Concrete has been a building material for more than 300 years. It is very common in both industrial and residential settings. It is one of the most economical, resistant to wear and tear, and popular for its strength, aesthetic beauty, and variety of styles. With its many qualities, concrete presents a number of opportunities for designers and builders. Here are some of the top uses of concrete in architecture and construction:
– Plaster. Concrete is primarily used as a material to support slabs or as a base for concrete walls and floors. Pittsburgh Concrete is composed of coarse and fine aggregate joined together with a liquid cement that hardens over time as it cures. There are two basic forms of concrete: wet concrete and dry concrete. Wet concrete contains water-based aggregates, and dry concrete contains aggregate-based aggregates. In addition to these two basic forms, concrete can also contain gypsum or liquid cement.
– Reinforced concrete. Concrete is used in reinforced concrete and in poured interior concrete structures as a reinforcement for foundation walls. As the concrete hardens and begins to achieve tensile strength, it becomes stronger and more resistant to impacts and subsequent damage. The tensile strength of a concrete slab is measured in terms of the tensile strength multiplied by the thickness of the slab.
– Cosgradation. As the concrete cures and hardens, small voids and void areas develop. These voids and areas result from a chemical reaction between the concrete and the aggregate contained in the mix. As the concrete blends with the rest of the mixture, the area of concentrated bulk is formed and becomes stronger. This is the basis for cracking.
– Flooring. There are two general types of flooring: concrete and Portland cement. Unlike in past decades, today’s Portland cement is much more water-resistant than in the past. This means that when a structure is under any kind of stress, including moving, heavy equipment, or an earthquake, the flooring will be less likely to buckle, break, or chip.
– Lightweight concrete. In order to make use of the excellent tensile strength of concrete, the Portland cement must be mixed with an aggregate material. Aggregates are like the bubbles in peanut butter. The aggregate is the “butter” that helps give the concrete its springy feel. By taking away the bulk of the mixture, the concrete becomes light and can thus be lighter than traditional concrete.
– Construction cement. Unlike Portland cement, construction cement does not contain natural limestone or dolomite. The ingredients of this cement include gypsum, lime, water, cement dust, iron phosphate, manganese oxide, zinc, and other additives. Because of its high percentage of aggregate, construction cement is not very water-resistant. It also contains a lot of cement dust, which can be irritating to people who are allergic to dust.
– Reinforced concrete. In contrast to the previously mentioned characteristics of precast concrete, reinforced concrete exhibits excellent tensile strength. The concrete is made by compacting solid aggregates (e.g., gravel), which are then poured into molds. As soon as the concrete hardens, it becomes stronger and is usually resistant to cracking. Although reinforced concrete costs more than precast concrete, it usually proves to be much more durable and longer-lasting.
– Concrete paste. This mixture contains different kinds of aggregates that are mixed with cement. The most commonly used elements in the concrete paste are cement, dust, and sand. This paste is mixed with water before forming mixtures so that the ingredients will combine well and create a paste that will bond with the concrete.
– Aggregates. Aggregates are tiny particles or pieces that are not part of larger aggregates. These include grit, stone, sand, and various other fine materials. They are added to concrete to improve its strength and consistency. However, not all aggregates are created equal. Certain aggregates such as diamond and marble are highly resistant to heat, cold, chemicals, and even pressure, while others, such as asphalt, are susceptible to these conditions.
The strength of a concrete structure depends on how the aggregate granules are dispersed within the concrete. There are several different types of aggregates, including coarse gravel, coarse crushed stone, fine stones, fine sand, and limestone. Limestone is one of the most common and popular aggregates because of its combination of chemical and physical properties. A combination of the proper aggregate, cement, grout, and other additives allows for increased strength, toughness, and durability.