We often take for granted things that we see every day. Take concrete; we all know that this material is used for buildings, roads and sidewalks. But, did you know that it’s the only material being used to build underwater structures?
Yes, there are a lot of surprising facts about concrete. Here are five interesting details about this versatile material:
1. People still mistake cement as concrete
Many people think that cement and concrete is the same thing, when in fact the former is just an ingredient of the latter. Cement (aka Portland cement) is a limestone that is crushed and baked into a powder. When mixed with water, the paste helps concrete become the hardened material you see on roads and sidewalks. If cement is added only with sand, it forms a mortar that is used for bricklaying.
Concrete is a mixture of cement, gravel and sand. When concrete is mixed, water is added to help combine the material. Once the concrete sets, or cures, the water evaporates to leave a solid material. If the mixture dries too quickly, the strength of the concrete reduces significantly. So, cement is actually an ingredient in concrete and therefore you shouldn’t say that the road you’re walking on is made only of cement.
2. The Romans used concrete
If you think that concrete roads are a product of the 19th or 20th centuries then you’re wrong. Concrete was used in roads throughout the Holy Roman Empire to connect the capital to its colonies, improve the mobility of its army and encourage trade.
According to historians, Romans used lime, water and volcanic ash as their aggregates to create concrete. The Romans favored using concrete in building their roads because they discovered that this material was highly resistant to water, making their roads very durable.
3. Concrete is best for constructing roads
Concrete is considered by many as the best material for road construction. Concrete is slightly more expensive than alternatives, but, because it is more durable and needs less maintenance, it is still more cost-efficient than any other material.
In addition, experts say that concrete is more eco-friendly than asphalt and is more capable of absorbing noise pollution caused by vehicles.
4. Concrete is designed to waterproof and heatproof structures
When it comes to protection from water and fire, there is no better material than concrete. Concrete can be designed to be highly water-resistant, which makes it the best material to use if you’re building a structure that is exposed to water or moisture. It’s the reason why concrete is used for structures underwater because it won’t weaken the structural integrity.
It’s also why contractors use concrete in building basements, underground parking and lower levels in buildings. Problems may occur if the wrong admixes are used, or the waterproofing membrane has failed. In this case, companies like https://www.keflatwork.com/concrete-repair-replacement/ provide expert advice and repair services.
Concrete is also highly resistant to fire. As well as preventing the spread of fire, concrete has a slow rate of thermal conductivity. This means that if a room is burning, and the walls are made of concrete, the heat won’t spread to the adjacent room — giving you enough time to flee the building.
5. Concrete was used to detect enemy aircraft
Concrete was used in ways other than construction. According to historians, the British Army used concrete to detect enemy aircraft by building parabolic acoustic mirrors. They were huge structures that reflected sounds emitted by incoming enemy airplanes during the Second World War.
Concrete has a varied and interesting history. From being used to build roads by the ancient Romans to being used by modern-day engineers for building underwater structures, concrete has stood the test of time as the most versatile and effective ingredient for building almost anything.