Concrete is a wonderfully versatile substance. It can be used anywhere from your driveway to a bookshelf. But how much do you really know about concrete? Read through these facts about concrete and learn something new about this incredible building material.
What Exactly is Concrete?
Concrete is a mix of sand, rock fragments, Portland cement, and various chemical admixtures. Once this compound mixes with water, it hardens into an extremely durable rocklike substance. Portland cement earned its namesake thanks to its appearance, which is similar to that of Portland limestone.
Concrete in Ancient Times
The earliest known uses of concrete trace back to ancient Greece, Cyprus, and Crete around 800 B.C. The Roman Empire used concrete from A.D. 300 to 476. Roman concrete contained pumice, quicklime, and volcanic ash. Thanks to the malleability of this early form of concrete, Romans used it to build arches, vaults, and domes.
Scientists Still Can’t Explain It
Materials science focuses on the chemical interactions between different substances, and the reaction between cement powder and water continues to baffle researchers. Although the results are well-known, the exact chemical processes that occur once cement meets water continue to elude scientists.
Concrete Is Everywhere
Globally, concrete is twice as prevalent as aluminum, wood, steel, and plastics combined. The concrete production industry in the United States alone generates more than $30 billion each year.
Concrete Is Healthy
Unlike wood and plastics, concrete masonry actually helps maintain healthy indoor air quality levels. Concrete is nontoxic once dried and resists mildew, making it an ideal building material where mold and mildew are concerns.
It Saves Money
Concrete is extremely durable, making the long-term cost of ownership extremely low compared with other building materials. Small chips or cracks in most applications can be easily patched, and typically these repairs are quick and invisible once dried. Concrete is also very energy efficient, so it can actually lower utility costs.
You can mix concrete in a variety of ways for different textures, colors, and other attributes. Thanks to its flexibility for design, you can create incredible shapes and structures out of concrete, making it viable for almost any building application.
Concrete Density Can Vary
There are countless concrete variations that can produce different densities, load capacities, colors, textures, and other variables. An average concrete slab weighs about 145 pounds per cubic foot, but lightweight variations can weigh as little as 115 pounds per cubic foot. Whenever concrete workers use concrete for building, they must test the concrete to ensure it meets all applicable regulations and performs as intended. There are several sophisticated machines that can perform elasticity, flexural, and compressive tests, and these tests are vital to ensuring sound structures.
Concrete is everywhere for very good reasons. It’s one of the most versatile and reliable building materials that’s ever been used and can scale to any size project. If you’re wondering what else concrete can do, or if you have questions about a possible project, reach out to us for more information.