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Concrete is the ultimate modern building material. Everywhere you look, you see concrete. From the “concrete jungles” of the big cities to the concrete foundations of farmhouses throughout the countryside, concrete is king.
In fact, without concrete, we wouldn’t have the modern-day skyscraper. Heavy-duty bridges and our network of freeways would also be pipe dreams.
It would be all too easy to write an ode to concrete. We take it for granted in our daily lives, and yet our lives would be very different without this unique building material. For now, let’s take a look at the properties that make concrete the best modern building material in the world.
1. It is easy to put in place.
Concrete is composed of Portland cement, rough aggregates, and water. After the water has been added, it has the consistency of thick gravy, making it easy to spread in every nook and cranny. But be careful! Overworking it can make it tough to handle, so it has to be poured as close to its final destination as possible.
2. Once it dries, it never softens or “melts” back into a liquid.
This awesome characteristic of concrete means that weather conditions are never a problem. Rain won’t turn concrete into sludge, and a scorching hot day won’t melt concrete roads, which sometimes happens with asphalt! Once it “cures,” it remains solid.
3. It combines perfectly with steel rebar for high tensile strength.
Concrete reinforced with steel rebar is practically unstoppable. Without the rebar to offer extra rigidity, skyscrapers would be an impossibility. Thanks to concrete’s ease of placement, it’s simple to install rebar and then pour concrete around it.
4. Adding different ingredients for new properties is easy.
Sometimes concrete needs special properties based on the weather conditions at installation. For example, concrete needs to stay wet for an extended amount of time in order to reduce cracking, but according to the Tex Con Construction team, this is difficult to do in hot weather without some chemical assistance.
Special ingredients called ad-mixtures give concrete new characteristics, such as the ability to retain moisture for a longer period of time. Other ad-mixtures slow or prolong the amount of time it takes concrete to harden, among many other potential outcomes.
5. It doesn’t have to be a boring grey color.
It’s true! We think of concrete as a neutral grey, but powdered colorants can be added to the mixture for any number of vivid hues. You’ve surely seen colored concrete before but did not recognize it in such exotic shades as green or blue. Colored concrete is more expensive, but it creates stunning floors, walls, counters, etc.
6. It can be molded into any shape.
Square, circular or abstract: concrete’s temporary liquid state allows it to fill any container. That’s where things get exciting! You can play around with concrete molds by making small decorative items for your home or garden. For example, you can make a super cute statue for your front porch by using a couple old pairs of rain boots as a mold. Paint them and use them as a flower pot stand!
7. It can mimic the look of other building materials.
Concrete is far more affordable than brick, stone or tile, especially because it’s easier to install. But when the concrete has been spread and has the consistency of clay, it can be “stamped” to look like other, more expensive building materials. Complete the ruse with some intricate coloring, and no one will be the wiser!
8. It has natural insulation.
Believe it or not, concrete buildings lend themselves to a natural feeling of coziness in all seasons. That’s because, when installed at a minimum thickness, concrete has tremendous insulating properties. A concrete building is easier to keep cool in the summer and to heat in the winter. The air won’t leak, whether from the inside out or the outside in. HVAC systems do not work overtime in concrete buildings!
9. It’s fireproof and can withstand earthquakes and tornadoes.
Fires are scary, to say the least. So what better building material to use than one that is fire-proof? Plus, concrete has the distinction of being resistant to high winds. there are no joints that can come loose on a concrete wall. It is a solid mass and the perfect solution for areas prone to natural disasters.
10. You don’t have to be a genius to use it.
For all of the DIY gurus out there, concrete’s best property is that it is easy to use. If you can bake a cake, you can mix, spread and cure concrete. Of course, that is somewhat oversimplified, but if you’re creating a small fire pit or even laying out a building pad for a barn, you can install concrete on your own with a little research. For more complicated projects, trust the pros!