Are There Different Types of Concrete?

Concrete is a mixture of three basic ingredients: cement, aggregate (i.e. sand or gravel), and water. While all forms of concrete will share this same base, different types of concrete can be made by altering the proportions and exact ingredients in the mixture. Different forms of concrete are useful for different things. For example, while plain concrete may be a good choice for footpaths and pavements, reinforced concrete is the better choice for buildings as it has a higher tensile strength and a greater ability for bearing loads. There are many different types of concrete, some with highly specific use cases, so this article will mainly cover the most common forms of concrete and the specific advantages they hold. 

Both plain concrete and reinforced concrete have already been mentioned. Plain concrete is a standard mixture of Portland cement, aggregates, and water in a ratio of 1:2:4, and is used in projects that don’t require a high tensile strength and heavy loads. 

Meanwhile, reinforced concrete is a concrete mix that is reinforced with steel bars or mesh embedded in the concrete. This reinforcement gives the concrete a higher tensile strength that is more suitable for bearing heavy loads such as in buildings. For a reinforced concrete with even higher strength, prestressed concrete is used, where tension is applied to steel tendons in the concrete, further increasing the tensile strength of the concrete. Prestressed concrete is ideal for heavy-loaded structures such as bridges.

Asphalt concrete is a material we run into everyday being used for roads, parking lots, and airport runways. It’s a mix of aggregate bound together with asphalt cement, which is derived from crude oil. It is commonly laid down in the summer, as it is typically mixed hot and hardens as it cools, meaning it can harden too quickly to properly form if the outside temperature is too cool. 

There are also highly specialized forms of concrete that are unlikely to be used outside of specific instances such as high density concrete, which is a form of concrete made with heavy, coarse aggregate, and as the name implies is extremely dense with densities up to 4000 kg/m3. This type of concrete is built to be resistant to radiation and is used as shielding in nuclear power plants, as well as in radioactive waste disposal. 

If you’re unsure what form of concrete is best suited for a specific project, Razorback Concrete is always ready to help. To learn more, visit today. 


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