Traditionally, most homes are made of wood. In those times, concrete was mainly used to construct buildings such as schools, libraries, hospitals, etc. Today, the use of concrete in construction is prevalent as people now begin to understand its many benefits.
It helps to secure the foundation on which a structure is established. In understanding the pros and cons of any building material, it helps to make keen decisions, to create quality structures.The word ‘concrete’ as defined by the Merriam Webster’s dictionary is ‘a mass formed by coalescence of separate particles of matter in one body, it is a strong building material made by mixing a cementing material, and a mineral aggregate (usually sand or gravel) with sufficient water to cause the cement to set and bind the entire mass.’ It is made up of the amalgamation of various elements such as cement, sand, pebbles, gravel, shale, limestone and the use of water in hydrating the mixture and making it possible to harden. It is important to understand that the quality of the concrete is dependent on the cement-to-water ratio used.
Concrete is an important construction material which is used in construction of buildings, bridges, roads, and dams. Concrete structures are durable, low maintenance, fire resistant, energy efficient and versatile as the mixture can be used to form various concrete molds. It is one of the most used man-made material in the world.
A majority of today’s construction whether it be residential or commercial, are made using concrete. In, construction the thought process that goes into the creation of any one building is astringent. Concrete is not as expensive as some of the other materials used for construction, thus, making it suitable and more desired.
Concrete is durable and tend to have a life span of over fifty-five years, with the consideration that the mixture and the materials used in the mixture, was done properly and of high quality. It is adaptable in any form and its strength makes it durable to weather virtually any weather. Wooden structures are usually cured to hinder pest infestation; however, concrete is a reliable option for construction. The structures are not weakened by moisture or mold as concrete constructions tend to be able to withstand almost any weather so as long as the mixture for the concrete was done correctly with the appropriate equal parts required.
If this is done correctly, then the concrete is able to resist abrasive effects of ordinary or harsh weather. Some of our most treasured wonders of the world were made using an early form of concrete mixture, but yet, still stand to this day, namely; for instance, the Egyptian Pyramids built over 3000 BC; The Pantheon (27 BC – 14 AD) and the Roman Coliseum (300 BC – 476 AD). Looking back at as early as the Roman empire it is clear to see that concrete (though not the same materials used as today, but nonetheless, concrete) has significant bearings in construction. Concrete mixture, though not named same in the Roman era, was used about one thousand five hundred (1,500) years ago to construct such Roman building as the Coliseum, to this day, the Coliseum still stands, even if a bit dilapidated.
This structure demonstrates how durable using concrete in construction could be. In construction, the onus is on the contractor to ensure that the products used as durable, thus, giving the client quality results. This will in turn help to retain customers and get good customer referrals. Concrete reparation is somewhat inexpensive as the concrete itself is long lasting, therefore, requiring less attention and repairs compared to any wooden structure that has to be checked for a termite and other pest infestation. In the article ‘Concrete – Building Material’ the Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica state that ‘The mixture must have just enough water to ensure that each aggregate particle is surrounded by the cement paste, that the spaces between the aggregate are filled, and that the concrete is liquid enough to be poured and spread effectively.’ Not only in the construction of residential and commercial properties, but concrete constructions also range to making of bridges, road, dams, and tunnels.
It is used for it durability and sustainability as it tends to gain strength over time, as stated in the article, the longer concrete gets to ‘set’ the stronger and more durable it becomes. Pests such as ants, flies, roaches and spiders are frequent visitors in every type of building be it residential or commercial. The most to be concerned about is termite infestation. Whilst the other bugs are deemed ‘harmless’ to wooden building’s structure, termites are on a different scale.
According to a publication on the website pestworld.org, termites have the ability to chew through wood undetected and cost more than five billion dollars in property damage annually. Concrete constructions are inedible, thus, not being susceptible to pests such as termites that tend to weaken wooden constructions. Unlike wooden or steel construction that rot or rust over time, concrete constructions can resist deterioration due to rot or rusting and can resist chemical attack and most natural environments. Global warming is a prominent fret in the world. Every day the concern grows.
Trees are cut to be used to make houses, but none are planted to offset those which were cut down. Trees help to balance the natural gases in the environment and the less we have the more the negative effects. Concrete is said to cannot be affected by some portion of the ultraviolet rays from the sun. As a result, concrete can retain the color in aesthetic elements even long after the paint has faded on the outside walls due to the sun’s effects. When concrete is being reinforced by steel, it makes it flexible for building light structures.
