People often confuse concrete and cement. Cement is actually an ingredient in concrete that glues together the rock or gravel with the sand, water, and other additives. When a concrete truck is seen driving down the road, it contains ready-mixed concrete, meaning a mixture of materials forming concrete.

Concrete can be made thousands of different ways. Numerous types, sizes, and colors of sand, rock, gravel, cements, and chemicals can make today’s concrete do almost anything, from holding up a skyscraper to filling a hole in the ground. Concrete can be made of varying strengths, densities, colors, and characteristics, each serving varying purposes.

Concrete has been used in all types of construction projects going as far back as the Roman Empire. Concrete has become one of the worlds most used construction materials, due to its being made of natural resources and its durability. As we mentioned above, concrete is a mixture of sand, stone, cement, and water. The combination of cement and water form a process of hydration, which in turn creates a solid shapeable material. Other materials such as admixtures, flyash, slag, as well as numerous other items, can be added to create and enhance various properties.

Concrete is typically produced at ready-mixed plants, loaded into concrete trucks, and delivered to job sites in increments of cubic yards. A cubic yard is equivalent to 27 cubic feet. The typical ready-mix truck can carry 11 cubic yards of concrete. Ready-mix trucks come in all shapes and sizes, the most common being front and rear discharge.

The foundation of concrete’s strength comes from the amount of water compared to the amount of cement, or cementitous materials in the concrete mixture. Strength of concrete is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. The more water in a mix, the lesser the strength will be. Typically a concrete driveway will have a PSI ranging from 3000 to 4000 PSI, and concrete for a superstructure, such as a bridge or skyscraper, can have strengths of 10,000 PSI or more.

Admixtures are additives, usually liquid, added to concrete to enhance characteristics such as consistency, slump, and air content. Water reducers help with the consistency of concrete by reducing the amount of water needed. The wetness consistency is defined as slump. Slumps typically range from 1 inch to 5 inches on most job sites. The higher the number, the wetter and usually weaker the concrete will become. Water reducing admixtures allow for the slump to change without loss of strength, to an extent. Air entrainment is normally added to exterior concrete to implant bubbles, which aid in the resistance of freezing and thawing. Remember, concrete is weather sensitive.

Numerous additives can be added to concrete other than admixtures. Fibers can be added to aide in crack resistance. Accelerators can be added to speed up the hydration process, which increases set times. Retarders will slow down the hydration process. Numerous types of color and decorative products can also be a part of the concrete process to assume any type of look one might like.

Concrete is the most used building material in the world. It is a part of nearly every structure that we come across on a daily basis, from driveways and sidewalks, to footings and foundations, to roads and bridges, and so on. Concrete technology becomes more and more advanced each day and we at Nicolia Ready-Mix are prepared to move forward with it. We hope that this information has provided you some insight to our industry.