Sturdy, durable and economical, concrete is one of the most frequently used construction materials in the United States. Called pourable stone, it was once used by the Egyptians to build structures that still stand more than 3,600 years later. The standard concrete used by most Minneapolis general contractors combines sand, gravel and water with Portland cement.
Different Concretes and Their Uses
Many different varieties of concrete exist and a Minneapolis construction company generally chooses a particular variety for its purposes based on its particular compressive strength, a quality expressed in terms of pounds per square inch (psi) and megapascals (MPa). Some of the different types of concrete are:
Regular Concrete – Standard, or regular concrete, comes in a variety of pre-mixed packages that vary in their water-absorption and setting qualities, depending on the specific aggregates used. For the most part, regular concrete mixes offer a compressive strength in the range of 1450 psi (10 MPa) to 5800 psi (40 MPa). As such, it is not recommended for heavy, load-bearing structures. Minneapolis general contractors commonly use regular concrete for basic installations in residential buildings, for lining curbs and for strengthening sidewalks and driveways.
Pervious Concrete – Studies show that the use of regular concrete adversely affects groundwater supplies as its compact nature prevents water from reaching the ground. One solution for a Minneapolis construction company is to use pervious concrete, which allows a small amount of air or water to pass through the material. The Environmental Protection Agency encourages the use of pervious concrete when other methods of preventing storm water runoff prove impractical. Although this type of concrete has a reduced strength when compared to regular concrete, a number of formulations nevertheless provide enough strength to meet the requirements for a range of applications.
Stamped Concrete – Stamped concrete is concrete that is treated while still wet to mimic the outward appearance of other materials such as brick, cobblestone, wood or other materials. Typically, builders use concrete with a compressed strength of 3000 to 4000 psi for stamped concrete applications. Also known as architectural concrete for its decorative nature, it is most commonly produced by adding a primary color as well as an accent color to the concrete mix. The wet concrete is then poured and stamped with a polyurethane stamp. Nowadays, it is common to see a Minneapolis construction company use texturized stamps to create a look that is closer in appearance to natural brick and flagstone.
Stamped concrete is ideal for decorative purposes as it is easy to clean and offers superior durability when compared to materials such as brick or slate. Most Minneapolis general contractors recommend it for landscaping purposes as it does not have any cracks or edges and will not allow any vegetation to grow through it.
Shotcrete – Also known as Gunite, shotcrete is generally used where formwork is unnecessary, such as when building against rock surfaces or vertical soil. It is also used for rock support, especially while tunneling. In some cases, additives such as fiber reinforcement and accelerators may be added to the mix.
Concrete, in its myriad of forms, has become an indispensable part of our everyday life. All forms of concrete have to undergo the correct hydrating and hardening process to optimize their unique physical and chemical properties. In particular, care should be taken to mix the cement blend thoroughly in order to produce uniform, high-quality concrete. The right Minneapolis general contractor will be able to use a variety of types and styles of concrete to make your construction project the best and most cost-efficient that it can be.