Concrete is one of the commonly used raw materials by construction companies and individuals to build structures such as houses and buildings. Concrete possesses several characteristics and properties that make it very ideal for construction purposes. The dawn of this highly commercial society saw the proliferation of high-rise building and structures that are primarily made of concrete. It will be advantageous for the users of concrete to have a general idea about these in order to effectively utilize the value of these materials in any process where it can be used.
Concrete is a composite raw material that is comprised by the mixture aggregate of coarse gravel or crushed rocks, cement and water. Depending on the intended usage, there are types of concrete, which are made up of different formulations in order to achieve varied characteristics. One common mistake of people is that they treat cement and concrete as the same material but in fact, they are two different things. The cement is just a part of the concrete while the concrete is the actual structural material used.
The cement, specifically Portland cement, is mixed with water to form a mixture that hardens and binds the aggregates with each other. The water is used in order for a chemical reaction to take place that triggers the drying and hardening process. Water is also used to increase the workability of the concrete. The aggregates consisting of sand, crushed stone and gravel strengthen the concrete itself. The concrete properties include strength & durability, versatility, low maintenance, affordability, fire resistance, thermal mass, albedo effect and low life cycle carbon dioxide emissions.
The strength and durability of the concrete lies on three factors: the paste strength that is a result of the binding properties of the raw ingredients mixed together, aggregate strength which refers to the individual property of each aggregate and the interfacial bonding which refers to the bonding between the paste (cement and water) & the aggregates.
Because of this property, concrete can be used as a versatile raw material for constructing houses, buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, sewerage systems, pavements, runways and roads. Since concrete is resistant to most causes of depreciation, it requires lesser costs for repair and maintenance. The components of concrete and the concrete itself are more affordable as compared to other alternatives such as asphalt and pure cement.
The high resistance of concrete to fire damage also makes it a preferred option for structures. Structures are more stable and secured that it will not be destroyed even if a fire hazard occurs. Also, the thermal mass of concrete is effective in reducing the rate of movement of heat within the structure, in turn, reducing any temperature swing as well. This effect also has a positive effect on the energy requirements of the building because it mitigates the need for heating or air-conditioning within the premises.
Concrete also possesses a high level of albedo effect or the reflective quality of materials. This results to a higher possibility of reflecting light, thus absorbing less heat and causing cooler temperature in the structure. The high albedo effect also mitigates the need for air-conditioning facilities. These properties also reduce carbon dioxide emissions brought upon by the use of the carbon dioxide producing utilities of these structures.
The individual properties that are summed up in concrete materials can certainly impact the construction industry in a good way. Being able to discern these properties and learn how this will affect the structure is a sure way to address the appropriateness of concrete for particular construction engagements.