When it comes to construction and building, concrete is the most used material in the world. It’s used for laying foundations for homes, building warehouses and factories, and creating the roadways you use every day during your commute. At Standard Materials, concrete is a staple in many of the projects we undertake. While there are numerous types of concrete in the world today thanks to improvements in technology, most of them fit into one of five categories, and you can learn more about each of them below.
1. Reinforced Concrete
Reinforced concrete is one of the most popular forms of concrete out there, and it takes its name from the materials that are used to improve its overall tensile strength. It’s found in beams, columns, foundations, walls, frames, and any other application in which high tensile strength is beneficial. The most common reinforcement is a steel beam known as rebar, but in some cases, other materials may be used instead. These reinforcements lend their own tensile strength to the concrete itself, which can make it stronger and more ductile.
2. Lightweight Concrete
Whereas most concrete is made from some sort of stone or rock aggregate, lightweight concrete is made with pumice – a volcanic rock composed of porous volcanic glass and other materials. While pumice is very strong for its weight, it is important to note that lightweight concrete is far less structural than its counterparts, which makes it best for things like non-load-bearing concrete walls or other applications that do not require a lot of strength. In some instances, it’s possible to use lightweight concrete as an insulator for water lines or to provide an additional layer of fireproofing.
3. High-Density Concrete
When the contents of a structure need impeccable security, high-density concrete is the ideal choice. To put this into perspective, the “sarcophagus” built over the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in 2016 is made from a mixture of steel and high-density concrete. The added density – when combined with the steel panels – is helpful for containing the radiation. As far as everyday applications, high-density concrete is utilized when building new nuclear power plants. The additional density might come from materials called barytes or iron, and surprisingly, it is usually slightly thinner than traditional or reinforced concrete.
4. Precast Concrete
Precast concrete is a little different from the other examples on this list because it doesn’t refer to the ingredients or additives. Rather, it refers to how the concrete is made. Precast concrete is generally poured in slabs and left to cure in a controlled environment, then delivered to the site once it has been tested for strength and quality. This can be ideal in some situations, but it’s often more expensive for the business or homeowner due to the need for a climate-controlled location as well as the additional transportation costs.
5. High-Performance Concrete
Finally, high-performance concrete is designed to be stronger and more durable than traditional concrete. These mixtures often contain the very same ingredients as traditional concrete, but they are mixed in a way that suits the environment and the structure for which they are being used. By definition, it has a compressive strength of 8,000 pounds per square inch or greater, and it is most commonly utilized in applications such as tunnels, bridges, certain types of pavements, and high-rise buildings.
As you can see, there are numerous types of concrete. Some are lightweight with insulating and fire-resistant features, but others are extremely dense and can be utilized for safety purposes. Understanding the differences in these types of concrete is imperative for making the right decisions about your unique projects. If you’re curious about proper application or would like a quote for a project that might require a specialized concrete, Standard Materials would be happy to hear from you!