Concrete is one of the oldest and widely used of construction materials and possesses many inherent qualities which can be used to benefit the client, designer and contractor. Benefits of concrete include flexibility of shape and form, variety of surface finishes, exceptional durability, environmentally friendly and resistant to heat/cold.

About Concrete

In its simplest form, concrete is a mixture of paste and aggregates. The paste, composed of cement and water, coats the surface of the fine and coarse aggregates. Through a chemical reaction called hydration, the paste hardens and gains strength to form the rock-like mass known as concrete.

Within this process lies the key to a remarkable trait of concrete: it’s plastic and malleable when newly mixed, strong and durable when hardened. These qualities explain why one material, concrete, can build skyscrapers, bridges, sidewalks and superhighways, houses and dams.

Proportioning

The key to achieving a strong, durable concrete rests in the careful proportioning and mixing of the ingredients. A concrete mixture that does not have enough paste to fill all the voids between the aggregates will be difficult to place and will produce rough, honeycombed surfaces and porous concrete. A mixture with an excess of cement paste will
be easy to place and will produce a smooth surface; however, the resulting concrete is likely to shrink more and be uneconomical.

Cement’s chemistry comes to life in the presence of water. Cement and water form a paste that coats each particle of stone and sand. Through a chemical reaction called hydration, the cement paste hardens and gains strength. The character of the concrete is determined by quality of the paste. The strength of the paste, in turn, depends
on the ratio of water to cement. The water-cement ratio is the weight of the mixing water divided by the weight of the cement. High-quality concrete is produced by lowering the water-cement ratio as much as possible without sacrificing the workability of fresh concrete. Generally, using less water produces a higher quality concrete provided the concrete is properly placed, consolidated, and cured.