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Concrete 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Ready Mix Concrete

Sep 13, 2019The Central Concrete Team

You already know we are one of Michigan’s premier ready-mix concrete suppliers, but do you know how we produce the highest quality ready mix concrete? Keep reading to learn just how we make the ready mix concrete seen in construction projects across Central Michigan.

The Difference Between Concrete and Cement

Let’s first discuss the difference between cement and concrete. Many people consider them to be the same thing, but they are far from it. Cement and concrete can be compared to flour and cookies. Cement is the flour (powder) that is mixed together with other ingredients to create a cookie. Concrete, the aforementioned cookie, is the final product of the cement and other ingredients mixed together. Those other ingredients include (but are not limited to) a blend of aggregates, water and cementitious materials. In summary, concrete is a very complex material in comparison to cement.

Another common mistake involves mistaking concrete for asphalt, and vice versa. The biggest and most important difference to understand is that concrete has a significantly longer lifespan than asphalt. Concrete is more expensive initially, but will last between 20-40 years with minimal maintenance. Whereas with asphalt, it will cost you less initially, but require more ongoing maintenance, with a shorter life span.

That being said, you probably interact with concrete every single day. Whether you drive or walk on concrete, it is the foundation of our infrastructure and the most widely used material in the construction industry worldwide; used in roadways, bridges, driveways, pole barn floors, sidewalks, patios, interior floors, and foundations.

The Process of Producing Concrete

You may be wondering: Now that the cement has been turned into concrete, how does it become the infrastructure that we interact with every day? Once the concrete has been mixed, it is transported to the job site, and laid into a mold to harden and cure. After it is freshly laid, the concrete must cure in order to develop sufficient strength. Curing for seven days is the industry standard, and can often be done by keeping the concrete damp.

What we’ve explained above merely scratches the surface of what goes into a project involving concrete, but we hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about what makes up the infrastructure you interact with every day. If you want to learn more, here is some additional information regarding various types of concrete, as well as tips you should consider for your own concrete projects.

Concrete Types

There are two main grade types of concrete – interior and exterior. Interior grade concrete can be used in applications such as basements and indoor pole barn floors. It is best used in these situations as it does not get saturated with water or moisture in freeze-thaw situations. Exterior grade concrete is what is used for roadways, driveway, and sidewalks. This type contains “air entrainment”, which provides a cushion for when moisture in the concrete freezes and expands. When water freezes, it expands approximately 9%, so the air entrainment allows internal cushion to absorb the expansion, so the concrete doesn’t blow out and crack.

Improving your Concrete's Lifespan    

At Central Concrete, we recently introduced a new product, known as an integral sealer, which increases the lifespan of your concrete. An integral sealer is a sealant that is actually mixed into the concrete, and seals it so that materials like oil, salt, and contaminated water cant penetrate it over time. This new sealer mitigates the need to seal the concrete months or years down the road. Basically, using an integral sealer will save you time in the long-run and costs approximately the same amount of money as normal concrete sealer.

In summary, we hope that you've learned a thing or two about ready mixed concrete. If you have unanswered questions, our team is more than happy to help. You can chat with us by visiting the Contact Us page of our website, or calling 989-772-3695.

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