Getting the Right Concrete
Whether by bag or truckload, the right concrete can make the project, and the wrong concrete can ruin it.
Synopsis: According to contributing editor Rick Arnold, concrete is the most versatile construction material you can work with. In this article, Arnold outlines the process for getting things right when you’re working with concrete, whether it’s by the bag or by the truckload. Concrete is made up of three main ingredients: cement, water, and aggregate (gravel and sand). Water activates the cement to form a paste that coats the aggregate. The strength of the mix is in its water-to-cement ratio; the lower the ratio, generally, the stronger the concrete. Concrete also can be tweaked with admixtures, which customize a mix. Admixtures include water reducers, air entrainers, retarders, fibers, fly ash, accelerators, and integral colorings. Code specifies concrete strengths for specific uses. Arnold includes information on determining the appropriate slump and the way to deal with concrete in very hot or very cold temperatures. This article includes sidebars on mixing your own concrete and on estimating the amount of concrete you’ll need for a specific job.
Concrete is the most versatile construction material you can work with. It can be formed to any shape and can be used for just about any purpose: footings, walls, roofs, floors, walkways. It can be poured from a wheelbarrow, a truck, or a pump. It can be placed during freezing or hot temperatures, dry conditions, pouring rain, and blinding snow. The beauty of concrete, though, is that you can manipulate and control its physical properties to create the perfect combination of strength, durability, workability, and cost for each particular use and condition.
Having a basic knowledge of the ways that the concrete mix can be altered to suit certain use requirements and to compensate for the various weather and pouring conditions you may encounter is crucial to making sure you have a…