stress it is inevitably under.
4. Concrete Is Recyclable
At first glance, you might believe that concrete is environmentally friendly. Most materials that are so durable are not, as they can’t be easily recycled. Something that has been proven to be so so durable over the years can’t possibly be recyclable, can it? In fact, it very much can be. For example, the same concrete that was used to build an in ground pool can be used to build a number of other projects. This is because concrete can be broken up using the jaws and impactors of industrial crushing machines. Usually, the concrete will then be run through a secondary processor that will refine the pieces and make them smoother and easier to deal with. This will also remove dirt particles and other debris, and separate the small and large types of aggregate. Depending on the types of projects the concrete was made for, there may also be other processes used to remove different elements. While the concrete could also be simply pulverized outright, this process will not guarantee that the product used is “pure”.
Old, recycled concrete cannot be used for every purpose. When seeking out a concrete supplier in Delaware, it’s important to ensure that they are forthright about what their concrete has been used for in the past if it is recycled, as this can inform what concrete can be used for in the future. Recycled concrete can be used for permeable pavement that makes up walkways and driveways. Its porousness makes it a great fit for these purposes, as these types of projects are meant to sit out in what is sometimes freezing weather and their porousness will keep them from becoming damaged by those conditions. It also can be used as a bedding for underground trenching and utility lines. It can also be used to curb streambank erosion, and can further be repurposed into landscape mulch.
There are a number of reasons why the different types of concrete used in construction have become vital, and only a few of those reasons are listed above. With that being said, it’s clear that many of the problems that people occasionally have with concrete are user errors. Concrete can be altered to fit a number of different purposes, and these changes are ultimately meant to make the material workable across a variety of different functions. Furthermore, the means that have made concrete more workable have also made it more recyclable.
There is no excuse for not recycling concrete that can be recycled, which cuts down on its environmental impact. Therefore, it’s no wonder that most construction companies are reliant on concrete, and their clients in turn. Until a suitable and superior alternative is found, they likely will remain proponents of concrete. Again, with so many benefits and so few drawbacks, why wouldn’t they be?