Understanding Complex Concrete Basics
Concrete and concrete construction have become more complex, more sophisticated and more technical. But an essential ingredient in working with all of these new innovations is an understanding of the basics. What do you think must be included as part of a person’s baseline knowledge of concrete?
Whenever I try to explain concrete to someone who knows only that their driveway is hard and gray, I start with the mix: cement, water, sand, gravel. Then I move into the simple, but poorly understood, concept of hydration — it doesn’t dry out to get hard! That leads to curing — we actually don’t even want it to dry out! Some people don’t believe that one.
The contractor or construction company that you hire must have the knowledge of mixes, placement, finishing, curing, the effects of temperature, measurement of properties (both fresh and hardened), and durability.
What Your Contractor Should Know
That’s a good list, but what else would you include in trying to explain concrete to a novice? Say you hire someone and he or she knows nothing about concrete. What do they need to know to do the job?
- Baseline knowledge should include history, ingredients, reinforcing, characteristics, how to form, place and finish and curing
- Concrete is only as good as the base underneath it. Understanding uniform depth, compaction and drainage (of sub-grade in areas subject to freezing) can be very important for slabs.
- The basics start with the site and forms. Good ground, proper sized forms (width and height – don’t waste concrete) get the job started. Reinforcement placement, consolidation and finish give it it’s strength
- Concrete work is all about timing. Performing the appropriate steps at the right time decreases the amount of physical work you have to do, and has a huge impact on the final result, both the finish, and the durability of the final product.