It is mixed state, by using the correct formwork, concrete can be easily molded to form varying fixtures. It makes it easier to erect constructions of varying shapes and sizes.Fire resistance is defined as the capability to endure exposure to a fire without loss function or ability to act as a barrier to spread fire. It takes a simple spark to make a fire and oxygen to make it grow. Fire continues to grow so as long as a route/material/fuel is provided.
Wood is a common fuel for fire, thus, the reason for wood burning fire places. In the web post entitled ‘Fire resistance’ as posted on the website concretecentre.com, concrete generally performs well during a fire and has the highest fire resistance classification which is (class AI) under EN 13501-1:2007- A1:2009. Concrete acts as an insulator, thus, having a slow transfer rate of heat.
Concrete constructions ‘ensures that structural integrity remains, fire compartmentation is not compromised and shielding from heat can be relied upon. Because of concrete’s inherent material properties, it can be used to minimize fire risk for the lowest initial cost while requiring the least in ongoing maintenance.’ With board constructions, the smallest fire can easily spread and engulf the building, reducing the complete structure to ashes thereafter. Unlike wooden structures, concrete can neither be burned nor set on fire.
Concrete constructions are virtually fire resistant and because of this fact, concrete has become a very ‘common building material in the world.’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica, n.d). Other materials rely heavily on protection from fire and, thus, other aid is engineered to help this process.
Concrete is naturally fire resistant due to the fact some components of concrete such as limestone, clay and gypsum, and aggregate materials are practically noncombustible. It, therefore, acts as a fire shield if a fiery outbreak. Several matters due to fire hazard can be reduced considerably by the application of concrete as a structural material. According to the article ‘Fire resistance of concrete structures’ by Erin Ashley, concrete construction provides an excellent means for achieving the required fire-resistant rating required by code. It is quite energy efficient. According to the web post ‘Sustainability Benefits of Concrete’ concrete can be used to construct more durable, energy efficient eco-building as the mass is great at maintaining internal temperatures.
Concrete slows the route of heat, therefore, having concrete walls and floors will slow the movement of heat. Global warming, a global concern. Nowadays, people are seeking every means to conserve on energy which ultimately combats climate change. Concrete structures reduce the amount of energy needed in a building to heat or cool it down. A study done by the NRMCA found that concrete walls reduce energy requirements for a typical home by more than 17%.
This is due to concrete’s thermal mass which can a tremendous amount of heat, thus, helping in maintaining a desired temperature. This, in turn, is easier and requires less energy. In some places, especially those where it gets too hot during the day and too cold during the night, insulation may be eliminated.
The Albedo Effect is also reduced when concrete is used in construction. The term Albedo refers to the ability of surfaces to reflect sunlight. In making concrete the main material in any construction it helps in reflecting the sun’s rays thus causing ‘less heat to be absorbed, therefore, resulting in cooler temperatures.’ Take for instance the materials used to construct ninety-five percent (95%) of the homes in tropical climates; which are, after materials become harden, concrete, or somewhat similar in the event only clay and water is used.
Due to the hot temperature in such climates, concrete is used in majority of buildings created as concrete (stated prior), helps to regulate indoor temperature.Concrete is so compact after drying that it has no space for leakages and outside air infiltration, in residential or commercial buildings which gives the operator the opportunity to control the inflow and outflow of air in the buildings. In this same instance, air leakage is a large factor to consider in the high cost for energy in today’s society. This is due to the fact that the cooling or heating systems being used in homes are constantly having to re-cool/reheat a room as hot or cold air keeps on getting into the space and vice versa with the cooled or heated air escaping. At the end of the day it becomes a monotonous cycle and at the end of the month, a high energy bill. Looking at it from a healthy living perspective, living or operating in a building that is susceptible to air intrusion from outside can be damaging to one’s health, especially in the winter and summer.
In the older homes of wooden construction, heat and cooling is heavily relied up on within those specific seasons. However, as concrete is a natural insulator, these worries would become none too existent. Many persons may refute the fact that concrete is one of the best material to use in construction simply because they do not fully understand its importance.