If you are in the construction industry, you probably know that concrete is among the most important construction materials. On the other hand, you may need to be aware of much more if you are building your first home. Concrete is used interchangeably with cement, but these are absolutely different materials. Concrete is a mixture of cement with other ingredients such as sand, gravel, crushed stone and water. Besides understanding the basic components of the material, there are some facts that you must know. Let us answer a few frequently asked questions about it.
8 Frequently Asked Questions About Concrete
Q1: What is the difference between cement and concrete?
As mentioned before, cement is not the same as concrete but rather an ingredient. Typically, it comprises 10-15% of the mix depending on the requirement of the project. Cement is mixed with water, and it hardens to bind the aggregates. The process is known as hydration, and the hardening continues over the passage of time. This makes concrete stronger as it becomes older.
Q2: What is ready-mix concrete?
As the name suggests, ready mix concrete is a batch of the material which is pre-mixed by the supplier according to the specifications of the customer. These specifications relate to the type, grade, and amounts of ingredients of the mix. Once the ready-mix is prepared, it is delivered to the project site.
Q3: How is the strength of concrete assessed?
The strength of concrete is one of the key quality measures. This parameter is important because it determines the strength of the structure built using the material. It depends on the ratio of water and cement in the mix. Further, the quality of aggregates also has a bearing on its strength. The proven tests used to measure its strength are compression and flexural mechanical strength tests.
Q4: How do you control concrete’s strength?
If you think that the strength of concrete is not good enough, you can easily improve it. The easiest way to enhance its strength is by adding cement. The cement-water ratio is the factor that influences the material’s strength to a major extent. If you want the mix to become stronger, just add more cement to it. Adding water, on the other hand, can make the mix weak.
Q5: Where should I buy concrete from?
It is always better to buy concrete from a reputed supplier who is known for supplying quality products. The industry presence is a key factor you should consider. Obviously, a supplier with over 5 decades of experience in the concrete industry will be more reliable than someone new in the industry. Do verify their product range, quality, and the kind of projects they have supplied to during their industry presence.
Q6: Does weather affect the process of concrete installation?
Yes, it does because temperature, moisture, and wind affect the rate of hardening of concrete. You need to be extra careful in the windy conditions because they can cause the surface to crack. Similarly, rain can weaken the surface to a significant extent. In very hot weather, it is best to install the material at night time to avoid excessive temperatures. Similarly, you need to take extra precautions to prevent freezing while installing it in very cold weather.
Q7: How long should I cure concrete?
The best way to get an answer to this question is by involving a professional. Concrete cures at varying rates, which depend on its constituent ingredients and the conditions it is exposed to. The contractor or supplier is the right person to decide because they will know the constituents of the mix. Further, they know what needs to be done to optimize curing in specific weather conditions.
Q8: Will concrete crack? Does it mean that something is wrong?
Concrete often cracks, particularly in freeze/thaw climates. However, you can control or at least minimize cracking by placing control joints or “cuts” in it. Once you do it, concrete will crack only in these areas. Adding fibers to your mix is another measure that you can take for controlling cracks. In most cases, cracks do not indicate structural issues. There is nothing to worry about narrow hairline cracks though you should get a professional assessment for larger ones.
Now that you know almost everything about concrete, you can order the supplies for your project. Always buy from a supplier with a good reputation in the market because you should not compromise with the safety and strength of your project. Ordering the right mix is equally important, and a good supplier can help you with this aspect too.