What’s the Science Behind My Concrete Walkway?


You walk on it, your kids draw with chalk on it, maybe you’ve put your handprints in it before, but what is concrete? It’s something that we don’t think much about because we see it every day. We take concrete for granted, but have you ever considered what it’s made out of? It’s liquid at one point, and then hardens forever. How does that happen? We’re here to tell you the science behind your walkway!

You might use the words “cement” and “concrete” interchangeably. However, the two are actually very different. Cement is actually begins as a powdered material, and later becomes concrete when combined with other elements. Concrete is the hardened material that you are familiar with on your sidewalks or walkways.

So what is concrete composed of?

  1. Cement. This is actually a powdered material made up of limestone and clay that chemically reacts with water and different aggregates to form the thick liquid that is poured into place, and later hardens to become concrete.
  2. Water. This is needed to allow the cement to react in the way it’s supposed to. Water is necessary for hydration, a chemical process that bonds molecules together. This process is what makes the cement mixture harden into concrete. It is also important to control the water-to-cement ratio. For example, if the ratio of water is lower, there will be less permeability within the concrete. Less permeability, or liquidity within the cement mixture means greater strength in the final concrete product.
  3. Aggregates. Another word for aggregates is “collections”, or  “combinations”. Aggregates within concrete include sand, gravel, or crushed stone. These aggregates compose most of the concrete and are bound together by the cement and water mixture. Aggregates can be very fine, or can be large and unique, allowing for a decorative pavement. 

So now you know the basics of the composition of concrete! Next time you’re walking along the sidewalk with a friend, impress them with your newfound knowledge. If you’re looking into laying cement on your property, contact the professionals at Consolidated Coatings Incorporated. We’ll give you all the information you need about what type of concrete is best.

About Consolidated Coatings Inc.

Consolidated Coatings is a full service building restoration contractor operating in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Since 1979, we’ve provided professional restoration of commercial, industrial, and historic buildings across a range of disciplines. These include masonry restoration, concrete restoration, decorative concrete, industrial and floor coatings, EIFS, and waterproofing. Follow us on our blog for weekly posts on industry-related topics. If you have any questions, please contact us at 410-574-6504.

Source: http://matse1.matse.illinois.edu/concrete/prin.html

This entry was posted on Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 6:35 pm.