What is Concrete?
Over time, man has learned that if certain types of rock and cement were mixed together, a substance could be formed and molded to a rock-hard consistency when dry. Guess what? It’s now called concrete.
The Difference between Concrete and Cement
Some people believe that concrete and cement are two words used to describe the same thing, but they are actually very different materials. Cement is an ingredient in concrete made from limestone, shales, and clays. Concrete is the final result after aggregate, cement, and water have been combined. A concrete contractor chooses not to use pure cement to build structures because cement is a very expensive substance and is not as strong as concrete.
Contrary to popular belief, what is called a “cement mixer” is actually a “concrete mixer” because it is mixing the components of concrete, and cement is only one part of it.
What Is Cement?
Cement is very commonly believed to be concrete, so it is necessary to distinguish between these two materials. Cement is a substance that a foundation contractor can use to bind one element to another. This means that cement is just another word for “glue.” This also means that different combinations of substances can be considered to be cement, and they have different names based on how they are used.
For example, a paving contractor uses cement that is made of a petroleum byproduct to create “asphalt concrete.” Asphalt concrete (blacktop) binds rock to the other elements contractors use to make concrete for roads, and that is how they create the pavement that we drive on every day.
What Is Portland Cement?
Contractors use Portland cement in many important structures, including bridges, dams, and roads. This particular cement is comprised of lime, silica, alumina, and iron oxides, and these materials glue the rock substances also known as aggregate together after water is added. While it is in a liquid state, it can be molded into any structure or shape that the contractor needs. Once the substance hardens, it becomes the familiar material that we are used to seeing on seemingly every road around.
Engineers can determine how strong they need their finished products to be created corresponding to necessary strength. It all depends on how much water and cement are used to mix the materials that create the concrete. For example, if an engineer needs the structure to be very strong, they will decide to have a very low water-to-cement ratio. This makes the aggregate less pliable, but it is necessary to have the right kind for certain types of buildings.
Making Concrete Even Stronger
If a contractor is creating a very large building, the concrete could have a tendency to crack. That is because larger structures produce a great deal of energy, and this is the source of the cracking. To prevent cracks in very large structures, engineers use reinforced concrete in their buildings.
By reinforcing concrete, contractors can create metal buildings that are much stronger than if concrete alone was used. For example, contractors will add substances that can reinforce the structure, such as steel. If the material can bind to concrete well, it is an excellent choice as reinforcement. Concrete is used to create numerous beneficial structures. The driveway at your home, the sidewalk where you take your dog for a walk and the roads you are driving on are all made of concrete. Concrete is also used to build walls, swimming pools, fences, buildings and much more.