Types of Concrete

What is concrete?

There are different types of concrete available in the construction industry today. Concrete by definition is a composite building material composed of coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement that hardens over time. Most concretes used are lime-based, Portland cement being the most common type of cement.

Concrete is used more than any other man-made material in the world, with about five billion cubic meters produced annually. The use of concrete is so common and diverse that we almost take it for granted. We see concrete in bridges, roads, runways, fences, and foundations to name a few places where we find this wonderful construction material. Concrete is used in many different types of mixtures and what distinguishes each mixture is its compressive strength.

The following article will explain the different types of concrete, their compressive strengths, and the applications they are best suited for.

Types of Concrete

The following are the different types of concrete and their applications:

  1. Plain or mass concrete
  2. Normal strength concrete
  3. precast concrete
  4.  Reinforced concrete
  5. Polymer concrete
  6. Asphalt concrete
  7. Glass concrete
  8. Prestressed concrete
  9. Vacuum concrete
  10. Shotcrete concrete
  11. High density concrete

Plain or mass concrete

Plain concrete, also known as mass concrete is a type of structural plain grouted which contains no reinforcement. Plain concrete is one of the most widely used types of construction with just under 1 billion cubic meters produced globally every year.

The bulk material that makes up plain concrete is usually made up of rocks, stones, sand, and gravel mixed with water to form what appears to be wet cement. Common aggregate materials include quarried stone or gravel, recycled concrete, and scoria (a volcanic rock).  However, plain concrete is not generally considered to be reinforced due to its lack of steel (although it can still appear very similar in appearance). The purpose of reinforcing any building material is greatly reduced when using plain concrete due to its high strength properties.

Normal strength concrete

The strength of concrete is defined in terms of its compressive strength, which is how much weight it can resist. Concrete strength is typically designated by the ‘psi’ (pounds per square inch) or megapascals (MPa) – often when specifying strength in MPa, the strength in kilopascals will be given afterward, to indicate a conversion from psi.

For example, a normal strength concrete has a strength of 6000 pounds per square inch or 47 MPa. Since this is the typical strength for most commercial and industrial use of concrete, being called ‘normal’ makes sense. Simply put – normal strength concrete resists a force of about 6000 pounds per square inch or 47 MP before breaking apart.

Precast concrete

Precast concrete is pre-manufactured concrete. There are several precasting concrete companies producing precast concrete for precast houses, precast walls, precast beams, etc.

Precasting concrete is also similar to pre-stressing since the process of making precast concrete pre-compresses the slabs by applying high tension steel wires or bars before it sets.

The main advantage of using precasting process is that there are no on-site interruptions during the construction phase because all casting and curing processes happen beforehand in the factory. This makes it faster to build projects with precasting technology compared to the conventional buildings where everything has to be done at the site including finishing works. Furthermore, using this technology requires less labor force because most of the work happens in precasting concrete factories. This increases earnings and reduces expenses for contractors during precast concrete construction projects. Precasting concrete allows the creation of large precast concrete components which saves more manpower than if it would be made on site.

Precast concrete is widely used in the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, precast foundations, precast pavements, etc.

The most common pre-stressing technique uses high-strength steel wires or bars that are stretched over the entire surface of pre-precast beams or slabs with force transfer devices like Post Tensioning Tendons. The most commonly used precasts are precast bridge elements, precast beams and pilings, precast sections for flood barriers (levees), and floodwalls.

Reinforced concrete

Reinforced concrete is a composite material made up of reinforcement and concrete. Reinforcement is generally steel bars or reinforcement bars, and concrete is any type of concrete-making material such as gravel, sand, and cement.

Reinforced concrete has many uses: e.g., beams, slabs, water storage tanks (made up reinforced concrete), and bridges (also made up reinforced concretes). The advantage that it has over other materials for this purpose is that it lasts longer than steel or wood reinforcement alternatives.

Polymer concrete

Polymer concrete is a compound made from a combination of sand, stone, and polymer. The ingredients are blended together to create a type of concrete that has unique properties. Polymer concrete does not have the same limitations as normal concrete due to its special features which include being lighter in weight and having great impact absorption properties.

