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Everything you Need to Know about Concrete

 |  Mahajan Pallavi

Concrete: Definition, Ingredients, Types, and Properties

Concrete is the most commonly used construction material. It is a mixture of cement, aggregate, and water. The cement reacts with water and other ingredients to form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material that has many uses. In concrete mix design, 10% of cement, 20% of air and water, 30% of sand, and 40% of aggregate are used. In making beams, columns, slabs, foundations, and other things of the sort, concrete is used as a building construction material.


Ingredients of concrete:

Everything you Need to Know about Concreate

Cement: It is a binding material. It acts as a binder for coarse and fine aggregate. In concrete Portland cement is used. The initial setting time of cement is not less than 30 minutes and the final setting time should not exceed 10 hours. There are different types of cement available in the market and each of them has different uses.

Types of cement and their uses:


                        Types of cement


Ordinary Portland Cement


Rapid Hardening cement

It is used in underwater construction and precast concrete work.

Sulphate Resisting Cement

It is used where cement has direct contact with soil.

Quick Setting Cement

It is mostly used in underwater construction or in cold and rainy weather condition.

Low Heat Cement

It is used in the construction of dam and retaining works.

Portland Pozzolana Cement

It is used where water tightness is important.

High Strength Cement

It is used in canal lining.

High Alumina Cement

It is used in underwater construction, emergency repairs and RCC pipes.

Expansive Cement

It is most commonly used in grouting anchor bolts and grouting machine foundation.

Air Entraining Cement

It is used in the frost resistance of concrete.

Hydrographic Cement

It is used in hydraulic structures.

Coloured Cement

It is used in artificial marble and floor finishing.

White Cement

It is useful for decorative work.

                                                         Table 1: Types of cement and their uses.


The ingredients used for the manufacture of concrete which includes sand, gravel etc. are called aggregate. Aggregate is the major ingredient of concrete which occupies 70 to 80% of the volume of concrete. Aggregate improves the volume stability, strength, workability, uniformity in the mixture and durability of concrete. They can act as a structural filler material in the concrete. Aggregates are classified based on their grain size, unit weight, geological origin and shape.


Water is the most important ingredient in concrete. In general, potable water is used for mixing; its pH value lies between 6 to 8. The amount of water depends on the quality of concrete. Excess water causes honeycombing in concrete hence should be prevented. Water should be clean and free from silt, clay, acids, alkalies, other salts, organic matter and sewage.

Classification of concrete: 

Concretes are classified based on their density and strength.

  1. The classification based on the density of concrete - to increase the stability of structure, the density of concrete is increased. Depending on density, concrete is classified as normal weight concrete in which sand and crushed stone are used, lightweight concrete in which bloated aggregate is used, or heavyweight concrete in which load of gravity is reduced.
  2. The classification based on the strength of concrete - The strength of concrete depends on different types of material and their proportion. Depending on the strength, concrete is classified as ordinary, standard or high strength concrete.

Properties of concrete: 

The important properties of fresh concrete and hard concrete are as follows:

                      Fresh concrete

                          Hard concrete

  1. Workability of concrete


  1. Segregation of concrete

Porosity and density

  1. Bleeding of concrete

Fire resistance

  1. Hydration of concrete

Thermal and acoustic insulation properties

  1. Air entrainment

            Impact resistance

                                        Table 2: Properties of fresh concrete and hard concrete


Uses Of Concrete: Concrete is used in making architectural structures, pavements, foundation, motorways, roads and bridges, overpasses, parking structures, walls, and footings for gate, etc.

Advantages of concrete:

  1. Compared to other engineering materials, the cost of concrete is low. It is easily available in the local market at a low cost. Hence it is economical.
  2. Concrete is hardened at normal room temperature.
  3. Fresh concrete can be cast into different shapes.
  4. Resists wind and air.

Disadvantages of concrete:

  1. The tensile strength of concrete is low.
  2. The weight of concrete is high as compared to its strength.
  3. Concrete is brittle.

Types of concrete:

In concrete technology, different types of concrete are used. The classification of concrete is based on types of material, nature of stress condition, and its density.

