Concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials in the world. It’s literally everywhere. On buildings, roadways, pavements, monuments – you name it. But what exactly is concrete, and why is it so popular around the world? The aim of this blog post is to explore the answers to these questions.
What is concrete?
Concrete is simply a chemical compound made up of aggregates (sand, gravel, stone, shells, etc) and a binding material (eg. cement or lime). The fluid binding material (for example, cement mixed with water) binds the aggregates together and then hardens over time, creating those beautifully firm structures we’ve become accustomed to.
What are the benefits of concrete?
As mentioned, concrete is a very popular construction material. It’s hard to deny the natural beauty of a pure concrete structure, whether smoothed to perfection or left in a pebble-dashed masterpiece. The generally light color of concrete also helps to reflect the sun in those areas, keeping the areas nice and cool when compared to other construction materials.
But the benefits of concrete go far beyond its natural beauty. Here are a few more of its benefits over other materials:
- Concrete is affordable
The cost to produce concrete is very low. Also when compared to steel and other engineered construction materials, it is more readily available all over the world, which helps to keep the cost down globally. The main components of concrete are water, aggregates and cement – materials that can be sourced easily in many local markets.
- Concrete is tough and durable
Concrete structures last for decades longer than other building materials, and in fact, it gets stronger over time. This drastically reduces the cost of ownership, as the initial investment is repaid countless times over the lifetime of the concrete structure. The durability of concrete makes it very environmentally friendly as well.
- Low maintenance
Once hardened, concrete structures take care of themselves. They don’t need to be sprayed, repainted or coated in any way to protect them from rust, rain damage and other forms of weathering. Other construction materials like wood or steel have to be routinely coated for protection, which increases their cost over time.
- Recyclable and eco-friendly
This benefit is two-fold. For one, concrete can be recycled as aggregates for other building projects, for eg. parking lots, gabion walls and more. On the other hand, many industrial waste materials can be used as a substitute for aggregates to create concrete. For eg, waste glass, ground vehicle tires, slag and more. So not only does it work as an agent to remove waste from the environment and turn it into beautiful structures, the material itself almost never has to enter the landfill.
- Energy efficient
Concrete helps to regulate the temperature inside of a building, which reduces the building’s heating and cooling demands over time. When used in combination with other heating or cooling technologies like air conditioning and geothermal floors, it allows for far more efficient energy use inside those buildings.
There are plenty of construction materials on the market these days, but none can truly compare to concrete. Concrete is a very common construction material used in all forms of buildings and structures. And with its incredible eco-friendly and cost-effective properties, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.