Polymers are man-made substances that have been synthesized from organic material, usually taken from petroleum. Polymers used for this type of work can be natural or synthetic. For example, polypropylene is classified as a synthetic polymer but fumed silica is considered a natural polymer.

The main reason behind using polymers in this form of construction is due to the fact that they allow for products with increased durability and they are able to mold into any shape they are required to take.

For example, polypropylene is an odorless polymer that has greater strength than some metals which makes it useful for applications where heavy-duty equipment is needed such as in the manufacture of buses, trains, and aircraft.

Polymer concrete can be made to become more durable, impact-resistant, and stronger by adding strengthening agents like silica or carbon black. This has the ability to increase the polymer’s density which means it becomes even sturdier with increased resistance to chemicals and moisture damage.

The fact that this type of concrete is lighter in weight can make a huge difference when building since it decreases transportation costs allowing manufacturers to sell their products at lower prices.

Asphalt concrete

Asphalt concrete is a mixture of asphalt cement and mineral aggregate (generally gravel or crushed stone).

Asphalt’s ability to bind to both aggregate and the surface below it forms the basis, as it doesn’t exist in its natural state. Well-graded asphalt consists of about 5% fine aggregate (i.e., sand) and 95% coarse aggregate (crushed stones ranging from 40 mm down to 4 mm max). Coarse aggregates are selected not only for their durability but also for their ability to drain water away quickly. Fine aggregates are used because they give more cohesion than coarser ones, thus improving density and strength while also allowing better compaction during construction. The binder is workable at the initial placement stage and has sufficient strength to permit the application of the finished surface. However, as with most asphalt mixes, increasing the bitumen content increases cohesion, resulting in a mix that is workable for longer periods.

Asphalt concrete pavements—especially those above certain thicknesses (usually 5 cm or more)—exhibit elastic properties. The very nature of the binding material allows the pavement to stretch and recover when it is placed under stress. Because of this property, asphalt concrete receives significant consideration in bridge deck surfacing. Elasticity permits the wearing course to accommodate movements caused by seasonal temperature variations without cracking. When properly constructed and maintained, an asphalt concrete pavement has an almost indefinite service life.

Glass concrete

We’ve all seen glass, whether it be in the windows of cars or buildings, or even drinking glasses. It’s everywhere! But what exactly is glass concrete? Glass concrete is basically tiny pieces of glass mixed into concrete to give concrete the properties of glass itself. This means that it can be used on countertops, floors, and anything where you would use regular old concrete.

Glass concrete has become increasingly more popular over the years because it hides dirt better than regular old cement does, which makes for an easier cleaning process. It also gives the surface a higher resistance to heat and cold weather changes, making it a great choice for everything from flooring to outdoor furniture projects.

Prestressed concrete

Prestressed concrete is a construction material in which compressive stresses have been introduced in order to improve its tensile or flexural capabilities. The prestressing force may be applied by the tension of high-strength wires, bars, or tendons directly to the structure. This force may be pre-stress that is self-induced from even natural materials such as earth and water but is most often achieved by applying external loads on them from jacks.

The prestressed concrete can be made in two different ways: cast-in-place and precast. In cast-in-place methods, prestress is usually achieved with post-tensioning, i.e., ducts for high-strength steel strands are grouted behind the structural element. The most common methods used to cast prestressed concrete elements are the tendon duct (most common in North America) and the cable duct (more commonly used in Europe but less costly).

Prestressed concrete is widely used for industrial buildings, roads, bridges, high-rise buildings, tall residential and office buildings, and low-rise construction. It has a lower construction cost than steel or reinforced cement because it usually needs less material and labor to construct. Prestressed concrete is also widely used in civil engineering applications such as highway overpasses; power line towers; chimneys; billboards; retaining walls; seawalls; tunnels (used in road tunnels, rail tunnels, and water supply tunnels); and dams.

Vacuum concrete

Vacuum concrete is a unique building material that allows you to build houses or other related structures more quickly and with less labor. It is also beneficial in some other ways, making it ideal for some purposes, but not as useful in others.

