If you’re new to concrete, it’s tempting to think of it as being all pretty much the same. However, this is not the case.
Much like wine, there’s a concrete type for every occasion.
Old school concrete
Concrete has an ancient history. The Romans made it from hydrated lime and volcanic ash and clay (in the case of hydraulic concrete). This helped them create some of their most enduring monuments and their concrete was the envy of the ancient world.
Modern concrete is usually a combination of cement, sand, stone and water. The sand is often mortar or brick and materials such as leaves and twigs are washed and filtered out to ensure it is as strong as possible. The exact mix varies depending on how the concrete is to be used. Regular concrete can withstand pressure from 1450psi to 5800 psi and concrete that is to be used for structural purposes will be made to withstand higher pressures than that used for more cosmetic purposes or as a barrier, such as blinding concrete (used on the floor of a building to prevent dirt and mud entering the structure).
High strength concrete
High strength concrete can withstand over 5800psi and uses less water in its mix than regular concrete. It also uses a carefully selected aggregate to ensure it can withstand high loads. Some types of high strength concrete are also designed to be elastic.
Stamped concrete is used by architects and is created so that it can be textured and coloured to resemble stone, bricks, wood or other attractive designs. You’ll often find it in car parks and on walkways as it’s very resistant to wear.
High performance concrete
High performance concrete is built to excel in a range of specific areas (not necessarily strength, as in the case of high strength concrete). These other areas include durability in severe conditions, environmental quality, ease of application, permeability and density.
Research into concrete is uncovering many new forms, which we’ll look at in a future article. The above types however are the standard forms of concrete in use today.