If you intend to construct something or plan to hire professional help, knowing what material to use is key!
Whether it is for your project, or just to understand the available options, information regarding construction materials is always beneficial. Even more so because there are so many options to choose from, including pure wood, glass, and concrete. If the intention is to build with concrete, it is advantageous to know the various types available.
Concrete is quite popular, which is evident by the number of buildings all around us. However, there are many types which are used for different purposes and constructions. To elaborate a bit more on this, we have gathered some information about all of its different types that you can use for your next construction project.
The clock is ticking, so let’s dive right in!
Types Of Concrete
It is important to understand why concrete is so popular. It gained traction as an alternative to mortar because it is considerably stronger. It has a mix of multiple ingredients that allow it to harden in a short time while mortar only has sand as an aggregate. Moreover, it is made of natural ingredients that make it environment-friendly.
But, as we mentioned, there are multiple types, and each of them has its specific use and advantage. Let’s explore some of these in a little bit of detail and see which one could be most suited to your needs.
1. Prestressed Concrete
This is a popular type used in many commercial construction projects and is made using a special technique. Much like in reinforced concrete, bars and tendons are used to aid the concrete. The bars are firmly held in place as the mix is being poured in. Once it hardens, this setup is put into compression.
What this does is, it makes the whole arrangement strong, ensuring it can withstand any tension and is not susceptible to cracks. Professionals usually carry out this whole process because heavy-duty equipment is needed for it, which is why it is quite a popular method used to build bridges and other structures with a heavy load.
2. Reinforced Concrete
True to its name, this type usually has steel in various forms to reinforce it and increase its tensile strength. Since concrete can be compressed and steel does not crack if pulled around, steel reinforcement can be cast into multiple shapes. These two materials create a strong bond that can withstand a lot.
The strength and durability of reinforced concrete are what make it so popular. No matter which construction site you cross or visit, it is impossible to miss buildings and bridges made with it.
3. Precast Concrete
Precast concrete is the type where concrete is cast into multiple shapes in the factory or at the construction site but they are only used after they completely harden. If you go around the city and spot any concrete blocks, staircases or poles, the chances are that those are made of it.
This type is quite beneficial for skilled workers that want to assemble everything quickly. Plus, making them in factories guarantees that the precast concrete will be of excellent quality.
4. Normal Strength Concrete
This type is the most common one that you see with which pavements and buildings are constructed. Normal strength concrete has a 1:2:4 ratio of concrete, sand and aggregate, which is the standard measurement. Although it depends on the weather, it usually does not take long to set. On a good day, it will take about 30-90 mins.
Furthermore, it does not have high tensile strength like some of the other types. This makes it only suitable for constructions that do not see a lot of tension. And that’s precisely why it is used for pavements, footpaths, dams, and buildings but not for bigger structures like bridges.
5. High Strength Concrete
Unlike its normal strength variant, high strength concrete has reduced water levels to improve the overall strength. This type is also called High Performance Concrete (HPC) as it is made for structures that need unique properties like optimised strength, less shrinkage, fire resistance and so on.
High strength concrete has most of the ingredients that the normal strength variant has but with a few additions. Other than cement, aggregate and water, materials like silica fume, fly ash or furnace slag are also added. While most of these materials strengthen it, they also hydrate it quite fast, so superplasticizers need to be added to reduce the water level.
6. Lightweight Concrete
Lightweight concrete is a type where the density is less than 1930 Kg/m3. Different types of aggregates are used like pumice, scoria, artificial materials like clay, and even processed materials like perlite to make it lightweight. This type is used for the construction of decks and long-span bridges.
An interesting thing about lightweight concrete is that it is used for thermal insulation and to protect steel structures due to its low thermal conductivity.
7. High-Density Concrete
Anything in the range of 3000-4000 kg/m3 is classified as high density. High-density concrete is also called heavyweight concrete. This is an excellent choice for atomic power plants as their high-density nature can resist radiation. Coarse aggregates, like crushed rocks, are used that enable it to become high density, and Barytes is the most commonly used material.
8. Ready-Mix Concrete
Ready-mix concrete is essentially prepared at a conveniently located place and then brought to the site in cement trucks. It is mixed using the utmost care and precision so that it is ready to be poured as soon as it reaches the site. It can be used for constructing buildings, walls, roads and so on.
9. Decorative Concrete
If you are planning to style your space while maintaining minimalism, then this is the one to go for. Decorative concrete is preferred when people wish to add aesthetically pleasing elements using a concrete mix. Since this type goes through several stages like colouring, moulding, polishing and so on, it makes it ideal for when you want to liven up any space.
