Concrete has many applications, but its strength and quality rely on a number of variables. Here are some of the factors which can affect the results.
Correct Ratio Mixes
The strength of concrete can be controlled by the ratio of raw materials added to the mix. The highest strengths will only be required for projects such as deep concrete foundations and construction work. The higher the ratio of water to cement, the greater the reduction in resilience. However, this needs to be balanced with how workable the concrete needs to be to fulfil its purpose.
You may want to consider the use of admixtures if more water is going to reduce the strength too much. You should also be aware that excess water in the mix can cause shrinkage cracks in concrete as it evaporates upon drying, reducing the durability of the material and quality of the results.
Raw Materials Used
The overall results of your final concrete can depend on the quality of the raw materials selected, whatever the skill of the person handling them. Standard concrete consists of three elements; water, cement and aggregates. Even if just one of these materials is of poor quality, it can affect the way the concrete behaves, sets and lasts. A good supplier will only use raw materials of the finest quality – for example, cement which has been stored correctly so that moisture is kept away from it. Factors affecting the quality of aggregates include their shape, size and texture.
Compaction & Curing
The way the concrete is poured, compacted and cured can also affect its strength and quality. Compaction of the concrete (once it’s laid) removes air pockets from it, increasing its density and strength. Curing concrete is a method used to prevent shrinkage as the mixture sets, which can cause more cracks to form. It’s a hydration process which helps the concrete to develop a higher strength over a week or two. Curing techniques include spraying, ponding, or applying saturated coverings across the newly laid concrete.
As well as the way concrete is mixed and poured, factors such as time, temperature and weather can affect how well it lasts. These are often factors which are hard to control, but they’re worth considering when choosing the right concrete for the location it’s being poured. For example, concrete used for outdoor areas which are in a colder climate may be subjected to the freeze-thaw cycle, causing more deterioration and weathering. However, you should also consider the weather when planning each job, especially in extreme temperatures such as freezing conditions or a heatwave.
Looking for high-quality concrete supplies?
At Maguire, we can mix any amount of fresh concrete on site, giving you the strength and quality of concrete you need. We work across London and Surrey locations, including Cheam, Carshalton and Banstead. Call 020 8648 7688 for a free, no-obligation quotation.