All About How Concrete is Made
We see concrete structures around us all the time: concrete pipelines, concrete buildings, concrete patios, the list goes on.
But, how exactly is concrete made? It has to come from somewhere!
An Overview of Concrete Production
Concrete starts out as a collection of small rocks. It’s then mixed with water and a paste made out of cement.
During the mixing process, the rocks are coated with the cement and water. A chemical reaction then takes place which hardens and strengthens together to form a rock-like material which we call concrete.
Breaking Down The Cementing Process
While that explanation makes it seem simple, there’s a lot that goes into the cementing process to produce high quality and durable concrete.
Select The Right Ingredients
The first step to mixing your concrete is gathering the right ingredients.
You want to get a water that is natural and has no impurities. Think of it this way: if you can drink it without a funny taste, it’s a good choice for your cement mixture.
Why does it need to be so pure? If there are too many impurities in the water then the concrete may take a longer time to set or may be weaker. It can also reduce its durability and cause staining and efflorescence.
Most concrete solutions have limits on how much chloride, sulfate, alkalis, and solids are contained in the water used for mixing.
The first step to creating a strong mixture is carefully measuring out your ingredients. If you measure to little then not all the spaces between the rocks will be filled and it will not hold together well. It will also contain holes and be very porous.
On the other hand, if you use too much paste when mixing concrete you will create a concrete that cracks easily and costs a lot of money.
Neither of these situations are ideal. That’s why at Limitless we carefully mix all our ingredients in the right proportions. When measuring out the ingredients, we stick to a few general rules of thumb:
- The mixture should contain between 10 and 15 percent cement
- There should be somewhere between 60 and 75 percent aggregate
- 15 to 20 percent of the mixture should be made up of water.
Following these simple rules helps us create a strong, lasting concrete that you can count on for years to come.
After everything has been mixed together, the hydration process begins and real cement is formed.
During hydration, the mixture hardens by forming nodes on the surface of the cement particles. The nodes then expand until they link up with other particles. When all the particles have bonded together, the mixture forms a hard material.
If you’re looking for a specific shape or form for your concrete, you’ll need to put it into a mold before the hydration process begins.
After your concrete is finished hydrating, you’ll need to “float” the material. This is basically sanding down the cement to produce a smooth surface. It should be slip resistant and slightly rough to the touch.
The next step is to cure the cement. This keeps the cement hydrating so that over time it will continue to strengthen and harden.
To cure the cement, a water fog is sprinkled over the concrete. Sometimes, special sprays are used to seal the surface of the slabs which chemically cure the concrete. This is often the case with concrete used in extreme weather conditions.
If you’re ready to get started on your next concrete paving project, give us a call at Limitless Paving and Concrete!