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Published on May 15, 2021

What You Need To Know About Concrete

Are you working on a project for your home or workplace that requires the use of concrete? Would you like to know more about concrete and the materials that make it up? Concrete is a versatile and long-lasting material that can be used for anything from driveways to house foundations. Our concrete experts have put together a simple guide to understanding and making concrete.

What is Concrete?

Concrete is not a new invention, despite its widespread use in a modern building. The Roman empire would use it to build structures such as the Pantheon, and in the 1960s, a 12-million-square-foot area of natural concrete was discovered in Israel. Modern Portland cement concrete mixtures are named after British bricklayer Joseph Aspdin, who in the nineteenth century produced the very first grey concrete mixture in his kitchen. The components of Portland cement are all contained in nature, even though it took Aspdin to mix the ingredients in the right proportions. Portland cement is a construction material used daily in almost every part of the world combined with two other primary components.

Most people are familiar with concrete as a construction material that is admired for its strength and long-term durability. Even though this is a common mistake, concrete is not to be confused with cement. So, what is concrete, exactly? In its simplest form, concrete is a composite material made up of three main components: water, Portland cement, and aggregate. What is the process of making concrete? Concrete is manufactured by combining water and powdered cement. This results in a sticky paste that interacts with the sums and binds them together, forming a concrete mixture. However, the process is not as simple as it seems, and there are some important requirements to remember.

Portland Cement

Cement, which makes up about 10% to 15% of the concrete mix, is another important ingredient in making the perfect paste for concrete manufacturing. In the early 1800s, Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer from Leeds, England, invented Portland cement by burning clay and powdered limestone in his stove. While it is known that the United States did not learn how to make Portland cement until the 1870s, this cement has undeniably made an impact on America's building industry in recent years. In the United States, more than $4 billion in hydraulic cement is manufactured each year for use in $20 billion in concrete construction.

Portland cement is made by combining materials mainly composed of calcium carbonate and materials containing iron oxide, then burning the mixture until it fuses. The residue from this process is known as clinker, and it is used to make Portland cement. The cement is ground into a fine powder before being mixed into the concrete mix. Glue, like water, is essential for making the paste that binds the aggregates together and determining concrete strength.

Water

Water makes up roughly 20% of the concrete mix and is needed to produce the paste. The amount of water in the concrete will help assess its intensity. The water and cement paste, essential for concrete forming, must first be hydrated before the mix can harden. Since Portland cement is a hydraulic cement, nodes form on the surface of each cement particle during the reaction. Nodes grow in size until they merge with nodes from other cement particles or become stuck to nearby aggregates. Only water allows this chemical reaction to take place. The water-cement ratio, which is the weight of the mixing water in pounds divided by the weight of the cement, will affect the strength of your concrete. If the water-cement ratio is held low, concrete would be stronger.

Aggregates

Aggregates, which can be rock, sand, or gravel, are granular materials that makeup 60 to 75 percent of the concrete mix and are used to finish the process. Although aggregate may be coarse, such as gravel or crushed stone, or fine, such as sand, the form of aggregate used in concrete is essentially determined by the function of the concrete. Consider the shape, surface texture, scale, and skid resistance when choosing which aggregates to use in a mixture, keeping in mind the goal of the concrete it will help create.

Although concrete is made up of just three primary components, the mixing process is anything but straightforward. To get high-quality concrete that does its job, it's critical to keep mixes proportionate and carefully blend them. When the mixture is ready to use, it is usually delivered in one of three ways: directly from the mix truck, via a buggy, or a concrete boom pump.

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