1) Plain or Ordinary Concrete: 

It is the most commonly used type of concrete. In plain concrete, the very commonly used normal mix design is 1:2:4. Plain concrete is used in the construction of pavements, buildings, and dams.

2) Lightweight Concrete: 

It has very low thermal conductivity. It is used in long-span bridges and building blocks.

3) High-Density Concrete: 

The density of this concrete is 3000-4000 kg/m3. It is most commonly used in atomic power plants.

4) Reinforced Concrete: 

In RCC various forms of steel are used as a reinforcement to give very high tensile strength. It is used in all types of construction.

5) Precast Concrete: 

In precast concrete construction, different types of concrete shapes are cast into moulds either in a factory or site. They are typically used for structural components such as wall panels, beams, columns, floors, staircases, pipes, and tunnels, etc.

6) Prestressed Concrete: 

In prestressed concrete, predetermined engineering stresses are developed in a structural manner. It is most commonly used in piles, railway sleepers, water tanks, etc.

7) Glass Reinforced Concrete: 

It is composed of high-strength, alkali-resistant glass fibre in which fibre is the load-carrying component. It is mostly used in exterior cladding panels.

8) Air-entrained Concrete: 

It is used for freeze-thaw resistance and deicer-internal resistance.

9) Self-compacting Concrete: 

Self-compacting concrete is used in complex concrete frames. It was used in the Delhi Metro Project for dome construction.

10) Concrete fibre: 

Reinforced concrete is used to increase the properties of conventional reinforced concrete fibre, increase the ductility and decrease the permeability of concrete.

11) Polymer Concrete: 

Polymer concrete can be used for manufacturing electric poles, rock bolts, and the pressure vessels found in nuclear power plants

Testing of concrete:

Concrete is used for the construction of various types of structures. Before using concrete, tests are conducted on it to confirm whether or not the concrete possesses the desired strength. To maintain the quality of structure, the concrete is tested in two stages: a) Testing of fresh concrete b) Testing of hard concrete.

a) Testing of fresh concrete: there are two tests conducted on fresh concrete and they are the Slump cone test and Air content test. The slump cone test is to check the workability and consistency of fresh concrete and the Air content test is to check the percentage of air content for normal concrete, and air-entrained concrete is 1-3% and 3-8% respectively.

b) Testing of hard concrete: The most important test conducted on hardened concrete is the test for compressive strength. Other tests like the tensile strength test and split test are equally conducted. Concrete is a construction material used to resist compressive stresses more efficiently. Hence the strength of concrete is also known as compressive strength. The compressive strength of concrete depends on the factor of water-cement ratio, types of cement, the texture of aggregate, curing, temperature, and time of hardening. In the testing of hard concrete, 150 mm size concrete cubes are used in a compression test. In tensile strength, 100 mm*100 mm*500 mm size beams are used while in split test diameter, 15 mm*300 mm height cylinder is used. These moulds are cast in suitable proportions, and the strength after 3days, 7 days, and 28 days are tested. All methods can be performed both manually and mechanically. This manual method is harshly lengthy. To overcome this drawback, use SelfCAD 3D modelling software.

SelfCAD is an affordable 3D modelling software: in this software, we can create an object, scenes, designs, prototype, and print object in less time as compared to other CAD programs. We can use 3D modelling for drawing moulds or cubes and casting of concrete. In this software, we can create much more complex shapes than conventional formwork. In building construction, modelling of forms is based on knowledge of general modelling of the object. The SelfCAD 3D modelling software is easy to use and is not a lengthy procedure. All sizes and shapes of moulds are available in this software.

  • 3D modelling is simpler and less laborious than moulding by hand or other methods.
  • This is the one software that allows you to create 3D models with exact dimension. 
  • The compressive strength of objects or moulds can also be checked on this software.
  • The process of analysis and designing can be done in this software. 
  • SelfCAD is easy to understand and use.
  • Any normal skilled person can operate this software, no extra knowledge is required. 

SelfCAD is an advanced browser-based 3D modelling software in which you can draw moulds, model, sculpt, render, slice, perform 3D printing, and other technical and artistic functions. In this software, you can also create a video and simplified UI. It’s has a free version trial and the pro version is available at an affordable cost. 

Enjoy powerful modelling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

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