Concrete is all around us as it is the most-used construction material in the world. It’s commonly utilized in building roads, bridges, sidewalks and curbs, pavement, walls, buildings, and many other structures. Concrete is so common that you may have never even thought about how it is made! At Tucker Paving, we have over 25 years of experience in the concrete paving industry, so we know the ins and outs of making concrete like the backs of our hands.
Concrete starts out as a dry mixture composed of cement and aggregate. Cement is a powdered lime or calcium silicate, and it is mixed with aggregate, which is sand and stone or gravel, to form the basis of concrete. The size of the aggregate, or sand and stone particles, in a concrete mixture will depend on the application the concrete will be used for.
Generally speaking, a concrete mixture will be made up of 10 to 15 percent cement and 60 to 75 percent aggregate. Then, water is added at a ratio of 15 to 20 percent of the mixture, and the cement is ready to be poured. The cement acts as a binder, coating the aggregate and holding all the pieces together through a chemical process that results in the hardened surface we know as concrete.
Additives that change the concrete’s color, increase or slow down drying times, or that improve the physical properties of the concrete can be added to the concrete before pouring as well.
Forming, Hydrating, and Curing Concrete
Once water is added to make concrete, the wet mixture is ready to be poured. Concrete will then be poured into a form or a mold, depending on the application. Because it’s viscous, the concrete will fill the form or mold and dry into that shape.
Oftentimes, metal or other materials are added to the forms or mold before the concrete is formed so that the concrete will dry around the material and it will become part of the finished product. For instance, metal rebar or mesh is commonly added to the rectangular wooden form built to create sidewalks to add strength and stability to the slabs of sidewalk.
There are also many developments into using alternative materials for rebar, like using hemp for rebar or bamboo for rebar.
Once concrete is poured, it is time for it to undergo the hydration process. Hydration is when the concrete dries and hardens. The success of this process is dependent on many factors, such as temperature and humidity. Concrete pavers may use water or other liquids to control the process, which is called curing. During these stages is also when concrete pavers will perform other processes, such as floating the concrete to give it a uniform, smooth surface or adding an anti-slip texture to the concrete’s surface. The process is done once the concrete is hard and dry.
Tucker Paving is an asphalt and concrete paving construction company with over 25 years of experience in the asphalt and concrete paving industry! Contact us online, or call us at (863) 299-2262 for help with your asphalt paving project.