Concrete is Everywhere!
Concrete is everywhere. Streets and highways, overpasses, sports courts, buildings, and so much more. In fact, it's the most used substance in the world after water, double that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminum combined, making the global projected revenue for the ready-mix concrete market $600 billion by 2025. Since ancient times, humans have made use of concrete’s many benefits. The small-scale production of concrete-like materials was first pioneered by the Nabataean traders. They discovered its advantages back in 700 B.C. and built kilns to make the mortar to help in the construction of rubble masonry houses, floors, and underground, and most notably, waterproof cisterns that allowed them to thrive in the desert. The cisterns were considered so important, they were kept secret to give the Nabataeans an extra advantage compared to other civilizations around them, and the structures still exist to this day. Lime mortar was used in Greece, Cyprus, and Crete in 800 BC for buildings and floors. In Ancient Egypt and Rome, they realized that mixing concrete with volcanic ash allows it to set under water. The Romans used concrete extensively, giving way to the Roman Architectural Revolution from 300 BC to 476 AD. It freed Roman construction from the restrictions of stone and brick, enabling revolutionary designs, both in terms of structural complexity, and sheer size. The coliseum is largely made of roman concrete, usually a mix of quicklime, pozzolana, and aggregate of pumice, and the Pantheon has the world's largest unreinforced concrete roof.
Probably the most revolutionary step taken forward in concrete, however, was taken by John Smeaton in Devon, England, between 1756 and 1759, when his “Smeaton’s Tower” pioneered the use of hydraulic lime in concrete, using pebbles and powdered brick as aggregate.
Now, in modern day, so many different mixes and textures of concrete have been created to fit whatever project you could imagine. Years of research and development have given us the chance to do amazing things with this material. It's gotten lighter, stronger, and easier to work with over time, producing long lasting and unique designs. Slight variations in the basic recipe can give you different types of concrete with different benefits. Its base recipe is Cement and aggregate. Aggregate is the particle material that is mixed into concrete, and can vary in material and coarseness, giving you more control over your final product. Variation in the cement itself can also have a big impact. For example, UHPC (Ultra-High-Performance Concrete), while still using the relatively common high strength Portland cement, typically uses fine aggregates and has other additives added to it to make it stronger, and even self-consolidating, making it perfect for things like fixing cracks in infrastructure. Now, the work doesn’t end just because the concrete is cured and set. Depending on what the concrete needs to be used for, coatings and sealers are used to make it last even longer. The proper combination of concrete and sealer can give you waterproof, long lasting, even food safe, products.
There is still constant work to make this material even better, whether it’s to improve the average road concrete with gravel aggregate, or UHPC with sand aggregate to make a unique sink and countertop. We ourselves love to take any opportunities to be more creative with our concrete. We’ve developed our own special mix (mainly concrete, fiberglass, sand, and water). Our secret Recipe and process gives us super strong, light weight products that could last a lifetime. Our concrete can be poured thin without losing durability, and keeping a psi of 20,000, allowing us to make lighter products, and even hollow ones, that are incredibly durable. Our recipe is also self-consolidating, making it essentially bubble free, and further reducing the chance for damage. We also use an FDA approved sealer on all our products, making it completely waterproof and food safe. Our concrete trays and pet bowls can even go into the dishwasher. It’s truly amazing how far this material has come since we started using it to improve our lives, and how much it continues to grow and continue to benefit our everyday lives.
Hope you Enjoyed this brief explanation of concrete and its history. Make sure to check our blog every Sunday for updates about our products and events, and for more educational content about our work. Feel free to drop any questions you want answered bellow in the comments or on our Instagram, @vertex_concrete.