Vacuum concrete does exactly what the name suggests; it uses suction to decrease the amount of air within the mixture used to create concrete. This makes vacuum concrete extremely strong and durable. However, this comes at a cost; since there is significantly less air present during the process of building with vacuum concrete than with traditional (aka “air”) concrete, it takes much longer for vacuum concrete to cure fully. While regular (air) concrete cures after only about 28 days, depending on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, vacuum concrete takes about twice that long to reach maximum strength. This can be a major disadvantage in some uses of vacuum concrete but is less of an issue for other purposes.

Vacuum concrete is used primarily where its speed and durability would make it most beneficial relative to traditional (air) concrete. It is common in new home buildings since the longer time needed to cure can easily be accommodated by having enough workers available throughout the construction process. One particularly well-known use of vacuum concrete is in the foundation of Hoover Dam, for its durability.

Shotcrete concrete

Shotcrete, also known as gunite or gunning, is a form of concrete construction that was developed in the late 1920s. Instead of mixing and pouring the standard way to build with concrete, this process involves forcing wet concrete through a hose and against a surface from distances ranging from 20 to 200 feet away. In order to get good performance from shotcrete, the mixture must have the right consistency and it must be placed at an optimal distance from where it will be deposited.

Because shotcrete has grown rapidly in popularity over recent years, many people are wondering what its advantages and disadvantages are. It’s a very efficient application for a number of reasons: cost savings, speed of installation, labor-saving, and high strength.

A shotcrete mix design is the composition of materials used to form shotcrete. Most often, shotcrete mixes are blended on-site in order to meet certain specifications. This means that the best way to ensure consistency among batches is by using a batch plant, rather than a ready-mix vehicle, for producing a particular mix design. The ingredients must be well-mixed so as not to cause any segregation during pumping and placement operations. If this occurs, it will lead to a weak finished product with inferior performance properties compared to those specified for an ideal recipe.

Stamped concrete

What is stamped concrete, concrete? Stamped concrete is a way to add design elements to plain concrete. It is called stamped because it has stone or another material stamped into the wet concrete. That stone can be placed in any way which allows creativity and individuality in exterior flooring. The color of the stamped floor often depends on the color of the wet cement before adding stamping materials.

Stamped concrete was first used for commercial purposes like sidewalks, patios, and other public areas that would get heavy traffic. Once people saw how beautiful stamped concrete could be, however, they wanted it in their backyards too! Now it’s used both commercially and domestically although its use at home is more common since it doesn’t take much to maintain it.

Stamped concrete is used for driveways and patios because the design elements, such as bricks or stones, add visual appeal and uniqueness to an otherwise plain surface. The stamped concrete allows water to drain through so it’s durable and doesn’t get slippery when wet as some other materials do. It’s also easy to clean up after a rainstorm or spilling something on it by just sweeping away the excess dirt and debris then spraying with a hose.

Using stamped concrete in your backyard adds beauty, value, and functionality all at once! One of the main advantages of stamped concrete besides durability is that you can create almost any design you want if you use different stamping tools.

Ready mix concrete

Ready mix concrete is a modern form of construction material that has become very popular over the last couple of decades. This versatile product is particularly useful for reinforcing foundations, slabs, or flat surfaces, but can also be used to fill holes, making it an effective choice for remodeling tasks as well.

The ready mix company will supply you with all the ingredients necessary to make your own unique batch of concrete onsite, fully mixed, and ready to use in just five minutes. You’ll receive only the finest materials that are available for purchase, helping you keep your costs down while ensuring superior results every time. Ready mix concrete has many advantages over other types of traditional mixing methods which needlessly increase labor hours and raise overhead expenses during projects or repairs. For this reason, ready mix concrete is a widely popular choice throughout the construction industry.

Ready mix concrete can be used for sidewalks, driveways, and patios to provide extra strength and durability after installation. With additional time, it will even harden enough for use as a long-term foundation or footing for more permanent structures such as garages or small buildings. Some companies even offer pre-mixed bags of dry ingredients that you can use in conjunction with your hose to create custom shapes and designs on site easily and quickly.

Ready mix concrete can also be purchased in bulk quantities and delivered to your home or job site by the ton if desired, eliminating the need for large trucks that would otherwise clutter up your property during deliveries.

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