Different Types of Concrete – An Evolving High-Performance, Adaptable Building Product
Look around you and you’ll see concrete everywhere – in roads and buildings. It’s amazing the way concrete can be poured as a liquid, and then it hardens to rock, being versatile and high performing.
In its simplest form, concrete is made up of portland cement and water as well as aggregates, or rocks. A chemical reaction known as hydration takes place and the paste hardens and strengthens to form rock-hard concrete. So fantastically strong is concrete that it is used with confidence to build bridges, highways, houses, dams and skyscrapers.
Concrete isn’t all the same, and it can be ordered in a number of different ways. If you’re a handyman building your own driveway or you’re a construction company laying a concrete foundation for a skyscraper, you’ll need to know which is the best concrete product for the job. Regardless of the concrete you're working with it's important to stay safe with boots and other safety gear.
The concrete mix you choose will depend on the project at hand and the local legislation and building codes of the particular state you’re in. Strength of the concrete is expressed in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). Regular concrete mixes range up to 5000 PSI, whereas engineered design mixes of more than 10,000 PSI is used for specialized applications.
Some of the different types of concrete include -
Plain or Ordinary Concrete
This is one of the most commonly used types of concrete, with the essential constituents being sand, coarse aggregates and cement. The ratio of essential constituents can vary, but a commonly used mix design is 1:2:4 and this is referred to as Nominal Mix Design.
This ordinary concrete is used essentially for the construction of buildings and pavements, where high tensile strength is 50 – 100kg/cm.square and isn’t an absolute requirement.
Various structural elements can be cast in the factory and then brought to the site at the time of assembly. Typical examples are concrete blocks, staircase units, precast walls and building foundations. In fact many buildings and residential homes have precast concrete foundations. It was in 1950 that the first major precast concrete structure made its appearance in the United States — the Walnut Lane Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia.
Precast concrete products have excellent fire resistance and act as a sound barrier too.
Precast concrete refers to different types of concrete shapes that are cast into molds, making use of the ideal proportioning of the ingredients – cement, aggregates and water. These concrete shapes aren’t used in construction until they have completely hardened in controlled conditions of both humidity and temperature.
Manufacturing precast concrete is a sustainable process - environmentally sound and is also economical to use with long-term energy savings.
Known as RCC or Reinforced Cement Concrete, this type of concrete provides high tensile strength because steel is embedded so that the two materials combined resist forces. With reinforced concrete, the tensile strength of steel and concrete work together to stand up to earthquake vibrations. To increase concrete’s overall strength, wires, cables and steel rods can be embedded in the concrete before it sets.
Known as rebar, this re-inforcement resists tensile forces. You’ll find the reinforced concrete in foundations, columns and frame construction. This reinforced concrete is extremely durable, requiring little maintenance and is fire resistant. Fibers as well as engineered blends of oth steel- and synthetic fibers can be used to improve everything from driveways to sidewalks and patios.
Colored- or Decorative Concrete
Architectural - or decorative concrete is highly sought after and by adding colored powder to traditional grey concrete, a wide range of colors can be achieved. Iron oxide pigments are used in decorative concrete. These pigments are available in powder, liquid and granular forms.
Colored concrete is used for many domestic- and commercial applications.The proper curing of concrete is important to reduce cracking and surface shrinkage and is important in colored concrete if you want to avoid inconsistent color.
Staining provides another rich look that can't be achieved with a coloring medium. The results can give you looks of polished marble or natural stone or even wood. Then again, stamped concrete can replicate tiles, bricks, wood or stone, and like conventional concrete, will last for decades when properly installed.
Catering for 21st Century Building Requirements
Concrete, in all its forms, is one of the most versatile, reliable and popular construction materials, and its uses have broadened to cater for 21st century building requirements.
Today this ancient product has evolved to take on sophisticated, modern engineering projects and is the only construction material that can be molded into any form.