M-F: 8:30am – 3:30pm

(919) 980-3009

 

The Science of Concrete: How it’s Made and Its Applications in Residential Construction

featured image the world of concrete

WHAT IS CONCRETE?

Concrete is a building material that is made by mixing cement, water, and aggregate (sand, gravel, or crushed stone). The process of making concrete is relatively simple, but it requires precise measurements and careful mixing to ensure that the final product is strong and durable.

 

Image of a typical concrete footing mix on the left and a smooth finish wet concrete on the right.

HOW IS CONCRETE PRODUCED?

The first step in making concrete is to measure out the correct amounts of cement, water, and aggregate. The most common ratio for making concrete is 1:2:3 (one part cement, two parts sand, and three parts gravel). However, this ratio can be adjusted depending on the specific application and the desired strength of the final product. A common mix for residential footings would require a 3000-3500 psi mix. Standard concrete driveways typically use a 3000 psi mix also, but sometimes use 3,500-4,000 psi for driveways that heavy vehicles park on such as with RVs, construction equipment, etc.

HOW DO YOU MIX CONCRETE?

Once the ingredients have been measured out, they are mixed together in a concrete mixer. The mixer is a large drum that rotates to mix the ingredients together. The mixer can be powered by an electric motor or a gas engine. After the ingredients have been mixed together, the concrete is ready to be used. Concrete mixers are either stationary or mobile. Small batches of concrete can be made on-site with a portable mixer. Typical size jobs would make use of a concrete truck, with the big rotating drum on top. The reason? Concrete is really heavy.

Concrete Truck in Field Releasing Concrete

TYPICAL CONCRETE MIX RATIOS

There are different types of concrete mixtures, depending on the intended use. For example, a mixture of 1:3:3 (3000 psi / 20mpa) is suitable for most general construction projects, while a mixture of 1:3:2.5 (3500 psi / 25 mpa) is used for creating a stronger, more durable concrete. You can even up the ante to a mix of 1:3:2 (4000 psi / 30 mpa) or even a 1:2:2 (4500 psi / 35 mpa) mix. The mixing ratios are represented in this order; 1st number is cement, 2nd number is sand, and 3rd number is stone.

common mix ratios for residential concrete applications

CONCRETE ADDITIVES

Concrete admixtures are materials that are added to the concrete mixture to enhance its properties. Two popular types of admixtures are polymers and fibers. Polymers are added to concrete to improve its workability, reduce cracking and shrinkage, and increase its strength and durability. Fibers, on the other hand, are added to concrete to improve its toughness and resistance to cracking and impact.

COLD WEATHER AND BAD SOILS

In certain projects, the use of polymers and fibers can be crucial to the success of the project, specially when high-performance concrete is required. For example, in a project where the concrete will be subject to heavy loads or frequent freeze-thaw cycles, the use of fibers can greatly improve its resistance to cracking and impact, thus extending its service life. Similarly, in a project where the concrete will be placed in a thin section, such as a slab, the use of polymers can greatly reduce the risk of cracking and shrinkage, ensuring that the final product will be strong and stable.

READY-MIXED CONCRETE PLANTS

Ready-mixed concrete is a type of concrete that is manufactured in a batching plant and then delivered to the construction site in a truck equipped with a rotating drum. The concrete is mixed on the way to the site, and it is ready to use as soon as it arrives. This type of concrete is commonly used in residential construction because it is convenient and easy to use.

One of the main advantages of ready-mixed concrete is that it can be delivered to the construction site in a timely manner. This is especially important for residential construction projects, where time is often a critical factor. Additionally, ready-mixed concrete is more consistent in quality than concrete that is mixed on site.

CONCRETE FOOTINGS

Almost every type of footing uses concrete as its main material. A footing is an excavated channel that is at a prescribed depth. The channel is then filled with ready-mixed concrete to a required thickness. Residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and civil projects all require some sort of concrete footing. Concrete footings gives our buildings a “foot” to stand on.

smoothing footing piers

CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS

Another application of ready-mixed concrete in residential construction is in the creation of foundations. The foundation is the base upon which a building is constructed, and it must be strong and durable to support the weight of the building. Ready-mixed concrete is commonly used to create (poured-in-place-wall) foundations for residential buildings, because it is easy to work with and it sets fast.

half size concrete walls foundation

DRIVEWAYS, SIDEWALKS, AND PATIOS

Ready-mixed concrete is also commonly used in the construction of driveways, sidewalks, and patios. These types of projects can sometimes be completed by homeowners, and ready-mixed concrete is a convenient option because it is easy to use and it sets quickly. Additionally, the finished product is strong and durable, which makes it a good choice for outdoor construction projects.

concrete walkway

CONCRETE WALL CONSTRUCTION

Finally, ready-mixed concrete is also commonly used in the construction of walls, particularly in residential construction. Walls are an important part of any building, and they must be stable and properly installed to provide protection and support for the building. Ready-mixed concrete is a good choice for walls because it takes much less time to pour concrete than to build masonry or wood walls.

IN CONCLUSION...

In conclusion, concrete is a versatile building material that is made by mixing cement, water, and aggregate. There are different types of concrete mixtures, depending on the intended use. Ready-mixed concrete is a type of concrete that is manufactured in a batching plant and then delivered to the construction site. It is commonly used in residential construction because it is convenient and easy to use, particularly for footings, foundations, driveways, sidewalks, patios, and walls. The ready-mixed concrete offers consistent quality and allows for fast construction time.

One of the main advantages of ready-mixed concrete is that it can be delivered to the construction site in a timely manner. This is especially important for residential construction projects, where time is often a critical factor. Additionally, ready-mixed concrete is more consistent in quality than concrete that is mixed on site.

“The city is not a concrete jungle, but rather a human zoo.”

Like our article?

Share us on Social Media, give us a follow

We are construction junkies and love educating people on the conventions and trends in the residential construction space. We use our blog to post informational articles, how-to’s and sometimes show off our own construction projects. We love the transparency and it really does give non-construction folks a view into the industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *