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Different Types of Concrete

Different Types of Concrete

Posted By:Dynamic Concrete Pumping , Date: Mar 28, 2020

Different Types of Concrete

You can find concrete almost anywhere you look, including buildings, bridges, walls, swimming pools, roadways, airport runways, floors, patios or even a cement house. All of these structures depend on a man-made material with a simple formula. How is all that concrete made?

Concrete is composed of cement, water and coarse aggregates. When mixed together, they create a construction material that hardens over time. How much water and cement you use determine the properties of concrete, such as:

  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Resistance to heat or radiation
  • Workability

Fresh concrete can be used for endless applications. It can be poured and cast into various shapes, such as squares, rectangles and circles. It can also be used for staircases, columns, doors, beams, lentils and other familiar structures. Concrete is created to meet different grades, which include normal, standard and high-strength. These grades indicate how much pressure the concrete can withstand and what construction applications it can be used for.

What kind do you need? Our guide can help you decide based on your project requirements.

How Do You Make Concrete?

When you make concrete, regardless of what you plan to use it for, you have to mix the right proportions to achieve the quality you desire. You can use two different mixes to make concrete:

  • Nominal mix: This mix is used for ordinary construction such as small residential structures. Most nominal mixes use a proportion of 1:2:4. The first number is the ratio of cement, the second number is the ratio of sand and the third number is the ratio of aggregate needed based on weight or volume of materials.
  • Design mix: The design mix, or mix design, relies on proportions finalized using lab tests to determine the compressive strength of the mixture. This will determine the strength you need based on the structural design of the concrete component.

Along with the mix proportions, there are also two methods used for mixing the concrete:

  • Machine mixing: This uses different types of machines. The ingredients are placed into the machine and then mixed. The result is fresh concrete.
  • Hand mixing: When mixed by hand, the ingredients are placed on a flat surface. Workers then add water and mix the cement by hand using special tools designed for the task.

The kind of mixing you use depends on the quantity and quality of concrete you want.

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The 26 Types of Concrete

There are many different types of concrete, some of which can be used for the same purpose. It depends on the goal you wish to achieve. You can choose the appropriate form of concrete to accomplish the task.

1. Normal Strength Concrete

Normal strength concrete is made up of a combination of several fundamental ingredients — aggregate, concrete and sand — in a 1:2:4 ratio. This mixture produces normal strength concrete that can be used for many applications. It takes about 30 to 90 minutes to set, but this is dependent on the weather conditions at the concrete site and the cement’s properties.

It’s normally used for pavements or buildings that don’t need high tensile strength. It is not very good for many other structures since it doesn’t withstand the stresses created by wind loading or vibrations very well.

2. Reinforced Concrete

This form of concrete is widely used in industry and modern construction. Reinforced concrete gets its strength through the help of wires, steel rods or cables that are placed in the concrete before it sets. A more familiar name for these items is rebar. Lately, people have used fibers to reinforce this concrete.

These reinforcements resist tensile forces to avoid cracking or breaking. Meanwhile,  the concrete itself resists compressive forces to withstand heavy weight. Together, the two materials create a strong bond against many applied forces, such as vehicles. In essence, they become a single structural element.

Invented in the 19th century, it dramatically changed the construction industry. Roadways, buildings and bridges require reinforced concrete. Next time you visit a construction site, you’ll likely see reinforced concrete with rebar.

3. Plain or Ordinary Concrete

Plain or Ordinary Concrete

This is another concrete that uses the common mix design of 1:2:4 with its components of cement, sand and aggregates. You can employ it to make pavement or buildings where there is not a high demand for tensile strength. It faces the same challenges as normal strength concrete — it doesn’t stand up very well to vibrations or wind loading. Plain or ordinary concrete is also used in dam construction. The durability rating of this kind of concrete is very satisfactory.

4. Prestressed Concrete

Prestressed concrete units are used for many large concrete projects. To create prestressed concrete, you must use a special technique. Like reinforced concrete, it includes bars or tendons. But these bars or tendons are stressed before the actual application of the concrete.

When the concrete is mixed and placed, these bars are placed at each end of the structural unit where they are used. When the concrete sets, this unit is put into compression.

This compression enhances the strength of the lower section of the unit and improves its resistance against tensile forces. However, this process requires skilled labor and heavy equipment. Normally, prestressed units are created and assembled on-site. Prestressed concrete is used to build bridges, heavy-loaded structures or roofs that have long spans.

5. Precast Concrete

As with most classes of concrete, precast concrete must be made and cast according to specific measurements. These concrete units are eventually transported to the application site and assembled for use.

You frequently see these units transported to worksites as you drive on highways. Precast concrete is used for:

  • Concrete blocks
  • Precast walls
  • Staircase units
  • Poles

The advantage of using precast concrete is its speedy assembly. Since the units are manufactured in a factory, they are of very high quality.

the advantage of using precast concrete is its speedy assembly

6. Lightweight Concrete

Lightweight concrete is any kind of concrete that has a density of less than 1920kg/m3. Lightweight concrete is created by using lightweight aggregates. Aggregates are ingredients that add to the density of the style of concrete. These lightweight aggregates are made up of various natural, artificial and processed materials, which include:

  • Clays
  • Expanded shales
  • Scoria
  • Pumice
  • Perlite
  • Vermiculite

The most important property of lightweight concrete is that it has very low thermal conductivity. Common uses for lightweight concrete include creating long-spanning bridge decks and building blocks. It can also be used to protect steel structures.

7. High-Density Concrete

High-density concrete has a very specific purpose. It is frequently used in the construction of atomic power plants. The heavyweight aggregates used in the creation of high-density concrete help the structure resist radiation.

Crushed rocks are normally used. Barytes, a colorless or white material that consists of barium sulfate and is the principal ingredient in barium, is the crushed rock most often employed.

8. Stamped Concrete

Also known as imprinted or textured concrete, stamped concrete is designed to realistically replicate the look and pattern of natural stones, tiles, brick and granites. Stamped concrete is often used to construct patios, pool decks, interior floors and driveways.

This style is achieved by using professional stamping pads to create an impression on the surface of the concrete. To get a natural finish, you can also use various texture work and coloring stains.

Some of the advantages of stamped concrete include:

  • Affordability compared to natural pavers and stone
  • Easy maintenance once sealed
  • Becomes slip-resistant with a non-skid additive
  • Enhances outdoor space and adds value
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Extensive pattern and color choices

9. Air-Entrained Concrete

Some types of concrete hold billions of microscopic air cells in every cubic foot. These tiny air pockets relieve the internal pressure on the concrete. They provide tiny chambers where water can expand when it freezes.

The air is entrained in the concrete by adding several foaming agents during the mixing process, including:

  • Fatty acids
  • Resins
  • Alcohols

Because this concrete is mixed at the site of application, the mixing and entraining process requires careful engineering supervision. The entrained air adds up to about 3% to 6% of the volume of the concrete. Almost all concrete used in a freezing environment or where there are freeze-thaw cycles is air-entrained.

10. Ready-Mix Concrete

Ready-Mix Concrete

Concrete prepared and bathed in a centrally located plant is known as ready-mix concrete. This concrete is mixed as it is transported to the site in the familiar cement trucks seen often on roads and highways. Once the trucks reach the worksite, the cement can be used immediately because it does not need further treatment. Ready-mix concrete is a specialty concrete that is mixed based on specifications developed with great precision.

Creating ready-mix concrete requires a centralized location where the concrete can be prepared. These locations need to be placed at an adjustable distance from the worksite. If the concrete takes too long to reach the worksite, it will be of no use. In most cases, the worksite to far from the preparation plant. Retarding agents are sometimes used to delay how long the concrete takes to set.

Ready-mix concrete is preferred to concrete mixed on-site because the mixture has higher precision and having the concrete ready to pour reduces confusion on the worksite. Ready-mix concrete can be used for buildings, roadways, walls and more.

11. Self-Consolidated Concrete

Self-consolidating concrete will compact on its own due to its weight when put in place. This non-segregating, highly flowable concrete will fill the formwork and spread easily into place to encapsulate the reinforcement without the need for vibration or mechanical consolidation. This highly workable concrete is best used for applications and areas where there is thick reinforcement.

Some benefits of self-consolidated concrete include the following:

  • Self-leveling
  • Enhanced hardened properties
  • Improved consolidation in congested areas
  • Safer work environment
  • Reduced equipment and labor
  • Increased detailing flexibility
  • Smoother surfaces
  • Reduced noise

self-consolidating concrete will compact on its own

12. Volumetric Concrete

This concrete was created as an alternative to ready-mix concrete to address the problem of long distances between the concrete plant and construction sites. It requires specialized trucks known as volumetric mobile mixers. They carry the concrete ingredients and the water that will be mixed at the construction site.

Volumetric concrete is extremely useful when a builder requires two different kinds of concrete mix at a single site. Since the concrete can be mixed and delivered as needed, it allows one truck to produce two different mixes of concrete. It is very useful on large sites, basement constructions and multi-projects where you need different types of concrete.

13. Decorative Concrete

Decorative concrete creates visually and aesthetically appealing concrete mixes. Decorative concrete can go through several processes, such as:

  • Coloring
  • Molding
  • Polishing
  • Etching
  • Applying decorative toppings

It is ideal for any project in which you want to make an aesthetic statement. It’s also a great way to add a bit of “personality” to dull surfaces or structures. For instance, swimming pools and flooring can make great use of decorative concrete.

14. Polymer Concrete

Polymer concrete aggregates, compared to those in other concrete types, are bound together in a matrix with polymer instead of cement. This type of concrete is made of limestone gravels, silica, quartz, granite pebbles and other high-compressive strength materials. If these materials are not dry, clean and dust-free, it can have a negative impact on the concrete’s binding ability.

The polymer resin serves as the binder and the aggregate is the compressive stress material. Polymer concrete composites contain a distinct combination of properties in their formulation. Some of these properties include:

  • Rapid curing ambient temperatures
  • Good adhesion to surfaces
  • Long-term durability
  • High flexural, tensile and compressive strengths
  • Low permeability to water and some solution
  • Lightweight formula
  • Strong chemical resistance

Polymer concrete also has a few distinct categories, including:

  • Polymer impregnated concrete
  • Polymer cement concrete
  • Partially impregnated

15. Rapid-Set Concrete

In a hurry? Then you need rapid-set concrete. It’s ideal when you’re short on time to complete a project. It has faster set times and is very resistant to low temperatures, so it can be used any time of the year. It’s especially useful in winters when the cold weather does not allow you to use many other kinds of concrete.

16. Smart Concrete

As the name suggests, smart concrete is the concrete technology of the future. The creation of this type of concrete makes it easier to monitor the condition of reinforced concrete structures. Smart concrete contains short carbon fibers that are added with a conventional concrete mixer. This process affects the concrete’s electrical resistance when under strain or stress. This kind of concrete can be used to detect possible problems before the failure of the concrete.

It is very good at sensing tiny structural flaws. While not widely available yet, it promises to be the building material of the future for cities that face repeated earthquake risk. Smart concrete allows engineers in those cities to check the health of structures after earthquakes, providing a far better assessment of their condition than a visual inspection.

17. Pervious Concrete

This is one of the most common kinds of concrete used to build roads and pavements. It is designed to deal with the problems of stormwater runoff and pools of water and puddles on roadways or airport runways.

Other concrete absorbs water. Roadways that use pervious concrete have fewer problems with hydroplaning, tire spray and snow buildup. It also reduces the need for curbing and storm sewers.

It is composed of a mixture of cement, water and coarse aggregates. It contains no sand, which creates an open-scale, porous structure. This allows water to pass through the layers more easily. Some kinds of pervious concrete will pass several gallons of water through its surface per minute.

18. Vacuum Concrete

In certain applications, such as deck slabs, parking lots and industrial floors, concrete will have a higher water content than necessary when poured into the formwork. In these cases, the excess water must be removed with a vacuum pump before the concrete begins to set. Compared to a normal construction method, the vacuum technique can help make the concrete platform or structure ready to use sooner.

19. Pumped Concrete

If you’ve ever wondered what types of cement mixtures used in the flooring of a very tall building are, the answer is probably pumped concrete. The secret to pumped concrete is that it is very workable, so it can be conveyed easily via a pipe to an upper floor. This pipe will be a flexible or rigid hose that discharges the concrete to the required area.

Pumped concrete can also be used:

  • To create superflat floors on lower structures
  • In construction projects like roadways and bridges
  • For more personal items, like swimming pools

It is a reliable, efficient and economical way to apply concrete and is often the only way that concrete can be placed in certain locations. Very fine aggregates are used in pumped concrete. The finer the aggregate used in the mix, the freer the concrete flows from the pipe.

20. Limecrete

This concrete uses lime instead of cement, along with lightweight aggregates like glass fiber or sharp sand. It’s mainly used for the construction of floors, vaults and domes. Limecrete has many environmental benefits because it is so easily cleaned and is renewable. It can also be used with radiant floor heating.

21. Roll Compacted Concrete

Roll Compacted Concrete

It’s a familiar sight on many American highways — a heavy roller compacting a layer of concrete. Roll-compacted concrete is a strong, dense concrete used on heavily trafficked highways with vehicles that carry large loads. This concrete emits fewer emissions during the production process, which benefits the environment.

Roll compacted concrete can be found in roadworks, airport runways, car parks, pavements and industrial servicing.

22. Glass Concrete

Another, more modern form of concrete, glass concrete features the use of recycled glass. This form of concrete is used when aesthetic appeal is an important element in the design of the concrete.

Commonly used in the large-format slabs found in flooring or on decorative façades, this concrete can have shining or colored glass embedded during the mixing process to give it a distinctive splash of color or sparkle.

23. Asphalt Concrete

More commonly known as “asphalt” or “blacktop,” this is a form of concrete often used for constructing sidewalks, roads, parking lots, airport runways and highways— almost anywhere pavement is needed. Asphalt is a dark mineral composed of bitumens, which are a form of hydrocarbons.

The desire for asphalt grew along with the automobile industry. Known for its durability, workability, skid resistance, stability, fatigue resistance, flexibility and permeability, it still requires a properly designed mixture. It is a composite mixture of aggregates and asphalt. The different mixtures of asphalt are used for different purposes.

24. Shotcrete Concrete

Shotcrete differs from other forms of concrete primarily in the way it is applied. Shotcrete is shot through a nozzle onto a frame or formwork. Since this application requires higher air pressure, the compaction process takes place at the same time as the placing.

Shotcrete can be used to repair damaged wood, concrete or steel structures. It is also commonly used when access to a work area is difficult or when formwork is impractical or cost-prohibitive.

high-strength concrete definition

25. High-Strength Concrete

High-strength concrete is any concrete mix that is greater than 40 megapascal (40MPa), which is the tensile strength of concrete. High-strength concrete that meets this determinant can handle much more stress and pressure compared to concrete at 20MPa or 30MPa.

This type of concrete can withstand strenuous conditions before it shears, cracks or breaks. The increased strength in this concrete is accomplished by reducing the water-cement ratio to a low rate.

High-strength concrete above 40MPa is often used for civil and commercial construction, which includes buildings and infrastructure projects, structural beams, columns, loadbearing walls and any other application where increased capacity and durability are required.

26. High-Performance Concrete

Though all high-strength concrete can be labeled as high-performance, not all high-performance concrete (HPC) will be in the high-strength category. HPC meets particular efficiency standards, such as:

  • Easy placement
  • Heat of hydration
  • Environmental standards
  • Longevity and durability
  • Life-term mechanical properties
  • Strength gain in early age
  • Toughness
  • Permeability and density factors

However, HPC may be limited in strength in some cases, depending on the application you plan to use it in.


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Need a Trusted Source for Concrete Pumping? Contact Dynamic Concrete Pumping, Inc.

Contact Dynamic Concrete Pumping

With over 40 years of experience in the Calgary area, our experts can give you the concrete pumping services you need to maximize your productivity and improve your results. If you’re located in Alberta and need concrete pumping services, you can trust us to deliver safe, efficient and affordable solutions that will help you overcome your toughest challenges and improve your bottom line.

If you would like to talk about how we can help you with your concrete pumping needs, you can call us at 403-236-9511 or toll-free at 1-877-236-9511. You can also visit our contact us page. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

-Updated 12/28/2022

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