10. Air-Entrained Concrete
Air-entrained concrete is excellent for construction that is done in places with cold temperatures. This type has multiple air cells that give water in the cement some space to expand when it freezes. This is achieved by adding foaming agents such as fatty alcohols, fatty acids and resins.
11. Rapid-Set Concrete
One great type of concrete to use all through the year is the rapid-set concrete. This is an excellent option because it takes very little time to set, allowing the construction to finish faster. This type also has a very high resistance to low temperatures so it can be used during the colder months.
12. Volumetric Concrete
Volumetric concrete serves as an excellent alternative to the ready-mix variant. The biggest hassle with ready-mix concrete is getting the timing right, which often gets messed up due to long distances. However, this type requires a special volumetric mixer that can carry the ingredients and water, for mixing at the site. Plus, it is ideal to use when mixing two different types.
13. Smart Concrete
It is a type of reinforced concrete, but instead of steel, it is reinforced with short carbon fibre. While it is a broad category, on a general note it is called “smart” as it has various properties like self-sensing, self-adjusting, self-healing and so on. The fibres are added to it and then mixed in a regular mixer.
14. Pumped Concrete
Ideal for tall buildings, pumped concrete is a workable type that can be “pumped” using a hose or pipe. It is used on higher floors or any structure that has a decent amount of height to it. Pumping is an excellent method because it is economical and super-efficient when creating a flat, even pour of concrete.
15. Pervious Concrete
For places where water puddles are easily formed, and issues like stormwater runoff occur, using pervious concrete can be a solution. While most conventional types are somewhat impermeable causing water to run off, this one allows water to pass through. It helps in reducing runoff and curbing the need for stormwater sewers in places with heavy rainfall. This type is a mix of cement, water and coarse aggregates.
16. Roller Compacted Concrete
If you have seen giant rollers lay down concrete on the road, they are laying down roller compacted concrete. It is quite dense, strong and used on roads that see a lot of traffic. Roller compacted concrete is made to withstand heavy traffic and vehicles that carry heavy loads which is why it is commonly used for highways, car parks, airport runways and so on.
17. Limecrete or Lime Concrete
This type replaces cement with lime which is far more environment-friendly than any other variant. Since limecrete controls moisture and absorbs carbon dioxide, it can be mixed with wood, hemp and straw-based fibres. It does not pose any health threats, is easy to clean and renewable. This is ideally used for the construction of floors, vaults and domes.
18. Shotcrete Concrete
It often happens that the area where the cement has to be poured is hard to access. In those cases, shotcrete concrete is used. This differs from the regular type, not because of its ingredients but primarily because of how it is applied. A high-pressure nozzle is used to shoot the concrete out of it and onto where it is needed.
Apart from using it for inaccessible work areas, it can also be used to repair any structure. It started off as dry mix and water being shot out from different nozzles and then mixed at the exit point. However, with time wet-mix shotcrete was developed, which is now being used.
19. Glass Concrete
This can be considered as another form of decorative concrete. This type has recycled glass, colourless or coloured, which gives it a decorative element. It is ideal for flooring, and when used with coloured glass, can enhance the look of any space.
20. Asphalt Concrete
The type that is used for roads, airport runways, sidewalks and so on is usually asphalt concrete. It contains this dark mineral which is made up of hydrocarbons. It is one of the most durable, skid-resistant, and stable materials to use, making it a popular choice in the automobile industry.
Asphalt concrete is quite flexible and permeable but needs to be mixed with the utmost precision. Different compositions of this variant are used for different purposes, but the good thing is that overall, it only takes about an hour to harden.
Importance of Concrete
Concrete is essential for modern-day constructions, which is why there are so many variations of it. Besides building, concrete can be used to soundproof, fireproof, waterproof and even shield structures from radiation. This is why it is vital to find the type that is ideal for the construction you intend to undertake.
When laying down a foundation for any construction, concrete is used. It is vital to ensure that the type being used is appropriate for the project. There are many ways to determine if a particular type is strong enough for the purpose. You can analyse the nature of the aggregates, the amount of water used, and quality of the cement to tell if it’s the one.
Overall, concrete is excellent for the environment as well. Since it is mostly made up of natural ingredients, it does not cause any damage to the environment. Many people also use dry recycled concrete in their new mix.
And with that, we come to the end of this comprehensive guide on the types of concrete. We hope that this has offered enough insight into the subject and made it a little clear when some specific types of concrete need to be used.
Before we sign off, we want to share one final piece of advice. Always wear protective gear and take all safety precautions when you’re working with construction materials like concrete.
We shall see you soon with more such informative guides. Until then, stay safe!