Setting your plans in concrete

Planning a renovation or building project requires awareness, patience, and materials like concrete and rebar. You’ve met the interior designer to pick out paint colours and beento the furniture shop for a new couch. Getting the practical details right, though, is important.

 

(Tensile) strength

Concrete and rebar –  one won’t exist without the other in any commercial project. Rebar is laid and the wet mixture is poured over it. Because the bars have grooves, the concrete has  a strong ‘grip’ which prevents cracks.

Concrete is hardy and long-lasting, but only if the right type is used for the job. The slabs must withstand nature, traffic from people and machines, and anything else that will make it crack. Cracks in walls, ceilings, or support slabs spell disaster.

 

Have here or take away?

Cement mixes are readily available in hardware stores, and popular with DIYers. Professional concreters, though, will have ReadyMix cement trucks available. The barrel on the truck constantly turns, keeping the mixture at a good consistency and making sure the heavier stones don’t settle at the bottom.

Benefits of ReadyMix concrete include not having to make the mixture yourself. Amateur renovators might find this overwhelming and while it’s fun to watch the struggle on renovation shows, you might not laugh when it’s your turn. Another perk is knowing that  you’ve bought the right amount of cement. If you fall short, it’ll cost money that you delegated elsewhere on your budget.

 

DIY or a little extra help?

Unless you’re a builder or tradie who deals with concrete every day, it’s probably best to let the professionals handle the job. Experienced DIYers can order the premixed cement and do the work themselves to save money. The project, though, will go a lot faster with some experienced helping hands.

Professional concreters will come over in the early stages of the project for measurements. This way, you’re getting the right amount of concrete the first time. You don’t need to worry about running off to the hardware store for more supplies mid-project.

Flexibility with concrete

The words ‘concrete’ and ‘flexible’ aren’t two you’d imagine go together. But concrete has a lot of versatility, making it a popular choice in construction, design and even art.

 

Shape-shifting

Wood is all angles and sharp corners. Trades need to use loud machine tools to get the wood the way they want it to look. Concrete does require effort during the mixing process, but once it’s poured it’s easy to shape, mould. or scoop.

 

Damage-proof (mostly)

Unless Superman or The Hulk is around wanting to show off their strength, concrete will withstand plenty of punishment.

That’s not to say, though, that all concrete is equal. Different blends will withstand different amounts of pressure and the contractor/builder will give their recommendation on what to use. 3500 psi blends withstand everyday foot traffic and are commonly used in houses and commercial building floors. Vehicular traffic is another matter. Concreters will only use 5000 psi mixes or above in warehouses, public buildings where machines drive across the floor,  and even airport hangars.

The concrete isn’t strong enough, though, on its own. To ‘toughen it up’, steel bars (rebar) get laid first before the slab is poured. The rebar holds strong against vibrations, adding to the slab’s tensile strength. It also acts as a frame, especially when the concrete is an ‘unusual’ shape or standing vertically.

 

Creative control

Concrete is known to feature in art installations. Artists can make moulds and pour the concrete in, or carve a sculpture out of a slab. In schools and homes, children take to the concrete with chalk to make drawings.

You don’t have to leave your concrete grey, either. Homeowners can choose from among lots of options around colours. They can also ask for a pattern to get stamped in so the final product mimics tiles, wood, or even marble.