Concrete is such a simple, everyday material that it’s easy to take it for granted. Consisting of just water, cement, and aggregate, it’s perhaps the most common building material in use today. Whether it’s used for building walls, floors, support structures, pavements, domestic projects or large-scale public infrastructure buildings, the quality of the concrete used is all important.
In fact, if you try to cut corners with concrete, there’s a chance you might end up paying out to rectify some of the potential problems that can occur.
Why is good quality concrete so essential?
Concrete is required to do vital jobs and if its quality is compromised that can, in turn, compromise the entire job. The quality of concrete used will have a direct impact on the quality and durability of the work undertaken.
The two biggest sets of problems you could face are:
Concrete needs to be strong and capable of standing up to all kinds of weather. It needs to be able to withstand wear and tear for however long its required for. In most cases, this will be a considerable amount of time. If you’re not going to be continually repairing your concrete, then getting it right the first time will be key. Using inferior quality concrete will reduce the lifespan of the construction and can even lead to serious safety issues.
As well as a structural function, concrete often has an important design or aesthetic function. Even if it’s not going to be playing a central role in how the building looks, it will be on display. Poor quality concrete will have an inferior finish. If the surface finish isn’t durable, it can soon deteriorate, and repairs will be necessary to keep it looking good.
What might cause concrete to be poor quality?
There are a range of factors that can impact on the quality of your concrete. These include:
The ultimate strength of the finished concrete will be determined by the ratio of different raw materials that are included in the mix. The higher the ratio of water to cement in the mix, the more its resilience will be reduced. While the strongest types of concrete will generally only be required for construction work and deep concrete foundations, get the mix wrong and you’re likely to encounter problems. As well as the strength of the concrete used, you also have to take account of workability. The stronger the concrete the harder it is to work.
Choice of materials
Ultimately, the quality of your finished concrete will depend on the quality of the materials used in the mix. There’s plenty that skilled and experienced tradesmen can do to improve the finish of your concrete, but if the materials are of a poor quality then they will have their hands tied.
Standard concrete consists of water, cement, and aggregates. In order to push down costs, some suppliers make use of recycled materials, which are of a lower quality and can impact on the finished concrete. Even if just one of the component materials is of a lower quality, it will have an impact on how the concrete sets, behaves and ultimately lasts.
Issues such as how the materials are stored can make a difference. If moisture enters cement it can then impact on how it acts as part of the concrete mix. A good concrete supplier will take great care of how the materials are stored. They’ll also ensure that they only use aggregates direct from the quarry, not recycled materials. When it comes to high-quality concrete, you really can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to materials.
Once a mix of the right consistency and using the right quality of materials is on site, it’s time to pour the concrete. This is another point at which doing things wrong can have a negative impact on the resulting concrete. It’s important that care is taken when pouring concrete, taking account of the site and weather conditions. You’ll also need to make sure that you have the correct forms on site ready for the pouring.
One of the most common problems that can occur at this stage is misjudging the thickness of concrete needed for the project. Concrete that’s too thin for what it’s required to do won’t be strong enough to cope and will likely crack whatever the quality of the materials in the mix. Another factor to consider is the weather. Pouring concrete in heavy rain is not a good idea as it will skew the delicate ratios involved in getting concrete mixes right.
Compaction & Curing
Once the concrete is laid, the concrete should be compacted to remove air pockets which increases its density and strength. Curing concrete is the process by which shrinkage is prevented as the mixture sets, reducing the risk of significant cracks appearing. Curing is essentially about hydrating the concrete, which allows it to strengthen over the course of a couple of weeks. The techniques used might include spraying, ponding, or applying saturated coverings over the concrete. Many people want to try and shortcut these processes, but it isn’t advisable. The ultimate quality of your concrete will be determined by how diligent you are at compaction and curing.
Good concrete begins with a trusted concrete supplier
It goes without saying that your choice of concrete supplier will play a big part in determining the quality of the concrete you receive. They should only use newly quarried materials in their mixes, so be sure to check before placing an order.
At Goodmix, we have a strict, quarry only policy for all of the aggregates we use.
We’re a trusted supplier across the North West of England, to projects large and small. We operate to the highest professional standards and are happy to provide advice about preparing your site and ensuring you follow the right processes once the concrete is poured.
Why not get in touch with our experienced and professional team to discuss your project?