Basic Concrete and Cement Principles and Terminology Used in the Industry
A BASIC CONCRETE AND CEMENT TUTORIAL
The Basic Science of Concrete and Stone:
Understanding the Different Names For Concrete and Cement:
In order to understand the basic principals of any technology, it is important to understand the terminology. Cement and concrete are two different things, yet many times these terms are used interchangeably. Cement is a powder, and the “glue” that is the central ingredient of concrete. Cement mixed with water, is referred to as stucco for exterior use, yet, is called plaster for interior use. It can also be used to construct swimming pools. A wet, high-pressure air applied mix, is called shotcrete. However a dry, high-pressure air applied mix, is called gunite. The same basic mixture is also referred to as mortar in masonry stone, block and brickwork. Yet if you dilute this same mixture with additional water into a more flowable form, it is called grout.
Even though all of these applications and terms are distinctly different, the actual chemical process that takes place and the principles that apply are the same. Therefore, if you take a small amount of time to understand the basics of concrete, it could be invaluable to you in the future.
THE DIFFERENT FACES OF WATER IN CONCRETE AND CEMENT
Water comes in three different and distinct forms depending on its temperature. We have it as “Liquid” (water), as a gas (water vapor), or as a solid (ice). It is quite possibly concrete's worst enemy.
Waterproof concrete is impervious or unaffected by the liquid form of water. It will prevent the penetration of water. The term “waterproof” is frequently used inaccurately in the flooring industry. Waterproof concrete or waterproofing concrete, does not stop water vapor movement. Concrete must be “vaporized” before you apply flooring materials and/or surface coatings.
Vapor-proof concrete restricts or prevents the passage of water vapor. Waterproof concrete is not necessarily vapor-proof but vapor-proof concrete is always waterproof.
Water vapor moves much faster and much more readily through concrete than water. Water vapor moves through the capillaries of the concrete left behind in the concrete making process, also referred to as concrete “curing”. Waterproof concrete does not stop water vapor. Water will not move through waterproof concrete, however water vapor will. Additionally, when water vapor reaches the dew point under flooring materials, it condenses, becoming water. This is extremely undesirable because the water will deteriorate the flooring adhesive or perhaps the flooring itself. Therefore, to waterproof concrete is not the issue with regard to the installation of flooring materials. The issue is to make concrete vapor proof. When you do, it will be inherently waterproof.
The terms moisture vapor and moisture vapor emissions are terminologies that the flooring industry uses to define water vapor. Moisture vapor emission is the direct result of a number of factors. Moisture vapor emissions, which are higher than the flooring industry's maximum allowable levels will cause flooring installations to fail.
Water to cement ratio, or water cement ratio, or w/c ratio, is the weight of the water used divided by the weight of the cement used when making concrete. This ratio is expressed as a decimal fraction. It is the second most important factor in the quality of the end product, just behind the curing process. The two factors mentioned above - water to cement ratio and the curing process are intimately connected.
Why Do Capillaries Make Concrete Weak?
It is because they take up space that should be filled with concrete. The same would be true of steel. A solid piece of steel is stronger than one that has a lot of holes drilled through it.
Why Do Capillaries Make Concrete Porous?
Because they are filled with air until water or water vapor comes in contact with them from the ground or air. They will actually wick moisture from the surrounding environment and deliver it to the top of the concrete slab just underneath flooring materials. There, the water or water vapor when it condenses, attacks flooring adhesives. Capillaries form the transit system for water and water vapor (moisture) migration.
Let's say you needed to make a medium quality concrete quickly. What should you do? Using the guidelines above, you should:
1. Use a low water to cement ratio to keep capillary formation to a minimum.
To bring it all together… Water is an essential chemical ingredient in the making of concrete; however we need to use more of it than is chemically necessary in order to place the concrete with some degree of ease. How we handle this extra water after the concrete is placed is of extreme importance. As was stated before, even if you were to make the best concrete you possibly could, (low water to cement ratio and a long controlled curing process) without an additive or “admixture”, the concrete would still have some degree of capillary formation.
Here at Olde World, we are constantly testing and evaluating our concrete stone and tile formulas. This is due mainly to the rapid progress being made in the industry to improve concrete with admixtures. We currently offer our customers admixtures that basically increase the flowability of concrete, while requiring less water to do so. This is a very “basic” concrete tutorial, and as such we do not want to get into a highly technical discussion of admixtures. You can read more about our admixtures elsewhere on our website, or in our Commercial Producer Training Manual.
Should you need molds or moulds, colorant, concrete sealer, stains, or other concrete, cement, or plaster supplies for your handyman or home improvement project, please visit our catalogue website at www.TheMoldStore.com or our shopping cart website at http://www.TheMoldStore.us to get ideas. If you are interested in starting a concrete stone and veneer, or concrete and cement paver, brick or tile business, visit our Olde World Stone & Tile Business Opportunity website at www.Oldeworld.com for full details, instructions and various stone making and other concrete product making packages. We also offer D-I-Y Packages in our catalogue and on our shopping cart websites.
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